AWS Cognito

AWS Cognito is a fully managed service that enables you to add user sign-up, sign-in, and access control to your web and mobile applications, providing a secure and scalable solution for managing user identities and authentication.

By - Manish Kumar Barnwal
Updated on
August 21, 2023


What is AWS Cognito?

AWS Cognito consists of two main components:

  • User Pools: User Pools are user directories that provide options for user registration and authentication. Developers can customize the sign-up and sign-in flows, enabling users to sign in using email and password, phone number, social identity providers like Facebook and Google, or SAML-based identity providers. User Pools handle tasks such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), email/phone verification, and password recovery.
  • Identity Pools: Identity Pools, also known as Federated Identities, allow developers to grant users access to AWS resources. These pools support federated identity management, enabling users to sign in through social identity providers or SAML-based identity providers and receive temporary AWS credentials to access authorized resources securely.
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When to use AWS Cognito?

AWS Cognito is a versatile service that can be used in various scenarios where user authentication and access control are required. Here are some common use cases for AWS Cognito:

  1. Web and Mobile Applications: AWS Cognito is an excellent choice for adding user sign-up and sign-in functionalities to web and mobile applications. It simplifies the process of handling user registration, authentication, and user profile management, allowing developers to focus on building the core features of their applications.
  2. Single Sign-On (SSO): For organizations with multiple applications, AWS Cognito can act as a centralized authentication solution, enabling Single Sign-On (SSO) capabilities. Users can sign in once and gain access to multiple applications without needing to re-enter their credentials each time they switch between services.
  3. Mobile App Backends: When building the backend for mobile applications, AWS Cognito can be used to securely authenticate users and manage user identities. It provides a scalable and secure solution to handle user authentication, freeing developers from implementing complex authentication mechanisms.
  4. Internet of Things (IoT) Applications: In IoT scenarios, AWS Cognito can be used to manage identities for IoT devices and applications. It allows you to control access to IoT resources, granting permissions based on user identities and roles.
  5. Secure APIs: If you have APIs that need to be accessed securely, AWS Cognito can be used to authenticate API requests. It helps ensure that only authorized users or applications can interact with your APIs.
  6. Access Control for AWS Resources: AWS Cognito integrates with Identity Pools, allowing users to gain temporary access to AWS resources based on their authenticated identities. This feature is particularly useful when you want to grant access to specific AWS resources based on user roles.
  7. Social Sign-In Integration: AWS Cognito supports integration with popular social identity providers like Facebook and Google. If you want to allow users to sign in to your application using their existing social media accounts, AWS Cognito can simplify the integration process.

How does AWS Cognito work?

AWS Cognito is a cloud-based service that simplifies the process of adding user sign-up, sign-in, and access control functionalities to web and mobile applications. It allows developers to create and manage user directories, handle user registration and authentication, and grant users temporary access to AWS resources. With Cognito, developers can focus on building the core features of their applications without worrying about building a complex authentication system from scratch.

Features & Advantages

Key Features of AWS Cognito

  • User Sign-up and Sign-in: AWS Cognito supports multiple authentication methods, including email/password, phone number, and social identity providers, allowing users to sign up and sign in securely.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Add an extra layer of security with MFA using SMS, email, or authenticator apps.
  • Social Identity Providers: Integrate popular social identity providers like Facebook and Google for user authentication.
  • Customizable Workflows: Customize user sign-up, sign-in, and account recovery workflows to match your application's branding and requirements.
  • User Profiles and Metadata: Store user profiles and metadata in User Pools, allowing you to manage additional user attributes.

Advantages/Benefits of AWS Cognito

  1. Security and Compliance: AWS Cognito offers robust security features and is compliant with industry standards, ensuring that user data is protected.
  2. Scalability and High Availability: As a managed service, AWS Cognito automatically scales to handle user traffic and provides high availability across multiple AWS regions.
  3. Easy Integration: Integrate AWS Cognito with your applications using SDKs, libraries, and pre-built UI components.
  4. Federated Identity Management: Use Identity Pools to grant temporary access to AWS resources for users authenticated through various identity providers.
  5. Time and Cost Savings: AWS Cognito eliminates the need to build and maintain complex authentication systems, saving development time and costs.


