In this blog post, we are going to look at why it’s a good idea to separate our applications from each other via namespaces and give them the appropriate level of access within the cluster to run. This will prevent the leakage of resources that are namespaced like configmaps or secrets to applications that should not see them.

We are going to assume that you have a Kubernetes cluster available to you. If not you can create one on AKS on the cloud or locally via Minikube. So we will first look at namespaces to separate our applications.

Namespaces

Let’s look at the default namespaces available to us.
We do this by issuing kubectl get namespaces
Kubernetes will place any pods in the default namespace unless another one is specified.

For the next part of the blog, we will create a namespace to use for the rest of the blog. We will do that by issuing

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
metadata:
  name: webapp-namespace
EOF

Then if we check our namespaces again via kubectl get namespaces if we were successful then we should see the new namespace.

Cluster roles, Service accounts, and Role bindings

Now we have our namespace set up we are going to create a service account and give it full access to that namespace only.

We are now going to create a service account for the namespace that we created earlier.

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: ServiceAccount
metadata:
  name: webapp-service-account
  namespace: webapp-namespace
EOF

Then we will create a role giving us full permissions to the namespace

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
kind: Role
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
metadata:
  name: webapp-role
  namespace: webapp-namespace
rules:
  - apiGroups: [""]
    resources: ["pods", "pods/log"]
    verbs: ["get", "list", "watch"]
EOF

Then we will create a role binding to tie it all together

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
kind: RoleBinding
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
metadata:
  name: webapp-role-binding
  namespace: webapp-namespace
subjects:
  - kind: ServiceAccount
    name: webapp-service-account
    namespace: webapp-namespace
roleRef:
  kind: Role
  name: webapp-role
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
EOF

Now lets deploy our application into our new namespace.

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: apps/v1 # for versions before 1.9.0 use apps/v1beta2
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: webapp-deployment
  namespace: webapp-namespace
spec:
  selector:
    matchLabels:
      app: webapp
  replicas: 1
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        app: webapp
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: webapp
        image: scottyc/webapp:latest
        ports:
        - containerPort: 3000
          hostPort: 3000
EOF

Then we can check our pods simulating the privileges of the service-account we will set up our kubeconfig to only use our service account
We will first get the secret for that service account
SECRET_NAME=$(kubectl get sa webapp-service-account --namespace webapp-namespace -o json | jq -r .secrets[].name)

Then create a ca certificate
kubectl get secret --namespace webapp-namespace "${SECRET_NAME}" -o json | jq -r '.data["ca.crt"]' | base64 --decode > ca.crt

Then get the user token from our secret
USER_TOKEN=$(kubectl get secret --namespace webapp-namespace "${SECRET_NAME}" -o json | jq -r '.data["token"]' | base64 --decode)

Now will will setup our kubeconfig file

context=$(kubectl config current-context)
CLUSTER_NAME=$(kubectl config get-contexts "$context" | awk '{print $3}' | tail -n 1)
ENDPOINT=$(kubectl config view -o jsonpath="{.clusters[?(@.name == \"${CLUSTER_NAME}\")].cluster.server}")
kubectl config set-cluster "${CLUSTER_NAME}" --kubeconfig=admin.conf --server="${ENDPOINT}" --certificate-authority=ca.crt --embed-certs=true
kubectl config set-credentials "webapp-service-account-webapp-namespace-${CLUSTER_NAME}" --kubeconfig=admin.conf --token="${USER_TOKEN}"
kubectl config set-context "webapp-service-account-webapp-namespace-${CLUSTER_NAME}" --kubeconfig=admin.conf --cluster="${CLUSTER_NAME}" --user="webapp-service-account-webapp-namespace-${CLUSTER_NAME}" --namespace webapp-namespace
kubectl config use-context "webapp-service-account-webapp-namespace-${CLUSTER_NAME}" --kubeconfig="${KUBECFG_FILE_NAME}"

note if you want to cheat there is a shell script here

We will then load the file in our terminal
export KUBECONFIG=admin.conf

Now let’s check our permissions by seeing if we can list pods in the default namespace
kubectl get pods

Now let’s check our namespace
kubectl get pods --namespace=webapp-namespace

(Check here for more info about RBAC subjects)

Now we have limited the blast radius of our application to only the namespace that it resides in.
So there will be no way that we can leak configmaps or secrets from other applications that are not in this namespace.
Also made sure that the user or owner of the web application cant hop namespaces and accidentally deploy as the user does not have access.
Remembering the networking is not namespaced so connectivity between applications will still have no issues.

 

Scott Coulton is a guest blogger with 10 years of experience in the managed services and hosting space. Rolling out systems and network solutions for national and multinational companies with a wide variety of technologies, including Microsoft, AWS, Puppet, Docker and Linux.

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