What is Kubernetes security?

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Kubernetes, also known as K8s or “Kube,” is an open source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, management, and scaling of containerized applications. Kubernetes organizes Linux containers into clusters and uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect containerized microservices. Since any layer or service involved in a Kubernetes deployment can present vulnerabilities, the process of securing Kubernetes clusters can be complex. 

While some teams take a container-centric approach to Kubernetes security, which mainly focuses on securing container images and the container runtime, others opt for Kubernetes-native security, which takes a broader approach, pulling in context from Kubernetes and using built-in Kubernetes controls to implement risk-based security best practices across the full application development life cycle. Kubernetes-native security also addresses risks and vulnerabilities that are specific to Kubernetes, such as misconfigured Kubernetes RBAC policies, insecure Kubernetes control plane components, and misused Kubernetes secrets.

Containerization and Kubernetes have several built-in security advantages that can help teams address the risks associated with container security issues. For example: 

  • Containers containing security issues discovered at runtime are fixed at the build stage and redeployed, rather than updated or patched while running. Known as immutability, this feature allows for better predictability in container behavior and anomalous behavior detection. . 
  • Network policies can segment pods or groups of pods while admission controllers can apply policies for better governance. 
  • Role-based Access Control (RBAC) can assign specific permissions to users and service accounts.
  • Kubernetes secrets can better safeguard sensitive data like encryption keys.

However, Kubernetes is not a security platform, so teams must operationalize risk assessment and target vulnerabilities at each layer of the Kubernetes environment and at every stage throughout the container and application life cycles. To handle Kubernetes security effectively, you must take advantage of Kubernetes-native security controls where available, while implementing best practices during the build, deploy, and runtime phases.

As a leader in open source container technology, Red Hat can help you grow your knowledge of Kubernetes security best practices and make your implementation of containers more secure. To help teams identify and address K8s security concerns more efficiently, Red Hat offers Kubernetes-native solutions that embed security into the container lifecycle and enable DevOps teams to build and deploy production-ready applications.

Kubelinter, created by StackRox and acquired by Red Hat in 2021, is an open source static analysis tool that identifies misconfigurations and programming errors in Kubernetes deployments. KubeLinter runs a series of tests to analyze Kubernetes configurations, identify errors, and generate warnings for anything that doesn’t align with security best practices. 

Red Hat Service Interconnect is equipped with built-in security that scales across clusters and clouds by default while providing trusted communication links between services. Service Interconnect also allows for flexibility of development across legacy, container or Kubernetes platforms—giving your developers more options for building, modernizing and deploying your next-generation business applications.

Red Hat® Advanced Cluster Security for Kubernetes (ACS) enables organizations to securely build, deploy, and run cloud-native applications. Offered as either a self-managed or fully managed SaaS solution, ACS protects containerized workloads in all major cloud and hybrid environments and enables DevOps and InfoSec teams to operationalize security, lower operational costs, and increase developer productivity.

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