Techniques and strategies to overcome Kubernetes security challenges

Five security best practices for DevOps and development professionals managing Kubernetes deployments have been introduced by Portshift.

Kubernetes security challenges

Integrating these security measures into the early stages of the CI/CD pipeline will assist organizations in the detection of security issues earlier, allowing security teams to remediate issues quickly.

Kubernetes as the market leader

The use of containers continues to rise in popularity in test and production environments, increasing demand for a means to manage and orchestrate them. Of all the orchestration tools, Kubernetes (K8s) has emerged as the market leader in cloud-native environments.

Unfortunately, Kubernetes is not as adept at security as it is at orchestration. It is therefore essential to use the right deployment architecture and security best practices for all deployments.

Kubernetes security challenges

However, while Kubernetes has risen in popularity, it has also come with its own set of security issues, increasing the risk of attacks on applications.

Because Kubernetes deployments consist of many different components (including: the Kubernetes’ master and nodes, the server that hosts Kubernetes, the container runtime used Kubernetes, networking layers within the cluster and the applications that run inside containers hosted on Kubernetes), securing Kubernetes requires DevOps/developers to address the security challenges associated with each of these components.

Five security best practices

  • Authorization: Kubernetes offers several authorization methods which are not mutually exclusive. It is recommended to use RBAC and ABAC in combination with Kubernetes where RBAC policies will be forced first, while ABAC policies complement this with finer filtering.
  • Pod security: Since each pod contains a set of one or more containers, it is essential to control their communication. This is done by using Pod Security Policies which are cluster-level resources that control security sensitive aspects of the pod specification.
  • Container security: Kubernetes includes basic workload security primitives related to container security. However, if apps, or the environment, are not configured correctly, the containers become vulnerable to attacks.
  • Migration to production: As companies move more deployments into production, that migration increases the volume of vulnerable workloads at runtime. This issue can be overcome by applying the solutions described above, as well as making sure that your organization maintains a healthy DevOps/DevSecOps culture.
  • Securing CI/CD pipelines on Kubernetes: Running CI/CD on Kubernetes allows for the build-out, testing, and deployment of K8‘s environments that can quickly be scaled as needed. Security must be baked at the CI/CD process because otherwise attackers can gain access at a later point and infect your code or environment. Leverage a security solution that acts as a protection layer for K8s and provides visibility both at the app and cluster levels.

“As the leading orchestration platform, Kubernetes is in active use at AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Azure,“ said Ran Ilany, CEO, Portshift. “With the right security infrastructure in place, it is set to change the way applications are deployed in the cloud with unprecedented efficiency and agility.”

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Techniques and strategies to overcome Kubernetes security challenges