What is Federated user in AWS? Detailed Explanation

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A federated user in the context of AWS refers to an individual or entity who is granted temporary access to an AWS account, utilizing their existing credentials from an external identity provider. This concept of federated access enables seamless integration between AWS and other identity management systems, such as Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) or an on-premises Active Directory.

By leveraging a federated identity, users can access AWS services without the need for creating separate AWS-specific credentials. This offers several advantages in terms of security, efficiency, and ease of use. With federated access, organizations can maintain centralized control over user identities, access privileges, and authentication mechanisms, all while simplifying user management and reducing administrative overhead.

To establish federated access, a trust relationship is established between the AWS account and the identity provider. This relationship is based on industry-standard protocols like Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 or OpenID Connect (OIDC). Once authenticated by the external identity provider, a user is granted temporary credentials, known as the Security Token Service (STS) tokens. These tokens allow users to interact with AWS services based on the defined access policies and permissions.

By implementing federated access, organizations can enforce a unified identity and access management (IAM) strategy across multiple cloud platforms. This approach ensures consistent security controls, enables single sign-on (SSO), and simplifies user provisioning and deprovisioning processes. Additionally, federated access promotes the principle of least privilege, allowing organizations to granularly control the level of access individual users have to AWS resources.

In conclusion, federated users in AWS provide a powerful mechanism for streamlining user management, enhancing security, and integrating with external identity providers such as Azure AD. By leveraging identity federation, organizations can effortlessly extend their existing identity infrastructure to grant secure and controlled access to AWS resources. This not only simplifies user authentication but also enables consistent identity management policies across multiple cloud environments, ensuring a robust and well-architected cloud security posture.

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