How to Work with AWS Config Custom Rules

AWS Config custom rules can be used for a wide variety of scenarios when AWS-managed rules don’t fit your use case. Custom rules rely on an AWS Lambda function to evaluate resource configuration. You will be exposed to how to create a custom rule using pre-written code for a Lambda function. For demonstration purposes, the code simply evaluates whether an RDP TCP port is open to incoming traffic.


1. From the AWS Config Rules page, click Add rule.

2. Select Create custom Lambda rule, and click on Next:

3. Move to the AWS Lambda console, and click on Create function.

4. In the Author from scratch section, enter the following before clicking Create Function:

  • Name: Enter evaluate-port-ingress (Important to enter exactly as written or the Lambda function will fail to create)
  • Runtime: Select Node.js (use the latest version available)
  • Role: Use an existing role
  • Existing role: Select config-lambda-role

The config-lambda-role was created for you during the Lab startup. It authorizes Lambda to describe security groups (ec2.describeSecurityGroups) and put evaluations into AWS Config (config.putEvaluations).

5. Move to the Code source section. Double-click index.js in the code editor, and overwrite the existing contents with the following JavaScript code block that targets Node.js:

// Ensure a security group does not allow tcp ingress on a specified port
var aws = require('aws-sdk');
var config = new aws.ConfigService();
// Helper function used to validate input
function checkDefined(reference, referenceName) {
if (!reference) {
console.log("Error: " + referenceName + " is not defined");
throw referenceName;
return reference;
// Check whether the resource has been deleted. If it has, then the evaluation is unnecessary.
function isApplicable(configurationItem, event) {
checkDefined(configurationItem, "configurationItem");
checkDefined(event, "event");
var status = configurationItem.configurationItemStatus;
var eventLeftScope = event.eventLeftScope;
return ('OK' === status || 'ResourceDiscovered' === status) && false === eventLeftScope;
function createPutEvaluationsRequest(event, configurationItem, compliance) {
var putEvaluationsRequest = {};
// Put together the request that reports the evaluation status
putEvaluationsRequest.Evaluations = [
ComplianceResourceType: configurationItem.resourceType,
ComplianceResourceId: configurationItem.resourceId,
ComplianceType: compliance,
OrderingTimestamp: configurationItem.configurationItemCaptureTime
putEvaluationsRequest.ResultToken = event.resultToken;
putEvaluationsRequest.TestMode = false;
return putEvaluationsRequest;
function putEvaluations(callback, putEvaluationsRequest) {
// Invoke the Config API to report the result of the evaluation
config.putEvaluations(putEvaluationsRequest, function (err, data) {
if (err) {
} else {
callback(null, "success");
// This is the handler that's invoked by Lambda
exports.handler = function (event, context, callback) {
event = checkDefined(event, "event");
var invokingEvent = JSON.parse(event.invokingEvent);
var ruleParameters = JSON.parse(event.ruleParameters);
var configurationItem = checkDefined(invokingEvent.configurationItem, "invokingEvent.configurationItem");
var compliance = 'NOT_APPLICABLE';
var putEvaluationsRequest = {};
if (isApplicable(configurationItem, event)) {
checkDefined(configurationItem, "configurationItem");
checkDefined(configurationItem.configuration, "configurationItem.configuration");
checkDefined(ruleParameters, "ruleParameters");
// This is where it is determined whether the resource is compliant or not.
// In this example, we look at the IP permissions of the EC2 security group and determine
// if it allows ingress traffic on a specified TCP port. If the port is open, the
// security group is marked non-compliant. Otherwise, it is marked compliant.
if ('AWS::EC2::SecurityGroup' !== configurationItem.resourceType) {
putEvaluationsRequest = createPutEvaluationsRequest(event, configurationItem, compliance);
putEvaluations(callback, putEvaluationsRequest);
} else {
var groupId = configurationItem.configuration.groupId;
var ec2 = new aws.EC2({ apiVersion: '2016-11-15' });
var params = {
DryRun: false,
GroupIds: [
ec2.describeSecurityGroups(params, function (err, data) {
var compliance = 'COMPLIANT';
if (err) {
compliance = 'NON_COMPLIANT';
} else {
var ipPermissions = data.SecurityGroups[0].IpPermissions;
for (var i = 0; i < ipPermissions.length; i++) {
var ipPermission = ipPermissions[i];
// The actual test condition (allows default allow all rule (IpProtocol === '-1') to be compliant for demonstration purposes)
if (ipPermission.IpProtocol === 'tcp'
&& ipPermission.FromPort >= ruleParameters.port
&& ipPermission.ToPort <= ruleParameters.port) {
compliance = 'NON_COMPLIANT';
putEvaluationsRequest = createPutEvaluationsRequest(event, configurationItem, compliance);
putEvaluations(callback, putEvaluationsRequest);
} else {
putEvaluationsRequest = createPutEvaluationsRequest(event, configurationItem, compliance);
putEvaluations(callback, putEvaluationsRequest);

