Security Primitives

Security Primitives

In this tutorial we will discuss about security primitives in Kubernetes.

Kubernetes being the go to platform for hosting production grade applications. Security is of primary concern.

In this tutorial we discuss the various security primitives in Kubernetes at a high level before diving deeper into those in the upcoming tutorials.

Let’s begin with the host that formed the cluster itself. Of course all access to these hosts must be secured, root access disabled, password based authentication disabled, and only SSH key based authentication to be made available.

And of course any other measures you need to take to secure your physical or virtual infrastructure that hosts Kubernetes. Of course if that is compromised, everything is compromised.

Our focus in this tutorial is more on Kubernetes related security. What are the risks and what measures do you need to take to secure the cluster.

As we have seen already, the Kube API server is at the center of all operations within Kubernetes.

We interact with it through the kubectl utility or by accessing the API directly and through that you can perform almost any operation on the cluster.

So that’s the first line of defense. Controlling access to the API server itself. We need to make two types of decisions. Who can access the cluster? and What can they do?

Who can access?

Who can access the API server is defined by the Authentication mechanisms.

There are different ways that you can authenticate to the API server. Starting with user IDs and passwords stored in a static file, to tokens, certificates or even integration with external authentication providers like LDAP.

Finally for machines we create service accounts. We will look at these in more detail in the upcoming tutorials.

Once they gain access to the cluster, What can they do is defined by authorization mechanisms.

Authorization is implemented using Role Based Access Control, where users are associated to groups with specific permissions.

In addition there are other authorization modules like Attribute based access control, Node Authorizers, webhooks etc.

All communication with the cluster, between the various components such as the ETCD cluster, kube controller manager, scheduler, api server, as well as those running on the worker nodes such as the kubelet and kubeproxy is secured using TLS Encryption.

Security Primitives

We have a section entirely for this where we discuss and practice how to setup the certificates between the various components.

What about communication between applications within the cluster?

By default all PODs can access all other PODs within the cluster. You can restrict access between them using Network Policies.

Security Primitives


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