Identity types

Service Account

A service account is a type of account used by services, applications, or automated processes to access resources or perform specific tasks within a system or environment. Service accounts help automate and streamline access management, reducing the reliance on human users and improving operational efficiency.

For example, in a cloud environment, code running on virtual machines (VMs) or within containers may use service accounts to authenticate and access cloud services, databases, or storage resources. Service accounts are typically associated with specific roles or permissions to control their access to resources.

Service accounts are commonly used in scenarios such as batch processing, background tasks, or system-to-system communication, where human interaction is not required. However, it's worth noting that containers themselves do not use service accounts directly since they encapsulate applications, but the applications running inside containers may use service accounts.

Using service accounts alone doesn't inherently enforce security policies or track resource usage. However, organizations can enforce security policies, track resource usage, and audit access to sensitive data or systems by properly configuring and managing service accounts.

Service accounts are often managed centrally within an identity and access management (IAM) system, allowing administrators to create, modify, or delete accounts as needed. Best practices for service account management include limiting their scope and permissions to only what is necessary, rotating credentials regularly, and monitoring for suspicious activities or unauthorized access.