Cloud deployments are the norm today, and CI/CD pipelines are ubiquitous and being adopted by organizations rigorously. In this fast-paced development lifecycle, errors and bugs are unavoidable. We have to be prepared or have a strategy to tackle and overcome such problems.
Organizations want their applications to yield maximum up-time by minimizing infrastructure and network failures, hardware issues, software bugs, and misconfigurations. Kubernetes is the market leader and a de-facto solution for almost every organization to keep up with the market because Kubernetes has proven itself as a go-to tool that handles complex and sophisticated workloads. It supports cloud/on-prem environments and lets us leverage its scalable nature to deploy on a wide array of cloud providers.
Security issues emerge all the time from n number of factors and from within the Kubernetes framework due to the continuously evolving and privacy-centric nature of Kubernetes. This vulnerability information is made available to the public for intimation and avoids implementing the problems until a patch is released and a solution is made available for implementation.
To visualize what I am explaining, let me highlight a few of the most recent security vulnerability announcements along with their solutions:
- [Security Advisory] CVE-2021–25746: Ingress-nginx directive injection via annotations.
—implementing an admission policy that restricts the `metadata.annotations` values to known safe will mitigate the vulnerability.
- [Security Advisory] CVE-2020–8561: Webhook redirect in kube-apiserver.
— blocking/limiting the kube-apiserver access to sensitive information, resources and networks or reducing the “-v” flag value to less than 10 and setting the “-profiling” flag value to false will mitigate this vulnerability.
These vulnerabilities are just the tip of the iceberg, and they keep popping out more frequently than one can imagine.
Cloud providers offer flexible options for packaging and deployment of the Kubernetes cluster and recommend using best practices. For example, Amazon provides Amazon EKS optimized Amazon Linux AMIs to build custom Images. These images are configured to work with Amazon EKS and include Docker, kubelet, and the AWS IAM Authenticator.
This sounds very easy and convenient to implement, but it can become convoluted if we implement enterprise-grade clusters. You need to keep many factors in mind concerning system security and design and take calculated risks like cluster-level failures related to software, resource allocation, and monitoring to avoid resource exhaustion, degraded network communication, and timely software updates to overcome pitfalls in production.
We aim to achieve maximum application uptime and timely recovery of computing capacity. A simple solution would be to upgrade all Kubernetes cluster masters to a patched version. Simultaneously, this can be achieved via manual remediation if the underlying problem is known or easily detectable. However, if this does not work, we need to invest time performing root cause analysis and implement a fix by making it tedious.
Manual remediation can be helpful but not very efficient. We need to perform on-demand and manual scans to detect misconfigurations, access level issues for users, pod level issues, compromised container images, K8 node failures, and more. We can follow best practices to avoid these manual scans and get to the problem directly if we follow proven solutions.
These solutions are not optimal and do not guarantee solutions all the time.
Auto-remediation to the Rescue
Automating your pod and image scans can result in a reliable and productive life cycle management of your K8s deployment with frequent vulnerability and configuration checks offering problem-specific solutions and recommendations. Curating and designing these checks to achieve auto-remediation can be cumbersome and time-consuming. So, it is always better to rely on trustworthy third-party services that offer advanced features with proven solutions.
One such service is Kubescape, an advanced and sophisticated free tool offering security testing with multi-cloud support and easy integration with numerous tools like Jenkins and GitLab CI/CD, CircleCI, GitHub Actions, Azure DevOps pipeline, GCP, AWS, Visual Studio Code, and many more.
It also offers a VSCode extension among many other extensions that automatically scans .yaml files for misconfigurations and auto-triggers the code scans after every change. This is useful to examine the configurations by comparing them against best practices and recommend if any changes are needed to mitigate errors at compile time.
Offerings like image scans and RBAC analysis are useful and are easy to implement by providing information on the problem through exceptional visualization.
These tools are efficient and reliable because they auto-detect to remediate the most common security vulnerabilities and misconfiguration and continuously update themselves to reduce dev efforts to scan and fix the issues manually. Another popular offering is Amazon GuardDuty which offers threat detection services. It monitors for malicious activity to protect your AWS accounts and data in Amazon S3. GuardDuty uses machine learning (ML), anomaly detection, and integrated threat intelligence to identify and neutralize prospective threats.
Kubernetes misconfiguration and security vulnerabilities can lead to critical problems; it’s crucial and mandated to ensure that all the clusters and pods are verified and checked against security guidelines before deployment because achieving system uptime with reliable security is a goal for every organization. However, this can get cumbersome and complex for large applications unless the application and underlying components are carefully designed and implemented.
Distributed computing and microservices can pose many challenges and jeopardize the results. Kubernetes is evolving continuously with fixes by offering remediation. Updating to the latest version will solve most problems, and new vulnerabilities will come to light. Third-party tools can be reliable and fix the issue at hand.