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It’s 2023: Do you know your Kubernetes environment is secure?


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“Kubernetes” is a word that businesses are hearing more and more, but most people outside of IT and security probably don’t quite understand what it means. The word itself is Greek for “driver” or “pilot,” which actually provides a proper sense of what Kubernetes is about.

Necessary, Kubernetes is an open source system used for automating software deployment — a system that is great at managing and scaling containerized applications. So to speak, it steers the ship for software developers operating at the scale required by the technology landscape.

That sounds technical, and it is. But as Kubernetes adoption increases, business leaders will need to fully understand how it’s being used within their organizations. People outside the development team may not even know that Kubernetes is used, which poses a serious problem. As it becomes more pervasive, cybercriminals are turning their attention to Kubernetes — and organizations without a thorough understanding of Kubernetes risk leaving a significant portion of their environment unprotected.

Why Kubernetes is on the rise

Kubernetes has become the de facto standard for automating the scale, deployment, and management of packaged applications. There are several factors driving its adoption, but the main focus is on enabling developers. The simplest explanation of how Kubernetes works is that instead of developers deploying code directly to the server, they can instead bundle the code in a container, which can then deploy it. everywhere.

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Kubernetes is like a chef, making sure everyone in the kitchen is in the right place, doing what they’re supposed to do. This summarizes typical developer concerns, such as disk space or the number of copies of an application they may need. Instead, all they need to think about is whether their Kubernetes cluster has enough resources to run.

In the past, developers used to build a monolithic application with a huge codebase and deploy it directly to huge servers. This works for a while, but as the business grows, the demand for that server increases — and in the end, it can just throw too much CPU and memory into one problem.

After all, servers have limits. This makes it easy to see why Kubernetes is so popular: It allows businesses to scale horizontally. Instead of scaling vertically (by purchasing increasingly more powerful servers), they can simply add more instances of the application as needed. This creates another model for scaling a business — one that is extremely valuable, especially for startups.

It is also worth noting that Kubernetes introduces a layer of abstraction between the developers writing the code and that code being deployed and running. That means developers can focus on coding and Kubernetes can take care of scaling and maintenance management. Previously, this would have required a dedicated team of employees to monitor those applications, monitor outages, and add more memory, servers, or CPUs as needed. Kubernetes eases that pain — that’s just another reason it’s so popular.

Building awareness about Kubernetes

While Kubernetes is great for developers, there are challenges too — especially as far as security is concerned. Since Kubernetes is still (relatively) new, it can be difficult to find security experts with Kubernetes expertise.

Understandably these professionals are in high demand at the moment, which means that getting them to work can be a challenge for small companies and startups. Kubernetes As more pervasive it becomes, that knowledge base grows — and there are partners and services businesses can turn to if they can’t attract the necessary expertise on their own.

It is important for organizations to treat Kubernetes as an extension of their existing infrastructure. It requires the same level of control, monitoring, and feedback as a traditional development environment. Like all cybersecurity issues, protecting Kubernetes is more of a journey than a destination, but it’s important to start implementing controls as soon as possible.

Organizations should assess their position from a security perspective against where they want to be, then start thinking about the steps needed to get there. This can be intimidating — some businesses spend years building out their security infrastructure, and it can be like starting from scratch — but it doesn’t have to be.

Take the first steps towards Kubernetes security

First — and perhaps most importantly — one of the biggest mistakes organizations make when it comes to Kubernetes security is assuming they can simply buy a product that will solve the problem for them. This almost never happens when it comes to security. All security tools require a deep understanding of how they will be deployed, how they will be used and maintained, and the expected results they will produce. So beautiful, there is no single product that simply “solves security” for all Kubernetes environment.

Instead, the best first step is to interact with the DevOps engineers and teams that are actually using Kubernetes. No one is better positioned to explain not only their goals, but also the potential risks associated with them. Bringing development and security teams together to discuss where existing vulnerabilities might lie — and how to address them without impacting productivity — is critical. These insights can help determine which solutions are needed, leading to better purchasing decisions and more effective control. When done properly, security can be built into the Kubernetes environment from the start.

A difficult but necessary task

Securing Kubernetes can be a daunting task, but it’s one that today’s organizations will need to tackle sooner rather than later. As more and more developers turn to Kubernetes to enable simpler, scalable software development, protecting the Kubernetes environment will only become more important.

Business leaders can start by chatting with developers and engineers, educating themselves about the fundamentals behind Kubernetesand work to get a more complete picture of the potential risks and challenges involved. Simply put, it’s 2023 — Kubernetes will become more ubiquitous, and it’s important to know that your environment is safe.

Dan Whalen is senior manager of R&D at Expulsion.

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