Amazon Cognito user pools - Amazon Cognito
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Amazon Cognito user pools

An Amazon Cognito user pool is a user directory for web and mobile app authentication and authorization. From the perspective of your app, an Amazon Cognito user pool is an OpenID Connect (OIDC) identity provider (IdP). A user pool adds layers of additional features for security, identity federation, app integration, and customization of the user experience.

You can, for example, verify that your users’ sessions are from trusted sources. You can combine the Amazon Cognito directory with an external identity provider. With your preferred Amazon SDK, you can choose the API authorization model that works best for your app. And you can add Amazon Lambda functions that modify or overhaul the default behavior of Amazon Cognito.

Authentication overview


Amazon Cognito user pools have the following features.


Amazon Cognito user pools have user-driven, administrator-driven, and programmatic methods to add user profiles to your user pool. Amazon Cognito user pools supports the following sign-up models. You can use any combination of these models in your app.


If you activate user sign-up in your user pool, anyone on the internet can sign up for an account and sign into your apps. Don't enable self-registration in your user pool unless you want to open your app to public sign-up. To change this setting, update Self-service sign-up in the Sign-up experience tab of the user pool console, or update the value of AllowAdminCreateUserOnly in a CreateUserPool or UpdateUserPool API request.

For information about security features that you can set up in your user pools, see Using Amazon Cognito user pools security features.

  1. Your users can enter their information in your app and create a user profile that’s native to your user pool. You can call API sign-up operations to register users in your user pool. You can open these sign-up operations to anyone, or you can authorize them with a client secret or Amazon credentials.

  2. You can redirect users to a third-party IdP that they can authorize to pass their information to Amazon Cognito. Amazon Cognito processes OIDC id tokens, OAuth 2.0 userInfo data, and SAML 2.0 assertions into user profiles in your user pool. You control the attributes that you want Amazon Cognito to receive based on attribute-mapping rules.

  3. You can skip public or federated sign-up, and create users based on your own data source and schema. Add users directly in the Amazon Cognito console or API. Import users from a CSV file. Run a just-in-time Amazon Lambda function that looks up your new user in an existing directory, and populates their user profile from existing data.

After your users sign up, you can add them to groups that Amazon Cognito lists in the access and ID tokens. You can also link user pool groups to IAM roles when you pass the ID token to an identity pool.


Amazon Cognito can be a standalone user directory and identity provider (IdP) to your app. Your users can sign in with a UI that’s hosted by Amazon Cognito, or with your own UI through the Amazon Cognito user pools API. The application tier behind your front end custom UI can authorize requests on the back end with any of several methods to confirm legitimate requests.

To sign in users with an external directory, optionally combined with the user directory built in to Amazon Cognito, you can add the following integrations.

  1. Sign in and import consumer user data with OAuth 2.0 social sign-in. Amazon Cognito supports sign-in with Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple through OAuth 2.0.

  2. Sign in and import enterprise user data with SAML and OIDC sign-in. You can also configure Amazon Cognito to accept claims from any SAML or OpenID Connect (OIDC) identity provider (IdP).

  3. Link external user profiles to native user profiles. A linked user can sign in with a third-party user identity and receive access that you assign to a user in the built-in directory.

Machine-to-machine authorization

Some sessions aren’t a human-to-machine interaction. You might need a service account that can authorize a request to an API by an automated process. To generate access tokens for machine-to-machine authorization with OAuth 2.0 scopes, you can add an app client that generates client-credentials grants.

Hosted UI

When you don’t want to build a user interface, you can present your users with a customized Amazon Cognito hosted UI. The hosted UI is a set of web pages for sign-up, sign-in, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and password reset. You can add the hosted UI to your existing domain, or use a prefix identifier in an Amazon subdomain.


Your local users can provide an additional authentication factor with a code from an SMS message, or an app that generates multi-factor authentication (MFA) codes. You can build mechanisms to set up and process MFA in your app, or you can let the hosted UI manage it. Amazon Cognito user pools can bypass MFA when your users sign in from trusted devices.

If you don’t want to initially require MFA from your users, you can require it conditionally. With advanced security features, Amazon Cognito can detect potential malicious activity and require your user to set up MFA, or block sign-in.

If network traffic to your user pool might be malicious, you can monitor it and take action with Amazon WAF web ACLs.

Custom user experience

At most stages of a user’s sign-up, sign-in, or profile update, you can customize how Amazon Cognito handles the request. With Lambda triggers, you can modify an ID token or reject a sign-up request based on custom conditions. You can create your own custom authentication flow.

You can upload custom CSS and logos to give the hosted UI a familiar look and feel to your users.

Monitoring and analytics

Amazon Cognito user pools log API requests, including requests to the hosted UI, to Amazon CloudTrail. You can review performance metrics in Amazon CloudWatch Logs, push custom logs to CloudWatch with Lambda triggers, and monitor API request volume in the Service Quotas console.

You can also log device and session data from your API requests to an Amazon Pinpoint campaign. With Amazon Pinpoint, you can send push notifications from your app based on your analysis of user activity.

Amazon Cognito identity pools integration

The other half of Amazon Cognito is identity pools. Identity pools provide credentials that authorize and monitor API requests to Amazon Web Services, for example Amazon DynamoDB or Amazon S3, from your users. You can build identity-based access policies that protect your data based on how you classify the users in your user pool. Identity pools can also accept tokens and SAML 2.0 assertions from a variety of identity providers, independently of user pool authentication.