IAM user can execute a Privilege Escalation by using PassRole

Security & Compliance
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"IAM user can execute a Privilege Escalation by using PassRole" is a security risk that occurs when an IAM user is granted the iam:PassRole permission. This permission allows an IAM user to pass any IAM role to an AWS service or resource, which can lead to privilege escalation if the IAM role being passed has more permissions than the IAM user currently has. For example, if an IAM user is granted the iam:PassRole permission and is able to pass an IAM role to an EC2 instance, they could potentially escalate their privileges to those of the IAM role being passed, granting them access to resources they wouldn't normally have access to.‍


When an IAM user is able to use the PassRole action, it can potentially escalate privileges by assuming a role with more permissions than the original user. Here are the steps to remediate this issue:

  1. Identify the IAM user or role that has the PassRole permission. This can be done by using AWS Config or CloudTrail.
  2. Determine which roles the IAM user or role is allowed to pass. This can be done by looking at the iam:PassRole permission and examining the ARNs of the roles that are allowed.
  3. Review the policies attached to the allowed roles and determine if any of them have excessive permissions that could be used to escalate privileges.
  4. Restrict the iam:PassRole permission for the IAM user or role to only allow passing roles that are necessary for their job function.
  5. Consider implementing a least privilege approach, where roles are given only the minimum permissions required to perform their intended function.
  6. Monitor the usage of PassRole and review CloudTrail logs for suspicious activity, such as an IAM user assuming a role with escalated privileges.
  7. Implement regular security assessments to ensure that IAM policies are up-to-date and enforce the principle of least privilege.
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.