67

How do you change the name and description of a security group in AWS EC2?

My security group is named quick-start-1 (the default) and I want to change it to "HTTP, HTTPS and Limited SSH".

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  • 12
    Can't even change the description! What stupidity is this, Amazon?
    – ADTC
    Jan 3 '16 at 2:25
32

It's not possible to rename a security group, by GUI or by API.

For VPC EC2 instances

You can dynamically assign security groups assigned to VPC EC2 instances. Create a new SG with the desired name and the same rules.

EC2 classic instances

It's not possible to change the security group that is assigned to EC2 classic instances.

If you must change the security group for an EC2 classic instance, then you need to:

  1. Create an AMI from your instance, then
  2. Launch a new copy of your instance from the AMI created in step #1, selecting the new security group at launch time.
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  • 14
    Not entirely correct. If you use a VPC (and why wouldn't you) you can change assigned SGs dynamically.
    – EEAA
    Jan 7 '13 at 4:00
  • 3
    wonderful ridiculousness... Mar 16 '14 at 10:04
  • 2
    You can choose to copy the security group. Then you are given the possibility to give the new security group a new name and a new description.
    – fredrik
    Jul 2 '14 at 7:14
  • One reason to not use a VPC is because you can't without starting up a new AWS account. :(
    – Dan Pritts
    Jun 22 '15 at 15:11
  • 3
    All AWS accounts can use VPC. Jun 22 '15 at 15:37
49

You cannot rename a security group but you can copy it into a new one.

On the AWS console go to EC2 -> Security Groups -> Select the SG -> Click actions -> Copy to new.

Give it a name and description that suits your taste.

After that you can associate this security group with your instances (making it redundant with the old one).

Finally, dissociate the old security group from your instances (rules remains the same since the new SG is a copy) and delete the SG.

It is a little bit of work, but it does get the job done with no downtime.

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  • 2
    ...only works with VPC instances, "classic" instances can't do this.
    – Dan Pritts
    Jun 22 '15 at 15:12
  • This should be the accepted answer, not sure why anyone uses EC2 classic these days anyhow Mar 31 '16 at 9:56
  • Unfortunately, you're REQUIRED to change the name in this case. If you only want to change the description, you have to copy to a new one, update all references, delete the old one, and then do it all again with another copy with the original name.
    – James
    Jun 19 '17 at 22:53
  • 1
    Not to forget that you will also need to grep all your sources for usages of "old" security group and replace with ID/name of the new one (if you have some scripts for automation, etc.)
    – Timur
    Apr 13 '18 at 19:21
  • Best Answer for most folks/use cases. Oct 25 '18 at 17:36
6

You're not the first to want this, and you're not the first to be disappointed.

Also, you cant change security group memberships for an instance once launched. :-(

I'm 99% sure this cant be done via the web GUI. Maybe via API shenanigans, but if so i've never seen it. I've wanted it myself often enough.

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  • 10
    As mentioned above, if in a VPC, you can change security group assignments as needed at any time. It's only non-VPC instances that have this restriction.
    – EEAA
    Jan 7 '13 at 4:02
  • Yes, sorry I should have made that point.
    – Sirex
    Jan 7 '13 at 18:42

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