Popular with:
Cloud Engineer
Security Architect
Security Champion
Security Engineer
Cloud Security

Google Cloud Security Tips #3- Service Account Impersonation

January 23, 2023
Written by
Joshua Jebaraj

Table of Contents:

  1. How Does Service Account Impersonation Work?
  2. Benefits of Service Account Impersonation
  3. Conclusion

What is Service Account Impersonation?

Access keys are always challenging to deal with, and the need to store long-lived credentials only adds to the access-management problem. Needless to say, the storage space for credentials has to be super secure and secretive. This is where Service Account Impersonation comes in!

This is a feature of Google Cloud Platform (GCP) that allows administrators to assume the identity of a service account to access and manage resources within their GCP project. It will enable administrators to delegate tasks to users without having to grant them full access to the project. It helps ensure security by letting administrators control who can access what resources.

How Does Service Account Impersonation Work?

GCP Service Account Impersonation allows users to authenticate to the GCP platform using a service account, which is a special type of Google account belonging to an application or a virtual machine (VM) instance instead of an individual user. This allows users to access resources in GCP as if they were the service account without needing to create a separate user account for each resource. 

Service Account Impersonation is helpful for applications needing multiple GCP resources, as only one service account needs to be configured and managed. 

Benefits of Service Account Impersonation

You can experience multiple benefits of this GCP feature that can greatly save your time and resources. Here are the direct benefits of GCP Service Account Impersonation:

  • Increased Security: Service account impersonation allows users to access GCP services without having to share credentials or personal information. This helps to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.
  • Improved Efficiency: By delegating access to a service account, users can quickly access the resources they need without having to re-enter credentials. This simplifies the process of managing GCP resources and reduces the time spent on administrative tasks.
  • Reduced Cost: With GCP's service account impersonation enabled, a business that works predominantly on the cloud can better delegate its resources. This helps save administrative and security dollars.
  • Improved Performance: Users can access GCP services without waiting for authentication and authorization checks by transferring access to a service account. This can improve the performance of GCP applications and services.


With more and more businesses moving to the cloud and the predominance of remote workers and third-party contractors working, security has become a primary concern. With GCP's service account impersonation, security risks can be minimized as no user can get long-lived high-privilege access to the cloud resources.

You can learn all about Service Account Impersonation and other GCP features hands-on through AppSecEngineer's brand-new courses on Google Cloud security. Try them now.

Source for article
Joshua Jebaraj

Joshua Jebaraj

Joshua Jebaraj is the Creator of GCP-Goat. He works as Security Researcher at we45 focusing on cloud and cloud-native security. He has 3+ years of experience working related to containers and Kubernetes. He has also spoken at conferences like Defcon, Owasp-Seasides, Bsides-Delhi, and Eko-party. When AFK, he can be found watching movies and making memes.

Joshua Jebaraj


Contact Support


1603 Capitol Avenue,
Suite 413A #2898,
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001,
United States

Copyright AppSecEngineer © 2023