Configure IAM Permissions

Set up ACK with IAM Roles for Service Accounts

IAM Roles for Service Accounts, or IRSA, is a system that automates the provisioning and rotation of IAM temporary credentials (called a Web Identity) that a Kubernetes ServiceAccount can use to call AWS APIs.

TL;DR:

Instead of creating and distributing your AWS credentials to the containers or using the Amazon EC2 instance’s role, you can associate an IAM role with a Kubernetes service account. The applications in a Kubernetes pod container can then use an AWS SDK or the AWS CLI to make API requests to authorized AWS services.

Quicklinks:

Follow the quicklink OR continue reading for more details about IRSA.

The primary advantage of IRSA is that Kubernetes Pods which use the ServiceAccount associated with an IAM Role can have a reduced IAM permission footprint than the IAM Role in use for the Kubernetes EC2 worker node (known as the EC2 Instance Profile Role). This security concept is known as Least Privilege.

For example, assume you have a broadly-scoped IAM Role with permissions to access the Instance Metadata Service (IMDS) from the EC2 worker node. If you do not want Kubernetes Pods running on that EC2 Instance to have access to IMDS, you can create a different IAM Role with a reduced permission set and associate this reduced-scope IAM Role with the Kubernetes ServiceAccount the Pod uses. IRSA will ensure that a special file is injected (and rotated periodically) into the Pod that contains a JSON Web Token (JWT) that encapsulates a request for temporary credentials to assume the IAM Role with reduced permissions.

When AWS clients or SDKs connect to an AWS API, they detect the existence of this special token file and call the STS::AssumeRoleWithWebIdentity API to assume the IAM Role with reduced permissions.

IAM Roles for Service Accounts (IRSA) automates the provisioning and rotation of AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) temporary credentials that a Kubernetes service account can use to call AWS APIs.

Instead of creating and distributing your AWS credentials to the containers or using the Amazon EC2 instance’s role, you can associate an IAM role with a Kubernetes service account. The applications in a Kubernetes pod container can then use an AWS SDK or the AWS CLI to make API requests to authorized AWS services.

By using the IRSA feature, you no longer need to provide extended permissions to the node IAM role so that pods on that node can call AWS APIs. You can scope IAM permissions to a service account, and only pods that use that service account have access to those permissions.

The following steps demonstrate how to set up IRSA on an EKS cluster while installing the ACK S3 controller using Helm charts. By modifying the variable values as needed, these steps can be applied for the installation of other ACK service controllers.

Step 1. Create an OIDC identity provider for your cluster

Create an OpenID Connect (OIDC) identity provider for your EKS cluster using the eksctl utils command:

export EKS_CLUSTER_NAME=<eks cluster name>
export AWS_REGION=<aws region id>
eksctl utils associate-iam-oidc-provider --cluster $EKS_CLUSTER_NAME --region $AWS_REGION --approve

For detailed instructions, refer to Amazon EKS documentation on how to create an IAM OIDC provider for your cluster.

Step 2. Create an IAM role and policy for your service account

Create an IAM role for your ACK service controller

# Update the service name variables as needed
SERVICE="s3"
AWS_ACCOUNT_ID=$(aws sts get-caller-identity --query "Account" --output text)
OIDC_PROVIDER=$(aws eks describe-cluster --name $EKS_CLUSTER_NAME --region $AWS_REGION --query "cluster.identity.oidc.issuer" --output text | sed -e "s/^https:\/\///")
ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE=ack-system

ACK_K8S_SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME=ack-$SERVICE-controller

read -r -d '' TRUST_RELATIONSHIP <<EOF
{
  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
    {
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Principal": {
        "Federated": "arn:aws:iam::${AWS_ACCOUNT_ID}:oidc-provider/${OIDC_PROVIDER}"
      },
      "Action": "sts:AssumeRoleWithWebIdentity",
      "Condition": {
        "StringEquals": {
          "${OIDC_PROVIDER}:sub": "system:serviceaccount:${ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE}:${ACK_K8S_SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME}"
        }
      }
    }
  ]
}
EOF
echo "${TRUST_RELATIONSHIP}" > trust.json

ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE="ack-${SERVICE}-controller"
ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE_DESCRIPTION='IRSA role for ACK $SERVICE controller deployment on EKS cluster using Helm charts'
aws iam create-role --role-name "${ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE}" --assume-role-policy-document file://trust.json --description "${ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE_DESCRIPTION}"
ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE_ARN=$(aws iam get-role --role-name=$ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE --query Role.Arn --output text)

Attach IAM policy to the IAM role

Note
The command below will attach the ACK recommended policy to the IAM role. If you wish to use any other permissions, change IAM_POLICY_ARN variable
# Download the recommended managed and inline policies and apply them to the
# newly created IRSA role
BASE_URL=https://raw.githubusercontent.com/aws-controllers-k8s/${SERVICE}-controller/main
POLICY_ARN_URL=${BASE_URL}/config/iam/recommended-policy-arn
POLICY_ARN_STRINGS="$(wget -qO- ${POLICY_ARN_URL})"

INLINE_POLICY_URL=${BASE_URL}/config/iam/recommended-inline-policy
INLINE_POLICY="$(wget -qO- ${INLINE_POLICY_URL})"

while IFS= read -r POLICY_ARN; do
    echo -n "Attaching $POLICY_ARN ... "
    aws iam attach-role-policy \
        --role-name "${ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE}" \
        --policy-arn "${POLICY_ARN}"
    echo "ok."
done <<< "$POLICY_ARN_STRINGS"

if [ ! -z "$INLINE_POLICY" ]; then
    echo -n "Putting inline policy ... "
    aws iam put-role-policy \
        --role-name "${ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE}" \
        --policy-name "ack-recommended-policy" \
        --policy-document "$INLINE_POLICY"
    echo "ok."
fi

For detailed instructions, refer to Amazon EKS documentation on creating an IAM role and policy for your service account.

Step 3. Associate an IAM role to a service account and restart deployment

If you installed your ACK service controller using a Helm chart, then a service account already exists on your cluster. However, it is still neccessary to associate an IAM role with the service account.

Verify that your service account exists using kubectl describe:

kubectl describe serviceaccount/$ACK_K8S_SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME -n $ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE

Note that the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the IAM role that you created is not yet set as an annotation for the service account.

Use the following commands to associate an IAM role to a service account:

# Annotate the service account with the ARN
export IRSA_ROLE_ARN=eks.amazonaws.com/role-arn=$ACK_CONTROLLER_IAM_ROLE_ARN
kubectl annotate serviceaccount -n $ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE $ACK_K8S_SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME $IRSA_ROLE_ARN

Restart ACK service controller deployment using the following commands. The restart will update service controller pods with IRSA environment variables

# Note the deployment name for ACK service controller from following command
kubectl get deployments -n $ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE
kubectl -n $ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE rollout restart deployment <ACK deployment name>

Step 4: Verify successful setup

When AWS clients or SDKs connect to an AWS API, they detect an AssumeRoleWithWebIdentity security token to assume the IAM role.

Verify that the AWS_WEB_IDENTITY_TOKEN_FILE and AWS_ROLE_ARN environment variables exist for your Kubernetes pod using the following commands:

kubectl get pods -n $ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE
kubectl describe pod -n $ACK_K8S_NAMESPACE <NAME> | grep "^\s*AWS_"

The output should contain following two lines:

AWS_ROLE_ARN=arn:aws:iam::<AWS_ACCOUNT_ID>:role/<IAM_ROLE_NAME>
AWS_WEB_IDENTITY_TOKEN_FILE=/var/run/secrets/eks.amazonaws.com/serviceaccount/token

Next Steps

Now that ACK service controller is setup successfully with AWS permissions, let’s validate by creating a S3 bucket

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