Zero Trust Segmentation

How to Solve the Top 3 Challenges of Securing Containers and Kubernetes Environments

Cloud security represented by a skyscraper reaching into the clouds

Is your organization simultaneously embracing DevOps and the "shift-left" approach while changing the ways you think about development and production infrastructure? You’re not alone.

The days of on-premises data centers with limited hardware servers and standardized development suites are now in the rearview mirror. Developers need the freedom to leverage any cloud, cloud service instance, or tool that best suits their applications.  

While this newfound flexibility fosters rapid innovation, it also presents a host of challenges when it comes to deploying consistent yet flexible security across ever-changing containers and Kubernetes environments.

3 challenges of securing containers and Kubernetes environments

There's still a common misconception that containers and Kubernetes environments don't need the same kind of security as other parts of the network. This simply isn't true. There are major difficulties facing security teams trying to secure containers and Kubernetes environments. Here are three of the top challenges:

1. Adapting security policies to dynamic containers and Kubernetes environments

Embracing a microservices architecture and selecting containerized Kubernetes services introduces various advantages, including enhanced service availability, seamless upgrades, auto-scaling, and platform portability. However, containers have lifecycles that are orchestrated by Kubernetes with many tasks automated and sometimes lasting mere minutes while the containers themselves exist for just seconds.  

This dynamic nature poses challenges for security administrators, leading to a need to focus on enforcing policies primarily at the ingress and egress points. The emergence of multi-cluster service meshes and service mesh federation across clouds enables containers to be deployed anywhere and connected across the service mesh.  

Relying solely on perimeter defenses becomes less effective as the service mesh expands.

2. Ensuring enforcement across the entire stack

A closer look at a managed Kubernetes service in a public cloud, such as AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (AWS EKS), reveals multiple enforcement points, including network firewalls, security groups, application load balancers, and Kubernetes network policies, each contributing to different aspects of security. The introduction of a service mesh further adds a layer of authorization policies.  

Often, these enforcement points fall under the ownership of various teams, such as cloud or platform teams, DevOps teams, and application developers. Cloud-native security is widely recognized as a shared responsibility among different teams. In the Kubernetes stack within public clouds, this ownership fragmentation can be particularly challenging. The question arises: How can we ensure network and application segmentation without gaps?

3. Establishing uniform policies across hybrid and multi-cloud environments

This is where many enterprises encounter significant obstacles.  

Most policy controls are typically confined to specific environments and provide segmentation only within those confines. But with today's complex, interconnected environments, these isolated policies often fall short and create vulnerabilities where malware can potentially move laterally across them. To further complicate things, different workloads in different environments have varying sets of metadata and attributes.  

All of these challenges means that security teams must devise a solution that provides end-to-end visibility across the entire attack surface.

How Illumio Core for Kubernetes solves these challenges

With Illumio Core for Kubernetes, security teams can overcome the challenges associated with securing dynamic environments, enforcing policies across the entire stack, and maintaining consistent security policies across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments.

Integration with the Kubernetes control plane: Illumio seamlessly integrates with the Kubernetes control plane, receiving information on the creation and removal of nodes, namespaces, services, workloads, and pods. This allows Illumio to apply corresponding policies dynamically.

Helm Chart installation: Illumio simplifies the deployment process by offering Helm Charts which encapsulate all necessary Kubernetes resources and configurations for the Illumio security solution. These charts can be customized using Helm values to meet specific requirements. By using Helm, Illumio seamlessly integrates into DevOps workflows.

Label-based policy: Illumio's label-based policies are particularly suitable for managing mixed workloads in multi-cloud environments. Administrators can map metadata and attributes into a common set of labels, ensuring a consistent approach to security assessment.

Illumio providing rule enforcement within a cluster

Mapping cloud metadata and Kubernetes labels-to-labels: Illumio allows DevOps users to specify the label mapping from Kubernetes node labels to Illumio labels. This simplifies the process of mapping default environmental information to label sets, ensuring that policies are readily applied as nodes are added to clusters.

Scalability and performance: As enterprises continue to expand their cloud and application initiatives, the Illumio solution has been thoroughly tested and is equipped to scale to meet the demands of future growth.

Contact us today to learn more about how Illumio Core can secure your Kubernetes deployment.

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