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Dear Readers, in continuation with our Kubernetes Security series, I would like to shed some light on some of the best practices for Kubernetes security and risk management that would aid us in mitigating the risks of vulnerabilities and security compromises in the Kubernetes environment.
“Understanding Kubernetes security is like diving into an ocean.”
Due to an open-source service being distributed and dynamic, Kubernetes requires extensive configuration alongside a deep and robust approach toward security. Hence while building a defense-in-depth strategy for our workloads, specifically in a production environment, we need to focus on vital architectural vulnerabilities and platform dependencies through enforcing safety best practices. Since protecting Kubernetes cluster environments is a broad, complex, and crucial topic, it deserves significant attention. The complexity of K8s protection is due to its dynamic and immutable nature and open-source usage, which requires extensive monitoring and management to keep it secure and immune to attacks. Organizations that use containers and Kubernetes in their production environments should take Kubernetes protection very seriously, as ought all special additives of their IT infrastructure.
Kubernetes Security & Risk Management Best Practices
Latest Version of Kubernetes
You must always run the most recent version of Kubernetes. Many security patches, previous version bug fixes, and vulnerabilities are overcome within the new release. It is recommended to always check for updates and arrange to upgrade your Kubernetes version once the new release is out there because it has been observed that the more you stick with the older versions, the more challenging the upgrade and support becomes.
Creating separate Namespaces for various Services is an initial level of isolation and makes it easier to use security and control access supported by the namespace, hence all information systems should be divided into separate namespaces. It is helpful in avoiding things when the identical maintainer team is answerable for multiple namespaces.
RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) Controls, who and how somebody can access the Kubernetes API with how many permissions, hence it is a crucial element when it involves Kubernetes cluster security and must be configured to assign the access supported by the principle of least privilege and separation of duties. It is also recommended to avoid giving admin privileges to anyone within the cluster, even just in case of crucial troubleshooting, following the practices of least access is suggested. It is also recommended to forbid unnecessary access of the opposite teams like developers or QA to the assembly environment and avoid impersonating themselves within the production environment with other/multiple accounts.
etcd is considered the source of truth for Kubernetes, and you will be able to read data from and write into it pro re nata. Confirm client connections are served only over TLS. Administrators should confirm client connections are served only over TLS using strong credentials from the API server to the etcd server. In many cases, it is a good idea to isolate the etcd server behind a firewall that only API servers can access.
Control Kubelet Access
kubelet agent that runs on each node of the cluster. It controls the pods running on the node and interacts with the user through a group of APIs that perform specific operations. Unauthorized access to the kubelet could allow an attacker access to the API and compromise the protection of the node or cluster.
Auditing logs help to look at and monitor access to the cluster environment. ensure audit logging is enabled to watch for any strange or unwanted API calls, especially authentication errors. The status of those log entries is “Prohibited”. Failure to approve could mean that the attacker is trying to take advantage of the stolen credentials. Managed Kubernetes providers, including GKE, could also be ready to provide access to the current data within the cloud console and set approval failure alerts.
Restrict SSH Access to Nodes
Another essential security practice to follow in your cluster environment is to be forbidden SSH access to your cluster nodes. Avoid port 22 opening on any node, but you would sometimes need it to debug issues at some point. It is advisable to configure your node’s access via your cloud provider and block all SSH access except via your organization’s VPN or a bastion host. this fashion you will eliminate unauthorized SSH access.
Network Traffic Monitoring
Containerized applications extensively employ cluster networks. Hence, it is good practice to follow active network traffic and compare it to the traffic allowed by the Kubernetes network policy. It might eventually assist you in grasping how your application is interacting and identifying anomalous communications.
Whitelisting processes could be a gold standard and a good thanks to identifying bizarre processes running unexpectedly. First, monitor your application time to spot the processes running during normal application operations. Then use this list as a whitelist for future application behavior. However, it is challenging to perform run-time analysis at the method level. Several commercial security solutions are available to assist you in analyzing and identifying anomalies in running processes across clusters.
If your application processes sensitive user data, it is essential that the work wiped out the cluster be validated by a 3rd party. Whether or not this can be the case, it is advisable to perform a security audit a minimum of annually to confirm that you are aware of all the above issues.
The safety of containers and pods and the Kubernetes API are vital elements of Kubernetes security and risk management practices. These APIs are crucial for making Kubernetes scalable and flexible, encompassing a large quantity of information. Microservices are now being used on a massive scale. Hence, sticking to all the protection necessities is vital to creating a stable and secure environment. It is also essential to constantly monitor and scrutinize the K8s environment to perceive misconfigurations and vulnerabilities as quickly as feasible to hold it secure.
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Drop a query if you have any questions regarding Kubernetes Security, security best practices, or cybersecurity and I will get back to you quickly. To get started, go through our Expert Advisory page and Managed Services Package that is CloudThat’s offerings.
1. Q1. What is Kubernetes?
ANS: – A: Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration tool known as K8s used to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications in a Kubernetes cluster environment.
2. Q2. Why is Kubernetes Security Important?
ANS: – A: Kubernetes is a complex tool, dynamic in nature, and open-source, leaving much room for a compromised condition to occur, putting the whole environment at risk.
3. Q3. How to Manage Kubernetes Security Concerns?
ANS: – A: When best practices are strictly followed, Kubernetes Security concerns can be quickly addressed. Multiple measures can be taken to safeguard and protect your Kubernetes environment, and following them will help us mitigate potential security breaches.
WRITTEN BY Shivani Gandhi
Shivani Gandhi is a Research Associate (Kubernetes) at CloudThat technologies. She holds a master's degree in Computer Application. She is passionate about cloud computing and has a strong urge to learn new cloud-native technologies. She has experience in GCP & AWS and enjoys leveraging clients with efficient cloud-based solutions. She is adaptive, a good team player, and enjoys reading.