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What Are The Top Kubernetes Security Challenges And Opportunities?

What Are The Top Kubernetes Security Challenges And Opportunities?

Kubernetes dominate the container orchestration market, and the adoption of Kubernetes in the production environment is rising. However, this rise in the adoption of Kubernetes by the companies comes with security concerns. 

Recent research shows that around 94% of the organizations have faced serious security issues in their container environment. Also, most companies delay moving the application into production only because of Kubernetes and containers’ security concerns. The research also shows that most security incidents were due to misconfiguration, while some were runtime incidents. 

While Kubernetes is replacing the traditional cloud-based services orchestrated containers because of their effectiveness in applications running from one environment to another, they also possess some security challenges that make it demanding to manage them securely.

Here we have covered the top security challenges faced by a company along with solutions to mitigate them. 

Top Kubernetes Security Challenges

Lack of Visibility

There are numerous containers everywhere, and despite offering many benefits, their expansion can also make blind spots in security and increase the company’s attack surface.  While deploying more and more containers, it becomes difficult to maintain adequate visibility into cloud-native infrastructure components. And this containerized application has a distributed nature, making it challenging to investigate quickly the containers that might pose vulnerability or significant risk to the company. 

Image Misuse

Images serve as the container’s building blocks. With the use of technology, the developers get the ability to create their images easily or download public files from Kubernetes or similar providers. However, from a security point-of-view, images are not easy to trust. To ensure high-quality protection, the images must be signed and also originate from a trusted image registry. Also, they must be code validated and properly vetted to secure them from the vulnerabilities of cyberthreats. 

The companies need to follow a strong governance policy to build and store images using image registries that are trusted. It is challenging to ensure that images from only whitelisted and trusted image registries are only used in the business environment and for building the container images as it needs regular vulnerability scan. 

Communication and Implementation of Network Policies

The pods and the containers need communication within the function of deployment and other external and internal endpoints to accomplish their goals and function properly. In case of breach of a container, the surface of attack is related directly to how broadly the affected container can communicate with pods and other containers. In an environment where containers are sprawled, it is prohibitively difficult to implement the network segmentation due to the complexity of manually configuring such types of policies. 

Hence, implementing and deploying network policies that adhere to the less privileged principle is challenging but is strongly recommended. The network policies specify how communication with each other is allowed between pods and other network endpoints. Such network policies’ main goal is to minimize the surface of attack by communication between only those containers that are absolutely essential.

Least Secure Default Configuration Setting

Kubernetes offer rich options of configuration, but usually, the default configuration settings are the least secured. Keeping with the principles of DevOps, Kubernetes is designed for speeding the deployment of applications and simplifying operations and management. Kubernetes offer a rich set of controls for effectively securing the clusters and also their applications.

The network policies of Kubernetes, for example, can be thought like a firewall that controls the communication of pods between each other as well as other network endpoints. When network policy is applied to a pod, that pod can communicate only with those particular assets defined in the policy. But in Kubernetes, there is no network policy applied to a pod by default, meaning each pod can communicate to any other pod present in the Kubernetes infrastructure. 

Secrets management is another configuration risk that deals with how sensitive information like keys and credentials are accessed and stored. It is essential to ensure that sensitive data and secrets don’t get transferred as environment variables and are mounted in your containers as read-only volumes, for example. 

Challenges of Runtime Monitoring

Immutable design is one of the advantages of Kubernetes and their containers. It means that when new updates are required, what is running shouldn’t be changed or patched, but it should be destroyed and created again using a common template. Other containerization properties constitute unique challenges that include container monitoring difficulty because of their ephemerality and also their launching and removal speed.

The fast and rapid container churns it nearly impossible for any human being to monitor the container processes running at a given time and identify the malicious and unnecessary processes. When a running container shows a potential threat such as vulnerability or active breach, your company’s IT team must destroy and replace that container with a non-compromised container and integrate the same information into the CI/CD pipeline for informing future building and deployment cycles.  

Best Practices for Kubernetes Security:

  • Pod Security

It is essential to control the pods’ communication with each other as they contain a set of one or more than one container. It can be done by applying Pod Security Policies that are resources of cluster-level to control the pod specification aspects that are security-sensitive. 

  • Authorization

Many different authorization methods are offered by Kubernetes that are not exclusive mutually. It’s recommended using ABAC and RBAC and Kubernetes in combination where the RBAC policies will be imposed. At the same time, this will be complemented by the finer filtering of the ABAC policies.

  • Container Security

Security primitives for basic workload are there in Kubernetes for container security. But the container becomes vulnerable to security threats or attacks if the environment or apps are not properly configured.

  • Migration to Production

While the company moves more deployments into production, the migration leads to an increase in the vulnerability of workloads volume during runtime. It can be overcome by applying the solutions mentioned above and ensuring that your organization maintains a healthy DevSecOps/DevOps culture.

  • CI/CD Pipelines Security

On Kubernetes, running the CI/CD allows building, deployment, and testing Kubernetes environments that can be scaled quickly as per the needs. So, it is a must to secure the CI/CD process. Otherwise, the attackers can infect your environment or code by gaining access at a later point. It is essential to deploy a security solution to act as a K8s protection layer and offer visibility at both cluster and app levels. 

How can CloudMatos help?

As the Kubernetes deployments contain many different components, securing Kubernetes needs experts to address and overcome each component’s security challenges. 

Cloudmatos performs Kubernetes security evaluation and works to enhance security by working in the full range of capabilities that include RBAC, pod security policies, hardening guidance, network policies, operators, and service mesh. Cloudmatos collaborates with your security team to build the right security infrastructure and capabilities into your software so that your organization can easily meet the security goals. 



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