Uploading and Applying SSL/TLS Certificates in AWS IAM: A Step-by-Step Guide


In the world of cloud computing and web security, SSL/TLS certificates play a crucial role in securing data transmission over the internet. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a robust service for managing these certificates through the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) service. In this hands-on lab, we’ll walk you through the steps to upload an SSL/TLS certificate to AWS IAM and then apply it to an Application Load Balancer (ALB) and Amazon CloudFront distribution.


Before we dive into the practical steps, let’s ensure we have the necessary prerequisites in place:

  1. Access to an AWS account.
  2. Familiarity with the AWS Management Console.

Let’s Get Started

  1. Access the ACM Console: After logging into the AWS Management Console, navigate to the ACM (AWS Certificate Manager) console. Here, we can configure HTTPS listeners on an ALB or CloudFront distribution using SSL/TLS certificates managed by ACM.
  2. Certificate Considerations: AWS recommends using ACM to request new SSL/TLS certificates or import certificates obtained from a trusted certificate authority. However, some scenarios may require certificates with specific algorithms and key sizes not supported by ACM .In such cases, you must upload these certificates to AWS IAM for use with your load balancer or CloudFront distribution.
  3. Certificate Verification: Before uploading an SSL/TLS certificate to IAM, it’s essential to verify that the certificate is valid. You can do this by using the OpenSSL command. Ensure that the certificate is PEM encoded. If it’s in binary format (DER or PKCS #12), you must convert it to PEM.
    • To convert DER to PEM: openssl x509 -inform der -in certificate.cer -out certificate.pem
    • To convert PKCS #12 (PFX) to PEM: openssl pkcs12 -in certificate.pfx -out certificate.cer -nodes
  4. Uploading the Certificate: Now, let’s proceed with uploading the certificate to IAM. Ensure you have the certificate files ready, including the public key (certificate.crt) and the certificate chain (ca_bundle.crt).To upload the certificate, use the following command:
    aws iam upload-server-certificate --server-certificate-name MyCertificateName --certificate-body file://certificate.crt --private-key file://private.key --certificate-chain file://ca_bundle.crt
    Note: Be sure to provide file:// when specifying the file path.
  5. Viewing Uploaded Certificates: Once the certificate is uploaded, you can view all server certificates in IAM using the command:
    aws iam list-server-certificates
    This command will provide information about the uploaded certificate, including its ID, name, ARN, and expiration date.

Applying the Certificate

Now that we’ve uploaded the certificate to IAM, let’s proceed to apply it to an Application Load Balancer (ALB) and an Amazon CloudFront distribution.

For ALB:

  1. Navigate to the AWS Management Console and select the ALB you want to apply the certificate to.
  2. Choose “Listeners” and then “Add Listener.”
  3. Select “HTTPS” as the protocol, set the default action to “Forward to,” and select the target group.
  4. Under “Default SSL certificate,” select “From IAM” and then choose the ALB certificate you uploaded earlier.

For CloudFront:

  1. Access the Amazon CloudFront console and select the CloudFront distribution you want to apply the certificate to.
  2. Click on “Edit” to update the SSL certificate.
  3. Choose “Custom SSL certificate” and select the certificate that was uploaded to IAM with the path
  4. Confirm your selection.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully uploaded an SSL/TLS certificate to AWS IAM and applied it to an Application Load Balancer and Amazon CloudFront distribution. This process ensures the secure transmission of data for your web applications and content distribution. With AWS IAM’s certificate management capabilities, you can easily maintain and update your certificates as needed to keep your applications and services secure

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