Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Compute Engine is a powerful tool for running virtual machine (VM) instances in the cloud. Access scopes are a key feature of Compute Engine that help control which GCP services and APIs a VM instance can access.
In this blog post, we will dive deeper into access scopes in Compute Engine, including the different types and how to create and assign custom access scopes. We will also explore best practices for configuring access scopes to ensure the security and integrity of your cloud resources.
By the end of this blog, you should better understand access scopes in GCP Compute Engine and be equipped with the knowledge to configure access scopes for your VM instances.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Compute Engine is a cloud-based infrastructure for running virtual machines (VMs) and applications. Access control is an important aspect of GCP Compute Engine, as it allows you to control who can access your resources and how they can access them. One of the ways to control access is through access scopes. This blog will discuss access scopes in GCP Compute Engine and how they work.
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Access Scopes in GCP Compute Engine
Access scopes are a way to control a VM instance’s access level to GCP services and APIs. Access scopes are a set of permissions that can be granted to a VM instance at creation time. These permissions determine what services and APIs the VM instance can access.
How do access scopes work in GCP Compute Engine?
When a VM instance is created in GCP Compute Engine, it is assigned an access scope. The access scope determines which GCP services and APIs the VM instance can access.
If the access scope is set to default, the VM instance will have access to predefined services and APIs. The Compute Engine default service account determines these services and APIs.
If the access scope is custom, you can specify which services and APIs the VM instance can access. You can create a custom role and assign it to the VM instance.
Custom access scopes provide greater flexibility and security, as you can control which services and APIs the VM instance can access. This helps to reduce the attack surface of your VM instances and protect your GCP resources.
Types of Access Scopes in GCP Compute Engine
The Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Compute Engine has three types of access scopes.
- Default access scopes:
Default access scopes are predefined sets of permissions that are granted to all VM instances by default. These permissions allow VM instances to access certain GCP services and APIs, such as Google Cloud Storage and Google Cloud Logging. The specific permissions granted depend on the type of default access scope selected. Default access scopes are designed to be broad enough to allow the most common use cases but not so broad as to be a security risk.
- Full access scope:
This access scope provides access to all the GCP services and APIs. It is important to note that granting full access to any service or API can be a significant security risk. It is generally recommended only to grant specific permissions for a particular use case.
- Custom access scope:
Custom access scopes allow you to specify exactly which GCP services and APIs a VM instance can access. When a custom access scope is assigned to a VM instance, it is only granted the permissions defined by the custom role. Custom access scopes provide greater control and flexibility than default access scopes and are particularly useful when working with sensitive or confidential data. By limiting the permissions granted to a VM instance, custom access scopes can help reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.
How to set access scopes in GCP Compute Engine?
Access scopes can be set during VM instance creation or later. To set access scopes at creation time, select the access scope option in the instance creation wizard and choose either default or custom.
To set access scopes later, go to the VM instances page in the Compute Engine console, select the VM instance you want to modify, and click on the edit button. Select the access scopes option in the instance details page and choose either default or custom.
- In Cloud Console
When you choose ”Set access on each API”, you’ll be provided a list of services where you can select the access.
- Using ‘gcloud’ command
You can use the ‘gcloud compute instances create’ command with the ‘–scopes’ flag to add scope to the Compute Engine instance while creating. The Compute Engine instance would be created with the default access scopes if not provided. You can find out more about it in the official doc.
Best practices for configuring Access Scopes in Compute Engine
- Use custom access scopes: While default access scopes provide a convenient way to grant permissions to common GCP services and APIs, they can also grant unnecessary permissions and increase the risk of security incidents. Instead, use custom access scopes to define the minimum permissions required for a specific VM instance to perform its intended function.
- Use the principle of least privilege: When creating custom access scopes, follow the principle of least privilege, which means granting only the permissions necessary for a given task. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and limits the potential damage a security incident can cause.
- Use service accounts: Service accounts are a way to grant permissions to applications running on Compute Engine VM instances. By using service accounts, you can grant granular permissions to specific applications without granting unnecessary permissions to the underlying VM instance.
- Use firewall rules: Firewall rules can be used to control incoming and outgoing traffic to and from your VM instances. Using firewall rules, you can restrict traffic to only the ports and protocols necessary for your applications to function.
- Regularly review and update access scopes: It is important to regularly review and update access scopes to ensure that they are still necessary and appropriate for your applications. As your applications and infrastructure change over time, access scopes may need to be updated to reflect these changes.
Access scopes are an important feature of GCP Compute Engine, as they help to control access to GCP services and APIs. By setting access scopes, you can limit the attack surface of your VM instances and protect your GCP resources. The default access scope provides predefined services and APIs, while custom access scopes allow you to specify which services and APIs the VM instance can access. Custom access scopes provide greater flexibility and security and are recommended for most use cases.
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Drop a query if you have any questions regarding GCP Compute Engine and I will get back to you quickly.
1. What are the default access scopes in Compute Engine?
ANS: – Default access scopes are predefined permissions granted to all VM instances by default. They provide access to specific GCP services and APIs, such as Google Cloud Storage and Google Cloud Logging, and are designed to be broad enough to cover the most common use cases. You can find out more about it in the official doc.
2. Can I change the access scopes assigned to a running VM instance?
ANS: – Yes, access scopes can be updated for a running VM instance using the Compute Engine Console, the gcloud command-line tool, or the Compute Engine API.
3. What happens if I remove all access scopes from a running VM instance?
ANS: – If all access scopes are removed from a running VM instance, it will lose access to all GCP services and APIs, which may cause applications running on the VM instance to stop functioning. It is important to ensure that access scopes are configured correctly to avoid this situation.
WRITTEN BY Avinash Kumar
Avinash Kumar is a Senior Research Associate at CloudThat, specializing in Cloud Engineering, NodeJS development, and Google Cloud Platform. With his skills, he creates innovative solutions that meet the complex needs of today's digital landscape. He's dedicated to staying at the forefront of emerging cloud technologies.