DevOps teams at organizations are responsible for balancing two major forces in the software development efforts: shorter delivery cycle times for applications and applications increasing in size and diversity. DevOps experts thus use containers. Containers consist of application code and other dependencies that help to hone the efficiency of the software delivery process. The issue arises when the organization has many containers to manage. Organizations then make a move to Kubernetes.
How Does Kubernetes Help?
By making it easier to share dependencies and software with Ops team members, Kubernetes frees developers from the manual task of running containerized software. This open-source platform automates container operations, eliminating most of the current manual processes. These processes include the deploying, scaling, and managing of containerized applications. Ops team can, hence, focus on responding to customers and building better programs.
Yet, containers and Kubernetes have their own set of security challenges. If left unaddressed, these issues might leave an organization’s data open to attackers. To mitigate the risk of a data breach, organizations should ask their DevOps teams questions on their containers and Kubernetes environments.
The key question that organizations should ask when it comes to their Kubernetes configurations is: Are our Kubernetes configurations offering adequate security to our containers? An answer to this question is “no” if the organization uses default configurations. Such settings are meant to accelerate speed and agility in the software delivery process but are not designed to promote security. The problem of pod communication helps you to exemplify the weakness of default Kubernetes settings. All pods can communicate with one another without any kind of restrictions. This configuration enables the attacker to move laterally throughout a network and access the sensitive information of the organization.
As a response to these and other threats, organizations should work with their DevOps teams in executing custom configurations that complement their needs for security. But they must be careful in the process, as misconfigurations might create more security issues. Here’s an example to understand this better. There are chances of an attacker to abuse a misconfigured API on the administrative console to hide behind DNS systems. That position can then be abused to conduct crypto-mining attacks or engage in some other kind of malicious activity. Misconfigurations have been the cause of about 70% of security incidents.
Security of Container Images
When it is about securing their images, initially, organizations should ask their DevOps teams to explain from which locations they are pulling container images. Organizations should refrain from pulling images from unknown sources. Doing so is equivalent to running unknown software on a computer, which could produce malicious effects. Organizations thus need to check with their DevOps teams whether they are pulling images primarily, if not just from private registries. They also need to verify if the container images pulled by DevOps teams are safe, as they might suffer from vulnerabilities.
Container images make up for the standard application delivery format in cloud-native environments. The vast distribution and deployment of these container images need a new set of best practices to ensure their integrity. Though performing image scans to figure out known vulnerabilities in operating systems and language packages remains a foundation of image security, it is just part of a larger set of security initiatives you should employ to protect your environments. As you understand the risks at each stage of a container’s lifecycle, you can make informed decisions around image infrastructure and handling to increase as well as maintain the security posture of your organization.
Kubernetes Security Practices and Network Policies
Organizations should ask a few additional questions that relate to their container and Kubernetes security. Ask your DevOps teams to clarify what’s in their network policies. DevOps personnel should be well-acquainted with the traffic flow of the organization. Only then can they better explain how the existing Kubernetes network policy supports those communication channels.
Ideally, the organization must balance its current Kubernetes network policy with pod security policies. DevOps teams, to have these frameworks well in place, must ensure that the admission controller is enabled, and they have authorized policies too. Besides, you should check what other security policies your organization has. Organizations need to verify if there’s a container security plan in effect. This framework not only prevents the DevOps team from pulling container images just from private repositories but also details the vulnerability scanning processes to limit exposure of containers.
Is Your Container and Kubernetes Security in Place?
As you focus on questions about your Kubernetes configurations, network policies, and security practices, as well as container images’ security, you will very well be able to handle any security challenges and minimize the risk of a data breach with your organization’s data not being left open to malicious attacks.