Kubernetes Security Posture Management

The crucial role of Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM) in a cloud-native era

Kubernetes is rapidly growing and is already prolific in IT stacks worldwide. Despite that, Kubernetes security experts are still a rare find. The rapid rise of cloud-native deployments across the industry has created a massive gap between the supply of Kubernetes security experts and the demand for their services. That’s why it’s imperative to simplify the process of securing K8s implementations to reduce the skill required.

Most industry professionals working in the cloud are familiar with Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) a category of IT security tools designed to identify and resolve misconfigurations and compliance risks in the cloud. These tools leverage automation features to simplify the workloads associated with securing cloud service stacks. Today, operators use Kubernetes to deploy workloads more than ever before, and Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM) has emerged as an essential complement to CSPM. 

What is KSPM?

Kubernetes Security Posture Management leverages automation tools to identify and resolve security, misconfiguration, and compliance issues across all Kubernetes components. It’s a holistic toolset capable of alerting operators to problems that might otherwise go overlooked with manual processes and dashboards. 

One of the things that makes KSPM unique relative to general CSPM toolsets is its focus on the special issues associated with Kubernetes implementations and the idea that it isn’t limited just to the cloud. Things like role-based access control configurations in Kubernetes have unique considerations, and these tools are specifically designed to assess and protect those resources and structures. Organizations that manage their workloads with Kubernetes need automated security tools explicitly tuned for those scenarios. 

How does KSPM work?

Specific approaches vary somewhat with different tools, but the general idea remains the same. Policy configurations that establish the security posture for the system are the foundation of any KSPM toolset. Out-of-the-box templates often predefine these policies, but many toolsets offer customized policy options. Once policy configurations establish a well-defined set of rules, KSPM tools leverage automation to scan the Kubernetes environment for any configurations or states that violate those rules. Once a violation is detected, the tools go to work according to the severity level of the anomaly. Real-time alerts can be issued to operators for critical issues to start remediation. Some tools can remediate specific problems in an automated fashion based on policies and configuration. 

Why KSPM is growing in importance

With the issues mentioned above with acquiring Kubernetes Security resources, one of the primary considerations organizations face is how to mitigate human operator error. KSPM aids this by applying autonomous rigor to Kubernetes implementations to help avoid misconfigurations that leave security holes. Third-party resources are also a common problem because the nature of Kubernetes as an open-source system and micro service-oriented development, in general, encourages leveraging outside resources from Github and Dockerhub. Typically, the organization using these resources might have additional security or compliance constraints than the original developers. KSPM can help organizations scan these resources for potential security and compliance issues. 

In general, what KSPM provides to organizations is simplification and usability in the complex world of Kubernetes security. The flexible policy-oriented approach allows relatively simple compliance with standards like HIPAA or government security constraints. 

KSPM is foundational to managing Kubernetes workloads

While there is never a silver bullet in cybersecurity, KSPM is critical to managing Kubernetes manifests, clusters and workloads because it mitigates the need for security expertise across the organization. The ability to leverage robust policy settings out-of-the-box or create your own with flexible toolsets sets KSPM apart from more traditional security approaches. Automated scanning and remediation can also prevent breaches before they happen.

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