What Is Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM)?

Kubernetes security posture management (KSPM) refers to a set of processes and tools aimed at maintaining the security and compliance of a Kubernetes cluster and its workloads. It involves continuously monitoring the cluster for potential security threats, vulnerabilities, and misconfigurations, and taking remediation actions to prevent security incidents and protect sensitive data. KSPM helps organizations to manage and secure their Kubernetes deployments in a more proactive and effective manner.

In this article:

Why Is CSPM Not Enough for Kubernetes Environments?

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) solutions continuously monitor and manage the security of cloud computing environments to ensure they are secure and compliant with relevant security regulations and standards. It covers all aspects of security, including identity and access management (IAM), data protection, network security, and threat detection and response.

CSPM and KSPM have different scopes and objectives, so one cannot completely replace the other. Here are the main differences:

  • CSPM can provide a comprehensive view of an organization’s cloud security posture, but it does not necessarily have the specific tools and processes required to manage the security posture of a Kubernetes cluster.
  • KSPM focuses specifically on the security of a Kubernetes deployment, but does not provide a comprehensive view of the organization’s entire cloud computing environment.

In practice, organizations often use both CSPM and KSPM to ensure the security of their cloud computing environment, including their Kubernetes deployments. CSPM provides a higher-level view of the security posture, while KSPM provides more granular and in-depth security management for Kubernetes clusters.

Key Benefits of Kubernetes Security Posture Management

KSPM can provide several benefits for organizations, including:

Catching Human Errors and Oversights

Kubernetes is a complex and rapidly evolving technology, and it is easy for administrators to make mistakes when configuring or deploying applications. KSPM can help catch these errors and oversights before they lead to security incidents.

For example, KSPM can detect misconfigured network security policies, missing security patches, or unencrypted sensitive data, and alert administrators to take corrective action. This helps organizations prevent security incidents and maintain a secure environment.

Validating Third-Party Configurations

In many cases, organizations use third-party configurations, such as custom Kubernetes resource definitions, to deploy and manage their applications. However, these third-party configurations can sometimes introduce security vulnerabilities.

KSPM can validate the security posture of these configurations and ensure that they meet the organization’s security standards. This helps organizations to mitigate the risk of vulnerabilities introduced by third-party software, and to maintain a secure environment.

Enforcing Kubernetes Compliance

Many industries and organizations are subject to security regulations and standards that require specific security configurations and controls. KSPM can enforce specific requirements of these regulations and standards.

KSPM can continuously monitor the security posture of the Kubernetes cluster and take remediation actions as needed. This helps organizations to ensure that their Kubernetes deployments are secure and compliant with relevant security regulations and standards, reducing the risk of security incidents and improving the overall security posture.

Learn more in our detailed guide to Kubernetes compliance

How Does KSPM Work?

KSPM involves maintaining the security of a Kubernetes cluster by continuously monitoring the cluster for deviations from defined security policies and taking corrective action as needed. The general steps are as follows:

  1. Defining security policies: The first step in KSPM is to define the security policies that the KSPM tooling will enforce. In many cases, KSPM tooling will provide baseline templates to simplify the policy creation process. The policies define the desired security posture for the Kubernetes cluster and set boundaries for what is considered acceptable.
  2. Scanning for policy violations: Once the policies are defined, KSPM tools scan the Kubernetes infrastructure for deviations from the policies. The tools continuously monitor the cluster and alert administrators when a policy violation is detected.
  3. Responding to policy violations: The response to a policy violation depends on the tooling, configuration, and severity of the violation. Responses can range from simply logging a message to raising an alert, to automated remediation. For example, if a policy violation is detected, an alert can be raised, and the deviating configuration can be corrected automatically.

Components of a KSPM Solution

A Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM) solution typically includes the following components:

  • Continuous monitoring: Provides real-time visibility into the state of the Kubernetes cluster and its components, allowing organizations to detect and respond to security threats in real time. This component typically includes features such as network traffic monitoring, event logging, and alerting.
  • Security orchestration: Integrates with existing security tools and technologies, allowing organizations to automate and streamline security processes and workflows. This component typically includes features such as security policy enforcement, security incident response, and security compliance reporting.
  • Security automation: Automates security processes and workflows, freeing up security teams to focus on more strategic initiatives. This component typically includes features such as automated Kubernetes vulnerability scanning, security policy enforcement, and security configuration management.
  • Central dashboard: Provides a centralized view of the security posture of the Kubernetes cluster, allowing organizations to easily monitor and manage security across the cluster. Typically includes features such as real-time threat detection, security event logs, and security alerts.
  • Security reporting: Provides detailed reporting on the security posture of the Kubernetes cluster, including security metrics, compliance reporting, and security audits. This component typically includes features such as security trend analysis, security incident reporting, and security performance monitoring.

Kubernetes Security and Observability with Calico

Tigera’s commercial solutions provide Kubernetes security and observability for multi-cluster, multi-cloud, and hybrid-cloud deployments. Both Calico Enterprise and Calico Cloud provide the following features for security and observability:


  • Security policy preview, staging, and recommendation – Easily make self-service security policy changes to a cluster without the risk of overriding an existing policy. Calico can auto-generate a recommended policy based on ingress and egress traffic between existing services, and can deploy your policies in a “staged” mode before the policy rule is enforced.
  • Compliance reporting and alerts – Continuously monitor and enforce compliance controls, easily create custom reports for audit.
  • Intrusion detection & prevention (IDS/IPS) – Detect and mitigate Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) using machine learning and a rule-based engine that enables active monitoring.
  • Microsegmentation across Host/VMs/Containers – Deploy a scalable, unified microsegmentation model for hosts, VMs, containers, pods, and services that works across all your environments.
  • Data-in-transit encryption – Protect sensitive data and meet compliance requirements with high-performance encryption for data-in-transit.


  • Dynamic Service Graph – Get a detailed runtime visualization of your Kubernetes environment to easily understand microservice behavior and interaction.
  • Application Layer Observability – Gain visibility into service-to-service communication within your Kubernetes environment, without the operational complexity and performance overhead of service mesh.
  • Dynamic Packet Capture – Generate pcap files on nodes associated with pods targeted for packet capture, to debug microservices and application interaction.
  • DNS Dashboard – Quickly confirm or eliminate DNS as the root cause for microservice and application connectivity issues in Kubernetes.
  • Flow visualizer – Get a 360-degree view of a namespace or workload, including analytics around how security policies are being evaluated in real time and a volumetric representation of flows.

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