Kubernetes security incidents are on the rise – what can you do about it?

    By Marc Willebeek-LeMair

    Marc Willebeek-LeMair (CEO and Co-Founder of Spyderbat)

    While the container orchestration platform has many benefits, Kubernetes security breaches are on the rise. We’ve seen massive adoption and growth rates as a result of flexibility in multi-cloud environments, scalability, cost, and system deployment time reductions; but amidst all of the benefits, it also presents a new set of challenges for enterprises when it comes to securing their data and applications.

    In modern application and cloud infrastructure, the scope of potential attack surfaces are huge. For example, recently AWS patched a vulnerability in the IAM Authenticator for Kubernetes that could allow threat actors to gain elevated privileges on a Kubernetes cluster. Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 75 percent of global organizations will be running containerized applications in production, up from less than 30% in 2020.

    So what can enterprises do to mitigate or stop these security breaches from happening? Here are four things:


    Enterprises should ensure that they have a comprehensive security strategy in place that takes into account the unique challenges posed by Kubernetes. This strategy should include both preventative measures to stop attacks from happening in the first place, as well as detection and corrective measures to identify and respond to attacks that do occur. The trend in the software development industry has been to “shift left”, meaning that security has been integrated into organizations’ development processes at the onset of coding development. While important, what happens when development is pushed to production? Organizations must flip this notion on its head by providing shift-right security — a method for continuously monitoring pre-to-post production at runtime for early detection of misconfigurations and for threats exploiting missed vulnerabilities.


    Enterprises should make sure that they have visibility into all of the components of their Kubernetes environment, including both the host system and the containers themselves. This visibility is essential for identifying potential configuration and security issues by tracking container runtime behaviors in pre and post production environments. Understanding runtime behaviors accurately allows for early recognition of misconfigurations and the ability to quickly  respond to successful attacks.

    Control Implementation

    Enterprises should implement controls to remove unnecessary services from system and container resources and limit access to the Kubernetes APIs to only those users and services that absolutely need it. This will reduce the overall attack surface, minimize risk of operational issues, and help to prevent unauthorized access to the Kubernetes environment.

    Monitoring Tools

    There are a multitude of resources available that allow enterprises to monitor activity within their Kubernetes environment and detect suspicious or anomalous activity. Such tools can help to identify attacks in progress and take corrective action to mitigate the damage. While many threat detection solutions identify individual potential indicators that must be manually investigated, there are platforms readily available that leverage technology that capture all movement within and across systems and containers to build a causal context map. With causal context, these platforms accurately recognize early threat activity and immediately presents the root cause to both security and operational issues.

    Implementing these measures will help to reduce the risk of security breaches in Kubernetes environments and keep data and applications safe. Enterprises should always be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to attacks that do occur.

    If you’re concerned about the security of your Kubernetes environment, or if you want to learn more about how to secure it, contact us today. We can help you assess your risks and put in place the measures that are right for you.


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