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openSeSSHIAMe allows SSH access to an instance behind the great AWS firewall (security group for the instance) for authorized IAM users from their current location.

Project description



openSeSSHIAMe (picture Adam Sandler singing "open sesame") allows SSH access to an instance behind the great AWS firewall (security group for the instance) for authorized users from their current location.

Given the credentials for an AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management) user, it:

  • Obtains the current machine's public IP address
  • Uses the AWS Python SDK (boto3) to allow incoming traffic to the instance on port 22 from the public IP address
  • Revokes previous ingress rules for this IAM user


Use at your own risk, and only with trusted users. Follow best practices to secure your EC2 instance and AWS account. Feedback, suggested improvements, and contributions will be most appreciated. See Notes for known issues with the current implementation.

AWS Prerequisites

  • An EC2 instance with at least one associated security group that openSeSSHIAMe can operate on. It's probably a good idea to keep a dedicated security group for use with this tool.
  • For each openSeSSHIAMe user, an IAM user that:
    • Has an attached tag with Key=openSeSSHIAMe-ID and a unique Value among all openSeSSHIAMe users
    • Allows the following EC2 actions only on that particular security group:
      • DescribeSecurityGroups (List)
      • AuthorizeSecurityGroupIngress (Write)
      • RevokeSecurityGroupIngress (Write)
    • Allows the following IAM actions only on that particular IAM user (this can be achieved by using ${aws:username} in the ARN when specifying resources):
      • ListUserTags (List)


  • The IAM user will be able to describe security groups other than the one used by openSeSSHIAMe! This is because DescribeSecurityGroups cannot be restricted to a particular resource (the security group used by openSeSSHIAMe).
  • The service used to determine the current public IPv4 address could return an incorrect address, thus giving someone else access!


  • Python 3+
  • boto3 (>= 1.9.121)
  • docopt (>= 0.6.2)
  • requests (>= 2.21.0)


To install from source, execute the following in the directory containing

pip install [--user] [--upgrade] .

To install from PyPI:

pip install [--user] [--upgrade] openSeSSHIAMe


The openSeSSHIAMe CLI can be executed for oneshot authorization of the user's current public IPv4 address:

openSeSSHIAMe --verbose --config /path/to/config.json

Here, config.json should look like etc/openSeSSHIAMe-config.json, found in this repo and the installed package. It consists of the IAM credentials and username for the current openSeSSHIAMe user, the ID of the security group to use, and the region the EC2 instance is running in.

openSeSSHIAMe can be run at the time of starting an SSH session, just like port-knockers. One way is using ProxyCommand in your SSH client config:

Host foo
HostName ...
ProxyCommand bash -c 'openSeSSHIAMe --verbose --config ...; sleep 1;
                      exec nc %h %p'

This technique should also work with autossh.

Alternatively (or additionally), a sample systemd service and timer for periodic execution are included in etc/.

Finally, feel free to import and use the openSeSSHIAMe class after installing this package:

from openSeSSHIAMe import openSeSSHIAMe
sesame = openSeSSHIAMe(config_filename='...', verbose=True)
# See main() in for further usage


  • If an existing rule for the current public IP address exists, don't revoke and re-authorize it -- just to reduce entries in CloudTrail. However, calls to DescribeSecurityGroups and ListUserTags are unavoidable.
  • Allow ports other than 22 and multiple ports. Might do this if and when the need arises.
  • Allow for multiple address per IAM user. Ditto.
  • Use PID file to handle concurrent runs for same IAM user.
  • Add option to use IPv6 addresses.


openSeSSHIAMe is distributed under the terms of the MIT license. Please see COPYING.

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