The cost-effective nature of cloud computing has given rise to many organizations adopting AWS consulting services. However, this also means many more AWS accounts are being created daily.
While the benefit is that you can use more computing power at a lower cost than if you were using your hardware, there’s also an increased risk of someone gaining unauthorized access to your AWS account and using it for malicious purposes such as sending spam messages or launching DDoS attacks on other systems. This is where Multifactor authentication comes into play.
What Is MFA, And What Is Its Importance?
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security measure for AWS accounts that adds an extra layer of security to your account, thus reducing the risk of a successful brute-force attack. MFA is also known as two-factor authentication (2FA).
How To Set Up MFA?
The following steps should help you set up your MFA:
- First, log in to your AWS account and choose the security profile.
- Next, click Configure MFA devices.
- If you already have an app installed on your smartphone that supports SMS verification codes (such as Google Authenticator, Duo Mobile, or Microsoft Authenticator), then enter it into the appropriate text box below “Install an App” If not, select “Use a phone number.”
How To Use Virtual MFA?
To use Virtual MFA, you need to:
- Install the AWS MFA Authentication plugin on your desktop computer.
- Create a new user in the AWS console. Make sure you assign an IAM role that includes permissions for all of the AWS consultingservices you want to access with this new user account (or change this later).
- Link the user to a virtual MFA device, a third-party application or a hardware token connected to your computer via a USB port. You can also use existing users from your existing system as long as they have been granted permission by an administrator of that organization’s directory service (SAML identity provider) and have added their information to another directory service like LDAP or Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS).
How To Set Up Hardware MFA?
To set up hardware MFA, follow these steps:
- Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the IAM console at
- In the left navigation pane, choose Users > Add user or group.
- Choose MFA device setup on the wizard page that opens and click Next. If you’re prompted to create a new role for this user, select Create new role from template(s), then continue with Step 4. Review your AWS account information details on this page, then click Confirm, as shown in Figure 1:
What To Do If You Lose Your Physical MFA Device?
If you lose your physical MFA device, you need to contact AWS support. They can issue a new physical device and reset the MFA on your account.
The alternative is to use an app-based MFA method such as Google Authenticator or Duo Mobile (iOS/Android). These apps generate push notifications that let you approve login attempts using a password, passcode or biometric verification (fingerprint reader).
Suppose you have already lost your physical MFA device. In that case, the best practice for AWS consulting firms and users is to only use app-based multifactor authentication methods from now on instead of the traditional hardware tokens.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a mechanism that requires more than one factor to prove your identity. For example, when logging into an AWS console, you can use your username and password. But if you also need to enter a code sent to your mobile phone via SMS or generated by an authenticator app, this would be considered MFA.
In conclusion, you’ll know that Multifactor authentication is the best way to secure your AWS account. It adds an extra layer of security and reduces the risk of a successful brute-force attack.