AWS S3 uploads using pre-signed URLs

How can I allow users to access objects in S3?

So what are presigned URLs anyway?

  1. Bucket: The bucket that the object is in (or will be in)
  2. Key: The name of the object
  3. Expires: The amount of time that the URL is valid

As expected, once the expiry time has lapsed the user is unable to interact with the specified object. AWS gives access to the object through the pre-signed URL as the URL can only be correctly signed by the S3 Bucket owner.

Anyone with a valid pre-signed URL can interact with the objects as specified during creation. For example, if a GET (Read) pre-signed URL is provided, a user could not use this as a PUT (Write).

The URL itself is constructed using various parameters, which are created automatically through the AWS JS SDK. These include;

  1. X-AMZ-Algorithm
  2. X-AMZ-Credential
  3. X-AMZ-Date
  4. X-AMZ-Expires
  5. X-AMZ-Signature
  6. X-AMZ-SignedHeaders

Above is an example of a presigned URL that can be used to GET Objects. The link will now be invalid given that the maximum amount of time before a presigned URL expires is 7 days.

How do I create a presigned URL then?

  1. Navigate to S3 and create a bucket. The bucket name must be unique.
  2. Navigate to IAM.
  3. Create a User with Programmatic access.
  4. Click Next: Permissions.
  5. Click the Attach existing policies directly box and Create policy.
  6. Use the visual editor to select the S3 Service. We only need a couple of access requirements; so expand out the access level groups.
  7. Ensure that GetObject under the READ section and PutObject under the write section are both ticked.
  8. Set the resources you want to grant access to; specify the bucket name you created earlier and click Any for the object name.
  9. We’re not specifying any Request conditions.
  10. Click Review Policy and enter a name for the policy. Save the policy.

11. Apply the new policy to the new user you have created and taken note of the aws access credentials.

Generating the presigned URLs using the AWS JS SDK

Create a file “generatePresignedGETURL.js”

Complete file for generating the presigned GET URL

require('dotenv').load();require('dotenv').config();var AWS = require('aws-sdk');var credentials = {accessKeyId: process.env.S3_ACCESS_KEY,secretAccessKey : process.env.S3_SECRET_KEY};AWS.config.update({credentials: credentials, region: 'eu-west-2'});var s3 = new AWS.S3();var presignedGETURL = s3.getSignedUrl('getObject', {Bucket: 'presignedurldemo',Key: 'image.jpg', //filenameExpires: 100 //time to expire in seconds});

Create a file “presignedPUTURL.js” snippet for generating the presigned PUT URL

var presignedPUTURL = s3.getSignedUrl('putObject', {Bucket: 'presignedurldemo',Key: 'user12/image.jpg', //filenameExpires: 100 //time to expire in seconds});

Using the presigned URLs

A successfully uploaded image file

So are there any drawbacks?

Presigned POST URLs

POST URL Parameters

  1. Bucket: process.env.S3_BUCKET (The bucket name)
  2. Expires: 1800 (Time to expire in seconds (30m))
  3. key: ‘image.jpg’ (Filename)
  4. { acl: ‘private’ } (It defines which AWS accounts or groups are granted access and the type of access.)
  5. { success_action_status: “201” } (HTTP status code returned if successful)
  6. [‘starts-with’, ‘$key’, ‘’] (The value must start with the specified value (e.g. ‘user1/’. In our case image has no additional prefix ‘’)
  7. [‘content-length-range’, 0, 100000] (Specify the range of the content you are uploading in Bytes)
  8. {‘x-amz-algorithm’: ‘AWS4-HMAC-SHA256’} (Specify the signing algorithm used during signature calculation)

How can I secure this further?

Using CORS, you can specify where the S3 can be initiated (AllowedOrigin). The star (*) notation means any (e.g. any origin allowed). You can edit the CORS configuration by selecting the CORS configuration button permissions tab when in a bucket.

The example below allows access from any URL and multiple HTTP methods.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<CORSConfiguration xmlns="">

A full working example of the presigned POST URL can be found below on Github.

git clone

Remember you need to add a .env file containing the environment variables below and specify your values.



AWS SDK S3 Documentation:



DevOps/Cloud | 2x AWS Certified | Terraform | Gitlab

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