How To Ensure Your Kubernetes Cloud OS Security
Kubernetes does not directly manage the security. In this article, we are going to explore how to keep your Kubernetes environment safe.
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The main feature of the Kubernetes cloud OS is that any module in the cluster can interact seamlessly with another module. Although the user gets unlimited access to useful platforms and new features at the same time, such a model is fraught with potential risks and vulnerabilities.
In this regard, there are two radically different approaches to security: shift to the right and shift to the left, static and dynamic approach.
Developers face an unexpected choice but the solution is not so obvious upon closer examination. Perhaps, it is impossible to ensure security if two radically different approaches are not combined together? It turned out that reliable protection of the infrastructure and the Kubernetes model goes hand in hand with both models, which, if properly implemented, absolutely do not interfere or contradict each other.
Current Realities of IaC Infrastructure Development and Kubernetes Cloud OS
Most workloads are rapidly moving to the cloud, while infrastructure is changing, there is an IaC approach that's being developed and optimized - infrastructure as code. This process has a lot of advantages and prospects, especially the possibility of using immutability as a transformative concept.
For instance, the infrastructure is defined in a declarative way and versioned using git, the same source code tool that is used to manage the application. Operating system deployment also happens in git within the boundaries of a Kubernetes cluster.
This approach is convenient and efficient, but at the same time, the person who controls Kubernetes and git is also responsible for policy, infrastructure, and the application itself. Developers typically define their services as Yamls, and for the pipeline (that is, the cloud OS) to take the service from there, it is enough to make changes to the Yaml in the GitOps repository. Thus, every user gets almost instant access to necessary products, but such a scheme of OS interaction in the form of a pipeline and individual services is also associated with certain risks
Why Is It Important to Talk About Kubernetes Security?
Kubernetes does not directly manage security; so, the job of developers when working with containerized applications is to protect them from all potential vulnerabilities.
When creating a safe and secure environment for deploying applications, key factors are elements, such as:
- Host security, containers are played on dedicated servers, but since the items themselves do not have built-in security, the host must be protected to prevent hacking or other dangerous activities.
- Default configurations, they should be checked immediately before launch to minimize the risks of spreading an attack from one module to another.
- Establishing links between individual modules.
- Image verification is necessary because they allow you to leave pieces of malicious code, authentication keys, and other vulnerabilities that a cybercriminal can exploit.
- The container runtime is checked before running. While running a container, Kubernetes has no intrusion detection capabilities. The elimination of the detected attack is possible only by completely removing the container and launching its uncompromised version.
Risks of Using IaC, Trend towards Security, and “Shift to the Left”
When the entire infrastructure is code, it is not secure anymore. With all the speed and high efficiency of the Kubernetes cloud operating system, it gives an attacker a lot of additional opportunities for attack, which requires the development of new approaches to security and closing vulnerabilities. If any bugs in the code are found, hackers get a hole through which they lodge potentially dangerous activities.
Such high risks require the formation and use of new approaches to security. Protecting infrastructure from potential encroachment comes to the fore. First of all, the new security paradigm forces us to identify risks before they turn into critical vulnerabilities. To do this, they must be discovered as soon as they appear in git, and if discovery does not occur automatically, a forced check of the request before merging is required.
Shift to the Right: An Important Condition for the Prospects of Kubernetes as a Universal Cloud Platform
Right-shifting Kubernetes security is required to secure the runtime in-depth, as the ubiquitous use of Kubernetes microservices causes “security-left shifting” to fail to scan and coordinate all services along the compute path. Thus, along with scaling applications that run in Kubernetes, there is a growing need for dynamic code and image scanning since static security methods do not take into account the interdependence of applications and services as well as their distribution.
Shift to the right is due to the fact that the Kubernetes cloud OS in some sense repeats the history of Linux today, which was also used everywhere, on different types of devices, and was the main platform for running any applications. But if Linux is perfect for physical devices, Kubernetes is an ideal solution for virtual hardware.
Which Trend Is Better?
Shift to the left allows you to find risks and vulnerabilities in git, and shift to the right gives an opportunity to provide security in dynamics and take into account the context and time of code execution. Therefore, both approaches to security are correct and equally necessary.
The combination of a left trend and a right shift becomes the core of full-blown IaC and runtime protection. This paradigm in the construction of security systems makes it possible to timely determine configuration deviations from the source file as well as notice and block unnatural activity. Both policies can be applied automatically in GitOps.
This eliminates the chance of human error. The area of potential vulnerabilities is reduced, and infrastructure security is rapidly increasing from source to production environment, protected and maintained at runtime.
When both aspects of security (shift to the right and shift to the left) are carried out in a balanced way and actively expanded, it covers the maximum number of potential vulnerabilities, increasing the level of protection several times at all stages of interaction with the product.
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