Hook up with EC2: AWS Session Supervisor vs SSH

On this article, I’ll stroll you thru a wide range of methods to entry the EC2 cases that you just deploy on the AWS community. There are two essential methods to realize this. The primary method to connect with an EC2 example is to SSH into it. This implies making a safe connection from an area shopper to the AWS server utilizing key pairs. The second method might be to make the most of the AWS Methods Supervisor Session Supervisor. I’ll show each these strategies and evaluate the safety of every. First off, I’ll look into SSH.

SSH into an EC2 Occasion

SSH or Safe Shell is a community protocol that may will let you securely join our machine to an EC2 example. It is possible for you to to manage the AWS EC2 example from our command line. Earlier than you are able to do this, care for a number of necessities.


  1. AWS ACCOUNT SETUP – We have to have our AWS account arrange and able to launch cases. Try the AWS documentation for specifics on easy methods to configure your account appropriately. 
  2. RUNNING EC2 INSTANCE – You’ll want to have a working example in a public subnet. The example launched on this article would be the Linux 2 AMI. It’s within the free tier on AWS. Try the AWS Documentation on easy methods to launch an example. The example wants a number of particular configurations:
    1. Safety Group that enables for SSH entry – It will use the TCP protocol on port 22. 
    2. Entry to a keypair – Create a keypair on your example and obtain it to your native machine. 
  3. Linux or Mac – For this portion of the tutorial, I used a Mac. If you wish to navigate by way of this with Home windows, here’s a hyperlink to the AWS documentation.

Be aware: For directions on easy methods to SSH into an example in a non-public subnet with agent forwarding, see this text.

Given that you’ve the stipulations taken care of, ensure that the standing of the EC2 example is “Running”. You possibly can see this demonstrated under.

Verify that SSH is accessible in your native machine. With the intention to test that you’ve SSH working, simply run the command “ssh”. As you possibly can see under, my Mac acknowledged the command. This alerts that the SSH shopper is engaged on my machine. 

Many computer systems could have the SSH shopper already put in, however some received’t. You possibly can obtain OpenSSH on Home windows, Linux, or Mac with the intention to achieve SSH entry.

With the keypair created and example working, navigate to the EC2 console. Now, you simply want to seek out the public IP tackle. With this info, you possibly can run a number of instructions within the terminal to connect with the example. 

The general public IP tackle will present up on the backside of your console when you choose the working EC2 example.

With the intention to once more SSH entry to the EC2 example, use this command under:

ssh -i /path/my-key-pair.pem my-instance-user-name@my-instance-public-dns-name

Earlier than working the command, navigate to the listing the place your key pair is saved. Run the SSH command.

After working this command, I ran right into a quite common error. 

The AWS documentation supplies the command to treatment the state of affairs. The error code states that our .pem file has permissions 0644. Run the chmod 0400 to vary these permissions. EC2 cases is not going to settle for any .pem file whether it is public. This command will change the permissions of your .pem file.

With that error fastened, run the SSH command from earlier.

And there you may have it! You’ve efficiently navigated into the EC2 example. From right here, you possibly can run instructions within the Linux terminal of our example!

As soon as you determine the permissions of the .pem file, this can be a very easy course of. This isn’t the one option to achieve entry to an EC2 example. There are a number of different choices, however I’ll take a look at the AWS Methods Supervisor subsequent.

AWS Methods Supervisor Session Supervisor

Another choice to realize entry to an EC2 example is the AWS Methods Supervisor Session Supervisor. The session supervisor lets you handle EC2 cases, on-premises cases, and digital machines. You may be asking your self, why is that this so completely different than SSH’ing into an example? I’ll reply that quickly sufficient, however first let me stroll you thru the Session Supervisor.

Identical to the final situation, we have to care for a number of necessities in how we arrange our cases.


  1. Have an AWS Account
  2. Launch a working example in an AZ. Session Supervisor is not going to begin cases by itself, reasonably it should handle them.
  3. Set up the SSM Agent IF not already put in. Relying on the example, you may need to put in the SSM Agent. The SSM agent is what’s going to enable Session Supervisor to manage your working EC2 cases. The EC2 Linux 2 AMI does have already got it put in. For any On-Premises servers, putting in the SSM agent is necessary.
  4. Set an IAM Position. In case you seek for AWS offered IAM roles, one can find the EC2AccessForSSM. This permits for the Methods Session Supervisor to entry your EC2 example. 

As soon as once more, right here is the working example:

With all this configured, you need to use the session supervisor to connect with the cases. This could all occur by way of the AWS Console! Provided that we now have met the earlier necessities, the cases will present up beneath the Managed Cases tab in Methods Supervisor.

Discover that we did NOT arrange a safety group. There isn’t a SSH entry allowed on the EC2 Occasion. That is the key distinction between the Session Supervisor and SSH. 

In Methods Supervisor, navigate to the session supervisor. Choose Begin Session.

You’ll be introduced with any cases which are being managed by Methods Supervisor. Choose the example you wish to entry and begin the session.

You’ll be utilizing a Safe Shell contained in the example totally within the AWS console. In right here, you possibly can run any Linux command essential to finish your activity.

And it’s as straightforward as that. In case your cases are working and permit SSM entry, all it takes is clicking a number of buttons within the AWS console to realize entry. You even have the flexibility to make the most of a easy one line command when the AWS CLI is configured.


As you possibly can see from these demonstrations, the primary distinction between these two strategies is easy methods to achieve entry to the example. With SSH, you open a port by way of a safety group rule. Methods Supervisor Session Supervisor makes use of an IAM position to attach with the example. Every of those strategies is straightforward to implement, however which one is best?

For almost all of use instances, the session supervisor goes to be superior. The principle benefit for session supervisor is safety. 

Two of the rules of the AWS Nicely-Architected Framework on Safety apply to this demonstration:

  • Allow Traceability
  • Implement a robust identification basis

With session supervisor, you don’t have to show a port to SSH visitors, subsequently you keep away from any threat with customers sharing keys. As a result of the Session Supervisor happens contained in the AWS console or AWS CLI, every session is tied to just one IAM consumer. This permits for a substantial amount of traceability.

There are a selection of AWS companies that Methods Supervisor can use for logging and auditing. Contained in the Methods Supervisor console, you possibly can allow CloudWatch, CloudTrail, or S3. It is a necessity when you think about the AWS Nicely-Architected Framework.

General, each strategies are fast and simple methods to realize entry to EC2. As a result of they’re equally straightforward to implement, I might select the one with higher safety in Session Supervisor. As a bonus, you possibly can view every part contained in the console.

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