Note: It is not important to understand the code. All you need to know is that the code checks whether a security group allows inbound traffic on a specified TCP port. It makes use of the AWS SDK to access AWS Config and EC2. It is possible to modify the Lambda function so that it automatically enforces compliance by modifying the security group. This is left as an exercise for the student.

6. Click the Configuration tab, click Edit, set the following form values, and click Save:

  • Memory (MB): 128 (default value)
  • Timeout: 0 min 30 sec

This allows the Lambda function 30 seconds and 128MB of peak memory to complete the evaluation. This is more than enough for the simple check performed by the code.

7. Return to the Code tab. Click Deploy at the top of the Code source panel and copy the Lambda’s Function ARN in the upper-right of the Console (it looks similar to arn:aws:lambda:us-east-1:123456789012:function:evaluate-port-ingress):

8. Return to the AWS Config Add custom rule browser tab and enter the following (paste the AWS Lambda function ARN first while it’s in your clipboard):

  • Name: disallow-rdp-ingress
  • Description: Check security groups for allowing incoming RDP TCP traffic. Disallow the traffic to become compliant.
  • AWS Lambda function ARN: Paste the ARN copied from the AWS Lambda function page
  • Trigger
  • Trigger type: When configuration changes
  • Scope of changes: EC2
  • Resources: SecurityGroup
  • Rule parameters
  • Key: port (lower-case)
  • Value: 3389

RDP traffic is over tcp port 3389 by default. There are ways to get RDP traffic around this rule, but it is only for demonstration purposes. Rule parameters are a way to make your custom rules generalizable. The same rule could be used to block any desired port using different settings of the Rule parameters. If you are curious about the code, the values set for Rule parameters correspond to ruleParameters in the code above.

9. Click Next, and then Add the rule.

Your custom rule automatically begins evaluating.

10. After a minute, refresh your browser tab to update the Rules page:

You will see the rule reports that there is 1 Noncompliant resource(s). You will now investigate and enforce compliance.

11. Click on disallow-RDP-ingress in the Rules table.

12. Click the Noncompliant security group and click Manage resource.

13. Click the Inbound rules tab.

Notice the security group is allowing incoming RDP traffic. That is causing the non-compliance.

14. Click Edit inbound rules.

15. Click Delete on the right side of the RDP row:

16. Click Save rules.

17. Navigate back to Service > Management & Governance > Config > Rules and click on disallow-RDP-ingress.

18. In the Resources in the scope section, select All in the drop-down on the left-hand side.

The rule is configured to evaluate configuration changes. After a few minutes, the configuration change will be recorded, and by refreshing the page, you will see the security group has changed to the Compliant state:

Note: You can click the Actions > Re-evaluate button near the top of the page to check the rule immediately. This will allow the Compliance state to be updated, but it won’t speed up the time it takes for configuration items to be recorded in the next instruction. This is because the code above directly queries the security group instead of depending on a configuration item.

19. Click on the security group name followed by the Resource timeline and view the Events section.

20. In the Event type drop-down, ensure All event types are selected:

After a couple of minutes, you will see a new Configuration change event:

The latest Configuration change event will be a record of the RDP IpPermission ingress rule being removed from the security group.

Further down under CloudTrail Events, the RevokeSecurityGroupIngress event that triggered the change has been recorded in CloudTrail and linked to by Config.



THE HOW TO BLOG |Siddhanth Dwivedi

Siddhanth Dwivedi | Senior Security Engineer & AWS Community Builder 👨🏾‍💻