InfoQ Homepage News Alcide's New sKan Command Line Tool Scans Kubernetes Deployment Files

Alcide's New sKan Command Line Tool Scans Kubernetes Deployment Files

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Alcide, a Kubernetes security platform, has announced the release of sKan, a command line tool that allows developers, DevOps and Kubernetes application builders access to the Alcide Security Platform. sKan enables developers to scan Kubernetes configuration and deployment files as part of their application development lifecycle including CI pipelines. Developers can scan their Kubernetes deployment files, Helm charts or Kustomized resources.

Alcide is a Kubernetes-native AI-driven security platform that focuses on configuration risks, visibility across clusters, and run-time security events. It uses policies enforcement and a behavioural anomaly engine that detects anomalous and malicious network activity. Alcide sKan uses the same technology behind Alcide Advisor and Open Policy Agent (OPA), and is a software-based translation of DevSecOps culture, in that it attempts to "shift security left" to developers building Kubernetes-based applications.

Alcide sKan operates with Kubernetes application builders' choice of deployment framework tooling; Helm charts, Kustomized resources, or Kubernetes resource files (YAML/JSON). While scanning source code for security vulnerabilities may be considered a common practice today, possible configuration errors in Kubernetes environments can be overlooked and vulnerabilities can be unwittingly introduced to production. Alcide sKan provides developers with feedback on security issues, risk, hardening and best practices of Kubernetes deliverables, before committing code.

sKan covers a range of potential security risks that may concern Kubernetes application builders, such as verifying that deployment files are not configured to run as privileged, they don't introduce risks to Kubernetes worker nodes, as well as RBAC sanitation checks and the identification of secret leaks. Alcide sKan presents insights for each detected risk. InfoQ asked Alcide’s CTO, Gadi Naor, about sKan:

InfoQ: How does a developer integrate sKan into their deployment pipeline?

Gadi Naor: Alcide sKan is captured in developer terms as a Kubernetes YAML/JSON resource linter. Anything you can do with a code linter in your pipeline would be something a developer can implement with sKan.

SKan's input options offer a number of integrations, such as developers can have sKan read an entire directory of Kubernetes resources, or render a Helm chart and pipe them via standard input into sKan or take Kustomized resources and pipe them via standard input into sKan.

On the output end, developers can have sKan generate a report as JUnit or HTML and store it in the pipeline artefacts. Developers can also leverage sKan in commit hooks to validate certain assertions about Kubernetes configurations.

InfoQ: How are security considerations different in a Kubernetes environment?

Naor: Code scanners identify, report, and potentially fix issues found in programming languages. Kubernetes application configurations are effectively YAML/JSON files that declaratively specify how built code will run in Kubernetes. sKan essentially starts where YAML/JSON syntax validation ends.

InfoQ: How does sKan operate alongside or integrate with tools that scan source code?

Naor: sKan complements source scanners, and would normally run alongside programming languages source scanners. sKan starts where YAML/JSON syntax validation ends; YAML/JSON files specify how built code will run in Kubernetes, and sKan analyses the Kubernetes application configurations and will identify and report security best practices.

InfoQ: How would sKan provide assurances and continuous compliance for security teams, architects and leadership?

Naor: sKan integrates with the same tools and platforms that code scanners integrate which means that sKan becomes a plug and play tool to the existing investments made into the tools that cover assurance, auditability and continuous compliance for the various stakeholders that consume those reports, such as architects and leadership. For example, CI pipeline artefacts and logs become the substance which is then exported to tools like Splunk, which provides the reports and auditability for a wider context and audience.

InfoQ: Please provide a couple of examples of actionable insights and the risks they may detect.

Naor: If a developer accidentally places a secret such as Slack Token or AWS Secret Key into Kubernetes deployment file such as StatefulSet, one suggestion made by sKan is to leverage Kubernetes secret resources, and the best practice is to wire secrets from secret stores in application runtime. Another example of a risk sKan may detect would be if a developer were to implement a cluster component and build it with excessive Kubernetes RBAC permissions; this is something that has potential to introduce a cluster-wide risk.

InfoQ: Is a full list of the potential security risks sKan looks for available?

Naor: sKan presently covers the following modules which each host multiple checks: Kubernetes pod security,  RBAC privileges, misplaced secrets, service & Ingress controller and Isto meshconfig checks in addition to checks for Prometheus and Etcd operators, container image registries and admission controllers. sKan is powered by Alcide Advisor as well as Open-Policy-Agent, new modules and checks will be shipped on a regular basis from both in-house and the community.

InfoQ: How would it identify a secret leak?

Naor: Alcide sKan scans Kubernetes resources, rendered Helm Chart templates or rendered Kustomized resources, against a set of regular expressions. It's quite comparable to how a GitHub Repository would be scanned for secret leaks, with a few important differences. For example, GitHub repository secret scanners scan files at rest; Alcide sKan processes resources after Kubernetes-specific transformations, and sKan points a developer to the Kubernetes specific root cause.

InfoQ: How does sKan bring dev and ops closer together?

Naor: Alcide sKan can be leveraged as a local tool for developers tasked to build Kubernetes-based applications, and enables them to build and ship secure components through Kubernetes; Ops would then need to run and operate those components. sKan helps to shape and form alignment between dev and ops by aligning the security quality of Kubernetes-based application deliverables with a set of high bar security standards and best practices.

For more information, please consult the Alcide documentation.

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