AWS Cognito Pricing Factors

  • Monthly Active Users (MAUs): The primary pricing factor for Amazon Cognito user pools is the number of Monthly Active Users (MAUs). A user is considered an MAU if your application generates an identity operation for that user within a calendar month. Identity operations include actions like sign-ups, sign-ins, token refreshes, password changes, or user account attribute updates.
  • User Pool Authentication Method: The pricing also varies based on the authentication method used by your users. Users who sign in directly with their user pool credentials or through social identity providers such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have different pricing compared to enterprise users who sign in through SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) or OIDC (OpenID Connect) federation.
  • Advanced Security Features: If you enable advanced security features for Amazon Cognito, additional prices apply for MAUs. These features enhance security by providing adaptive authentication, compromised credentials detection, and risk-based challenges.
  • SMS Messages for Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Separate pricing applies for sending SMS messages for Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and phone number verification. Amazon Cognito uses Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) for sending SMS messages.

Is AWS Cognito free or paid?

Amazon Cognito offers both free and paid tiers for its services.

  1. Free Tier: Amazon Cognito user pools provide a free tier with generous limits. It includes 50,000 MAUs per account for users who sign in directly to user pools and 50 MAUs for users federated through SAML 2.0-based identity providers. The free tier does not expire at the end of your 12-month AWS Free Tier term and is available indefinitely to both new and existing AWS customers, except in the AWS GovCloud (US-West) region.
  2. Paid Usage: For usage beyond the free tier limits, Amazon Cognito charges apply based on the number of active users and additional features enabled, such as advanced security.

AWS Cognito Pricing Tiers

The pricing tiers for Amazon Cognito user pools depend on the number of MAUs above the free tier. The pricing per MAU decreases as the number of active users increases.

For users who sign in directly with their user pool credentials or with social identity providers:

  • 50,001-100,000 (after the 50,000 free tier): $0.0055 per MAU
  • Next 900,000: $0.0046 per MAU
  • Next 9,000,000: $0.00325 per MAU
  • Greater than 10,000,000: $0.0025 per MAU

For enterprise users who sign in through SAML or OIDC federation:

  • Above the 50 MAU free tier: $0.015 per MAU

Advanced Security Features Pricing Tiers:

If you enable advanced security features, additional prices apply for MAUs. The pricing per MAU for advanced security features decreases with higher numbers of active users.

  • First 50,000: $0.050 per MAU
  • Next 50,000: $0.035 per MAU
  • Next 900,000: $0.020 per MAU
  • Next 9,000,000: $0.015 per MAU
  • Greater than 10,000,000: $0.010 per MAU

It's essential to carefully consider your expected MAUs and usage requirements to choose the appropriate pricing tier for your application using Amazon Cognito. The free tier and competitive pricing make it an attractive solution for identity management and user authentication needs. For detailed information on AWS Cognito pricing.

Cost Optimization

How to optimize AWS Cognito costs?

Optimizing costs for AWS Cognito involves implementing efficient practices and making use of the available features to minimize expenses while meeting your application's requirements. Here are some strategies to optimize AWS Cognito costs:

  1. Usage Analysis and Planning: Monitor and analyze the user activity to understand your Monthly Active Users (MAUs) pattern. Plan your user pool size and usage requirements accordingly to avoid unnecessary costs.
  2. Leverage Free Tier: Take advantage of the free tier offering, which includes 50,000 MAUs per account for users signing in directly and 50 MAUs for users federated through SAML. Make sure to stay within the free tier limits to avoid additional charges.
  3. Choose Appropriate Pricing Tier: Select the appropriate pricing tier based on your expected MAUs. As the pricing per MAU decreases with higher usage, moving to a lower pricing tier when you reach certain thresholds can help save costs.
  4. Efficient Authentication Methods: Consider using user pool credentials or social identity providers like Apple, Google, Facebook, or Amazon, which have lower pricing compared to enterprise users using SAML or OIDC federation.
  5. Disable Unused Features: Disable any advanced security features or functionalities that are not essential for your application. Enabling these features incurs additional costs per MAU, so use them judiciously.

Best Practices for Using AWS Cognito

  • Provisioning MAUs: Carefully estimate the number of Monthly Active Users required and provision MAUs accordingly to avoid unexpected costs.
  • Caching and Token Management: Implement token caching and token expiration policies to reduce the number of authentication requests.
  • Scheduled Scaling: Optimize resource allocation by using AWS Auto Scaling to scale resources based on usage patterns.
  • Monitoring and Alerts: Implement monitoring and alerts to be notified of potential cost overruns and take corrective actions.

By following these best practices, you can effectively manage and optimize AWS Cognito costs while providing secure authentication and access control for your applications.

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