Add an Elastic Kubernetes Service Instance Profile Cluster
Last modified on October 4, 2023
This guide describes how to manage access to an Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) Instance Profile cluster via the StrongDM Admin UI. This cluster type supports AWS IAM role authentication for EKS resources and gateways running in EC2. EKS clusters are added and managed in both the Admin UI and the AWS Management Console.
Before you begin, ensure that the EKS endpoint you are connecting is accessible from one of your StrongDM gateways or relays. See our Nodes guide for more information.
During authentication with your AWS resource, the system looks for credentials in the following places in this order:
- Environment variables (if the Enable Environment Variables box is checked)
- Shared credentials file
- EC2 role or ECS profile
As soon as the relay or gateway finds credentials, it stops searching and uses them. Due to this behavior, we recommend that all similar AWS resources with these authentication options use the same method when added to StrongDM.
For example, if you are using environment variables for AWS Management Console and using EC2 role authentication for an EKS cluster, when users attempt to connect to the EKS cluster through the gateway or relay, the environment variables are found and used in an attempt to authenticate with the EKS cluster, which then fails. We recommend using the same type for all such resources to avoid this problem at the gateway or relay level. Alternatively, you can segment your network by creating subnets with their own relays and sets of resources, so that the relays can be configured to work correctly with just those resources.
Manage the IAM Role
- In the AWS Management Console, go to Identity and Access Management (IAM) > Roles.
- Create a role to be used for accessing the cluster, or select an existing role to be used.
- Attach or set the role to what you are using to run your relay (for example, an EC2 instance, ECS task, EKS pod, and so forth). See AWS documentation for information on how to attach roles to EC2 instances, set the role of an ECS task, and set the role of a pod in EKS.
- Copy the Role ARN (the Amazon Resource Name specifying the role).
Grant the Role the Ability to Interact With the Cluster
- While authenticated to the cluster using your existing connection method, run the following command to edit the
aws-authConfigMap (YML file) within Kubernetes:
kubectl edit -n kube-system configmap/aws-auth
- Copy the following snippet and paste it into the file under the
data:heading, as shown:
- rolearn: <ARN_OF_INSTANCE_ROLE>
In that snippet, do the following:
<ARN_OF_INSTANCE_ROLE>with the ARN of the instance role.
<GROUP>with the appropriate group for the permissions level you want this StrongDM connection to have (see Kubernetes Roles for more details).
- rolearn: arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/Example
The name under
groups: in the
mapRoles block must match the subject name in the desired ClusterRoleBinding, not the name of the ClusterRoleBinding itself. For example, if a default EKS cluster has a ClusterRoleBinding called
cluster-admin, with a group named
system:masters, then the name
system:masters must be input in the
mapRoles block under
In the following example of the default ClusterRoleBinding for
cluster-admin on an unconfigured EKS cluster, you can see that the group name under
Annotations: rbac.authorization.kubernetes.io/autoupdate: true
Kind Name Namespace
---- ---- ---------
Also note that in the YML file, the indentation is critically important. If the indentation is wrong, the Edit command does not trigger an error message, but the change fails. Note that
mapRoles should be at the same indent level as
mapUsers in that file.
- Save the file and exit your text editor.
Add Your EKS Instance Profile Cluster in StrongDM
Log in to the Admin UI and go to Infrastructure > Clusters.
Click the Add cluster button.
Select Elastic Kubernetes Service (instance profile) as the Cluster Type and set other resource properties to configure how the StrongDM relay connects.
Click Create to save the resource.
The Admin UI updates and shows your new cluster in a green or yellow state. Green indicates a successful connection. If it is yellow, click the pencil icon to the right of the server to reopen the Connection Details screen. Then click Diagnostics to determine where the connection is failing.
Configuration properties are visible when you add a Cluster Type or when you click to view the cluster’s settings. The following table describes the settings available for your EKS Instance Profile cluster.
|Meaningful name to display the resource throughout StrongDM; exclude special characters like quotes (") or angle brackets (< or >)
|Select Elastic Kubernetes Service (instance profile)
|API server endpoint of the EKS cluster in the format
<ID>.<REGION>.eks.amazonaws.com, such as
A95FBC180B680B58A6468EF360D16E96.yl4.us-west-2.eks.amazonaws.com; relay server should be able to connect to your EKS endpoint
|Automatically generated IP address value in the
127.255.255.254 IP address range; default is
127.0.0.1; preferred bind interface value can be modified later under Settings > Port Overrides
|Automatically generated with a value between 1024 to 59999 as long as that port is not used by another resource; preferred port can be modified later under Settings > Port Overrides; after specifying the port override number, you must also update the kubectl configuration, which you can learn more about in section Port Overrides
|Credential store location; defaults to Strong Vault; to learn more, see Secret Store options
|Pasted server certificate (plaintext or Base64-encoded), or imported PEM file; you can either generate the server certificate on the API server or get it in Base64 format from your existing Kubernetes configuration (kubeconfig) file
|Name of the EKS cluster
|Region of the EKS cluster, such as
|If enabled for your organization, the namespace used for the resource healthcheck; defaults to
default if empty; supplied credentials must have the rights to perform one of the following kubectl commands in the specified namespace:
get deployments, or
|Authentication method to access the cluster; select either Leased Credential (default) or Remote Identities (to use the Remote Identities of StrongDM users to access the cluster)
|If Authentication is set to Remote Identities, the username that should be used to verify StrongDM’s connection to it; username must already exist on the target cluster
|Assume Role ARN
|Role ARN, such as
arn:aws:iam::000000000000:role/RoleName, that allows users accessing this resource to assume a role using AWS AssumeRole functionality
|Assume Role External ID
|External ID if leveraging an external ID to users assuming a role from another account; if used, it must be used in conjunction with Assume Role ARN; see the AWS documentation on using external IDs for more information
|Resource tags consisting of key-value pairs
<KEY>=<VALUE> (for example,
You may find the following additional information useful:
- Some Kubernetes management interfaces, such as Visual Studio Code, do not function properly with cluster names containing spaces. If you run into problems, please choose a Display Name without spaces.
- When your users connect to this cluster, they have exactly the rights permitted by this AWS key pair. See AWS documentation for more information.
- You can find information about your cluster in the AWS Management Console on your EKS cluster’s general configuration page.
Secret Store options
By default, server credentials are stored in StrongDM. However, these credentials can also be saved in a secrets management tool.
Non-StrongDM options appear in the Secret Store dropdown menu if they are created under Network > Secret Stores. When you select another Secret Store type, its unique properties display. For more details, see Configure Secret Store Integrations.