What are S3 Buckets?

An Amazon S3 bucket is a public cloud storage resource available in Amazon Web Services' (AWS) Simple Storage Service (S3), an object storage offering. Amazon S3 buckets, which are similar to file folders, store objects, which consist of data and its descriptive metadata.

ref https://searchaws.techtarget.com/definition/AWS-bucket

Are they private?

By default, all S3 buckets are private and can be accessed only by users that are explicitly granted access. ... Restrict access to your S3 buckets or objects by: Writing AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user policies that specify the users that can access specific buckets and objects.

ref https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/knowledge-center/secure-s3-resources/

What tools are required to access s3 buckets?

There are many tools that are free to download. AWS even has a CLI tool that you add your free amazon credentials to and can access their data from your home machine.


If a company were to accidentally configure an S3 Bucket to be public, is downloading their data illegal?

  • If someone forgets to lock their front door one day, is it OK to go in and take things? Aug 30, 2019 at 15:46
  • @BlueDogRanch I've heard that argument, however this isn't a house. This is something that's made public and available to the public on a public communication system regardless if that's intentional or not. I'm not sure we can compare it to a house. Aug 30, 2019 at 15:49
  • 1
    @BlueDogRanch I think a better analogy would be, your company has a phone system that when you call it, it starts reading off usernames and passwords. Is it illegal for you to call that number and write that information down? Aug 30, 2019 at 15:51
  • @BlueDogRanch also, one more note, there are many instances of public s3 buckets that are intentionally left public for the public to access. So there's that faucet of this problem as well. Aug 30, 2019 at 15:53
  • #1 How are houses, apartments, and cars not in the public realm? Just because something is accessible to the public doesn't mean you can open the door at any given time. The door designates the boundary between public and private. #2 That's a false analogy; that's not the default mode for a phone system; it is misconfigured, and if intentionally, that's a different question. #3 "Intentionally left public for the public to access"? Why would that be illegal? And that's "facet," not faucet. Aug 30, 2019 at 16:15


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