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Intro to Kubernetes Security Best Practices


With the rapid proliferation of cloud computing, lean deployment methods, such as containers, have become common practice. According to, 70% of global companies are expected to be running multiple apps simultaneously using a containerized framework, like Kubernetes in the next few years. But as Kubernetes’ use becomes more widespread, so do the vulnerabilities inherent to containerization. According to a 2019 Forbes article, Kubernetes had at least 7,000 identified vulnerabilities at the beginning of 2019 alone. Couple that with the fact that cyber-attacks involving containerization have increased a whopping 240% since 2018, and you’ll understand the value of security should your company use a solution like Kubernetes to handle its container orchestration.

What Causes Kubernetes Security Blindspots?

To understand how to best optimize your Kubernetes experience, it’s worthwhile to understand the basic ways security issues arise in a containerized framework.

Images are the core building blocks of containerization; they are the executable process at the centre of your container. As a result, anything that exposes an image to a broader audience puts the container at risk of being hijacked. One of the primary ways this occurs is by using out-of-date software. Using old software gives malicious actors a small incongruence that they can exploit within the code.

Another problem is poorly defined user access roles. If sensible changes aren’t made to an orchestration tool’s default settings, inappropriate parties may have access to alter the container’s core executable.

Containerization gives you a way to manage a large number of processes easily and with increased adaptability. As a result, automation makes it impossible to keep your eyes on everything at once. Here are some best practices that can help you counter the wide range of vulnerabilities inherent to containerization and Kubernetes in general.

Kubernetes Security Best Practices

Given the architecture of the Kubernetes framework, security risks are a constant and evolving threat. Luckily, Google made Kubernetes an open-source application under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation where solutions to new security issues are actively crowdsourced by the community. Regardless, there are a number of things that you can do during the build, deployment, and runtime phases to make your Kubernetes implementation more secure.

Take care of your images

Images are the heart of every container. Executable functions are essential, so images must be well-maintained and in good working order. Only use up-to-date images, scanning them regularly for security issues. As a rule of thumb, you should also avoid including unnecessary tools and functions in your image coding as they can inadvertently give hackers an access route.

Ensure that your secrets remain secret

The term “secrets” refers to any private information such as login credentials, tokens, or other sensitive data. While it’s not customary to keep sensitive data stored adjacent to the container’s image, the scenario has come up before. Keep secret data as far from the image as possible in order to increase security.

Keep up-to-date with scans and security patches

The community does a good job of patching Kubernetes when issues arise. If you don’t take the time to update both your OS and Kubernetes’ security, you give malware additional avenues of attack. Updates should be performed at least every nine months, if not more often. Due to the nature of how Kubernetes works, if you are using an outdated version, you could actively be spreading issues when the container is deployed elsewhere.

Take advantage of customization to define user roles and access

A container orchestration tool like Kubernetes is a complex web running thousands of processes across numerous machines. That means hundreds of end-users involved with the application. Take advantage of Kubernetes administrative functions to clearly define user roles, limiting full access for those who don’t need it. As they say, too many cooks spoil the broth.

Keeping Kubernetes Simple and Safe

Containers are an agile, lightweight framework for cloud computing, but manually deploying the correct containers to their destinations can quickly become overwhelming. An orchestration tool like Kubernetes is the perfect solution to managing your containerization, but the security risks inherent to this model can be restrictive. By keeping a few key practices in mind when implementing Kubernetes into your workflow, you can help to promote safety while streamlining your processes.

To Sum It All Up

Kubernetes has become the centrepiece of the cloud Native landscape and a notable advantage for organizations to rapidly manage and deploy their containerized business logic. But certain security best practices must be followed such as working with reliable docker images, properly defined resource quotas, network policies, work with namespaces for access control and authentication\authorization, and more.

To learn more about Prevasio integration and security for K8s containers, contact us today.

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