Top 4 Kubernetes Security Risks That You Should Focus On

Introduction – Early Release of Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open-source container system responsible for automating the process of application deployment, scaling, and management. It works with a wide variety of container tools and runs in clusters, generally with images built using Docker. Kubernetes speeds up the deployment process by providing automated deployment updates and by managing services and apps with almost no downtime. It is originally designed and built by Google and managed by a large community of contributors.

The first-ever version of Kubernetes was released on July 21, 2015, known as Kubernetes v1.0, so the ecosystem started growing gradually. Helm, the package manager of Kubernetes was released on February 23, 2016. Kubernetes 1.6 announced in the year 2017 was taken as a stabilization release. In the year 2018, the first Beta Version of Kubernetes 1.10 was announced especially for testing purposes.  

Statistics of Security Problems in Kubernetes

Kubernetes has been dominating the container orchestration market. 87 percent of the enterprises have already brought in Kubernetes to manage some portion of their container workloads. Well, there are tons of benefits of using Kubernetes. But it does come with some security challenges. According to a recent survey, 94 percent of the organizations have encountered critical security issues in the last 12 months in their container environment. 69 percent of the companies have detected misconfigurations, 27 percent are still facing runtime security incidents and 24 percent of the enterprises are noticing significant vulnerabilities to remediate.

4 Kubernetes Security Risks

Simple and fast deployment, quicker bug fixes, and enhanced feature velocity are some of the benefits received by the organization. Well, security is a major concern with every technology, which every organization should be majorly concerned about. Below described are Four Security risks associated with Kubernetes which should be strictly mitigated:

1.   Vulnerabilities:

Some of the common examples of Vulnerabilities consists, malware installation, host access, crypto mining, privilege escalation, and many more. Vulnerabilities present a security risk to executing deployments, while a mandatory image scanning at the build stage. Efficient Vulnerability Management spans the entire container lifecycle and should perform the following functions:

  • Block the images with hazardous vulnerabilities from getting pushed to the production-accessible container registry.
    • Fail builds consisting of rectifiable vulnerabilities exceeding a certain severity.
    • Recognize vulnerabilities in images present in runtime libraries and installed OS packages.

2.   Exposures or Misconfigurations:

This is the most alarming security risk for the Kubernetes container and environment. Configuration management poses a difficult challenge for the security team especially while using Kubernetes to manage containerized apps. Following are the configurations which require special management and attention:

  • secrets: You should not expose secrets unnecessarily. Instead, use a secrets management tool such as Kubernetes secrets and ensure that deployments mount the secrets required by them.
    • network policies: The method of preventing an attacker from moving through a container environment must implement network policies as a key security control. This is required because Kubernetes enables pods to communicate with each other by default.
    • images: Non-essential software that tends to increase the security risks should be avoided. Also, do not fetch images from risky sources.
    • namespaces: namespaces are responsible for developing and maintaining a key boundary for network policies and Kubernetes access control restrictions. They also separate workloads into namespaces to limit the effect of mistakes or disruptive actions by authorized users.

3.   Failed Compliance Audit:

One of the primary drivers behind container and Kubernetes security initiatives is Compliance. The security risk of Failed Compliance Audit occurs due to security turning as a reconsideration in the container adoption journey. Enforce your security controls as early as possible in the container life cycle as well as your container adoption journey. Automate your evidence reporting and compliance checks to reduce overhead as much as possible.

4.   Runtime Threats:

You encounter a new set of challenges during the runtime phase of the container security. Even if you have diminished your security risk from misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, threats during runtime are supposed to come from external adversaries.

How to tackle such risks?

The security issues discussed above should be taken care of as soon as possible. You should pose certain measures beforehand to minimize the security risks. Some tricks and recommendations on tackling such type of risks are briefed below:

  • Whenever you confront a new vulnerability or an active breach you must kill that container and relaunch a non-compromised version. Moreover, you must ensure that the particular information is used to reconfigure a component within the environment or reconstruct a brand-new container image.
  • To prevent unnecessary exposure, you should safeguard that the deployments mount only the secrets they obligate.
  • You must adapt strategies to make sure your Kubernetes environments meet controls originally written traditional software architectures. You should implement a dynamic and distributed behavior of containerized applications. This will ensure monitoring towards compliance adherence and automation of audits to successfully operate at scale.
  • You must create secure images free from risky vulnerabilities, protect workloads from threats and configure deployments with best security practices at runtime. Some other measures which you can take are Extension of vulnerability scanning to running deployments, Monitoring network traffic to inhibit insecure communication, and utilization of inbuilt Kubernetes controls to tighten security.

Also Read: 6 New Feature Updates in Kubernetes v1.20 Release

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Summing Up

We can conclude from the above blog that, though Kubernetes offers a wide variety of in-built security advantages, security addressing is a major concern. Hackers find Kubernetes very attractive, being a relatively complex technology requiring great expertise to manage and secure it. You require mastery with proper time to effectively get command on Kubernetes, otherwise, you are bound to experience a majority of vulnerabilities.

You should keep in mind a few considerations surely to ensure the continuous and consistent health of your pipeline. Kubernetes security considerations involve: administering a balance between agility and security, configuring compliance, and hardening and monitoring security post deployments. You should continuously monitor, helping you attain visibility every time, ensuring secured environments and your immediate response when security issues arise. If you are looking to enhance security, you must consult our SNDK Corp Kubernetes experts.



Dockers have promoted Linux container pattern, while containers in Linux have been prevalent for a long time now. The entire container ecosystem has evolved to be much broader now, as compared to Docker.