Identity and Access Management for secure EKS implementation

Opcito Technologies
3 min readMar 22, 2024

What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a robust service that provides secure control over access to AWS resources. It mainly focuses on enabling centralized permissions management, allowing users to control who is authenticated and authorized to access specific AWS resources. Users can administer and utilize resources without sharing passwords or access keys. Granular permissions empower users to grant different access levels for different resources, ensuring a fine-tuned control mechanism. Identity Access Management also provides secure access to AWS resources for applications running on Amazon EC2 instances, facilitating the secure provision of credentials.

Why IAM for Amazon EKS?

Safeguarding your Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) ensures containerized applications and infrastructure security, availability, and compliance. Protection against unauthorized access, mitigation of security vulnerabilities, and adherence to compliance requirements are paramount. Employing robust security measures is crucial for ensuring the smooth functioning of EKS while mitigating potential risks and threats.

Building upon our previous blog that discussed the Ten simple steps to secure your Amazon EKS, this blog delves into IAM’s significance and how it fortifies EKS clusters. IAM is the central authority for defining permissions, ensuring only authorized entities interact with EKS clusters and associated resources securely and competently. From access control policies for EKS clusters to Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) integration, worker node empowerment, adherence to best practices, and the pivotal role of AWS CloudTrail, IAM’s capabilities contribute to crafting a robust security posture for Amazon EKS. Also, access to IAM is flexible. It lets users interact with IAM through the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Tools, AWS SDKs for multiple programming languages, and the IAM Query API for programmatic access.

How IAM helps secure Amazon Kubernetes Service (EKS)

Here’s how IAM contributes to securing Amazon EKS:

  • Access control to EKS clusters: IAM allows administrators to define policies that specify which identities (users, groups, or roles) have permission to interact with EKS clusters. These policies are based on the principle of least privilege, ensuring that entities only have the minimum necessary permissions to perform their tasks.
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) integration: EKS leverages Kubernetes-native RBAC to control access to the Kubernetes API server. IAM roles can be mapped to Kubernetes roles, providing a unified mechanism for managing permissions within AWS and the Kubernetes cluster. This integration ensures consistency in access controls across the entire EKS environment.Worker node
  • IAM roles: IAM roles can be associated with worker nodes to grant them specific AWS permissions. This allows worker nodes to interact securely with other AWS services, such as accessing Amazon S3 buckets or utilizing Amazon RDS databases based on the defined IAM roles.
  • Security best practices: IAM in EKS adheres to security best practices, including the principle of least privilege, regularly reviewing and updating access policies, and enforcing secure authentication mechanisms. This ensures a robust security posture for the EKS environment.
  • Logging and monitoring with CloudTrail: IAM activities within EKS are logged through AWS CloudTrail. CloudTrail provides detailed logs, including information about resource requests made by IAM identities. This auditing capability enhances security monitoring, compliance, and incident response.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) support: It also supports multi-factor authentication (MFA), adding an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide a code from a configured device in addition to a password or access key.

Therefore, Identity and Access Management is the central authority for access control and security policies, ensuring that only authorized entities can interact with the EKS clusters and associated resources securely and competently.

IAM policy best practices for Amazon EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service):

  • Begin with AWS-managed policies for everyday use cases, as they provide predefined permissions and are available in your AWS account.
  • Move to least-privilege permissions and define customer-managed policies specific to your use cases for reduced permissions.
  • Apply for least-privilege permissions and (



Opcito Technologies

Product engineering experts specializing in DevOps, Containers, Cloud, Automation, Blockchain, Test Engineering, & Open Source Tech