IAM user can execute a Privilege Escalation by using inline PassRole

Security & Compliance

An IAM user with permissions to use the "PassRole" action in an inline policy can execute a privilege escalation attack. The "PassRole" action allows an IAM user to pass the permissions of a role to an AWS resource, such as an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance, which can then perform actions on behalf of the role. If an IAM user with the ability to use "PassRole" has permissions to create or modify a role, they can assign elevated permissions to that role and then use "PassRole" to pass those permissions to an EC2 instance. This can allow the user to gain access to resources and perform actions that they are not authorized to perform.


To prevent privilege escalation through the use of "PassRole," AWS users can take the following steps:

  1. Restrict "PassRole" permissions to only those roles that the IAM user is authorized to pass.
  2. Implement least privilege access by assigning roles only the permissions that they need to perform their intended functions.
  3. Regularly review and audit inline policies to ensure that they remain up-to-date and in compliance with security best practices.
  4. Monitor IAM user activity using AWS tools like Amazon CloudTrail and Amazon GuardDuty to detect unusual or suspicious behavior.

By implementing these steps, AWS users can reduce the risk of privilege escalation through the use of "PassRole" and ensure that IAM users only have access to the resources and permissions that they need to perform their intended functions.

Enforced Resources
Note: Remediation steps provided by Lightlytics are meant to be suggestions and guidelines only. It is crucial to thoroughly verify and test any remediation steps before applying them to production environments. Each organization's infrastructure and security needs may differ, and blindly applying suggested remediation steps without proper testing could potentially cause unforeseen issues or vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you validate and customize any remediation steps to meet your organization's specific requirements and ensure that they align with your security policies and best practices.