Avoid the Use of the AWS Root Account


The root account in AWS refers to the initial account that is created when setting up an AWS environment. This account has complete, unrestricted access to all AWS services and resources in the account. Using the root account for day-to-day tasks poses significant security risks, including the potential for accidental data deletions, unwanted resource modifications, or even malicious activities if the account is compromised.

It's a best practice to avoid using the root account for routine operations, instead leveraging IAM users or roles with defined permissions to adhere to the principle of least privilege.


1. Secure the Root Account:

AWS Management Console:
  • Ensure a strong, unique password is set for the root account.
  • Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for the root account:
    • Navigate to the IAM Console.
    • In the navigation pane, choose Root account settings.
    • Next to Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), choose Manage MFA and follow the on-screen instructions.

2. Create Administrative IAM Users:

Instead of using the root account, create IAM users with administrative privileges for daily tasks.

AWS Management Console:
  • In the IAM Console, choose Users and then Add user.
  • Provide a user name and select AWS Management Console access.
  • Assign the user to a group that has administrative permissions or attach the AdministratorAccess managed policy directly to the user.
  • Strongly consider enabling MFA for this administrative user as well.

3. Implement Least Privilege:

Create IAM roles or users with specific permissions required for tasks instead of granting broad access.

  • For example, if someone only needs read access to S3, only grant that specific permission rather than full S3 or administrative access.

4. Regularly Audit and Monitor Activity:

Use AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config to monitor and record all actions taken in your AWS account. Regularly review these logs, especially any activity related to the root account.


Always avoid using the AWS root account for everyday tasks. Instead, utilize IAM users and roles with clearly defined permissions. This approach not only aligns with AWS best practices but also significantly reduces the potential risk of accidental or malicious disruptions.

For the highest level of security, consider the root account as an emergency-only account, keeping its credentials (and MFA device) in a secure and controlled environment. Regularly review AWS documentation and recommendations to ensure that your organization's practices stay up-to-date with the best security standards.