Do you know What Is AWS STS? What purpose is the service used for? And the benefits it can provide to your application? If you don’t, read this to know.
Web Technology is widely accepted as the central source of why the world has advanced so much in the 21st century. We are now more accessible, secure, and reliable now than we were ever before.
Experts denote many reasons for this success story. However, we feel it is the cumulative result of services like AWS STS, due to which we can now achieve things that were once thought to be impossible.
What Is AWS STS? Explained
If you are a beginner and do not know what an STS is, then fret not, because this is precisely what we will decode in this guide.
What is STS
STS, or as it’s known by its full abbreviation, Security Token Service, is a service offered to grant temporary access to your organization’s AWS account identity. These limited privilege credentials can be created for many purposes.
Essential Job of STS
The essential job for establishing and using an STS could be of various natures. Purposes like security checks, cross-platform working to even third-party maintenance access can be the reason behind it.
Primary Reason to Employ a Security Token Service?
Application development and management take a village to make it work. The fundamental reason why organizations prefer to use STS over handing over their organization’s permanent credentials is security.
A security token service only provides temporary access, and usually, this access expires after 12 hours. You can request AWS to extend this access.
Sometimes, it is commonly requested when different interdepartmental teams are working on a cross-platform application.
However, this access is only for 12 hours, so you can ensure that even if you use a third party for any consultancy or in a work capacity, they could not access your account once their work is done.
Scenarios & Examples Where AWS STS Use Is Paramount
The followings are the scenarios and examples where the use of AWS STS proves its worth and importance.
1. Third-Party Services Access
Application building and maintenance is a complex procedure. You need help from various professionals to make it work adequately.
Plus, regardless of how competent your own staff is, there are instances when external support is required.
STS is perfect for these instances because it allows you to get the help your application needs without compromising your organization’s credentials on a long-term basis.
Using this service, you can disable this security token to have your privacy back as soon as the work is done.
2. Transfer of Power
Sometimes web applications aren’t developed in-house; instead, they are developed by hired professionals.
Now, because of the nature of various businesses, they cannot rely even on manufacturers once they have taken over the application.
So they request the final transfer of power to be made in STS form. Once the owners have control, they can change the credentials to their liking.
This ensures the utmost privacy for their property.
3. Audits & Governance by Authorities
There are various national and international authorities involved in auditing or governing your business practices.
To ensure you are not breaking any laws, you have to share your credentials with them from time to time, and during this, STS is the perfect way to share.
This allows the concerned authority to go over your business practices and does not even compromise your security and privacy.
Because once they are done, you can change your credentials back to private.
4. Threats of Corporate Espionage
Threats of espionage are another situation where security tokens can prove fruitful.
Because if you are having doubts that someone from your organization is capable of leaking your organization’s confidential data, you can lock everything down and only provide access to the top brass through STS.
By applying these methods, you can quickly sort out who has access, who logged in, and when and if a breach happened from where it began.
5. Suspicion of Getting Your Application Hacked
Another situation where STS is ideal is when you are suspicious of getting hacked.
You can deploy this service to ensure that your previous credentials are null and void until you are sure about the severity of the hack.
If there is no attack, your original credentials will be restored after 12 hours.
But in case there were, you would have prevented it. And it would have provided you the required time to make changes to your application access and privacy settings.
6. Under/During Security Attack
We believe your application is under any form of attack at any given time. Then it is also an excellent situation where you can utilize a security token service to save your application.
This service will disable access to your account. Only the people you will provide access to will be able to access it.
Making this move can save you from catastrophe. It will also provide your security team with adequate time to come up with a plan to counter the attack you were under.
7. Vigilant Security Checks
The final situation where we believe STS could be worth using is when you perform vigilant security checks on your application.
You can test the credibility of your security team by enabling this to mimic an attack. If your security team is good enough, they will be able to counter this.
However, if they are unable to counter it. Then it will inform you about a much bigger issue of how easily your security could be compromised. And you need to update your team’s competency level.
Benefits of Deploying Amazon STS?
So far, we have discussed quite a few benefits that are enough to consider using this service. But, are you still unsure about this being the service your business needs?
To change your mind about them, we have highlighted their foremost benefits. Take a look at them, and we are confident your perception is bound to change:
1. Provides You Temporary Credentials
The most significant benefit we believe STS provides is that it allows you to generate and distribute temporary credentials.
There are many security-related measures when you are not confident in sharing your Amazon Web Services’ actual credentials.
So, in a situation like this, temporary credentials are life-saving. They allow you to perform the task that needs to be performed and simultaneously keep the power to disable this service and suspend credentials as you feel like.
2. Allows You Permission Customization Capability
The second benefit of using STS is that it allows you to customize the access you are generating through it.
