Ensure Avoidance of IAM Role Reuse in AWS


In AWS, IAM roles provide a way to delegate permissions that determine what the role's trust policy allows to be done and what other policies dictate the role can and cannot do. Reusing the same IAM role across multiple services or applications can introduce security risks as it becomes challenging to track which permissions are genuinely required for each entity. A compromised application or service could also potentially misuse the extensive permissions granted to a shared role. It is a best practice to create specific IAM roles tailored to individual services or applications to adhere to the principle of least privilege.


1. Audit Existing IAM Roles:

AWS Management Console:
  • Navigate to the IAM Console.
  • In the navigation pane, choose Roles.
  • Review the roles and identify any that are being referenced by multiple services or applications.

2. Create Specific IAM Roles:

For each service or application identified in the audit:

  • Define the minimal set of permissions required for the service or application to function correctly.
  • Create a new IAM role tailored to those permissions.
AWS Management Console:
  • In the IAM Console, choose Roles then Create role.
  • Select the trusted entity type (e.g., AWS service) and choose the service that will use the role.
  • Attach the necessary permissions policies and review the permissions.
  • Name the role in a descriptive manner, indicating its specific purpose (e.g., S3AccessForMyApp).

3. Update Services or Applications:

Replace the old shared IAM role with the newly created specific IAM role in every service or application.

  • For AWS services, this might involve updating the service configuration.
  • For applications, this might involve updating application settings or redeploying the application.

4. Deactivate and Eventually Delete Old Shared Roles:

Once all services and applications have been updated:

  • Remove any permissions associated with the old role to make it inactive.
  • After ensuring that there are no dependencies left on the old shared role, delete it to reduce potential security risks.


Always create individual IAM roles tailored to the specific needs of each service or application. Avoid the reuse of IAM roles across different use cases to prevent potential security vulnerabilities. Implementing unique IAM roles for distinct purposes helps adhere to the principle of least privilege, thereby limiting the potential blast radius should a security incident occur. Regularly audit IAM roles and permissions to ensure that roles are not being reused unnecessarily and that each role adheres to minimal permission sets.