Stop using the AWS key and secret on your EC2 instances

AWS Instance Roles give you a better, more secure way to authenticate to AWS Services

Time and time again, we see that developers take the easy route and choose convenience over best practices. It is always better to take some time, however long it takes, and implement it properly, especially regarding information security.

AWS Key and Secret authenticate and authorize access to AWS services and resources. While it is common practice to use the aws configure command to store these credentials on the server, this authentication method can pose a security risk.

One major issue with using AWS Key and Secret is that they are stored as plaintext on the server. This means that anyone with access to the server can easily retrieve and use these credentials to access your AWS resources. This can be especially dangerous if an attacker compromises the server or your AWS key and secret leak.

Using instance roles is a better option for authenticating access to AWS resources. An instance role can be associated with an EC2 instance at launch. This role allows the instance to access specific AWS resources and services.

Using instance roles has several benefits over using AWS Key and Secret:

  1. Improved security: Instance roles are stored and managed by AWS, meaning they are not stored as plaintext on the server. This makes it much more difficult for an attacker to access your AWS resources.
  2. Simplified management: When you use instance roles, you don’t have to worry about rotating or managing the AWS Key and Secret. AWS handles this for you, which can save you time and effort.
  3. Better control: With instance roles, you have more control over what actions an EC2 instance can take in your AWS environment. You can specify exactly which resources and services an instance has access to rather than giving it access to everything.

It is important to consider the security implications of how you authenticate access to your AWS resources. While using AWS Key and Secret may be convenient, it is generally a better idea to use instance roles to ensure the security of your environment.

It only takes a few clicks in the AWS console or a line of code in your preferred infrastructure as code tool to make it happen!