Who do you want to access your application, when do you want them to access it, and how much do you want to allow them access? These are all decisions you can make if you use this service.
3. Provides You with an Enhanced Layer of Protection
The final benefit of this service is that it provides you with an enhanced layer of protection. While dealing with security tokens, you are always in charge. The moment you feel uncomfortable, you can terminate the access.
Drawbacks of Using Amazon Security Token Service?
We have informed you about the benefits Amazon’s security token service has.
However, they aren’t perfect, and to be completely honest with you, we have to share them with you. So the following are the drawbacks of using this service from AWS.
1. Too Much Power Under One Central Command
The most prominent drawback is that it allows one central source to have complete command over your application.
If you aren’t the owner and are a team member who has master access, you can compromise the complete application. This much power in one place is dangerous.
2. Slows Organization Productivity Down
The second drawback is that this constant access and non-access issue slows the work productivity in your business.
People who are developing or managing your application are constantly looking for a new access code, which can significantly hinder progress.
3. Creates Tension of Mistrust
The final drawback of using Amazon’s STS is that it can create tension of mistrust among your employees.
Security is essential, but if employees feel they are not appreciated, it can reduce their drive to work for the progression of your business.
Reasons Temporary Security Token Service Should Be the Way Moving Forward
The following are why we believe security token service is the future of application management.
|Reduces Chances of Theft/Espionage
|Establishes Single Source of Power
|Denotes Application Usage Timeline
Benefits Security Token Service Provides Your Application?
The following are the benefits of STS for your application.
|Allows You Permission Customization Capability
|Provides You with an Enhanced Layer of Protection
What Makes AWS STS Worth It?
We believe the following reasons make AWS STS worth it.
|Peace of Mind
AWS STS vs Cognito
We all know both services are made to authenticate users using third-party applications. Let us try to find out how they are and where to use them based on different scenarios.
|Provides temporary access to resources in the AWS ecosystem. It’s the process of generating an authorization token.
|Cognito maintains data in user pools and identity pools.
|The temporary access or the token is valid for a few mins and has to be refreshed after that.
|STS can also use Cognito for identity validation.
|The token generation is done by assuming roles through AssumeRole API
|Allows users to log in to AWS using temporary credentials
|It can also provide non AWS user access to AWS by authorizing users with Active Directory credentials.
|Used widely for mobile games or applications for authentication B2B and B2C users
AWS STS Pricing?
Check out more on the AWS STS Pricing part.
What is AWS STS Endpoint?
How do we connect to an AWS Service? The answer is through endpoints.
The beauty of STS is that it provides a single endpoint globally and all the users can connect to that endpoint.
AWS also provides regional endpoint service as well just to balance the load.
What is AWS STS FAQs
The following are the STS FAQs.
Q: What Is A Security Token Service?
Security token service or STS is a service from AWS that allows you to create and distribute temporary access credentials to your organization’s Amazon Web Services account.
Q: Is Amazon STS Reliable?
Amazon STS is a service offered to you by AWS. Yes, they are reliable, given AWS’s excellent credential record in the web services industry.
Q: How Secure Is STS?
STS offered by Amazon comes directly under the umbrella of AWS, so you can rest assured that they are one of the most secure services.
Q: Essential Reasons STS Is The Service Of The Future?
STS is the future service because it helps you manage, protect, and maintain your web application.
They are how we operate everything nowadays. As long as they serve those people, they will use them to benefit from them.
Q: What is AWS STS CLI?
This way we can also access STS through the command line and use its services like generating temporary tokens and other services by STS.
Q: What is AWS STS documentation
We have tried out best to summarize AWS STS. For more information, you can refer to the AWS documentation.
Q: What is AWS STS assume-role
STS uses AssumeRole API to generate temporary credentials and login to a different account using the role in that account.
Q: What is AWS STS boto3
Boto3 is the python library, that can be used in lambda functions and generate credentials through STS.
Q: What is AWS STS get-caller-identity?
This will give us the details of the IAM user which STS used to generate the temporary credentials.
You may also like to explore below AWS Blogs.
- What Is AWS WAF
- What Is AWS Shield
- What Is AWS EKS
- What Is AWS SWF
- What Is AWS SNS
- What Is AWS Cognito
- What Is AWS EBS
We live in an age where web applications control your lives. Whether it is our business or pleasure, they control everything, and STS is a service that provides them protection.
To educate you about them we have explained this service in great detail. Let us know your opinion about them in the comments section.
I am an Amazon Web Services Professional, having more than 11 years of experience in AWS and other technologies. Extensively working in various AWS tools like S3, Lambda, API, Kinesis, Load Balancers, EKS, ECS, and many more. Working as a Solution Architect and Technology Lead for Architecting and implementing the same for different clients. He provides expert solutions around the world and especially in countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Check out the complete profile on About us.