Overview of Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) in Amazon Neptune - Amazon Neptune
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Overview of Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) in Amazon Neptune

Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) is an Amazon Web Service that helps an administrator securely control access to Amazon resources. IAM administrators control who can be authenticated (signed in) and authorized (have permissions) to use Neptune resources. IAM is an Amazon Web Service that you can use with no additional charge.

You can use Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) to authenticate to your Neptune DB instance or DB cluster. When IAM database authentication is enabled, each request must be signed using Amazon Signature Version 4.

Amazon Signature Version 4 adds authentication information to Amazon requests. For security, all requests to Neptune DB clusters with IAM authentication enabled must be signed with an access key. This key consists of an access key ID and secret access key. The authentication is managed externally using IAM policies.

Neptune authenticates on connection, and for WebSockets connections it verifies the permissions periodically to ensure that the user still has access.

  • Revoking, deleting, or rotating of credentials associated with the IAM user is not recommended because it does not terminate any connections that are already open.

  • There are limits on the number of concurrent WebSocket connections per database instance, and on how long a connection can remain open. For more information, see WebSockets Limits.

IAM Use Depends on Your Role

How you use Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) differs, depending on the work you do in Neptune.

Service user – If you use the Neptune service to do your job, then your administrator provides you with the credentials and permissions that you need for using the Neptune data plane. As you need more access to do your work, understanding how data access is managed can help you request the right permissions from your administrator.

Service administrator – If you're in charge of Neptune resources at your company, you probably have access to Neptune management actions, which correspond to the Neptune managment API. It may also be your job to determine which Neptune data-access actions and resources service users need in order to do their jobs. An IAM administrator can then apply IAM policies to change the permissions of your service users.

IAM administrator – If you're an IAM administrator, you will need to write IAM policies to manage both management and data access to Neptune. To view example Neptune identity-based policies that you can use, see Using different kinds of IAM policies for controlling access to Neptune.

Authenticating with Identities

Authentication is how you sign in to Amazon using your identity credentials. For more information about signing in using the Amazon Web Services Management Console, see Signing in to the Amazon Web Services Management Console as an IAM user or root user in the IAM User Guide.

You must be authenticated (signed in to Amazon) as the Amazon Web Services account root user, an IAM user, or by assuming an IAM role. You can also use your company's single sign-on authentication or even sign in using Google or Facebook. In these cases, your administrator previously set up identity federation using IAM roles. When you access Amazon using credentials from another company, you are assuming a role indirectly.

To sign in directly to the Amazon Web Services Management Console, use your password with your root user email address or your IAM user name. You can access Amazon programmatically using your root user or IAM users access keys. Amazon provides SDK and command line tools to cryptographically sign your request using your credentials. If you don't use Amazon tools, you must sign the request yourself. Do this using Signature Version 4, a protocol for authenticating inbound API requests. For more information about authenticating requests, see Signature Version 4 signing process in the Amazon General Reference.

Regardless of the authentication method that you use, you might also be required to provide additional security information. For example, Amazon recommends that you use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to increase the security of your account. To learn more, see Using multi-factor authentication (MFA) in Amazon in the IAM User Guide.

Amazon Web Services account root user

When you first create an Amazon Web Services account, you begin with a single sign-in identity that has complete access to all Amazon Web Services and resources in the account. This identity is called the Amazon Web Services account root user and is accessed by signing in with the email address and password that you used to create the account. We strongly recommend that you do not use the root user for your everyday tasks, even the administrative ones. Instead, adhere to the best practice of using the root user only to create your first IAM user. Then securely lock away the root user credentials and use them to perform only a few account and service management tasks.

IAM Users and Groups

An IAM user is an identity within your Amazon Web Services account that has specific permissions for a single person or application. An IAM user can have long-term credentials such as a user name and password or a set of access keys. To learn how to generate access keys, see Managing access keys for IAM users in the IAM User Guide. When you generate access keys for an IAM user, make sure you view and securely save the key pair. You cannot recover the secret access key in the future. Instead, you must generate a new access key pair.

An IAM group is an identity that specifies a collection of IAM users. You can't sign in as a group. You can use groups to specify permissions for multiple users at a time. Groups make permissions easier to manage for large sets of users. For example, you could have a group named IAMAdmins and give that group permissions to administer IAM resources.

Users are different from roles. A user is uniquely associated with one person or application, but a role is intended to be assumable by anyone who needs it. Users have permanent long-term credentials, but roles provide temporary credentials. To learn more, see When to create an IAM user (instead of a role) in the IAM User Guide.

IAM Roles

An IAM role is an identity within your Amazon Web Services account that has specific permissions. It is similar to an IAM user, but is not associated with a specific person. You can temporarily assume an IAM role in the Amazon Web Services Management Console by switching roles. You can assume a role by calling an Amazon CLI or Amazon API operation or by using a custom URL. For more information about methods for using roles, see Using IAM roles in the IAM User Guide.

IAM roles with temporary credentials are useful in the following situations:

  • Temporary IAM user permissions – An IAM user can assume an IAM role to temporarily take on different permissions for a specific task.

  • Federated user access – Instead of creating an IAM user, you can use existing identities from Amazon Directory Service, your enterprise user directory, or a web identity provider. These are known as federated users. Amazon assigns a role to a federated user when access is requested through an identity provider. For more information about federated users, see Federated users and roles in the IAM User Guide.

  • Cross-account access – You can use an IAM role to allow someone (a trusted principal) in a different account to access resources in your account. Roles are the primary way to grant cross-account access. However, with some Amazon Web Services, you can attach a policy directly to a resource (instead of using a role as a proxy). To learn the difference between roles and resource-based policies for cross-account access, see How IAM roles differ from resource-based policies in the IAM User Guide.

  • Cross-service access – Some Amazon Web Services use features in other Amazon Web Services. For example, when you make a call in a service, it's common for that service to run applications in Amazon EC2 or store objects in Amazon S3. A service might do this using the calling principal's permissions, using a service role, or using a service-linked role.

    • Principal permissions – When you use an IAM user or role to perform actions in Amazon, you are considered a principal. Policies grant permissions to a principal. When you use some services, you might perform an action that then triggers another action in a different service. In this case, you must have permissions to perform both actions. To see whether an action requires additional dependent actions in a policy, see in the Service Authorization Reference.

    • Service role – A service role is an IAM role that a service assumes to perform actions on your behalf. An IAM administrator can create, modify, and delete a service role from within IAM. For more information, see Creating a role to delegate permissions to an Amazon Web Service in the IAM User Guide.

    • Service-linked role – A service-linked role is a type of service role that is linked to an Amazon Web Service. The service can assume the role to perform an action on your behalf. Service-linked roles appear in your IAM account and are owned by the service. An IAM administrator can view, but not edit the permissions for service-linked roles.

  • Applications running on Amazon EC2 – You can use an IAM role to manage temporary credentials for applications that are running on an EC2 instance and making Amazon CLI or Amazon API requests. This is preferable to storing access keys within the EC2 instance. To assign an Amazon role to an EC2 instance and make it available to all of its applications, you create an instance profile that is attached to the instance. An instance profile contains the role and enables programs that are running on the EC2 instance to get temporary credentials. For more information, see Using an IAM role to grant permissions to applications running on Amazon EC2 instances in the IAM User Guide.

To learn whether to use IAM roles or IAM users, see When to create an IAM role (instead of a user) in the IAM User Guide.