Container technology has become increasingly popular and the use of docker makes it even easier to develop, ship, and run applications using containers.
Kubernetes is a tool for orchestrating container deployments that development teams and companies love to use to increase efficiency, portability, and automation in their environments while reducing operational costs.
Securing Kubernetes does not have to be either complex or expensive. You have the option to use a variety of tools with no extra cost to perform all necessary actions to increase your Kubernetes security.
The Increased Use of Kubernetes
According to the latest Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) annual survey, 93% of organizations are using or planning to use containers in production, and 96% are using or evaluating Kubernetes. According to a previous survey, 28% of organizations have more than 11 Kubernetes production clusters.
The Main Risks Kubernetes Production Environments Face
A Red Hat survey of Kubernetes adoption and security showed that of 500 DevOps professionals surveyed:
- 55% delayed an application release due to security issues.
- 94% experienced at least one Kubernetes security incident in the past year.
- 59% said security is their biggest concern with regard to the continued use of Kubernetes and containers.
Main Security Risks
- Compromised Images and Image Registries
- Compromised Containers or Malicious Traffic
- Lack of Visibility
- Unsecure Default Configurations
Kubernetes Security Best Practices
- Image Scanning
- Host Operating System Hardening
- Use an image with the minimal software packages absolutely necessary for your container to function
- Harden Your Kubernetes Clusters
- Network Security Controls
- Enterprise Security Controls
- Threat Defense
Kubernetes security testing tools
Clair is an open-source tool for performing static analysis of vulnerabilities in containers.
It is often used in conjunction with Kubernetes for identifying and addressing potential security issues in containerized applications.
Clair can be integrated with a Kubernetes cluster to automatically scan container images for known vulnerabilities, providing alerts and suggestions for remediation. This can help to improve the security of applications deployed on Kubernetes.
Sysdig Falco is a tool for runtime security and compliance monitoring of containerized applications. It is designed to run in a Kubernetes environment, where it can monitor the activity of containers in real-time and detect and alert on any abnormal or potentially malicious behavior.
Sysdig Falco uses a set of predefined rules to identify suspicious activity, such as unexpected network connections or access to sensitive files and can trigger alerts or take automated actions in response. This can help to protect the security and integrity of applications running on Kubernetes.
Kubeaudit is a command-line tool for auditing the configuration of a Kubernetes cluster. It can be used to check for common security mistakes or misconfigurations that could potentially compromise the security of the cluster.
Kubeaudit works by scanning the Kubernetes API server and the cluster’s configuration files, looking for patterns that indicate potential security issues. It then produces a report detailing any findings, along with suggestions for remediation.
This can be a useful tool for identifying and addressing potential security vulnerabilities in a Kubernetes cluster.
Polaris is an open-source tool for Kubernetes cluster security and compliance. It provides a set of checks that can be run against a Kubernetes cluster to identify potential security issues and compliance violations.
Polaris can be run as a standalone tool or integrated into a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, allowing security checks to be performed automatically as part of the deployment process.
The tool produces a report detailing any findings, along with recommendations for remediation. This can help to improve the security and compliance of Kubernetes clusters.
Trivy is a lightweight, open-source tool for scanning container images for vulnerabilities.
It can be used in a Kubernetes environment to scan container images before they are deployed, helping to identify and address potential security issues before they can cause problems. Trivy uses a local vulnerability database that is updated frequently, allowing it to quickly and accurately detect known vulnerabilities in container images.
It can also be configured to use external vulnerability databases, such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD), for even more comprehensive scanning. Trivy is easy to use and can be integrated into a Kubernetes deployment pipeline to provide ongoing security scanning and protection.
Kubescape is a Kubernetes open-source platform providing a multi-cloud K8s single pane of glass, including risk analysis, security compliance, RBAC visualizer, and image vulnerability scanning.
Kubescape scans K8s clusters, Kubernetes manifest files (YAML files, and HELM charts), code repositories, container registries, and images, detecting misconfigurations according to multiple frameworks (such as the NSA-CISA, MITRE ATT&CK®), finding software vulnerabilities, and showing RBAC (role-based-access-control) violations at early stages of the CI/CD pipeline.
It calculates risk scores instantly and shows risk trends over time.
