For your sensitive data on AWS, you should implement security controls, including identity and access management, infrastructure security, and data protection. Amazon Web Services (AWS) recommends that you set up multiple accounts as your workloads grow to isolate applications and data that have specific security requirements. AWS tools can help you establish a data perimeter between your multiple accounts, while blocking unintended access from outside of your organization. Data perimeters on AWS span many different features and capabilities. Based on your security requirements, you should decide which capabilities are appropriate for your organization. In this first blog post on data perimeters, I discuss which AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) features and capabilities you can use to establish a data perimeter on AWS. Subsequent posts will provide implementation guidance and IAM policy examples for establishing your identity, resource, and network data perimeters.

A data perimeter is a set of preventive guardrails that help ensure that only your trusted identities are accessing trusted resources from expected networks. These terms are defined as follows:

Data perimeter guardrails

You typically implement data perimeter guardrails as coarse-grained controls that apply across a broad set of AWS accounts and resources. When you implement a data perimeter, consider the following six primary control objectives.

Data perimeter

Control objective


Only trusted identities can access my resources.

Only trusted identities are allowed from my network.


My identities can access only trusted resources.

Only trusted resources can be accessed from my network.


My identities can access resources only from expected networks.

My resources can only be accessed from expected networks.

Note that the controls in the preceding table are coarse in nature and are meant to serve as always-on boundaries. You can think of data perimeters as creating a firm boundary around your data to prevent unintended access patterns. Although data perimeters can prevent broad unintended access, you still need to make fine-grained access control decisions. Establishing a data perimeter does not diminish the need to continuously fine-tune permissions by using tools such as IAM Access Analyzer as part of your journey to least privilege.

To implement the preceding control objectives on AWS, use three primary capabilities:

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