AWS Best Practices

AWS Best Practices


When exploring Amazon Web Services (AWS), it's important to make sure your cloud environment is safe and efficient. AWS offers strong tools and features to help, but you need to be proactive too!

Avoid Using the Root User

The root user of your AWS account has complete access to all resources and services. For everyday tasks, it's safer to use Identity and Access Management (IAM) users with specific permissions.

  • Create IAM Users: For each team member, create an individual IAM user. This ensures that everyone has access only to the resources necessary for their role.

  • Limit Permissions: Apply the principle of least privilege. Start with minimal access and grant additional permissions as needed.

Organize with IAM Roles and Groups

In a typical organization, you might have various teams like developers, quality assurance, and operations, each requiring different levels of access.

  • Use IAM Roles: Roles allow you to define a set of permissions that you can then assign to IAM users, applications, or services. For example, you can create a role in AWS that allows a certain application to view and use data in an S3 bucket. This is helpful because it makes sure only the apps you approve can access your data, improving security by stopping unauthorized access.

  • Create Groups for Easy Management: Groups help you manage permissions for multiple users. You might have a "Developers" group with access to EC2 instances and a "Quality Assurance" group with read-only access to certain databases.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Adding a second layer of security is super important. MFA requires users to provide two forms of identification: something they know (like a password) and something they have (like a smartphone app or a hardware token).

  • Activate MFA for All Users: Ensure that both your root account and all IAM users have MFA enabled to protect against unauthorized access.

    • You would typically attach a policy that requires MFA to the IAM users or groups right from the start.

Set Billing Alerts

To avoid surprises in your AWS bill:

  • Monitor Usage: Keep an eye on your AWS usage and set up billing alerts. AWS allows you to receive notifications if your costs exceed certain thresholds.

  • Use the AWS Free Tier: Take advantage of the AWS Free Tier for new services and testing. It can significantly reduce costs for small projects or during the early stages of development.

  • Review Regularly: Check your AWS bill regularly to understand where costs are coming from and adjust your usage accordingly.

  • Fun story, when I worked with AWS MSK, I didn't know it'd be quite expensive. I hit my AWS Billing Alert, but I didn't think it was growing exponentially. I thought "Once this side project is done, then I'll look into the Alerts". My billing alert was set to 7$, by the time I checked the expenses I had, it was up to 22$.

    • Lesson learned? If you use any new AWS services, always check their pricing. And make sure to treat your "alerts" like actual alerts.

Real-World Example

Imagine a startup with three main teams: Development, QA, and Operations. Using IAM, the startup creates groups for each team with specific permissions:

  • Development Team: Access to AWS Lambda, Amazon S3, and Amazon DynamoDB for building applications.

  • QA Team: Read-only access to the same resources for testing.

  • Operations Team: Broad access, including AWS CloudFormation for infrastructure management and AWS CloudWatch for monitoring.

Using these practices, the startup makes sure each team gets the access they need without risking security or causing extra costs.


By following these best practices, you can create a secure, efficient, and cost-effective cloud environment to support your organization's goals.

Don't forget the shared responsibility model: AWS protects the cloud infrastructure, but it's your job to keep your data and apps safe in the cloud.