Cloud-native Security for Kubernetes: The Proactive Guide to Resilient Applications

Cloud-native architecture built on Kubernetes and containers has revolutionized how we design, develop, and deploy applications. Benefits like speed, scalability, and portability are important, but the cloud-native environment introduces a unique set of security challenges that often require a new and more modern approach.

  • Complexity: Kubernetes deployments involve multiple configurations across clusters, applications, and underlying infrastructures. Misconfigurations can easily open security gaps.
  • Rapid change: The pace of development and deployment in cloud-native environments can outstrip traditional security checks and leave vulnerabilities exposed.
  • Expanded attack surface: Containers, APIs, and the orchestrator itself (i.e., Kubernetes) all provide increased entry points for potential attackers.

Trying to secure these dynamic and complex environments with legacy tools is ineffective. A cloud-native security solution that’s purpose-built for Kubernetes provides the visibility, automation, and application-aware protection you need to stay ahead of these evolving threats.

To address these security issues, we are going to go through three stages of application maturity to parse the actions that can be taken to elevate security protection in Kubernetes application design, development, and deployment.

Security in Design

Cloud provider considerations

  • The shared responsibility model: Understand that even with managed Kubernetes services like EKS/GKE, you are still responsible for securing your applications and data.
  • Leverage native features: Cloud providers offer powerful security tools like IAM, network security groups, and encryption services. Integrating your security solution with these features further strengthens your posture. For instance, your backup and recovery solution could leverage cloud provider IAM roles to ensure that your backups are protected by strict access controls.

Security Beyond the Container

While protecting individual containers is vital, a comprehensive cloud-native security strategy must consider your entire supply chain and your cloud environment’s role as well.

Secure supply chain

  • Trusted registries: Use only private registries or trusted public ones with rigorous security checks. Ensure that your container images come from known and verified sources to prevent supply chain attacks.
  • Image provenance: Track the origin and history of your images. This provides valuable context in the event you find discovered vulnerabilities or potential tampering.
  • Workflow integration: Your security solution should seamlessly integrate with your image build and deployment processes for continuous verification. It should also provide the tools you need to scan for vulnerabilities and enforce policies before an image even reaches production.

Security in Development

Proactive Security: The “Shift Left” Approach

In cloud-native environments, security can’t be an afterthought. The most effective approach is “Shift Left,” which means integrating security directly into your development and deployment pipeline (i.e., DevSecOps). This means security becomes a shared responsibility throughout the entire software lifecycle.

  • Embed security in development: Incorporate vulnerability scanning early in your image-building process to catch and fix issues before they hit production. Enforce secure coding standards and ensure the use of approved and trusted container images.
  • Policy-driven protection: Define clear security policies that govern aspects like RBAC, network segmentation, encryption, and resource usage. Then, utilize tools that automatically enforce these policies across your clusters and applications. This provides consistency, reduces human error, and adapts protection methods as applications scale and change.

Benefits of Automation and Consistency

  • Minimized risk: Prevents common vulnerabilities and misconfigurations from ever being introduced.
  • Faster deployment: Frees your teams from manual security checks and accelerates release cycles.
  • Scalability: Consistent policies maintain security postures even as your environment grows in complexity

Safeguarding the Application Context

Consider this idea as a blueprint that captures the entire state of your applications. These blueprints may include configuration details, resource dependencies, and relationships between components. Here’s why using this idea as a blueprint matters:

  • Disaster recovery: In any outage — not just an attack — having a blueprints can facilitate rapid and precise recovery. Imagine a scenario where a storage failure corrupts your critical application data. With blueprints, you can quickly restore not just your data, but the application configuration and its connections to other services within the cluster as well. This minimizes downtime and gets your applications back up and running smoothly.
  • Security response: Blueprints help identify anomalies or changes that may indicate a breach and help you pinpoint the issue and contain it faster. For instance, if a blueprint reveals unauthorized modifications to a container image configuration, it will throw up a red flag that warrants immediate investigation. This proactive approach can help you isolate the issue and prevent attackers from gaining a significant foothold in your environment.

