Container Security Planning

The following container security best practices are recommended as part of your network security planning.

Restrict Direct (SSH) Access to Kubernetes Nodes

To reduce the risk of unauthorized access to host resources, only system administrators should be allowed SSH access to StarlingX nodes. Non-system admin users should be restricted to helm and kubectl for remote access.

Use Role-based Access Control (RBAC)

Define RBAC policies to exercise strict control over permissions granted to non-admin users. Restrict non-admin users to the minimum level of privileges.

Use Namespaces

Use Namespaces to partition application resources into logical groups to allow the creation of RBAC policies to managing access to these resources as a whole.

Use Network Policies

Use network policies to restrict pod-to-pod traffic to approved profiles.

Segregate Sensitive Workloads

Use a combination of node taints and pod toleration to ensure that pods do not get scheduled onto inappropriate nodes.

For sole-tenant nodes, use node selectors to segregate applications from tenants on different worker nodes to minimize container-escape scope to applications of the sole-tenant.

Define Resource Quotas and Resource Limits Policies

Do not allow the configuration of resource-unbounded containers as this puts the system at risk of Denial-of-Service or “noisy neighbor” scenarios.

Specify Minimal-Required Security Context for Pods

Explicitly specify the minimal-required security context for pods, containers and volumes through pod security policies, for example:

  • runAsNonRoot

  • Capabilities

  • readOnlyRootFilesystem

Kata Containers


Kata Containers will not be supported in StarlingX r9.0.

Kata containers are an optional capability on StarlingX that provide a secure container runtime with lightweight virtual machines that feel and perform like containers, but provide stronger workload isolation. For improved performance with relation to isolation, Kata containers leverages hardware-enforced isolation with virtualization VT extensions.

For more information, see Kata Containers Overview.

Pod Security Policies

Pod security policies provide a cluster-level resource that controls the use of security-sensitive aspects of Pod security. PodSecurityPolicies (PSP) define different levels of access to security-sensitive aspects of the pod. RBAC [Cluster]Roles can then be created for these PSPs, with RBAC [Cluster]RoleBindings of these roles to a ‘subject’ (i.e. users, groups, serviceaccounts, etc.).

The following considerations apply to PodSecurityPolicies (PSPs):

  • includes enabling or disabling options such as running as root, access to host filesystem, access to host networking, etc.

  • are disabled by default

  • can be enable by the System Administrator via system service-parameter-add kubernetes kube_apiserver admission_plugins=PodSecurityPolicy

StarlingX provides default PSP and RBAC definitions to simplify initial usage:

  • Define a ‘restrictive’ and ‘privileged’ PSP, and corresponding representative RBAC Roles

  • Define initial RBAC RoleBindings for these roles such that:

    • cluster-admin can still perform anything / anywhere

    • authenticated users can only perform a restricted set of security-sensitive options on Pods and only in namespaces the user is allowed to access

Administrator can then:

  • create other custom PodSecurityPolicies and associated RBAC Roles

  • create [Cluster]RoleBindings to the appropriate ‘subjects’.

Container Image Signature Validation

The Portieris admission controller allows you to enforce image security polices to:

  • enforce trust pinning and blocks creation of resources that use untrusted images

  • access trusted data in Notary server corresponding to the image

For more information about Portieris, including installation instructions, see Portieris Overview.