Lessons learned securing Kubernetes in the cloud

Nancy J. Delong

Until eventually lately, our world reinsurance corporation used a classic on-prem infrastructure, relying entirely on our personal hardware at many disparate info centers unfold all over the planet. Even so, we regarded that this infrastructure could hold off some of our initiatives that demand from customers more quick application advancement and more quickly shipping and delivery of electronic goods and providers.

This realization led us to go after a new cloud infrastructure and new deployment processes for many workloads that would enhance automation, lessen complexity, and support lean and agile functions. Obviously, stability was top rated of brain as nicely. Going some of our vital workloads from our big singular community to the cloud, we necessary to make certain our new natural environment could be continually hardened in opposition to opportunity threats.

Picking out a cloud, open up resource, and Kubernetes

The aim for my architecture workforce was to create compact community deployments in the cloud whose resources would eventually be owned by other groups. In this enabler function, we would present the infrastructural foundation for groups to reach quick deployments of ground breaking apps and get to market speedy.

Our corporation is a Microsoft store, so the selection to set up our new cloud infrastructure in Microsoft Azure was apparent. Our upcoming selection was to move to microservices-primarily based apps, eyeing the opportunities of automation and both of those infrastructure as code and stability as code.

Whilst our stability officers were originally wary of open up resource alternatives, vetting cloud resources promptly led us to the realization that the most effective possibilities out there are all open up resource. (Safety issues all over open up resource, in my see, are out-of-date. Sturdy technologies with robust communities powering them are as safe, if not more so, than proprietary alternatives.) The budgets of the initiatives our cloud infrastructure would support experienced to be factored in as nicely, incentivizing us absent from proprietary licensing expenses and lock-in. This created our dedication to open up resource a natural selection. 

To orchestrate our microservices infrastructure, my workforce was keen to try out out Kubernetes. Even so, our very first venture involved do the job for a workforce that insisted on employing certified Docker Swarm, a well known alternative just in advance of Kubernetes’s meteoric increase. We finished the venture employing Docker Swarm, with the arrangement that we could then experiment with placing Kubernetes to the exact undertaking. This comparison obviously proved Kubernetes as the superior selection for our requirements. We then utilized Kubernetes for all subsequent initiatives.

Our Kubernetes cluster architecture in Azure

The Kubernetes clusters we deploy are accessible employing authentic URLs, protected by stability certificates. To complete this, our architecture on Azure involves a load balancer and a DNS zone belonging to the venture, KeyVault (an Azure safe insider secrets shop), and storage employing an Azure-native item shop. Our architecture also involves a command airplane within the cluster, totally taken care of by Azure. Exterior obtain to each and every of these components is protected by classic firewalls, strictly restricting obtain to only certain whitelisted IP addresses. (By default, obtain is limited to our personal community as nicely.)

Our booster framework, which we use to kick off new initiatives, implements many components within the Kubernetes cluster. An ingress controller opens outdoors obtain to resources deployed within the cluster, such as venture microservices. This involves an OAuth proxy that helps make certain all ingress is approved by Azure Advert. An exterior DNS server produces the DNS support in the DNS zone. Our insider secrets controller fetches insider secrets from the Azure Important Vault (information which should not be saved in the cluster, and should not be dropped if the cluster need to be ruined). An S3 API communicates with info storage resources. A certification manager produces particular certificates for TLS obtain, in our case for totally free employing Let us Encrypt.

We also use resources for monitoring, logging, and tracing. For monitoring we leverage the market standards Prometheus and Grafana. Logging employs Grafana Loki. Tracing employs Jaeger. We also tapped Linkerd as our protecting support mesh, which is an optional improvement for Kubernetes deployments.

Kubernetes stability visibility and automation

What’s not optional is owning a Kubernetes-precise stability solution in place. Here we use NeuVector as a Kubernetes-native container stability system for close-to-close application visibility and automatic vulnerability management.

When we very first deemed our technique to stability in the cloud, resources for vulnerability scanning and application workload defense stood out as the very last line of defense and the most critical to use properly. The Kubernetes cluster can confront attacks by means of both of those ingress and egress exposure and attack chains that escalate within the natural environment.

To defend application advancement and deployment, just about every stage of the CI/CD pipeline requirements to be continuously scanned for vital vulnerabilities or misconfigurations (consequently NeuVector), from the construct phase all the way by means of to output. Programs need to have to be protected from container exploits, zero-day attacks, and insider threats. Kubernetes by itself is also an attack target, with vital vulnerabilities disclosed in new years.

An helpful Kubernetes stability resource need to be equipped to visualize and automatically verify the protection of all connections within the Kubernetes natural environment, and block all unforeseen actions. You also need to have to be equipped to determine policies to whitelist predicted conversation within the Kubernetes natural environment, and to flag or block irregular conduct. With these operate-time protections, even if an attacker breaks into the Kubernetes natural environment and begins a destructive system, that system will be immediately and automatically blocked in advance of wreaking havoc.

The significance of infrastructure as code

Our Kubernetes deployments leverage infrastructure as code (IaC), this means that just about every component of our architecture pointed out higher than can be created and recreated employing simple YAML files. IaC enables very important regularity and reproducibility throughout our initiatives and clusters. For instance, if a cluster requirements to be ruined for any rationale, or you want to introduce a alter, you can simply wipe out the cluster, use any alterations, and redeploy it. IaC is also helpful for getting started with standing up advancement and output clusters, which use many of the exact settings and then need only simple value alterations to full.

Importantly, IaC also enables auditing of all alterations used to our cluster. People are all far too susceptible to errors and misconfigurations. This is why we have automation. Automation helps make our safe deployments reproduceable.

The significance of stability as code

For the exact factors, automation and stability as code (SaC) are also very important to setting up our Kubernetes stability protections. Your Kubernetes stability resource of selection really should make it attainable to leverage tailor made source definitions (CRDs), objects you upload to the cluster as YAML files to very easily put into practice and command stability policies. Just as IaC makes sure regularity and reliability for infrastructure, SaC makes sure that advanced firewalls and stability providers will be carried out properly. The skill to introduce and reproduce stability protections as code eliminates errors and enormously boosts performance.

What’s upcoming

On the lookout into the upcoming of our Kubernetes infrastructure, we intend to embrace GitOps for deploying our framework, with Flux as a opportunity deployment agent. We also strategy to use Gatekeeper to combine Open Plan Agent with Kubernetes, presenting policy command around approved container generation, privileged containers, and so on.

For any organization starting to explore the opportunity of the cloud and Kubernetes, I hugely recommend investigating similar architecture and stability possibilities to all those I’ve outlined below, especially when it will come to automation and utilizing infrastructure as code and stability as code. Doing so really should offer you an a lot easier road to productively leveraging Kubernetes and harnessing its many added benefits.

Karl-Heinz Prommer is technological architect at Munich Re.

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