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Why You Need to Establish Better Kubernetes Security

By now, most people in the cloud native world know at least a few things about the benefits of successful Kubernetes service ownership. As a way to break down silos and minimize friction among teams, service ownership in Kubernetes is what enables organizations today to build and ship secure, high-quality software on cloud native technologies. This blog explores the five key benefits associated with better service ownership —and equally as important, how organizations can optimize Kubernetes security, cost, compliance, reliability and scalability by embracing this operational model. 

Hovering at the top of this list is legitimately one of the biggest concerns in the cloud native landscape today, namely the need for better container security. If your organization has ever delayed application deployment due to Kubernetes security vulnerabilities, you already know something about the sensitive nature of cloud native security. For container workloads (especially in production environments) to remain secure, vulnerabilities and platform dependencies have to be continually addressed. To make this possible, Kubernetes best practices, and true service ownership, must be implemented across the organization. 

Download White Paper:5 Benefits of Better Kubernetes Service Ownership

Establishing and Enabling Security

Container security today is about more than just isolating Kubernetes nodes on a separate network. From using third-party authentication for API servers to enabling role-based access control (RBAC) to protecting etcd with TLS, firewall and encryption, facilitating a robust security posture in Kubernetes is about orchestration. Even though nodes should be configured with an ingress controller, and set to only allow connections from the master node through the network access control list, the reality is not all organizations have codified these regular practices.

To preserve agility and prevent delays in container runtime and application deployment, security coverage of cloud native environments needs to happen consistently, not as an afterthought. Much like a DevSecOps approach to application security, developers are empowered by the Kubernetes service ownership model to take responsibility and “ownership” for the software they build—throughout its entire development life cycle. When development teams find better control over how their software runs in production, operations teams can stop worrying about debugging and focus on core Kubernetes infrastructure. This reshifting of accountability helps Dev, Sec and Ops teams collaborate more effectively while also improving and enforcing best security practices. 

Effective Kubernetes security begins in the build phase with securing container images, with full-time attention paid throughout. Cloud native and service ownership in Kubernetes establishes a framework whereby developers gain visibility into security issues, in both configuration and application code. In this way, developers are empowered to innovate while shifting security left to address and remediate problems much earlier in the process. This shift guarantees Kubernetes security is addressed at the earliest possible time, a core theme of the DevSecOps approach. 

Embracing and Modeling Change

In the case of cloud native and container security, ignoring the need for a different security tools often results in organization risk and potential cyberattack. As businesses work to adopt pod security policies, they often struggle without the right tools, processes and benchmarks needed to launch a secure open source system at scale. Yes, containers offer a fresh approach to deploying applications, which greatly improves overall rollout, but DevOps and security teams don’t always know how moving to microservices will impact their Kubernetes security stance. 

When we adopt new tools and processes, we also open the door to new security blind spots and attack surfaces, making visibility across containers and clusters increasingly difficult to find. As a result, developers are understandably reluctant to take on the accountability piece for these new security challenges, especially without the proper security tools, practices and internal support. This shift is made easier through the Kubernetes service ownership model, as it gives Dev teams precisely the insight they need to ensure container security happens well and often throughout software development. 

Adopting the service ownership model also brings about change for infrastructure teams by allowing them to focus primarily on security issues at the core Kubernetes framework. These teams are able to craft policies and compliance dashboards to avoid the common pitfalls of misconfiguration. And fittingly, developers are able to focus on adhering to those pod security standards as they construct their deployment configurations. 

When these different roles and responsibilities are codified through the service ownership model, they become regular practice—less confusing and more attainable. By equipping both infrastructure and development teams with self-service tooling, they are able to collaborate more efficiently while diagnosing and triaging Kubernetes security according to best practices thus reducing attack surfaces. 

Fairwinds' Governance Platform Can Help

Fairwinds is your trusted partner for Kubernetes security, policy and governance. Customers are able to ship cloud native applications faster and with less cost and overall risk. We offer a unified view between teams by removing friction and simplifying the complexity of Kubernetes ownership. Our governance software, Fairwinds Insights, is built on hard-earned Kubernetes expertise and integrates our leading open source tools to help your organization save time and money without compromising security. 

Fairwinds Insights is available to use for free. You can sign up here.

Fairwinds Insights unifies development, security, and operations by simplifying complexity and enabling full service ownership. To help teams overcome cultural challenges and embrace service ownership, Insights facilitates:

  • Enablement: the Dev team owns security and efficiency configurations in their applications, so it isn’t just an Ops problem.

  • Reliability: the service owners can configure Kubernetes using best practice guidelines, ensuring fast, reliable applications and avoiding downtime.

  • Continuous Improvements: the team can continuously improve how Kubernetes is used by integrating service ownership from CI/CD through production.

Fairwinds Insights provides DevOps teams with visibility into Kubernetes environments by providing a dashboard view of all clusters, helping teams understand misconfigurations that are causing security and compliance risks, and reducing the time required for vulnerability management through integrated vulnerability scanning. It also helps teams with some of the more challenging aspects of managing Kubernetes by identifying misconfigurations and vulnerabilities and assigning ownership to the person or team responsible for resolving those issues.

Action Items

Action Items are at the heart of Fairwinds Insights. Every auditing tool may generate one or more Action Items, depending on what it finds in a cluster. When a particular Action Item disappears from a report, it will automatically be marked as fixed, and will disappear from the default Action Items view.

Admission Controller

Insights provides a user interface that enables visibility into the Admission Controller. This capability enables teams to write once, deploy everywhere. Using Policy-as-Code best practices, it is simple to apply Policy in CI pipelines as well as at the time of deployment to prevent misconfigurations
from entering the cluster. 

Team Access Control & User Management

Insights allows admins to assign users to particular namespaces in the cluster enabling access control. Admins who add a user to an existing organization can also select whether they see all clusters or only specific clusters. Admins are also able to manage namespace access via the user interface controls.

To help triage action items, Insights admins can assign them to any user in the organization, and they can be assigned individually or in bulk. Users can also see their cluster’s health score, action items aggregated by namespace and report, top action items, a cost summary, assigned action items, and more.

Learn more about Kubernetes Service Ownership and how Fairwinds Insights enables it by reading the Complete Guide to Kubernetes Service Ownership

Make the Most of These 5 Benefits With Better Kubernetes Service Ownership