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Google is advising here to not use a super admin account for daily activities in Google Workspaces: https://support.google.com/a/answer/9011373?hl=en&fl=1

Unfortunately Google does not give any reason for this advice and I can not think about any attack vector in this specific case (in other areas that would makes sense obviously):

  • The session for the admin panel is separated from the session for the "normal" Google services anyway (e.g. Gmail), so the (super) admin needs an extra login for admin tasks
  • API keys are a completely different topic, as they have different credentials
  • Why is Google advising this for super admin account, but not for other admin accounts (even an admin with "delete user" rights could generate harm)? If there is an attack vector the advice should be valid for all admin accounts

I do not see any difference between separating the accounts or not. Am I missing something?

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  • I see there are ways to secure your administrator accounts not only specifically Super Admin accounts. Apr 5, 2022 at 11:08
  • @UtkarshAgrawal the link has a specific Super Admin section ...
    – schroeder
    Apr 5, 2022 at 11:22
  • In my case, we r facing an active attack recently which listing our accounts and try to guess passwords for each of them one by one, we r !suspecting! daily admin users r contributing with this attack, so far we r not sure yet
    – Dreamer64
    Jun 4, 2022 at 11:46

1 Answer 1

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The severity of the damage of a compromised Super Admin account is greater than for any other account, so additional controls are appropriate to reduce risks.

The session for the admin panel is separated from the session for the "normal" Google services anyway (e.g. Gmail), so the (super) admin needs an extra login for admin tasks

The account needs to log in again, yes. But if the account is already compromised, then this is a low bar.

Why is Google advising this for super admin account, but not for other admin accounts

Admins can be limited and locked down. A compromised admin account can do damage, but that damage can be recovered. Super Admins cannot be locked down and Super Admins can destroy the company. So, it makes sense that the protections for the Super admin are explicit about this protection.

Of course the best practice is to not use any admin account for daily activities. But considering the potential impacts and the user experience impact, one could survive with an admin account used for daily activities.

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  • 1. You say that if the account is compromised then the new login is a low bar. My question is rather in which scenario a dedicated super admin account could decrease account compromisation then. If the attacker has access to my system then both accounts are compromised, if I fall for phishing then the super admin account is compromised. Most attack vectors are mitigated by 2fa anyway. 2. I agree with the damage topic
    – micha
    Apr 6, 2022 at 10:16
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    "If the attacker has access to my system then both accounts are compromised" -- this is not an accurate assumption to make.
    – schroeder
    Apr 6, 2022 at 10:24

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