Enable a Service Principal to Create Access Policies for an Azure Resource Using DevOps

If you got along well with your deployment strategy, you might got to the point where you are using a service principal in DevOps to do your deployments. One of the deployment tasks that I needed to do was to create an access policy using a service principal with Powershell. I simply wanted to do that using command Set-KeyVaultAccessPolicy. More specifically, I wanted to grant an access policy for my data factory to be able to get/list secrets in my key vault. Running my code with my windows account, everything was working as expected. Running my code using the service principal, it was failing with the following error

Exception: An error occurred: System.Exception: Insufficient privileges to complete the operation.at Set-KeyVaultAccessPolicy,

This has occurred even though my service principal was granted contributor access to the resource group where the key vault lives. That was the same level of permissions that my account had. Then why was it that my account was able to run Set-KeyVaultAccessPolicy but my service principal didn’t have enough privileges to do it?

It turns out that in order for a service principal to be able to create an access policy, it will need to validate the object ID for your resource against azure active directory. To fix, you can try one of the following two solutions:

Solution 1: Change the API permissions for your service principal to allow reading of the azure active directory graph.

This can be done by going to your service principal, and then select the API permissions blade. Click add permission as can be seen in the image below

Once there, scroll all the way to the bottom and select “Azure Active Directory Graph”. Then grant Directory.Read.All permissions to your application permissions options as can be seen below

This will enable your service principal to verify object ID and therefore create necessary access policies.

Solution 2: Add flag BypassObjectIdValidation to your command

This will enable your command to skip the object id validation step and create the access policy (even though this solution has worked for many people, it didn’t work for me). So your command will look something like

Set-AzKeyVaultAccessPolicy -ResourceGroupName $resourceGroupName `
                           -VaultName $keyVaultName `
                           -ObjectId $servicePrincipal.Id  `
                           -PermissionsToSecrets get,list `
                           -ErrorAction Stop `

Hope one of these two solutions will help you figure out a solution to this problem.