Kube-Bench is a tool for checking the compliance of a Kubernetes cluster with the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Kubernetes Benchmark. The CIS Kubernetes Benchmark is a set of best practices and recommendations for securing Kubernetes deployments, developed by the CIS in collaboration with the Kubernetes community. Kube-Bench automates the process of checking a Kubernetes cluster against the CIS Kubernetes Benchmark, producing a report detailing any compliance issues or potential security risks. This can help organizations ensure that their Kubernetes deployments are secure and compliant with industry best practices.
Kube-hunter is a tool for conducting penetration testing of Kubernetes clusters. It works by simulating attacks on a Kubernetes cluster, attempting to identify and exploit vulnerabilities that could be exploited by a malicious actor.
Kube-hunter can be used to test the security of a Kubernetes cluster, providing information on potential weaknesses and suggesting ways to remediate them. This can help organizations improve the security of their Kubernetes deployments and protect against potential threats.
Audit2RBAC is a tool for generating Kubernetes role-based access control (RBAC) policies based on audit logs.
It can be used to automatically create RBAC policies that reflect the actual access patterns of users and applications within a Kubernetes cluster. This can help to ensure that Kubernetes clusters are securely configured and that access is granted only to the users and applications that need it.
Audit2RBAC works by analyzing audit logs from a Kubernetes cluster, identifying the different roles and permissions that are used, and generating a corresponding RBAC policy. This can save time and effort when configuring RBAC in a Kubernetes cluster and can help to improve its security.
KubeLinter is a tool for linting Kubernetes resource configuration files.
It can be used to check for common mistakes, syntax errors, and other issues that could potentially cause problems in a Kubernetes deployment. KubeLinter works by scanning Kubernetes configuration files, such as YAML files, and identifying any potential issues.
It can be run as a standalone tool or integrated into a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, allowing configuration files to be automatically checked as part of the deployment process.
This can help to ensure that Kubernetes deployments are correct and free of errors, improving the reliability and security of applications running on Kubernetes.
Terrascan is a tool for scanning infrastructure-as-code (IaC) files for security vulnerabilities and compliance issues.
It can be used in a Kubernetes environment to scan configuration files, such as those written in Terraform or Kubernetes YAML, and identify potential issues.
Terrascan uses a set of customizable rules to check for common security mistakes, such as hard-coded secrets or overly permissive access controls and can produce a report detailing any findings. This can help organizations improve the security and compliance of their infrastructure, and prevent potential vulnerabilities in Kubernetes deployments.
Falco is a runtime security and compliance monitoring tool for containerized applications.
It is designed to run in a Kubernetes environment, where it can monitor the activity of containers in real-time and detect and alert on any abnormal or potentially malicious behavior.
Falco uses a set of predefined rules to identify suspicious activity, such as unexpected network connections or access to sensitive files and can trigger alerts or take automated actions in response.
This can help to protect the security and integrity of applications running on Kubernetes.
Kubesec is a tool for analyzing and securing Kubernetes resource configuration files.
It can be used to check for potential security issues in Kubernetes YAML files, such as hard-coded secrets or overly permissive access controls. Kubesec uses a set of customizable rules to identify potential security risks and can produce a report detailing any findings.
This can help organizations improve the security of their Kubernetes deployments and prevent potential vulnerabilities. Kubesec can be run as a standalone tool or integrated into a continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline, allowing configuration files to be automatically checked as part of the deployment process.
Why is Kubernetes security important?
Kubernetes is a popular and powerful system for managing and deploying containerized applications, and as such, it is critical to ensure that it is securely configured and protected against potential threats.
Kubernetes deployments often contain sensitive data and run mission-critical applications, making them a target for attackers. Therefore, it is important to take steps to secure Kubernetes deployments and prevent potential vulnerabilities.
This can help to protect the integrity and availability of applications running on Kubernetes and to prevent sensitive data from being compromised. Additionally, implementing security best practices and compliance requirements can help organizations to meet regulatory requirements and avoid potential penalties.
Dimitris is an Information Technology and Cybersecurity professional with more than 20 years of experience in designing, building and maintaining efficient and secure IT infrastructures.
Among others, he is a certified: CISSP, CISA, CISM, ITIL, COBIT and PRINCE2, but his wide set of knowledge and technical management capabilities go beyond these certifications. He likes acquiring new skills on penetration testing, cloud technologies, virtualization, network security, IoT and many more.