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Kubernetes Security, One Piece at a Time

Updated: Jan 4

Keeping Kubernetes secure might seem like a daunting task. For those who are unsure what it is, Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerised applications. Kubernetes groups containers that make up any given application into logical units to enable easy management and discovery.

It is an extremely complex system, made up of a slew of different components, so Kubernetes is not something that can be secured by simply installing the latest security tool or solution on the market. In fact, Kubernetes security needs teams to address each and every kind security risk that has the potential to affect the various layers and services within a particular Kubernetes cluster, including networks, data, pods, nodes and many more.

Moreover, Kubernetes admins must have the knowledge to know which security tools are integrated into Kubernetes to address security challenges, such as Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), and which of the slew of of third-party security solutions they will need to integrate with their clusters to close any holes in their security nets.

Also, even when using a managed Kubernetes service, a certain amount of ownership of security still falls to the end users. The cloud vendor is usually responsible for managing and securing the control plane of the Kubernetes cluster, including the scheduler, controllers and API Server, and it’s the customer’s job to protect the data plane, including ingress, node pools, ingress, networking, service mesh, and suchlike.

When adopting Kubernetes, many don’t know where to begin, because the task of navigating the murky waters and managing security effectively in such a wide and complex environment can be overwhelming. The trick here, is to break it up into smaller, more manageable pieces.

In my view, the easiest and simplest way to address Kubernetes security is to consider each types of risk that affect each segment of the Kubernetes stack, then pinpoint the solutions and tools that are available to help keep them secure.

Also, remember that when it comes to security Kubernetes, people and processes are key. Yes, although the technical aspect of security is crucial too, the people and processes are equally important important. Running containers and Kubernetes affects the full spectrum of the information technology and development chain, and impacts on the developers, security practitioners, infrastructure teams, as well as operations.

This is why the most effective approach is to start small, and build up your knowledge base, and key experts across a variety of disciplines. And you needn’t do this alone, there are so many useful resources and Kubernetes communities out there, as well as a range of third-party tools, and expert service providers, who can help you along this journey. They can also offer assessments, and advice when it comes to keeping up with best practices, for example.

Remember, Kubernetes is the proverbial ringleader, which has a set of APIs that can be employed to build and run a wide range of workloads. However, remember that it can’t serve as a standalone solution for the majority of production environments, due to its dependency on third-party tools to meet security standards.

So finally, it is important to secure all running workloads to limit your damage by removing all security vulnerabilities within the application code, dependencies, as well as containers, so make sure your developer and DevOps teams responsible for solving these challenges have the training and know how to be able to do this.


Kubernetes Security course presented by itrainsec is a unique training that provides practical real world techniques to assess the security posture of Kubernetes clusters and how to protect them. Our instructor, Diego Comas, has more than 12 years experience in the IT industry and is an expert in cloud native security:

'Kubernetes is a non-secure by default container-orchestration system which is becoming the industry need-to-know platform for any professional working with cloud applications and containers. By the end of the course participants will have the knowledge and resources to fortify Kubernetes clusters with confidence.'

Key takeaways of the course:

  • Learn and understand Kubernetes essentials and security

  • How to detect and prevent vulnerable application and escalation paths

  • Learn how an attacker can leverage default security capabilities in Kubernetes and how to properly protect against this

  • Enablement of advanced Kubernetes security tools


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