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Vincent Zanetta for Kumo

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Enable HTTPS-only on your S3 buckets

Easily configure your S3 buckets to allow only encrypted requests. Quickly check if your stack complies with sls-mentor! 📈

Serverless architectures have a reputation of safety because part of the cybersecurity risk is managed by the cloud provider. This does not mean you should not do anything on your side about it. Hopefully, it is often simple to improve security on a serverless app: setting up the right configurations for your AWS resources can help you increase the overall security of your app at low cost. More specifically, if you’re building a serverless app with AWS there’s a good chance you’re using S3 storage. As a data store, it is crucial to avoid security vulnerabilities with this resource.

Why is it important to secure your S3 buckets?

We often hear about encryption of data at rest i.e. in the bucket, which is a first step for securing your data. But the data could also be intercepted while in transit i.e. when it's being transferred over an HTTP request, creating... a data breach! 💀

meme data breach

A solution consists in encrypting the data in the request. This can be done simply by using the widespread HTTPS protocol 🤝 for posting requests to the database. Essentially, it uses transport layer encryption, an asymmetric cryptographic protocol which means the encryption key (call it x) is public but the decryption key is private. To centralize and authenticate the public keys, a third party called a certificate authority issues a proof that public key x is indeed associated with domain name d for a given period of time. The certificate authority issues a document called an HTTPS certificate. There are different levels of certification depending on how thoroughly the analysis of the issuing party is conducted. When making a request over HTTPS, it is thus possible to encrypt the data such that a certain domain name only can decrypt it. With this system, the request data is end-to-end encrypted. This is what we want to enforce for our S3 queries. In contrast, plain old HTTP requests are not encrypted thus are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle and eavesdropping attacks.

schema schemaPublicPrivateEncryption Principle of public-private key encryption. Image from

meme https

How to fix it?

To enforce a configuration where only HTTPS requests will be allowed on your S3 bucket, you need to change its access policy (also called permission boundaries). The access policy of the bucket is the way AWS allows to set its configuration. It is an object made of a version, a name and a list of statements. Each element of the latter is an object that describes the different rules that apply to your bucket. Each rule is a set of property assignments:

  • effect sets if the statement will allow or deny access e.g. Allow;
  • principal is the user or account that the statement applies to e.g. awesome-user;
  • action is the resource actions (e.g. s3:GetObject) in scope of the statement;
  • the resource is the list of AmazonResourceNames (ARNs) of the objects. It is a long string that begins with arn:aws:s3:::\* e.g. arn:aws:s3:::my-stack-my-chicken-wings-bucket423e3a42f3-432f3j2;
  • the condition is a property that states when the policy applies: in our case we want to deny access when the aws:SecureTransport is false;
  • you can tag your statement to group resources which share the same tag e.g. "food-bucket".

Now that the access policy is no secret to you, I bet you are rushing to you S3 permission tab and if need be, you append a policy statement where ‘Effect’ is set to ‘Deny’ ❌, where “Resource” is set to the AmazonResourceName of your bucket and is set to false, just like below.

  "Effect": "Deny",

  "Principal": "*",
  "Action": "s3:*",
  "Resource": ["resourceName1/*", "resourceName2"],
  "Condition": {
    "Bool": {
      "aws:SecureTransport": "false"
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Now your S3 data is also encrypted in transit! easy peazy!

Run an analysis with Sls-mentor

Sls-mentor can help you implement good practices on your AWS stack. It is an open source audit tool running directly from the terminal which will audit your resource stack. It will go through a list of good practice criteria and pinpoint you where there is room for improvement. For example, it is also First you should encrypt your S3 bucket on the server side so that the data is not readable if unfortunately data is maliciously retrieved from then. This can be done with simple, free S3-managed configuration (ServerSideEncryption-S3). From January 2023, this is done by default on all newly uploaded objects on S3 buckets.

In addition to enforcing encryption at rest and in transit, carefully setting the permissions statements of an S3 bucket can allow you to block requests from anonymous or undesirable users. Deep dive into the configuration of the permission statements and apply defense in depth 🤿.


Always set the right configuration for your S3 bucket and make your serverless apps safer!

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