Cloud Posse

AWS Vault

The aws-vault by 99 Designs is a vault for securely storing and accessing encrypted AWS credentials for use in development environments. This tool makes it extremely easy to work with IAM assumed roles across multiple AWS organizations.


The aws-vault has no relationship to the HashiCorp Vault.


  • Encrypted vault for IAM credentials (OSX KeyChain or file)
  • IAM Metadata server (mocks the EC2 API) to simulate instance profiles for local development
  • Prompts for MFA Token
  • Variable-length session TTLs
  • Compatible with ~/.aws/config
  • Automatic logins to AWS Web Console


This has been incorporated into our latest release of geodesic.


You can install AWS Vault on local allow you to authorize on aws and preform aws cli requrests from host computer

OSX Installation

brew cask install aws-vault

Linux Installation (binary)

Download the precompiled binary from the GitHub releases page, unless a package exists for your distro.

sudo curl -o /usr/local/bin/aws-vault
sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/aws-vault

Local Configuration

Setup your ~/.aws/config by adding a profile entry for each AWS account.

Here's an example of how we do it:

[profile cloudposse-dev-admin]
mfa_serial = arn:aws:iam::313021614177:mfa/[email protected]


Do not define the source profile in ~/.aws/credentials; we're going to use aws-vault add for that.

We recommend using the file type backend for aws-vault because this is compatible with Linux, which is needed for Geodesic sessions.

Add the following to your ~/.bashrc:

export AWS_VAULT_BACKEND="file"

Then source ~/.bashrc to update your current session.

Using with Geodesic

AWS Vault available in the geodesic shell - just connect to that shell by running


Add your profile to AWS Vault

Now we are ready to configure your AWS credentials. To add your AWS credentials to the encrypted vault run the following command. Remember to replace example with your source profile name.

aws-vault add example

Trouble Shooting

Most problems are related to your environment settings.

  • Make sure you do not define a [default] profile in ~/.aws/credentials or [profile default] in ~/aws/config
  • Make sure AWS_SDK_LOAD_CONFIG is not set
  • Make sure AWS_SHARED_CREDENTIALS_FILE is not set

If using --server mode, make sure you do not have credentials exported:

    (Use unset to delete them from your environment and make sure they aren't expored in your ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile)


AWS Vault