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Article by Nick Frichette.

Role Chain Juggling

Original Research: Daniel Heinsen
Link to Tool: GitHub

When doing an assessment in AWS you may want to maintain access for an extended period of time. You may not have the ability to create a new IAM user, or create a new key for existing users. How else can you extend your access? Role Chain Juggling.

Role chaining is a recognized functionality of AWS in that you can use one assumed role to assume another one. When this happens the expiration field of the credentials is refreshed. This allows us to keep refreshing credentials over an over again.

Through this, you can extend your access by chaining assume-role calls.


You can chain the same role multiple times so long as the Trust Policy is configured correctly. Additionally, finding roles that can assume each other will allow you to cycle back and forth.

To automate this work Daniel Heinsen developed a tool to keep the juggling going.

user@host:$ ./ -h
usage: [-h] [-r ROLE_LIST [ROLE_LIST ...]]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -r ROLE_LIST [ROLE_LIST ...], --role-list ROLE_LIST [ROLE_LIST ...]