Create a DynamoDB Table

From @jayair on Mon Apr 10 2017 00:57:28 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Link to chapter -

Copied from original issue:

From @grantgarland on Sat Jun 03 2017 18:49:36 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Should the partition and sort id’s be of type “number” rather than “string”?

From @jayair on Mon Jun 05 2017 00:24:20 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@SlovaDev Both the user id and note id are uuid strings in our case.

From @grantgarland on Mon Jun 05 2017 00:37:46 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Ok, thanks for the clarification. I’m new to the world of AWAS but really enjoying the serverless stack tutorial.

From @tschmidleithner on Fri Sep 22 2017 08:37:23 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Since updated to AWS_IAM auth, a row in a DynamoDB table contains a HASHKEY of the cognitoIdentityId to link a user to a specific table entry now. I think before migrating to AWS_IAM, the HASHKEY for a table row was, right?

The point is that I don’t see a chance now to use AWS specific fine-grained access control to restrict access to a table row only to a user who has a specific cognitoIdentityId, e.g.:
With it was possible to securely restrict access to a DynamoDB table for a user with a condition on the DynamoDB resource with dynamodb:LeadingKeys. Now, without storing the as HASHKEY I think it is not possible anymore to restrict access to DynamoDB tables for a specific AWS_IAM authenticated user only, is that correct? At least I did not find a substituation variable for cognitoIdentityId. It would be good to restrict access as mentioned before from a security point of view.

(Btw I want to thank you for this comprehensive serverless tutorial!)

From @jayair on Fri Sep 22 2017 20:52:55 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@tschmidleithner We do one level of this access control when we assign an IAM role to a federated identity as shown in this chapter - We use the as the substitution variable for the user id.

For DynamoDB it is a bit different because the role that we use there is defined by the one we assign to the Lambda function. Out of curiosity do you have an example using the to control access to a DynamoDB table in the serverless.yml?

From @tschmidleithner on Fri Sep 22 2017 21:29:58 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@jayair Thanks for your fast response.

Yes, that is correct with S3 but is stated in the role which is generated by Cognito Federated-Identities. But the DynamoDB table resources are invoked from lambda functions and therefore the DynamoDB policy would be stated in the lambda role. You could simply change the existing IAM lambda role with the DynamoDB table definitions which is created by the Serverless framework (or more precisely by CloudFormation) to something like this (the important part is the condition):

  "Action": [
  "Resource": "arn:aws:dynamodb:eu-west-1:*:table/apiName-stage-table",
  "Condition": {
    "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
        "dynamodb:LeadingKeys": ${}
  "Effect": "Allow"

This policy should restrict access to DynamoDB table rows only to users with a sub that is equal to the HASHKEY afaik (official AWS blog post entry).
But I think that the lambda function does not invoke DynamoDB with cognitoIdentityId. At least I didn’t get it to work with this policy since I always get a 403 error.
I hope I could clarify my question now, if not please do not hesitate to ask for more details. Or am I trying to misuse something here?

From @jayair on Sun Sep 24 2017 01:44:10 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@tschmidleithner Maybe you already know this but the reason why the S3 bucket in our case and the blog post that you linked to for DynamoDB need that level of security is because the clients are talking directly to those AWS resources. In the case of Lambda for the tutorial we authenticate and secure our resources before it gets there. This is why we are comfortable in giving the level access (after authenticating the user) to DynamoDB.

That’s not to say that you should not do it your way. But I’d need to research further on why the IAM Role cannot access the cognitoIdentityId (though intuitively it makes sense since we are past the authentication step already).

From @tschmidleithner on Tue Sep 26 2017 05:30:14 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@jayair Yes, I know that. But beside from directly invoking the AWS resources, it made sense to me to use this built in security feature from IAM to better secure my application.

From @jayair on Tue Sep 26 2017 22:20:52 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@tschmidleithner Yeah we’d need to test it out. I’m not exactly sure why one is supported and the other isn’t.

From @tommedema on Thu Sep 28 2017 06:38:56 GMT+0000 (UTC)

When I try to create the DynamoDB instance, it warns that I don’t have privileges for auto-scaling. This does not appear to be the case in the guide.

Strange thing is, I believe I am logged in as the root user. So how can I not have permissions?

From @jayair on Thu Sep 28 2017 19:39:04 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@tommedema The auto-scaling update is recent. So I wonder if things have changed. We’ll need to try it and get back to you. Thanks for letting us know.

From @jayair on Fri Sep 29 2017 17:38:51 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@tommedema Yeah we just tested it. If you are doing this for the first time you would need to use a different option and not the Use default settings one. You can read more about it here -

We’ll be updating the tutorial soon.

From @jayair on Fri Sep 29 2017 18:19:50 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@tommedema Updated with the new instructions -

From @glicht on Sat Jan 20 2018 14:53:16 GMT+0000 (UTC)


I really like this tutorial and I think you’ve done an excellent job putting everything together.

I have a comment regarding the permissions granted in serverless.yml. Using the “*” operator for the resource part of DynamoDB is really not good practice, security wise.

I would suggest using: arn:aws:dynamodb:us-east-1:*:table/notes instead.

Also, serverless supports defining Cloud Formation resources in the yml file. You might want to consider using the option of defining the DynamoDB table as part of the serverless.yml file. I’ve created a branch with the DynamoDB table defined in serverless.yml, so during the deploy stage the table will be created instead of doing this via the UI. You can view this branch here: . If you find this useful, I can open a PR.



From @jayair on Tue Jan 23 2018 14:56:53 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@glicht Thanks for this. For the early chapters in the tutorial we would prefer it is done through the UI. But we are looking into creating a CloudFormation stack for the entire tutorial setup. And there is an open issue for this since certain parts of the Cognito setup are not supported in CloudFormation yet.

For the permissions, it is good practice to be as specific as possible for the IAM role. But in this case it is not as bad because the role that is specified in the serverless.yml is not what your users have access to. Instead it is the role your Lambda assumes. And we restrict access to our Lambdas via the Identity Pool.

From @glicht on Tue Jan 23 2018 15:09:52 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Sure. Just to add, I am using your demo app in a recent walk through I’ve written on how to achieve least privilege permissions via X-Ray. You can read it here: . As part of this process, I’ve also created a branch which enables X-Ray if you are interested: .

From @jayair on Tue Jan 23 2018 15:21:00 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@glicht The blog post looks great. I’ll make a note of it and add it in an advanced chapter. Thanks!

From @walshe on Tue Feb 20 2018 12:27:14 GMT+0000 (UTC)

what are the thoughts on defining dynamodb tables (an even cognito pools etc) in serverless.yml ? can it even be done without having to have absolute arns referenced etc?

From @jayair on Fri Feb 23 2018 21:42:34 GMT+0000 (UTC)

@walshe Yeah there are a few people that have done so. We are going to be writing a chapter on it some time soon.