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Service Accounts are not bound to built-in Administrative roles


A service account is a special Google account that belongs to an application or a VM, instead of to an individual end-user. The application uses the service account to call the service’s Google API so that users aren’t directly involved. It’s recommended not to use admin roles for ServiceAccount.


Service accounts represent service-level security of the Resources (application or a VM) which can be determined by the roles assigned to it. Enrolling ServiceAccount with Admin rights gives full access to an assigned application or a VM. A ServiceAccount Access holder can perform critical actions like delete, update, and change settings, etc. without user intervention. For this reason, Datadog recommends that service accounts not have an Admin role.


From Console:

  1. Go to IAM & admin/IAM using https://console.cloud.google.com/iam-admin/iam
  2. Go to the Members
  3. Identify User-Managed user created service account(s) with roles containing *Admin or *admin
  4. Click the Delete bin icon to remove the role from the member (service account in this case)

From Command Line:

gcloud projects get-iam-policy PROJECT_ID --format json > iam.json
  1. Using a text editor, Remove Role which contains roles/ *Admin or roles/ *admin. Add a role to the bindings array that defines the group members and the role for those members.
  2. Update the project’s IAM policy:
gcloud projects set-iam-policy PROJECT_ID iam.json


  1. https://cloud.google.com/sdk/gcloud/reference/iam/service-accounts/
  2. https://cloud.google.com/iam/docs/understanding-roles
  3. https://cloud.google.com/iam/docs/understanding-service-accounts

CIS Controls

Version 8 5.4 Restrict Administrator Privileges to Dedicated - Administrator Accounts Restrict administrator privileges to dedicated administrator accounts on enterprise assets. Conduct general computing activities, such as internet browsing, email, and productivity suite use, from the user’s primary, non-privileged account.

Version 7 4.3 - Ensure the Use of Dedicated Administrative Accounts - Ensure that all users with administrative account access use a dedicated or secondary account for elevated activities. This account should only be used for administrative activities and not internet browsing, email, or similar activities.