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Page updated Apr 29, 2024

IAM roles and MFA

You can optionally configure the Amplify CLI to assume an IAM role by defining a profile for the role in the shared ~/.aws/config file. This is similar to how the AWS CLI functions, including short term credentials. This can be useful when you have multiple developers using one or more AWS accounts, including team workflows where you want to restrict the category updates they might be permitted to make. The AWS config and credentials files are shared between the Amplify CLI, AWS CLI, and other AWS SDKs; however, the Amplify CLI does not parse special characters such as ., unless they are properly escaped (\.). Additional information about the format of the config and credentials files can be found here.

When prompted during the execution of amplify init or the amplify configure project command, you will select a configured profile for the role, and the Amplify CLI will handle the logic to retrieve, cache and refresh the temp credentials. If Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is enabled, the CLI will prompt you to enter the MFA token code when it needs to retrieve or refresh temporary credentials.

The Amplify CLI has its own mechanism of caching temporary credentials, it does NOT use the same cache of the AWS CLI. The temporary credentials are cached at ~/.amplify/awscloudformation/cache.json. You can remove all cached credentials by removing this file. If you only want to remove the cached temp credentials associated with a particular project, execute amplify awscloudformation reset-cache or it's alias amplify aws reset-cache in the project.

Step by step guide to create and assume an IAM role

The following is a step by step guide on how to create an IAM role and make it available for the Amplify CLI.

The setup has three parts, you will use an example to demonstrate this capability.

Assume Biz Corp has decided to hire Dev Corp to develop its inventory management web portal, and Dev Corp is using the Amplify CLI to speed up the development process.

1. Set up the role (Biz Corp)

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the IAM console.
  2. In the navigation pane of the console, choose Roles and then choose Create role.
  3. Choose the Another AWS account role type.
  4. For Account ID, type Dev Corp's AWS account ID (the account ID of the entity you want to grant access to your AWS resources).
  5. Although optional, it is recommended to select Require external ID and enter the external id given to you by Dev Corp. (click here for more details on external IDs).
  6. If you want to restrict the role to users who sign in with multi-factor authentication (MFA), select Require MFA(click here for more details on MFA).
  7. Choose Next: Permissions.
  8. Select permissions policies that you want the developers from Dev Corp to have when the role is assumed. Note: You MUST grant the role permissions to perform CloudFormation actions and create associated resources (depending on the categories you use in your project) such as:
  • Cognito User and Identity Pools
  • S3 buckets
  • DynamoDB tables
  • AppSync APIs
  • API Gateway APIs
  • Pinpoint endpoints
  • Cloudfront distributions
  • IAM Roles
  • Lambda functions
  • Lex bots
  1. Choose Next: Tagging, attach tags if you want (optional).
  2. Choose Next: Review, type a name for your role, and optionally add the role description.
  3. Enter the required fields such as the "Role name".
  4. Choose Create role.
  5. Give the Role Arn to Dev Corp.

2. Set up the user to assume the role (Dev Corp)

2.1 Create a policy that has permission to assume the role created above by Biz corp

  1. Get the Role Arn from Biz Corp.
  2. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the IAM console. (Assuming Dev corp has a separate AWS account).
  3. In the navigation pane of the console, choose Policies and then choose Create policy.
  4. Select the 'JSON' tab and paste the following contents in the pane, replacing <biz_corp_rol_arn> with the value previously noted.
"Version": "2012-10-17",
"Statement": [
"Effect": "Allow",
"Action": "sts:AssumeRole",
"Resource": "<biz_corp_rol_arn>"
  1. Choose Review policy.
  2. Type in the policy Name, and optionally add the policy description.
  3. Choose Create policy.

2.2 Attach the policy to the user

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the IAM console.
  2. In the navigation pane of the console, choose Users and then choose Add user.
  3. Type the User name for the new user.
  4. Select Programmatic access for Access type.
  5. Choose Next: Permissions.
  6. On the Set Permissions Page, select Attach existing policies directly.
  7. Select the policy created in 2.1.
  8. Choose Next: Tagging, attach tags if you wish (optional).
  9. Choose Next: Review.
  10. Choose Create User.
  11. Click Download .csv to download a copy of the credentials. You can, optionally, copy paste the Access Key ID and Secret Access Key and store it in a safe location. These credentials would be used in a later section.

2.3 Assign MFA device (Optional)

This must be set up if the Biz Corp selected to Require MFA when creating the role. This needs to be set up by Dev Corp users and in their respective AWS account.
We are using a virtual MFA device, such as the Google Authenticator app, in this example.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the IAM console.
  2. In the navigation pane of the console, choose Users and select the user created above in 2.2.
  3. Select the Security Credentials tab.
  4. Next to the Assigned MFA device label, choose the Manage option.
  5. In the Manage MFA Device wizard, choose Virtual MFA device, and then choose Continue.
  6. Choose Show QR code if the MFA app supports QR code, and scan the QR code from your virtual device(Google Authenticator app in our case), if not, choose Show secret key and type it into the MFA app.
  7. In the MFA code 1 box, type the one-time password that currently appears in the virtual MFA device. Wait for the device to generate a new one-time password. Then type the second one-time password into the MFA code 2 box. Then choose Assign MFA.
  8. Copy the MFA device arn next to Assigned MFA device, which will be used in part 3.

3. Set up the local development environment (Dev Corp)

  1. On the local development system, create the following two files if they do not exist.
  2. Insert the following contents into the ~/.aws/config file:
[profile bizcorprole]
[profile devcorpuser]

mfa_serial and external_id are optional, leave them out if they are not configured.

  1. Insert the following contents into the ~/.aws/credentials file:

Now, when Dev Corp is trying to initialize an Amplify Project, the user can select the bizcorprole profile configured above, and based on the authentication method set up the user would be prompted with corresponding questions such as MFA codes. After this, the user would be able to successfully deploy/manage AWS resources in Biz corps account (based on the access policies set by the Biz corp).

You can take a look at AWS IAM and the AWS CLI documentation for more details on IAM role and its usage.