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Used to fetch multiple AWS Role Credential Keys using different Session Keys and store them securely using Gnome Keyring or OSX keychain


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 Project Readme


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This is an open source project published by The Scale Factory.

We currently consider this project to be hibernating.

These are projects that we’re no longer prioritising, but which we keep ticking over for the benefit of the few customers we support who still use them.

ℹ️ We’re not regularly patching these projects, or actively watching for issues or PRs. We’ll periodically make updates or respond to contributions if one of the team has some spare time to invest.

aws-assume-role is a utility intended for developer and operator environments who need to use 2FA and role assumption to access AWS services.

aws-assume-role can store both AWS access keys and ephemeral session tokens in OS credential vaults - Keychain on OSX and Keyring on Gnome.


This keeps your credentials safe in the keystore, and exist as environment variables for the duration and context of the executing command. This helps prevent credential leaking and theft, and means they aren't stored on disk as unencrypted files.

It allows easy credential management and role assumption with a 2FA/MFA device.

For more information on role assumption, see the AWS documentation.


  • Ruby ≥ 2.3
  • macOS Keychain / GNOME Keyring
  • At least one account with Amazon Web Services
  • An IAM role configured in the target account
  • An IAM user with rights to assume that role


gem install aws_assume_role

Platform notes

Gnome Keyring uses the GirFFI bindings, which require introspection bindings as well as Gnone Keyring, by installing one of the following packages:

# Debian/Ubuntu
apt-get install gnome-keyring libgirepository1.0-dev libgnome-keyring-common libgnome-keyring-dev

# Fedora
dnf install gobject-introspection-devel

# CentOS
yum install gobject-introspection-devel


You should already have an IAM user that you can log in to via AWS' console. If you do not already have an AWS access key and matching secret key for your own IAM user, use the AWS console to create that credential pair.

aws-assume-role works best if you also store permanent credentials in your keystore:

> aws-assume-role configure
Enter the profile name to save into configuration
Enter the AWS region you would like to default to:
Enter the AWS Access Key ID to use for this profile:
Enter the AWS Secret Access Key to use for this profile:
Profile `company_sso` saved to '/home/growthsmith/.aws/config'

Configuring roles

Now that you've set up permanent credentials in your OS credential store, you can now set up a role that you will assume in every day use:

> aws-assume-role configure role -p company-dev --source-profile company_sso  \
--role-arn=arn:aws:iam::000000000001:role/ViewEC2 --role-session-name=growthsmith \
--mfa-serial automatic

--mfa-serial automatic will look up your default attached multi-factor device, but you can specify a specific ARN.

More options are available in the application help. Use > aws-assume-role --help for help at any time.

Using MFA TOTP with a Yubikey

Yubikeys support TOTP this offers some benefits over using a phone. One benefit is the TOTP token can be retrieved by an API call rather than a user reading the token from the device.

This allows developers to call AWS through aws-assume-role, providing an MFA token without prompting for user input. To use this specify --yubikey-oath-name when calling configure role.

> aws-assume-role configure role -p company-dev --source-profile company_sso  \
--role-arn=arn:aws:iam::000000000001:role/ViewEC2 --role-session-name=growthsmith \
--mfa-serial automatic --yubikey-oath-name "Amazon Web Services:myuser@company_sso"

Yubikey Support: aws-assume-role uses the smartcard gem to connect to the Yubikey, this itself depends upon some C libraries being installed. They provide platform specific instructions for installing these libraries PC/SC.

Testing a profile

You can test a profile using

> aws-assume-role test -p company_sso
Logged in as:
    User: 9999999999
    Account: arn:aws:iam::3333333333:user/username

Running applications

You can run another application using

aws-assume-role run -p company-dev -- aws ec2 describe-instances --query \
"Reservations[*].Instances[*].PrivateIpAddress" --output=text

Because we've enabled MFA, aws-assume-role will ask for your MFA token:

Please provide an MFA token

Listing available profiles

Configured profiles can be listed:

> aws-assume-role list

Deleting a profile

If a set of credentials key needs revoking, or the profile isn't relevant anymore:

> aws-assume-role delete -p company_sso
Please type the name of the profile, i.e. company_sso , to continue deletion.
Profile company_sso deleted

Migrating AWS CLI profiles

It's better to revoke the existing keys and generate new ones. We try to overwrite the plaintext configuration file with random data, but this does not take care of ~/.aws/credentials and does not account for SSD wear levelling or copy-on-write snapshots.

aws-assume-role migrate -p company_sso
Profile 'company_sso' migrated to keyring.

Exporting environment variables

You can use a session token in your shell any supported application without using aws-assume-role.

You can also remove environment variables after finishing using the reset command.

Bourne Shell and friends

>  eval `./bin/aws-assume-role environment set -p company-dev`
>  eval `./bin/aws-assume-role environment reset`


> set creds (bin/aws-assume-role environment set -s fish -p company-dev); eval $creds; set -e creds
> set creds (bin/aws-assume-role environment reset -s fish); eval $creds; set -e creds


> aws-assume-role environment set -s powershell -p company-dev | invoke-expression
> aws-assume-role environment reset -s powershell | invoke-expression

Launch the AWS console

Given that aws-assume-role has knowledge of your role ARNs via AWS CLI profiles, you can get to the AWS console for that role/account using

> aws-assume-role console -p company_sso

aws-assume-role will first attempt to log in and get a federated UI link, and otherwise fall back to the "switch role" page.

Using inside Ruby

To get a set of credentials via the OS credential store, or using console-based MFA, use the following:

require "aws_assume_role"


where options is a hash with the following symbol keys:

  • access_key_id
  • secret_access_key
  • session_token
  • persist_session
  • duration_seconds
  • role_arn
  • role_session_name
  • serial_number
  • source_profile
  • region

aws_assume_role resolves credentials in almost the same way as the AWS SDK, i.e.:

static credentials ⟶ environment variables ⟶ configured profiles role ⟶ assumption (look up source profile and check for 2FA)

Any of the above may get chained to do MFA or role assumption, or both, in the following order:

second factor ⟶  ecs/instance profile

These are the same as the AWS SDK equivalents whereever possible. The command line help will give an explanation of the rest.

Monkeypatching the AWS SDK

You can also override the standard AWS SDK credential resolution system by including the following:

require "aws_assume_role/core_ext/aws-sdk/credential_provider_chain"

Using any standard AWS SDK for Ruby v2 client will then use aws_assume_role for credential resolution.

Please do not use this in production systems.

Other keyring backends

aws-assume-role uses the Keyring gem for secure secret storage. By default, this will use OS X keycain or GNOME Keyring. To load alternatives, set the following environment variables:

  • AWS_ASSUME_ROLE_KEYRING_BACKEND: Which backend to use, as the name of the Ruby class.
  • AWS_ASSUME_ROLE_KEYRING_PLUGIN : Name of a gem to load.

These are also available in Ruby as the AwsAssumeRole.Config.backend_plugin and AwsAssumeRole.Config.backend_plugin attributes.


Tests are conducted by Travis.

You can run these locally using Rake:

bundle exec rake test


This library and program is distributed under the Apache License, version 2.0

Copyright 2017. The Scale Factory Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Portions Copyright 2013. Amazon Web Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

licensed under the apache license, version 2.0 (the "license");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the license.
you may obtain a copy of the license at


unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the license is distributed on an "as is" basis,
without warranties or conditions of any kind, either express or implied.
see the license for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the license.