The Fundamentals of Adopting Zero Trust in Kubernetes

icon Posted by: Praveen Joshi
icon November 25, 2022

In Brief

Kubernetes and Zero Trust

Zero Trust architecture is an evolving security mechanism to prevent your digital resources from unauthorized access. It is being adopted by major tech conglomerates including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and even Google.  Zero Trust security architecture is perfectly applicable to all kinds of IT platforms and environments including Kubernetes. Across industries, Kubernetes is serving the need to deliver scalable software products at a high pace. It can get quite tough to keep up with the competitive demands with frequent security impediments. This drives the need for a high-end security mechanism that can minimize the risk of cyber incidents. And Zero Trust authentication protocol has the potential to do that task for Kubernetes.  

55%

of Kubernetes users have delayed or slowed down application deployment due to a security concern during the last year.

93%

of respondents during a survey accepted that they experienced at least one security incident in their Kubernetes environments in the last 12 months.

46%

of Kubernetes clusters were found to have misconfigurations as the top security concern.

57%

of users worry about the runtime phase of the container life cycle.

Fundamentals for Implementing Zero Trust Principles to Kubernetes 

There are four key fundamentals for implementing Zero Trust Principle in Kubernetes deployments. Let us go through them one by one: 

1. Authentication 

Before you authorize the execution of an API call, you need to authenticate every user and service account for Kubernetes zero-trust. You can make your Kubernetes work with your chosen authentication system with the help of the available plugins and security modules. To strengthen the authentication protocol, MFA (multi-factor authentication) is an effective solution. You can make a combination of two or more authentication measures of the following: 

  • HTTP basic authentication 
  • Webhook token authentication 
  • Bearer tokens 
  • Authentication proxies 
  • Client certificates 
  • OpenID Connect (OIDC) tokens 

2. Authorization  

Kubernetes zero-trust security authorizes a request only when the user is authenticated and has all the required permissions. Allowing all the user and service accounts to access your Kubernetes cluster and perform any kind of action is not a sensible thing to do. Every request for authorization comes with the requester’s username, the requested action, and relevant objects. Kubernetes clusters allow you to choose from two approaches to implementing authorization methodologies: 

  • Role-based access control (RBAC) 
  • Attribute-based access control (ABAC) 

3. Admission Control

Implementing business logic is the best way to refine your Kubernetes zero-trust strategy. By deploying an admission controller, you can easily manage requests to perform actions on Kubernetes objects. This includes creating, modifying, deleting, and connecting to them. There might be more than one admission controller within one system. If any of them denies a request, the system will reject it immediately. You can modify requests in real-time with the help of a dynamic admission controller to meet your access control rules. 

4. Logging 

Security and zero-trust infrastructure cannot be maintained if you do not adopt regular logging, auditing, and monitoring. Kubernetes offers inbuilt auditing capabilities that help you keep track of all actions performed in a cluster. And this is irrespective of the activities carried out by applications, users, or the control plane. 

Requirements to Implement Zero Trust Principles

Although zero-trust principles help your cyber security verification. But it is not that easy to implement. There are some requirements for this. The following are those requirements: 

  1. All network connections must come under the protocol. Not only the ones that are on the boundary. The zero-trust principles will be enforced on each node of every network connection. 
  2. Strong cryptographic proofs of identity are required to guard a remote endpoint. Network-level identifiers are not strong enough to stand against a hostile network. 
  3. All the required and expected files must have explicit access, and those that do not have that explicit access must be denied by default.  
  4. No compromised network workload should be allowed to circumvent policy enforcement. 
  5. A zero-trust network should implement encryption of network traffic. This would restrict the disclosure of sensitive data to hostile entities. 

Before You Go

  • The fundamental requirements are preparations for implementing zero trust principles to the Kubernetes clusters are somewhat similar to the other IT environments and also different in some ways as well.  
  • For implementing the same, you can ask for help from the cyber security companies uk. This will make the process of cyber security verification easier and more convenient. 

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