Security in Production

Resilience Against Attacks

Ransomware is one of the most critical threats to Kubernetes environments and targets the very heart of your data and applications. Building a defense against these attacks must be a central pillar of your cloud-native security strategy.

  • Ransomware defense: Immutable and air-gapped backups
    • Immutable backups: These backups cannot be altered or deleted, even by attackers who gain access. This guarantees a clean recovery point.
    • Air-gapped backups: Storing backups offline or in isolated environments protects them from network-based attacks and insider threats.
  • Beyond just Data: Application-centric recovery
    • Restoring data alone is not enough. Your solution must be able to restore applications with their configurations, dependencies, and metadata intact. This minimizes downtime and ensures a full recovery.

The Power of the Right Tools

Purpose-built cloud-native security solutions provide specialized capabilities and integrations that maximize your protection while streamlining operations. Look for the following hallmarks:

  • Ecosystem integrations: Your solution should complement — not replace — best-in-breed security tools. Seamless integration with monitoring solutions, threat detection engines, and policy enforcement frameworks amplifies visibility and enables more comprehensive protection. Ideally, your solution should help you orchestrate and automate workflows, like blocking the deployment of a vulnerable image if flagged by a scanner.
  • Compliance through design: Achieving compliance in regulated industries (e.g., healthcare, finance) requires specific features. Look for end-to-end encryption both at-rest and in-transit and find fine-grained access controls, comprehensive audit trails and reporting too. A Kubernetes-aware solution should understand how to meet these requirements within the complex landscape of cloud-native environments and make compliance easier to maintain.
  • Deep Kubernetes expertise: Cloud-native environments are intricate. Opt for a solution built by a team that deeply understands Kubernetes architecture, common attack vectors, and evolving threat landscapes. This expertise translates into features that are designed to protect the unique components of Kubernetes and the support you need to confidently address vulnerabilities and quickly adapt security strategy as usage evolves.


Cloud-native security demands a fresh perspective. A proactive approach that uses policy-driven automation and prioritizes ransomware resilience can significantly strengthen your Kubernetes environment’s defenses. These defenses span the lifecycle of Kubernetes applications from design through to production. After reading through this blog, you should have a general idea of key elements that should be included in a security plan intended to protect your cloud-native environments.

Experience the power of purpose-built Kubernetes protection first-hand! Start your free Veeam Kasten trial today and see how easy it is to implement proactive security, ransomware resilience, and application-centric backups.

How Veeam Supports Cloud-native Security for Kubernetes

Veeam Kasten, formerly known as Kasten K10, is one of Veeam’s solutions for Kubernetes environments. It is a data management platform specifically designed for Kubernetes and provides data backup, recovery, and application mobility capabilities for both cloud-native and on-premises deployments. Kasten focuses on providing data protection and compliance for stateful applications that run on Kubernetes.

Kasten offers the following features for Kubernetes-based data management:

Backup and recovery: Facilitates the backup and recovery of Kubernetes applications, including their persistent volumes and associated metadata. Kasten also supports various storage options and can back up data from multiple clusters, namespaces, or individual applications.

Application mobility: Allows users to move Kubernetes applications seamlessly across clusters or cloud providers. It provides a consistent approach to migrating or replicating applications to ensure data portability and disaster recovery (DR) readiness.

Policy-based automation: Enables the creation of policies to automate data management tasks like backups, snapshots, and restorations. These policies can be defined based on specific criteria, such as namespace, labels, or schedules.

Application-centric operations: Provides a user-friendly interface to manage and monitor your data protection and management operations. Kasten also offers visibility into application-level metadata, allowing you to easily search, browse, and restore data.

Integration with cloud-native ecosystems: Integrates with popular cloud-native ecosystem tools and platforms — including Prometheus, Grafana, and Kubernetes Operators — to enhance data management capabilities and provide a seamless user experience.

Kasten focuses on providing comprehensive data management capabilities for Kubernetes environments by ensuring data protection, application mobility, and automation. It is specifically built to address the unique requirements of cloud-native deployments.

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