Skip to content

EKS Access Entries


AWS EKS has introduced a new set of controls, called access entries, for managing access of IAM principals to Kubernetes clusters. eksctl has fully integrated with this feature, allowing users to directly associate access policies to certain IAM principals, while doing work behind the scenes for others. More details in the upcoming section.

EKS predefines several managed access policies that mirror the default Kubernetes user facing roles. Predefined access policies can also include policies with permissions required by other AWS services such as Amazon EMR to run workloads on EKS clusters. See a list of predefined access policies as-well as a detailed description for each of those here.


For now, users can only use predefined EKS access policies. For more advanced requirements, one can continue to use iamIdentityMappings. Bear in mind that the permissions associated with a predefined access policy are subject to change over time. EKS will periodically backfill policies to match upstream permissions.

How to enable the access entries API?

eksctl has added a new accessConfig.authenticationMode field, which dictates how cluster access management is achieved, and can be set to one of the following three values:

  • CONFIG_MAP - default in EKS API - only aws-auth ConfigMap will be used
  • API - only access entries API will be used
  • API_AND_CONFIG_MAP - default in eksctl - both aws-auth ConfigMap and access entries API can be used


  authenticationMode: <>

When creating a new cluster with access entries, using eksctl, if authenticationMode is not provided by the user, it is automatically set to API_AND_CONFIG_MAP. Thus, the access entries API will be enabled by default. If instead you want to use access entries on an already existing, non-eksctl created, cluster, where CONFIG_MAP option is used, the user will need to first set authenticationMode to API_AND_CONFIG_MAP. For that, eksctl has introduced a new command for updating the cluster authentication mode, which works both with CLI flags e.g.

eksctl utils update-authentication-mode --cluster my-cluster --authentication-mode API_AND_CONFIG_MAP

and by providing a config file e.g.

eksctl utils update-authentication-mode -f config.yaml

How does this affect different resources?

IAM Entities

Cluster management access for these type of resources falls under user's control. eksctl has added a new accessConfig.accessEntries field that maps one-to-one to the Access Entries EKS API. For example:

  authenticationMode: API_AND_CONFIG_MAP
    - principalARN: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:user/my-user-name
      type: STANDARD
      kubernetesGroups: # optional Kubernetes groups
        - group1 # groups can used to give permissions via RBAC
        - group2

    - principalARN: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/role-name-1
      accessPolicies: # optional access polices
        - policyARN: arn:aws:eks::aws:cluster-access-policy/AmazonEKSViewPolicy
            type: namespace
              - default
              - my-namespace
              - dev-*

    - principalARN: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/admin-role
      accessPolicies: # optional access polices
        - policyARN: arn:aws:eks::aws:cluster-access-policy/AmazonEKSClusterAdminPolicy
            type: cluster

    - principalARN: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/role-name-2
      type: EC2_LINUX

In addition to associating EKS policies, one can also specify the Kubernetes groups to which an IAM entity belongs, thus granting permissions via RBAC.

Managed nodegroups and Fargate

The integration with access entries for these resources will be achieved behind the scenes, by the EKS API. Newly created managed node groups and Fargate pods will create API access entries, rather than using pre-loaded RBAC resources. Existing node groups and Fargate pods will not be changed, and continue to rely on the entries in the aws-auth config map.

Self-managed nodegroups

Each access entry has a type. For authorizing self-managed nodegroups, eksctl will create a unique access entry for each nodegroup with the principal ARN set to the node role ARN and type set to either EC2_LINUX or EC2_WINDOWS depending on nodegroup amiFamily.

When creating your own access entries, you can also specify EC2_LINUX (for an IAM role used with Linux or Bottlerocket self-managed nodes), EC2_WINDOWS (for an IAM roles used with Windows self-managed nodes), FARGATE_LINUX (for an IAM roles used with AWS Fargate (Fargate)), or STANDARD as a type. If you don't specify a type, the default type is set to STANDARD.


When deleting a nodegroup created with a pre-existing instanceRoleARN, it is the user's responsibility to delete the corresponding access entry when no more nodegroups are associated with it. This is because eksctl does not attempt to find out if an access entry is still in use by non-eksctl created self-managed nodegroups as it is a complicated process.

Managing access entries

Create access entries

This can be done in two different ways, either during cluster creation, specifying the desired access entries as part of the config file and running:

eksctl create cluster -f config.yaml

OR post cluster creation, by running:

eksctl create accessentry -f config.yaml

An example config file for creating access entries can be found here.

Fetch access entries

The user can retieve all access entries associated with a certain cluster by running one of the following:

eksctl get accessentry -f config.yaml


eksctl get accessentry --cluster my-cluster

Alternatively, to retrieve only the access entry corresponding to a certain IAM entity one shall use the --principal-arn flag. e.g.

eksctl get accessentry --cluster my-cluster --principal-arn arn:aws:iam::111122223333:user/admin

Delete access entries

To delete a single access entry at a time use:

eksctl delete accessentry --cluster my-cluster --principal-arn arn:aws:iam::111122223333:user/admin

To delete multiple access entries, use the --config-file flag and specify all the principalARN's corresponding with the access entries, under the top-level accessEntry field, e.g.

  - principalARN: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:user/my-user-name
  - principalARN: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/role-name-1
  - principalARN: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/admin-role
eksctl delete accessentry -f config.yaml

Migrate IAM identity mappings to access entries

The user can migrate their existing IAM identities from aws-auth configmap to access entries by running the following:

eksctl utils migrate-to-access-entry --cluster my-cluster --target-authentication-mode <API or API_AND_CONFIG_MAP>

When --target-authentication-mode flag is set to API, authentication mode is switched to API mode (skipped if already in API mode), IAM identity mappings will be migrated to access entries, and aws-auth configmap is deleted from the cluster.

When --target-authentication-mode flag is set to API_AND_CONFIG_MAP, authentication mode is switched to API_AND_CONFIG_MAP mode (skipped if already in API_AND_CONFIG_MAP mode), IAM identity mappings will be migrated to access entries, but aws-auth configmap is preserved.


When --target-authentication-mode flag is set to API, this command will not update authentication mode to API mode if aws-auth configmap has one of the below constraints.

  • There is an Account level identity mapping.
  • One or more Roles/Users are mapped to the kubernetes group(s) which begin with prefix system: (except for EKS specific groups i.e. system:masters, system:bootstrappers, system:nodes etc).
  • One or more IAM identity mapping(s) are for a Service Linked Role.

Disabling cluster creator admin permissions

eksctl has added a new field accessConfig.bootstrapClusterCreatorAdminPermissions: boolean that, when set to false, disables granting cluster-admin permissions to the IAM identity creating the cluster. i.e.

add the option to the config file:

  bootstrapClusterCreatorAdminPermissions: false

and run:

eksctl create cluster -f config.yaml