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How To

Build a Top 10 mod

Here's how to build a mod to check the top 10 AWS security tips. You can use this pattern to build your own custom mods to check other Top 10 lists.

Steampipe Team
6 min. read - July 18, 2023

In Top 10 security items to improve in your AWS account, on the AWS Security Blog, Nathan Case writes:

If you're looking to improve your cloud security, a good place to start is to follow the top 10 most important cloud security tips that Stephen Schmidt, Chief Information Security Officer for AWS, laid out at AWS re:Invent 2019. Below are the tips, expanded to help you take action.


We agree! Let's look at how Steampipe can help you follow that advice. We'll develop a Steampipe benchmark that runs relevant controls ā€” from mods like AWS Compliance and AWS Perimeter ā€” and produces a detailed report for all your accounts and regions.

Find relevant controls

The AWS Compliance mod is a rich source of controls that implement checks required by a broad set of frameworks and standards. On the Steampipe Hub's controls page you can search for words that relate to a given security tip, for example secrets finds controls relevant to tip 3, No hard-coding secrets.


In this case, the first result is CloudFormation stacks outputs should not have any secrets.


It's clearly relevant, so we'll put its name ā€” aws_compliance.control.cloudformation_stack_output_no_secrets ā€” on our list.

Following the same approach, you can build up sets of control names relevant to each of the tips. Then it's time to roll them into a custom benchmark.

Create the benchmark skeleton

First, make and visit a directory.

$ mkdir aws-security-top-10
$ cd aws-security-top-10

Then, because this mod will use controls defined in the AWS Compliance mod, run the steampipe mod install command to create a hidden local copy of that mod.

$ steampipe mod install github.com/turbot/steampipe-mod-aws-compliance
Installed 1 mod:
ā””ā”€ā”€ github.com/turbot/steampipe-mod-aws-compliance@v0.72.0

The command also creates an initial mod.sp file.

mod "local" {
title = "aws-security-top-10"
require {
mod "github.com/turbot/steampipe-mod-aws-compliance" {
version = "*"

You can change the title there to, for example, "AWS Top 10".

Now create another file, top-10.sp, in which to define the benchmark. Here's an initial skeleton.

benchmark "aws_top_10" {
title = "AWS Top 10"
description = "Controls relevant to the top 10 security items."
children = [
benchmark "accurate_account_info" {
title = "1. Accurate account information"
children = [
benchmark "use_mfa" {

A benchmark can contain benchmarks which in turn contain controls. The skeleton defines a top-level benchmark that enumerates a child benchmark for each of the security items. Each child benchmark has a list ā€” initially empty -- of the controls we've gathered.

Put meat on the bones

Now it's just a matter of populating the lists with the names of the controls we've gathered. For example:

benchmark "use_mfa" {
title = "2. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)"
children = [

Note that the AWS Compliance mod isn't the only source for controls. As we went through the list, we realized that AWS Perimeter would have relevant controls too, such as IAM role trust policy policies should prohibit public access. To use some of them, run steampipe mod install again to gain access to them.

$ steampipe mod install github.com/turbot/steampipe-mod-aws-perimeter
Installed 1 mod:
ā””ā”€ā”€ github.com/turbot/steampipe-mod-aws-perimeter@v0.3.0
$ steampipe mod list
ā”œā”€ā”€ github.com/turbot/steampipe-mod-aws-compliance@v0.72.0
ā””ā”€ā”€ github.com/turbot/steampipe-mod-aws-perimeter@v0.3.0

Now we can refer to controls in both installed mods.

benchmark "validate_iam_roles" {
title = "7. Validate IAM roles"
children = [

Run the benchmarks

To run the benchmark in your terminal:

$ steampipe check all

To run the benchmark in your browser, run steampipe dashboard and visit https://localhost:9194.


Share the benchmark report

To share the report on Steampipe Cloud, first login. Then:

steampipe dashboard --share benchmark.aws_top_10
Snapshot uploaded to https://cloud.steampipe.io/user/

You can now view the benchmark at that URL, and you can share the view with anyone you've invited into the workspace, or anyone to whom you give the URL.

Where's #10?

We didn't include controls for Tip #10: Being involved in the dev cycle because none (as yet) are relevant. Instead, we'll humbly suggest a best practice: Use Steampipe! It's a great way to monitor your security posture and assure that it remains continuously effective.

Next steps

We initially built this mod as tutorial, then the team decided to adopt it as an offical mod. We can imagine other Top 10 benchmarks, but we're sure you can too. If you build one, and would like to include it in the Steampipe hub, please let us know!