Kubernetes gives us a good set of software security principles, but we must understand them to implement them. Since Kubernetes is a distributed deployment, its number of attack vectors is higher. Therefore, knowing the best security features in Kubernetes to reduce their attacks is crucial whether you are working on open source or managed Kubernetes.
Best Security Features in Kubernetes Everyone Should Know About
It’s not a mystery that Kubernetes is a complex platform that requires extensive management and configuration. Therefore, to keep the Kubernetes workload safe, you must prevent architectural vulnerabilities and platform dependencies. This is especially important in a production environment. So without further delay, let’s explore the 10 must-have security features in Kubernetes.
1. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
RBAC can allow you to limit the access of others on Kubernetes API. It’s usually automatically activated in Kubernetes 1.6 or above. Still, if you have an older version, you’ll need to manually enable it. But since RBAC allows authorization control, you need to disable Legacy Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC). When you enable RBAC, it’s better to prefer namespace-specific permission. Even when debugging, don’t allow Cluster administrative privileges. You should only allow cluster-based privileges when the situation demands it.
2. Keep Sensitive Workload Apart
As part of your work, you must have secrets in Kubernetes. Your adversaries might have reasons to look into those files, and you give them more opportunities by sharing container runtimes or hosts. Many less secure applications can easily be hacked to see if they are linked with sensitive ones.
If that’s the case, an adversary has many opportunities to view your secrets. By running sensitive workloads on a dedicated machine, you limit the potential impact of a compromise. You can achieve this separation by utilizing node pools, Kubernetes namespace, tolerations, and other controls.
3. Use Third-Party Integration From a Trusted Source
A third-party integration from a trusted source is one of the best security features in Kubernetes as it adds an extra layer of security. This provides multi-factor authentication to protect your work. It’s similar to locking your Facebook profile with two-factor authentication – but it’s more related to coding. When multi-factor authentication is activated, the Kube-apiservers don’t change when new users are added or removed. You can find third party integration on Github. It’s a secure and trustworthy platform for the job.
4. Protect etcd
Etcd is a sensitive resource and an easy target for attackers since it stores the state of your cluster along with its secrets. You should secure it with a firewall, TLS or encryption. Don’t even allow read-access because some attackers can leverage this privilege pass through Kubernetes security features.
Encryption for etcd is not turned on by default, so you need to enable it via the Kube-apiserver process. You can do this by passing the argument –encryption-provider-config. Inside the configuration menu, you’ll need to choose a provider to perform the encryption. Plus, you’ll need to define your secrets. Encryption is an important process that protects your secrets from attackers. Without encryption on etcd, you’re an open target for even basic hackers.
5. Change Kubernetes API Endpoint
Kubernetes operators and cluster administrators can privatize the API endpoints. In a private cluster, the control plan has a unique API endpoint that is separate from the public IP. As a result, public IP addresses don’t have access to master data. It’s like separating the pipeline of two houses connected to the same water tank. That way, they can’t steal each other’s water.
6. Utilize Process Whitelist
A process whitelist is a handy guide that tells you how your apps behave and allows you to keep track of the programs running in the background. For this, you need to launch your application and observe the processes that run in the background. Map down or memorize your app’s behavior and background processes and use this as a checklist for your app’s future behavior. If you spot any anomalies or a process you can’t recognize, you might have a broken code, or it could be a potential attempt of data theft.
7. Enable Audit Logging
Enabling audit logging allows you to see unusual API calls. For instance, if someone tries to enter with stolen credentials, you’ll get a message saying “forbidden” entry. This means someone is attacking, giving you the tie to prepare counteractive measures. When passing files to Kube-apiserver, you can define exactly which events are allowed to log in by using the –audit-policy-file-log flag.
8. Keep Your Kubernetes Version Upto Date
Updating Kubernetes is a challenging task, but it’s absolutely necessary. Updated versions of Kubernetes have strict securities and fixed bugs that might give hackers room to hack you. Updating can be cumbersome if you are using hosted Kubernetes, but ask your provider if they have an automatic update policy.
9. Monitor Traffic
Containerized applications use cluster networks which mean you must monitor the network traffic for anomalies. An easier way to know which traffic is good or bad is to observe the active network traffic and compare it with the traffic allowed by Kubernetes. This will help you understand how your application interacts with anomalous communication.
10. Lock Kubelet
The kubelet is an agent that’s running with each node. It interacts with container runtime to active pods and report metrics. When your app is active, each kubelet in the cluster exposes an API. This API leads to your Kubernetes and can easily be hacked by attackers. You can prevent this by locking kubelets; therefore, attackers won’t find their way to your system so easily.
The Conclusion to 10 Must-Have Security Features in Kubernetes
Kubernetes is an open-source container program that must be secured to prevent attackers from accessing your information. The above-mentioned best security features in Kubernetes will help you secure things on your end and give you a better idea of what you can do. Moreover, Kubernetes can be integrated with third parties like Github for better protection, and it should be your first step in securing your work. We hope this guide helps you get a better grip on Kubernetes and develops your understanding further about this open-source container workload manager.
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