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Kubernetes Security: Top 5 Best Practices for Securing Kubernetes Clusters

As more and more of your business-critical applications run in Kubernetes, securing Kubernetes becomes increasingly critical. The ability to operate and secure clusters in a standardized fashion is essential in a rapidly growing Kubernetes environment. If your team has been asking itself how to secure Kubernetes clusters, this blog is for you. It examines five Kubernetes security best practices you can use to improve the security posture of individual clusters and your entire K8s fleet.

Kubernetes Security Best Practice 1: Implement Zero Trust

As with any computing environment, perimeter security alone is no longer enough to protect Kubernetes. Zero trust has emerged as the best method of protecting your computing environments and data. Zero trust is a security model that assumes that all actors, systems, and services operating in and between networks should not and cannot be trusted.

Kubernetes provides all the hooks necessary for zero trust security, including tools for authentication, authorization, admission control, and auditing. However, while these tools give you the ability to create a zero-trust environment, keeping all the individual elements correctly configured and aligned becomes a challenge once you have more than a few clusters, especially when multiple workloads and Kubernetes distributions are involved.

How Rafay Helps

Rafay’s Zero-Trust Access Service ensures that zero trust best practices are applied and enforced to secure your entire Kubernetes environment, eliminating the need to manually apply Kubernetes security best practices on every cluster.

Rafay employs the latest zero trust principles and Kubernetes security best practices throughout our Kubernetes Operations Platform (KOP) to guarantee security, and—because our management solution works with all major cloud providers and certified Kubernetes distributions—you can increase security everywhere, including enabling zero trust on the AWS Kubernetes service, EKS.

To learn more about ZeroTrust Security read the Rafay whitepaper, Best Practices for Securing Kubernetes.

Kubernetes Security Best Practice 2: Automate Updates

As with any software, Kubernetes and its add-ons are only as secure as they are up to date. New versions of Kubernetes come out frequently and update methods can be highly dependent on the Kubernetes distribution(s) you are using. If you are using multiple versions of K8s on-premises (not uncommon) as well as managed Kubernetes services in one or more clouds or cloud accounts, keeping everything updated can be a time-consuming and error-prone process.

How Rafay Helps

Rafay’s Multi-Cluster Management Service allows you to deploy, manage, and upgrade all of your Kubernetes clusters from a single console, across on-premises, bare metal, public clouds (AWS, Azure, GCP), and remote/edge environments.

You can upgrade all clusters—regardless of distribution—with a single click. Pre-flight checks, post-upgrade validation, and audits ensure a reliable, repeatable, and efficient upgrade process.

To learn more about how Rafay Multi-Cluster Management can help you automate operations and keep up with cluster lifecycle events, read the Rafay blog Three Steps to Streamline Multi-Cluster Management.

Kubernetes Security Best Practice 3: Monitor Everything

Platform teams can’t manage, secure, and support what they can’t see. Given the dynamic nature of applications running in a K8s environment, monitoring is often a challenge. The Kubernetes environment is extremely extensible and integrates with a large ecosystem of monitoring tools that provide diverse visibility, monitoring, and logging capabilities.

Many platform teams use combinations of tools to create monitoring solutions that address specific monitoring needs. One of the most commonly used combinations is Prometheus plus Grafana. The ELK stack, a combination of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana, is also popular.

However, as your Kubernetes environment grows, deploying and managing these tools, singly or in combination, once again creates significant complexity. Monitoring tools may end up misconfigured (or not installed) leaving your team blind and your infrastructure exposed. Many teams find that monitoring as a service can alleviate the challenges of monitoring a dynamic, multi-cluster K8s environment.

How Rafay Helps

The Rafay Visibility and Monitoring Service is a cloud-based solution that unifies monitoring, alerting, and visualization for all your Kubernetes clusters and applications on a single pane of glass (SPOG), centralizing Kubernetes logging and management for your K8s fleet. Rafay dashboards let you organize a wide range of Kubernetes metrics and events and provide critical alerts to keep you a step ahead, helping you quickly visualize, diagnose, and resolve incidents.

Rafay automatically deploys Prometheus and related add-ons. Metrics are automatically scraped and aggregated in a centralized time series database for your entire fleet, spanning multiple security domains and operating environments.

To learn more about Kubernetes monitoring read the Rafay blog Best Practices, Tools, and Approaches for Kubernetes Monitoring.

Kubernetes Security Best Practice 4: Use Policy-Driven Security

Ensuring compliance with security policies and industry regulations can be difficult. Open Policy Agent (OPA) is a general-purpose policy engine that is increasingly used to enforce policy compliance for Kubernetes and other software. OPA is a great way to deliver the benefits of policy as code (PaC). However, like many open source tools, OPA’s flexibility and power comes at the cost of a significant learning curve. For many platform teams, it is best to choose management tools that integrate OPA capabilities.

How Rafay Helps

Rafay’s Kubernetes Policy Management Service includes the ability to configure OPA policies and ensure policy compliance across your K8s clusters. At the application level, Rafay integrates centralized policy management with secrets management and RBAC-enabled application access. Templates and blueprints ensure your clusters and applications are standardized and conformant.

To learn more about OPA and policy-based management, read the Rafay blog Managing Policies on Kubernetes with OPA Gatekeeper.

Kubernetes Security Best Practice 5: Integrate Your Security Tools

As mentioned earlier, Kubernetes provides a large ecosystem of tools so you can tailor a K8s cluster to satisfy your unique requirements including your security requirements. Many platform teams also have a need to integrate with security tools outside the Kubernetes ecosystem, including commercial single sign-on (SSO) tools, SIEM tools like Splunk, and many others. It’s important to have an integrated and manageable set of tools that spans your entire Kubernetes environment.

However, as clusters multiply, ensuring that everything is deployed and integrated properly becomes an increasing challenge, potentially exposing vulnerabilities and security gaps. Having lots of different security tools that no one really knows how (or when) to use, can become a liability.

How Rafay Helps

Rafay management services are designed to integrate with the K8s distributions and tools you already use, including out-of-the-box integrations with popular single sign on (SSO) solutions, SIEM tools, open source and commercial monitoring solutions, secrets management tools, and more.

To learn more about Rafay’s suite of integrations visit our Integrations Docs.

Security at Rafay

Rafay delivers the fleet management capabilities you need to ensure the success and security of your Kubernetes environment, helping you rationalize and standardize management across your entire fleet of K8s clusters and applications, while reducing the complexity of maintaining cluster and application security.

Rafay utilizes the latest zero trust principles and security best practices throughout our Kubernetes Operations Platform to guarantee security, and—because our management solution works with all major cloud providers and certified Kubernetes distributions—you can increase security everywhere.

Ready to find out why so many enterprises and platform teams have partnered with Rafay to improve Kubernetes security and simplify fleet management? Sign up for a free trial.


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