Ensure No IAM Groups Have Overly Broad Administrator Permissions in AWS


IAM (Identity and Access Management) in AWS enables you to manage access to AWS services and resources securely. IAM groups are a way to bundle users and grant them sets of permissions. While it can be tempting to grant broad administrator permissions for ease of use, it poses significant security risks. Any user in such a group has potentially unrestricted access to all AWS services and resources in the account. Adhering to the principle of least privilege is crucial; you should only grant permissions necessary to perform a task. Avoiding IAM groups with overly broad permissions helps mitigate unintended or malicious actions that could impact AWS resources or data.


1. Identify IAM Groups with Administrator Permissions:

AWS Management Console:
  • Navigate to the IAM Console.
  • In the navigation pane, choose Groups.
  • Review the groups and the attached policies. Identify any group with the AdministratorAccess managed policy or other custom policies granting overly broad permissions.

2. Review Group Membership:

For each group with broad permissions:

  • Review the list of users in the group. Consider if each user truly requires such extensive permissions.

3. Refactor Permissions:

For groups or users who do not require broad administrative access:

  • Create new, more restrictive policies that align more closely with specific tasks or responsibilities.
  • Attach these new policies to the group or user, replacing the overly broad permissions.
AWS Management Console:
  • In the IAM Console, choose Policies and then Create policy. Utilize the policy creation wizard to specify required permissions.
  • Return to Groups, select the group with broad permissions, and detach the AdministratorAccess policy (or other broad policy).
  • Attach the newly created policy to the group.

4. Regular Monitoring and Auditing:

Implement routine audits of IAM groups and permissions:

  • Leverage AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config to track changes and actions within the AWS account, focusing on IAM activities.
  • Regularly review IAM group memberships and permissions to ensure alignment with security best practices.


Always avoid giving IAM groups overly broad permissions. Instead, align permissions closely with job functions or specific needs. While setting up granular permissions might require more initial setup time, the added security layer, reduced risk, and easier auditability will offer long-term benefits. Regularly revisit and review IAM configurations to ensure that they reflect the current organizational structure and operational requirements.