How to Increase Kubernetes Security: Key Practices to Follow

Kubernetes is a recognized open-source container orchestration platform globally utilized by several companies. This feature-rich platform offers the controls required for handling the distribution of enterprise-grade apps. Nevertheless, due to its complex nature, it is not easy to learn and use. And such complexities can make vulnerabilities and cause misconfigurations in your whole ecosystem.

Security must be the prime concern for a production system and should be stricter while securing clusters. After all, they engage more moving parts that require cooperating. Securing an easy system includes updated dependencies and keeping up with good practices.

However, for securing an environment, be it clustered or not, the user should assess the images, communications, hardware problems, and operational system. Solid security policies help abstain from downtime, stolen sensitive data, data violations, and denial of service attacks.

Being an open-source platform for scaling, automating the app distribution, and handling containerized apps, Kubernetes affects several runtime security functions. Since with every open source project, problems are found quickly but every user should update their software for refraining of possible attacks.

In 2019, acceptance of Kubernetes and Containers has been astounding. As per the latest published CNCF report, acceptance of container has leaped to 84%, with Kubernetes being accepted by 78% of appellants for orchestrating those containers. Nevertheless, these are nothing but security matters about Kubernetes and Containers.

Kubernetes Security Concerns

As already mentioned, Kubernetes is popular for both its complexity and efficacy. It’s a big challenge to orchestrate container distributions. And making sure a secure distribution is a prime part of this challenge.

As per the latest study, in 2019, 94% of those reviewed had encountered a container security incident. 44% postponed shiftingworkloads to production because of these incidents, impacting revenue and productivity.

1. Kubernetes Misconfigurations

Misconfigurations are responsible for making both data and systems susceptible, enabling the abuse of theft, resources, and permissions of data.

As per the same analysis given above, 61% assessed reported misconfigurations as their biggest worry. This was contrasted to 27% who were concerned regarding vulnerabilities and 12% who were concerned regarding attacks.

2. Kubernetes Complexity

Albeit containers get advantages from isolation, which can maximize security, Kubernetes networking comes with a complexity that is tough to secure. Revealing thousands or hundreds of services, whether externally or internally, leaves a lot of entry points for attackers, and can lower visibility.

Distributing and interrelating different moving parts of a distribution bring lots of space for human mistakes and failure.

3. Kubernetes Skills

The inadequacy of preparedness is another problem the teams have. Trying to use Kubernetes in production using a conventional team instead of DevOps, or moving to DevOps for using Kubernetes is not recommended.

Moreover, although it’s apparent to learn Kubernetes from the beginning, instantly distributing to production without complete examination and authentication of new skills is a careless action.

How to Increase Kubernetes Security

Here are 8 ways to increase container security efficiently, bringing up a hardened Kubernetes and secure architecture:

1. Node-Level and Pod-Level Security

Kubernetes should be prepared at both the node and pod levels. In the Kubernetes repository, the PodSecurityPolicy specification is present for identifying pod-level security concerns and constricting access to containers. Best practices should be followed at the node level for limiting unauthorized access.

2. DevOps and Kubernetes Security

Now Kubernetes is involved in maximum DevOps methods. In case your organization is functioning DevOps, it is advised to combine security and identify safe practices in the DevOps workflows.

Security configurations and tools should be combined into CI/CD channels for abstaining from the manual configuration. Moreover, automating configuration handling activities will lower the biggest purposes behind unsafe Kubernetes architecture: human mistakes and misconfigurations.

3. Permission at Every Component Level

Several apps and IT systems are compromised because of avoiding the approval system, getting user access allowance, and functioning vulnerable activities for breaking down the target, or stealing the data. And a Kubernetes environment is also exposed to these attacks.

Attackers can enter the K8S infrastructure from nodes and containers for accessing the remaining parts of containers and the API server. Kubernetes assists the RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) that makes the allowance stronger at every level of clusters.

4. Communication Route between Containers

Sometimes the communication between containers inside clusters is where data can be exposed to an outside threat. The utilization of VPNs is one of the approaches for using inside the Kubernetes cluster for end-to-end communication.

You can hide the Kubernetes API server behind the VPN for achieving this. This enables containers for accessing the web without unveiling an API server to an external attack.

The utilization of service meshes is a favorable approach, making a network layer that controls data flow, encrypts the data, and allows safe communication between containers. Depicting network policies for network traffic from and to containers is another approach to prevent a threat to resist through the cluster.

5. Platforms for Addressing Kubernetes Security

Different Kubernetes security platforms have been distributed over the past few years. Enterprises and agencies can choose to go with managed Kubernetes or select a combined solution or a platform for safeguarding Kubernetes groups.

6. Managed Kubernetes

As already mentioned, human mistakes and inadequacy of skills in configuring Kubernetes can be the biggest obstacle for Kubernetes’ acceptance. After all, it maximizes the scopes of getting less safe Kubernetes groups. Organizations that require containerization are rather opting for managed Kubernetes solutions for operating their containerized workloads.

Managed Kubernetes platforms are provided by both independent managed solution providers and renowned public cloud providers. The benefit of using these solutions is that a dedicated group will check security problems and identify them for every client using the automated management platforms.

7. Updating the Cluster with Trustworthy Images

Every kind of software comprises bugs. Since attackers always try to find the data violation in popular software, the cluster operator should keep all software running on the cluster updated and with Docker images, so big issues are solved before getting exploited. These images are designed with layers that maximize a container’s complexity.

8. Leverage Process Whitelisting

Process Whitelisting helps you limit processes to just those that are authenticated and approved. This is one of the most reliable ways to make sure that vulnerable procedures are blocked.

Whitelisting doesn’t need you to know anything regarding whether unfamiliar procedures are vulnerable or not. Hence, you can efficiently block a dynamic attack or zero-day procedures.

9. Resource Quotas

It is essential to depict quotas for your data resources. Unlimited resources can cause complete cluster unavailability in terms of buggy apps or DoS attacks. In case a resource is not restricted, it can bring all the accessible hardware resources to itself.

Kubernetes has many resource quota configurations. You can depict the maximum number of examples of a similar container, the absolute amount of memory, and the number of CPU shares the app can consume. These configurations can be decidedas a namespace or for a POD.

Read also: Why Enterprises Are Adopting Kubernetes?

Bottom Lines

Securing a system is not easy, but securing a cluster is a tougher job. To accomplish this task with success, the operator should understand the behavior of an app where thousands of devices are functioning together. A user must ponder the software versions running on the cluster, check different features of every app, and prevent unreliable access to the cluster.

Furthermore, the operator should ponder how an app behaves normally and address odd behaviors that could help recognize a security violation. Administrating a cluster is a challenging task.

To keep up with security, all should be continuously checked, properly separated, kept updated, and with better verification roles. Your cluster will be secure and sound through proper attention and diligence to the aforesaid points.

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Rushi Patel

Rushi Patel is a Team Lead at MindInventory and having skilled in NodeJs • React • VueJs • Angular • IONIC • NuxtJs • NextJs • Koa • Laravel • PHP • React Native • MySQL • Postgres • MongoDB • GraphQL • Prisma • Cloud Computing • DevOps • Microservices