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How To Secure Kubernetes with Zero Trust Networking: 10 Best Practices To Follow

Kubernetes has emerged as a powerful tool and is in high demand among IT organizations due to its benefits such as high performance, efficiency, and flexibility. This open source container orchestration platform has completely transformed the way modern applications are developed and delivered. However, the increasing demand for Kubernetes has increased the potential risk of cyber threats. 

To keep the Kubernetes platforms safe and secure from internal and external threats, you must implement the best practices of zero-trust networking. In this blog, we will discuss what best practices we can implement to secure Kubernetes with zero trust networking. Before moving to the main context, we will first talk about zero trust networking. 

What is Zero Trust Networking?


Zero Trust Networking (ZTN) is a cybersecurity model that, by default, blocks access to an organization’s digital resources. This security model is based on technologies like authentication, authorization, and encryption and continuously asks for verification to ensure security configuration and status compliance. By implementing this security framework in Kubernetes, organizations can significantly mitigate the risk of cyberattacks and reduce the consequences of security breaches. 


Why Use Zero Trust Networking for Kubernetes?

Kubernetes deployments are typically a bit complex, and they are also distributed across multi-clouds, making it difficult to enforce its traditional security controls effectively. The benefits of the ZTN framework are endless, and they also provide a quick and easy approach to keeping Kubernetes’s clusters safe and secure. Some of their key benefits are:

  • Minimize attack surface: ZTNs reduce the significant impact of security breaches because they limit unnecessary access to resources.
  • Continuous authentication and authorization: To make sure that only authorized entities can access resources, ZTN constantly confirms the identity and access permissions of users and devices.
  • Improved compliance: ZTN helps organizations strictly adhere to data privacy regulations and security standards to boost security.

10 Best Practices for Securing Kubernetes with Zero Trust Networking

To successfully implement Kubernetes zero trust networking, follow these best practices:

  1. Turn-On Role Based Access Control (RBAC): Enabling RBAC will make sure users can only access the resources they require. They also provide access permissions based on roles and user identities.
  2. Use Third-Party Authentication for API Server: Implement a more secure third-party authentication provider, such as OAuth2 or OpenIDConnect, instead of the default basic authentication mechanism.
  3. Protect etcd with TLS and Firewall: The Kubernetes datastore, etcd, is an essential component as it stores the state of the cluster and its secrets, so it is important to protect this sensitive resource from cyber threats. To restrict access to etcd, organizations can enforce firewall rules and TLS encryption.  
  4. Isolate Kubernetes Nodes: You can implement network segmentation techniques, such as VLANs or SDNs, that help separate Kubernetes nodes from other networks and prevent unauthorized lateral movement within the network.
  5. Monitor Network Traffic to Limit Communications: To learn how your application works and spot unauthorized communications between pods and services, keep an eye on active network traffic. Also, you can implement network policies to limit communications and enforce the least privilege access principle.
  6. Use Process Whitelisting: Implement process whitelisting to identify the unwanted running processes and restrict their execution on Kubernetes nodes. This reduces the possibility that malicious code will execute and get unauthorized access to valuable data.
  7. Turn on Audit Logging: Make sure audit logging is turned on to record and monitor unusual or unwanted API calls in the Kubernetes clusters.
  8. Keep Kubernetes Version Up to Date: Always run an updated version of Kubernetes to resolve known vulnerabilities and security issues.
  9. Use a Service Mesh: To add more security features like mutual TLS authentication and authorization, traffic encryption, and observability, organizations should implement a service mesh like Istio or Linkerd.
  10. Continuously Monitor and Evaluate: Keep tracking or monitoring the Kubernetes cluster’s security posture. This will also help you assess how well the ZTN controls are working. Security policy updates and adaptations are necessary.


ZTN is a powerful framework that offers a robust and proactive solution for Kubernetes deployment security. By following the best practices compiled here, organizations can greatly mitigate the potential risks of cyber threats and security breaches. You can consult a consultancy that will assist you in implementing Kubernetes zero trust networking in the right way, securing all components and clusters of Kubernetes.

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