Grant AWS Lambda Access to a Dynamodb Table

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Borislav Hadzhiev

Tue Sep 28 20213 min read

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Grant AWS Lambda Access to a Dynamodb Table #

In order to grant a Lambda function access to a Dynamodb table, we have to attach an IAM policy to the function's execution role. The policy should grant permissions for all the Actions the function needs to perform on the table.

For example, the following policy grants permissions for the most commonly used dynamodb actions on a specific table.

The policy applies to a specific table, therefore make sure to replace the YOUR_* placeholders in the Resource element with the real values.
example-dynamodb-policy.json
{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": [ "dynamodb:BatchGetItem", "dynamodb:GetItem", "dynamodb:Scan", "dynamodb:Query", "dynamodb:BatchWriteItem", "dynamodb:PutItem", "dynamodb:UpdateItem", "dynamodb:DeleteItem" ], "Resource": "arn:aws:dynamodb:YOUR_REGION:YOUR_ACCOUNT_NUMBER:table/YOUR_TABLE" } ] }

The Resource element is simply the table's ARN. It should look something like: arn:aws:dynamodb:us-east-1:123456789:table/my-table once the real values are in place.

The actions your lambda function needs to perform on the table are use case dependent.

You could set "dynamodb:*" for the Action element in the policy to grant full dynamodb access to the lambda function. However, it's best practice to grant an entity the least permissions that get the job done.

You can view a full list of the dynamodb Actions by visiting the docs.

There is a Description column, which explains what each action does.

To attach a policy to the lambda function's execution role, you have to:

  1. Open the AWS Lambda console and click on your function's name
  2. Click on the Configuration tab and then click Permissions

click on function role

  1. Click on the function's role
  2. Click on Attach policies and click the Add inline policy button

add inline policy

  1. In the JSON editor paste the following policy.
Replace the YOUR_* placeholders and adjust the Actions your lambda function needs to execute.
example-dynamodb-policy.json
{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": [ "dynamodb:BatchGetItem", "dynamodb:GetItem", "dynamodb:Scan", "dynamodb:Query", "dynamodb:BatchWriteItem", "dynamodb:PutItem", "dynamodb:UpdateItem", "dynamodb:DeleteItem" ], "Resource": "arn:aws:dynamodb:YOUR_REGION:YOUR_ACCOUNT_NUMBER:table/YOUR_TABLE" } ] }
  1. Click Review Policy and give your policy a name, then click Create policy

At this point the lambda function's role has been extended with a policy that grants access to some Dynamodb actions on a specific table.

It can take up to a minute until the IAM changes have been propagated and the policy is in effect.

Invoke your lambda function and verify whether it has access to the dynamodb table.

If your function is still unable to access the dynamodb table, try to increase the function's timeout by a second in the AWS console or simply add an extra print statement in the code and click the Deploy button.

If your lambda function still does not have access to the table, expand the IAM policy you added to the function's role and edit it to look like the policy below.

edit policy

Replace the YOUR_* placeholders with real values.
dynamodb-full-access.json
{ "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Effect": "Allow", "Action": [ "dynamodb:*" ], "Resource": "arn:aws:dynamodb:YOUR_REGION:YOUR_ACCOUNT_NUMBER:table/YOUR_TABLE" } ] }

The IAM policy above grants full access to a dynamodb table. Your lambda function will be able to execute all dynamodb actions on the table.

It's best practice to grant the least possible permissions, that enable you to get the job done, however the * symbol is useful when debugging.

After you've updated the policy, try to invoke your lambda function again, it should have permissions to execute any action on the dynamodb table.

After you verify which actions your lambda needs to run, you can make the IAM policy less permissive.

Note that a policy statement with a Deny effect will always override any Allow statements.

Further Reading #

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