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Kubernetes Security Automation Strategy | A Quick Guide

Gursimran Singh | 02 March 2023

Kubernetes Security Automation

Introduction to Kubernetes Security

In recent years, the digital world has seen a transition of application architecture from monolithic to microservice. Containerization & container orchestration technology like docker & it have made it possible to adapt a microservice approach for app development. Therefore it is necessary implementing automation helps in continuous security vulnerability scanning. It also known as "k8s," is an open-source container orchestration tool by CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation). It automated deployment, scaling & management of containers. Its configuration files to be written in YAML. In configuration file declarative approach is to be followed. It can be set up on hybrid, public cloud infrastructure(EKS), or even on-premises data.
An ecosystem of components and tools that relieve the burden of developing and running applications in public and private clouds. Source: Kubernetes: What You Need To Know

Why is Security Automation important in Kubernetes?

K8's is insecure by design & running it with cloud infrastructure makes it worse. k8's has improved in the coming years to enforce security practices with available security configuration options. It has security configuration even for granular control over the specific design to serve developers' needs to administrators or even engineers.

How to Automate Security in Kubernetes?

To make K8's secure, security checks have to be implemented not only on the k8's cluster but also from the very beginning, i.e., building a docker image to production deployment. We have to ensure security and compliance on every step. Here are the ways listed below to its security automation in the life cycle of k8s at different levels.

Scanning During Build

Send builds back to the development team if any vulnerability of issues is present. It can archive with the CI Tools like Jenkins, Gitlab CI.

Registry Scanning

Alerts are sent to the development team if security issues are found in the docker registry. To check vulnerability in the Docker registry, tools like Anchore can be used & for scanning of local docker image & docker file, use docker scan CLI command gives you visibility about security posture.

Runtime Compliance Check

Vulnerability scanning is not just within the limit to containers. Need is to check the host and the orchestrator platform, i.e. (k8s). This can be achieved by Docker-bench & kubernetes CIS benchmark, which will provide you with alerts for every new container & host added or patched.

Risk-reports Automation

To make the process much faster & efficient remediation, it's essential to automate the risk-reports process as its scope is based on end-to-end vulnerability protection.

Security Policy as Code

Manual configuration of security policy can be error-prone & may lead to misconfiguration and vulnerabilities. To ensure the hardening of security policy, we can use the Open policy agent tool, an open-source tool for policy-based control over cloud-native environments. Some general consideration while creating policy:
  • Disable public access: the aim is to work with remote nodes only. If on cloud-based managed service disable public access to API control pane. An attacker with api access can get sensitive information from the cluster.
  • Role-based access control: It's an authorization method on the top of api as everything is denied. You have to establish granular permission for the user who has access to API.
  • Encrypt secrets at rest: as k8s uses etcd as database. If the attacker gets access to etcd, he can exploit sensitive information. So after k8s v1.18, you can enable encrypt secret at rest to ensure encrypted backup.
  •  Network policy: these are like firewall rules for pods to limit access to the pods and implement with label selectors.
  • Set a privileged flag turned off: while running the container, make sure the privilege flag is off. The attacker can't damage the container if access to the underlying infrastructure. Other tools for ensuring security AppArmor gVisor can be used.

An open-source container orchestration engine and also an abstraction layer for managing full-stack operations of hosts and containers. Click to explore about our, Architecture and its Components

What are the Security Automation best practices?

Other practices enable audit logging and keeping its security automation up to date.

Setup Admission Control

Automated admission control integration allows you to implement rules that can restrict unauthorized or vulnerable deployments into the environment.

Update to the Latest Version

All new security features do not have only bug fixes. Update quarterly; upgrade them to take advantage of them. To run the latest version, it releases with its most recent patches. Upgrades and support can become more challenging. So plan to upgrade at least once quarterly. Using its managed service provider can make upgrades very easy.

Set Forensic & Alerts

Finally, the integration of alerts response & forensic capability enables capturing packets from suspicious pods that seem forged or even quarantining pods by blocking in & out traffic. While keeping checks on security and compliance at all these levels, we can ensure secure and fast-paced deployments.
A model or an architectural paradigm for software that supports the production, detection, consumption, and reaction to the event or a significant system state change. Click to explore about our, Event-Driven Architecture and its Microservices

What are the best Security Automation tools for Kubernetes?

For it tools play an essential role. Here are some tools that can help set up security and compliance for the k8s.


Trireme straightforward as well as the flexible implementation of networking policies. It works on k8s clusters to manage pods' traffic from different clusters. Advantage if trireme lacks centralized policy management can easily set up two resources deployed in k8s without any complexity of SDN, VLAN, and Subnets.


Falco a monitoring tool to check anomalous activities in your application. It helps to monitor container performance by tracking system calls.

Sysdig Secure

It's an integral part of the sysdig platform. With the help of Sysdig Secure, you can block attacks, implement aware service policy & analyze history. It is available for cloud as well as on-premise offerings.


It proved a score for k8's resources to use k8s best practices & security features. Kubesec.io will give you total control & help archive overall security for the system.


Twistlock helps in continuous monitoring, compliance checking & vulnerability issues on k8s also the underlying host, containers & images. Its automatic runtime defense container behavior blocks anomalous activities whereas allowing good or known behavior. It provides layer seven firewalls, ensuring security from attacks on the front end of microservices & layer three micro-segmentation.
A platform to control and manage the containerized applications and services. Download to explore the potential of Enterprise Kubernetes


As kubernetes is gaining popularity & organization are showing trust in it. It's essential to keep security aspects in mind. Automation of security plays a crucial role in making it reliable, faster, and effective deployments. Archive automation of security and compliance with the help of tools without complexities. Security in k8s is to manage not only on the orchestration platform level but also from the building container image. The deployment of the image on production, from setting a policy to monitoring or ensuring compliance. Every aspect is crucial to provide security aspect.