Manoj Ahuje

Author Archives: Manoj Ahuje

How Calico Cloud’s runtime defense mitigates Kubernetes MITM vulnerability CVE-2020-8554

Since the release of CVE-2020-8554 on GitHub this past December, the vulnerability has received widespread attention from industry media and the cloud security community. This man-in-the-middle (MITM) vulnerability affects Kubernetes pods and underlying hosts, and all Kubernetes versions—including future releases—are vulnerable.

Despite this, there is currently no patch for the issue. While Kubernetes did suggest a fix, it only applies to external IPs using an admission webhook controller or an OPA gatekeeper integration, leaving the door open for attackers to exploit other attack vectors (e.g. internet, same VPC cluster, within the cluster). We previously outlined these in this post.

Suggested fixes currently on the market

Looking at the Kubernetes security market, there are currently a few security solutions that attempt to address CVE-2020-8554. Most of these solutions fall into one or two of three categories:

  1. Detection (using Kubernetes audit logs)
  2. Prevention (using admission webhook controller)
  3. Runtime defense (inline defense)

A few of the solutions rely on preventing vulnerable deployments using an OPA gatekeeper integration; these solutions alert users when externalIP (possibly loadBalancerIP) is deployed in their cluster configurations. Most solutions, however, present a dual strategy with a focus on prevention and detection. They use an admission controller for Continue reading

TeamTNT: Latest TTPs targeting Kubernetes

In April 2020, MalwareHunterTeam found a number of suspicious files in an open directory and posted about them in a series of tweets. Trend Micro later confirmed that these files were part of the first cryptojacking malware by TeamTNT, a cybercrime group that specializes in attacking the cloud—typically using a malicious Docker image—and has proven itself to be both resourceful and creative.

Since this first attack, TeamTNT has continuously evolved its tactics and added capabilities to expand and capture more available cloud attack surfaces. They started with targeting exposed Docker instances and quickly added support for different C2 mechanisms, encryption, DDoS, evasion, persistence and more. Now, their latest variant is targeting the most popular container orchestrator, Kubernetes. Let’s take a closer look.

Evolving Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs)

TeamTNT’s initial attack targeted an exposed, unprotected Docker API on the internet in order to run an Alpine Linux container. Once the container started running on the unprotected Docker API, a series of scripts were downloaded to facilitate the installation of a Monero cryptominer (to carry out scanning and cleaning activities). A notable script used in the attack was <>, which removed a bit of technically advanced Kinsing malware. Kinsing is Continue reading

New Vulnerability Exposes Kubernetes to Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: Here’s How to Mitigate

What is CVE-2020-8554?

A few weeks ago a solution engineer discovered a critical flaw in Kubernetes architecture and design, and announced that a “security issue was discovered with Kubernetes affecting multi-tenant clusters. If a potential attacker can already create or edit services and pods, then they may be able to intercept traffic from other pods (or nodes) in the cluster.” If a hostile user can create a ClusterIP service and set the spec.externalIP field, they can intercept traffic to that IP. In addition, if a user can patch the status of a LoadBalancer service, which is a privileged operation, they can also intercept traffic by exploiting the vulnerability.

Who is Affected?

All Kubernetes versions including the latest release v1.20 are vulnerable to this attack, with the most significant impact being to multi-tenant clusters. Multi-tenant clusters that grant tenants the ability to create and update services and pods are most vulnerable. Since this is a major design flaw with no fix in sight, it becomes imperative to understand and mitigate this CVE.

Technical Overview

The man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack starts with step 1 (shown in the diagram, below). A workload sends a connection request to legitimate IP 4.4. Continue reading

Kubernetes Q3-2020: Threats, Exploits and TTPs

Kubernetes has become the world’s most popular container orchestration system and is taking the enterprise ecosystem by storm. At this disruptive moment it’s useful to look back and review the security threats that have evolved in this dynamic landscape. Identifying these threats and exploits and being a proactive learner may save you a lot of time and effort…as well as help you retain your reputation in the long run. In this blog we’ll look at some critical security issues faced by the Kubernetes ecosystem in the recent past, and examine the top tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) used by attackers.

Major Vulnerabilities

Everyday, new Kubernetes ecosystem Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) are published. Let’s take a closer look at some of the cloud shakers…

CVE-2020-14386: Using privilege escalation vulnerability to escape the pod
A flaw was found in the Linux kernel before 5.9-rc4. Memory corruption can be exploited to gain root privileges from unprivileged processes.

We received notification that some instances in our cloud infrastructure are vulnerable to this CVE. When we took a closer look, it appeared to be a typical privilege escalation vulnerability using AF sockets on hosts. Unprivileged users with CAP_NET_RAW permissions can send packets Continue reading

How to Efficiently Detect Domain Generation Algorithms (DGA) in Kubernetes with Calico Enterprise


2020 is predicted to be an exciting year with more organizations adopting Kubernetes than ever before. As critical workloads with sensitive data migrate to the cloud, we can expect to encounter various Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) targeting that environment.

Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA) – What is It?

DGA is a technique that fuels malware attacks. DGA by itself can’t harm you. But it’s a proven technique that enables modern malware to evade security products and counter-measures. Attackers use DGA so they can quickly switch the command-and-control (also called C2 or C&C) servers that they’re using for malware attacks. Security software vendors act quickly to block and take down malicious domains hard-coded in malware. So, attackers used DGA specifically to counter these actions. Now DGA has become one of the top phone-home mechanisms for malware authors to reach C2 servers. This poses a significant threat to cloud security.

Mitre defines DGA as “The use of algorithms in malware to periodically generate a large number of domain names which function as rendezvous points for malware command and control servers”. Let’s examine this definition more closely. DGA at its core generates domains by concatenating pseudo-random strings and a TLD (e.g. .com, . Continue reading

Five Ways to Quickly Uncover Malicious Activity and Protect Your Kubernetes Workloads

Organizations are rapidly moving more and more mission-critical applications to Kubernetes (K8s) and the cloud to reduce costs, achieve faster deployment times, and improve operational efficiencies, but are struggling to achieve a strong security posture because of their inability to apply conventional security practices in the cloud environment. Commitment to cloud security grows, but security safeguards are not keeping up with the increased use of the various cloud platforms. Regardless of the cloud provider or service model, individual organizations are ultimately responsible for the security of their data.

According to a 2019 Ponemon Institute Global Cloud Data Security Study, 70 percent of respondents find it more complex to manage privacy and data protection regulations in a cloud environment than on-premises. Meanwhile, the percent of corporate data stored in the cloud environment has grown from an average of 30 percent in 2015 to an average of 48 percent in 2019. In the same study, 56 percent of respondents say the use of cloud resources increases compliance risk.

The downside associated with a security breach is severe for any organization, but especially so for companies in regulated environments like financial services, healthcare and telecommunications. Now there’s a new and highly effective way Continue reading