azure login with service principal

How to Azure login with Service Principal

Azure is a cloud computing platform that provides various services to help organizations build, deploy, and manage their applications and resources. One essential aspect of working with Azure is user authentication, which allows individuals to access and manage their resources securely. In addition to traditional credentials, Azure provides the option to use a service principal for authentication purposes. In this article, we will dive deep into how to Azure login with a service principal, covering the necessary steps and considerations.

What is a Service Principal in Azure?

Before we delve into the process of Azure login with a service principal, let's first understand what exactly a service principal is in the context of Azure. Essentially, a service principal is an identity (like a username or password) that is associated with an application or service, rather than an individual user. It serves as the means for non-human entities, such as scripts, applications, and automation tools, to authenticate and interact with Azure resources securely.

Service principals are commonly used in scenarios where you need to grant automated access to Azure resources without requiring a user's intervention or compromising the security of your account. They provide a secure way to facilitate programmatic communication with Azure services, allowing applications to authenticate themselves and access resources using the appropriate permissions.

Creating a Service Principal in Azure

To begin the process of Azure login with a service principal, you first need to create the necessary service principal in your Azure Active Directory (AD). Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a service principal:

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal using your Azure account credentials.
  2. Navigate to the Azure Active Directory service.
  3. Under the "Manage" section, select "App registrations."
  4. Click on the "New registration" button to create a new application registration.
  5. Provide a name for your application and choose the appropriate account types and supported account types.
  6. After creating the registration, note down the "Application (client) ID" and the "Directory (tenant) ID" values, as you will need them later for authentication.
  7. Under the "Certificates & secrets" section, generate a new client secret. This secret acts as the password for your service principal and should be treated with the same level of confidentiality.
  8. Make sure to record the generated client secret immediately, as it will be hidden afterward and cannot be retrieved later.

Authenticating with Azure using the Service Principal

Now that you have created the service principal, you can proceed with the Azure login using the obtained credentials. Here's how you can authenticate with Azure using the service principal:

  1. Install the Azure CLI tool or any SDK that supports Azure authentication.
  2. Open the command-line interface or the integrated terminal within your preferred development environment.
  3. Enter the following command to sign in with the service principal:

mdx code az login --service-principal --username APP_ID --password CLIENT_SECRET --tenant TENANT_ID

Replace APP_ID, CLIENT_SECRET, and TENANT_ID with the respective values you obtained during the service principal creation step.

  1. If successful, you will receive an authentication token, signifying a successful Azure login with the service principal.
  2. You can now interact with various Azure resources programmatically using the appropriate Azure CLI commands or SDK methods. The service principal's permissions determine the actions you can perform.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How can I restrict the permissions for a service principal?

To restrict the permissions for a service principal, you have multiple options. One option is to limit the role assignments for the service principal. You can assign the service principal to only the roles necessary for its intended functionality, ensuring that it has the minimum required privileges. Additionally, Azure provides the capability to create custom roles with fine-grained permissions for even more granular control over access.

Q2: Can I use a service principal across multiple Azure subscriptions?

Yes, you can use a service principal across multiple Azure subscriptions. By granting the appropriate permissions to the service principal at the desired scope (subscription, resource group, or individual resources), you can enable it to access and perform actions in those subscriptions. This allows for centralized management and control over the service principal's interactions across different Azure environments.

Q3: How can I revoke the access of a service principal?

Revoking the access of a service principal is straightforward. To remove the access granted to a service principal, you can delete its corresponding application registration in your Azure Active Directory. This action will effectively disable the service principal and prevent further authentication and access to Azure resources.


In this article, we explored the detailed process of Azure login with a service principal. Service principals offer a secure means for non-human entities to authenticate and interact with Azure resources programmatically. By creating a service principal in Azure and following the authentication steps, you can enable secure access to your Azure resources. Remember to manage the permissions of your service principals diligently and follow the principle of least privilege to ensure a robust and secure authentication mechanism in your Azure environment.

Use Azure service principals with Azure CLI | Microsoft Docs

Instead of having applications sign in as a fully privileged user Azure offers service principals. An Azure service principal is an identity created for use with applications hosted services and automated tools to access Azure resources.

Sign in with the Azure CLI | Microsoft Docs

To sign in with a service principal you need: The URL or name associated with the service principal The service principal password or the X509 certificate used to create the service principal in PEM format The tenant associated with the service principal as either domain or Azure object ID

Use Azure service principals with Azure PowerShell ...

Automated tools that use Azure services should always have restricted permissions. Instead of having applications sign in as a fully privileged user Azure offers service principals. An Azure service principal is an identity created for use with applications hosted services and automated tools to access Azure resources.

Create an Azure AD app & service principal in the portal ...

Register an application with Azure AD and create a service principal Let's jump straight into creating the identity. If you run into a problem check the required permissions to make sure your account can create the identity. Sign in to your Azure Account through the Azure portal.

Apps & service principals in Azure AD - Microsoft identity ...

Step Description; 1: Is the process of creating the application and service principal objects in the application's home tenant. 2: When Contoso and Fabrikam administrators complete consent a service principal object is created in their company's Azure AD tenant and assigned the permissions that the administrator granted.

How to log in to Azure service principal - Stack Overflow

"In order to get the service principal's credentials as the appropriate object use the Get-Credential cmdlet. This cmdlet will display a dialog box to enter the service principal user ID and password into." Where do I even find my userID? I followed another docs instructions on creating an SP and all I did was create an app.

Azure: Automating Login For PowerShell Scripts using ...

Service principal can be used to set up the Automatic azure account login thus helping in setting up the PowerShell scripts monitoring Azure environments.

Azure Provider: Authenticating via a Service Principal and ...

Creating a Service Principal A Service Principal is an application within Azure Active Directory whose authentication tokens can be used as the client_id client_secret and tenant_id fields needed by Terraform (subscription_id can be independently recovered from your Azure account details).

Using RBAC with Service Principals for Azure Storage

And lastly replace "YOUR_TENANT_ID" with your appropriate Azure AD tenant ID as well. az login --service-principal --username YOUR_SERVICE_PRINCIPAL_CLIENT_ID --password YOUR_SERVICE_PRINCIPAL_CLIENT_SECRET --tenant YOUR_TENANT_ID We should now be logged in as our SP.

Working with Azure Service Principal Accounts

The Azure CLI command to create a Service Principal is shorted and on creation the randomly generated password is displayed on screen. az ad sp create-for-rbac --name ServicePrincipalDisplayName Grant your Service Principal Rights


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