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In this article, we will talk about the security of applications throughout the Kubernetes development and deployment lifecycle. While threats occur in different stages of the Kubernetes application lifecycle, we can take action to countermeasure these threats. We know containers are everywhere, and Kubernetes can manage these numerous and closely connected microservices. It also adds complexity to add security and ensure all microservices have the exact minimum permissions required.
Security is something we can’t toss in at the end of DevOps. We have to ensure security at the building, deploy, and runtime phases to provide a protected environment. In other words, DevOps must be evolved within DevSecOps. As DevSecOps, we have to integrate security with each step of DevOps. Firstly, we explore how we can incorporate the security layer into our DevOps processes.
The whole idea of DevOps is to prepare developers to develop and deploy applications to the server. As we move forward, the need for security for DevOps rises, which introduces us to the term DevSecOps. DevSecOps is the set of practices that combines development, deployment and integrating security into the Code to Production Lifecycle. The application team is also responsible for integrating security in DevOps processes, as well as training DevOps engineers to write secure code.
DevOps is of no value if the program does not increase release velocity, however, manually checking for security can be overwhelming. We can eliminate the threat by integrating security in DevOps processes.
Collaboration is a critical part of DevOps culture. Developer and Operations teams are working collectively, and we have to include security people to put their thoughts on multiple aspects, such as:
We can secure the infrastructure by monitoring and auditing the cluster through its application lifecycle. We have to put an automated mechanism in place to pass certain checks when deploying it into infrastructure. We can secure the cluster with the following tactics:
Automating security helps reduce human manual intervention, making the process less error-prone. Automating security also helps remove bottleneck problems, which are created by manual checks and approvals. When talking about the Cloud, Kubernetes, hundreds of microservices and clusters spread across multiple clouds, it is nearly impossible to manually validate everything. We can use the following strategies to automate security:
Now that we’ve seen how security has been a part of the DevOps process and how to use Kubernetes security from code to production lifecycle, let’s move forward with the actual stages such as the build, deploy, and runtime of the Kubernetes application.
The first stage of the Kubernetes lifecycle is building, or packaging containers after the code part is completed. There are two parts to secure this stage- building a secure image and scanning these images for known threats. Utilizing tight security at the start eliminates threats and saves us from solving the problem at a later stage. Here are some recommendations to eliminate hazards:
The second phase is a deployment where we deploy our workloads to Kubernetes. When deploying your workload to the Kubernetes server, we have to be aware of what has been deployed or compliant with organizational policies, or that permissions given to these containers are not overly permissive.
Firstly we need to create a secure network by deep visibility and protection. This layer is the first defense for keeping threats away, as well as the line of defense for data breaches. Let’s discuss best practices to avoid vulnerabilities in the deployment phase:
We have seen many ways to tackle threats, and there are more ways to tackle build phase security, however, we can’t discuss all of them in a single post.
Now, let's move to the last phase, i.e., the Runtime phase.
This phase exposes many threats and vulnerabilities as we are now serving traffic. The goal is to gain visibility into your server and detect threats. If we have securely created the server by using best practices at the build and deploy phase, it’s unlikely that threats will occur, but what little threats arise, we have to detect and respond to them right away. Monitoring the container is easy because of its declarative nature. This also allows us to easily introspect into what you have deployed and its activity. Here are some best practices to avoid vulnerabilities in the runtime phase:
We have discussed the different types of threats that can slow down the cluster at various stages and proactively how to secure them. Let’s discuss some final Thoughts.
So far, we have seen how to secure the workloads, but we also need to secure infrastructure by securing its individual Kubernetes master components as far as security concerns.
You can also use Magalix OPA, which enables us to define organizational policies as code so we won’t be compromising on security. It also helps in monitoring workload issues that are violating these rules. Magalix is also used to monitor resources for over or under-utilization of computed resources.