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Calico Delivers “Wow Effect” with 6x Faster Encryption than Any Other Solution… Confirms Leadership in Latest Independent CNI Benchmark Tests

Benchmark tests measure a repeatable set of quantifiable results that serve as a point of reference against which products and services can be compared. Since 2018, Alexis Ducastel, a Kubernetes CKA/CKAD and the founder of InfraBuilder, has been running independent benchmark tests of Kubernetes network plugins (CNI) over a 10Gbit/s network.

The latest benchmark in this periodic series of tests was published in September, and was based on CNI versions that were up-to-date as of August 2020. Only CNIs that can be set up with a single yaml file were tested and compared, and included the following:

  • Antrea v.0.9.1
  • Calico v3.16
  • Canal v3.16 (Flannel network + Calico Network Policies)
  • Cilium 1.8.2
  • Flannel 0.12.0
  • Kube-router latest (2020–08–25)
  • WeaveNet 2.7.0

We are thrilled to report that among all of the CNI’s tested, Calico was the clear winner, excelling in nearly every category and delivering superlative results which are summarized in the chart below. In fact, Calico is the CNI of choice in the primary use cases presented by the author in the report’s summary.

The exceptional performance of Calico encryption was described as having the “real wow effect” among all of Continue reading

Introducing Fast, Automated Packet Capture for Kubernetes

If you’re an SRE or on a DevOps team working with Kubernetes and containers, you’ve undoubtedly encountered network connectivity issues with your microservices and workloads. Something is broken and you’re under pressure to fix it, quickly. And so you begin the tedious, manual process of identifying the issue using the observability tools at your disposal…namely metrics and logs. However, there are instances where you may need to go beyond these tools to confirm a potential bug with applications running in your cluster.

Packet capture is a valuable technique for debugging microservices and application interaction in day-to-day operations and incident response. But generating pcap files to diagnose connectivity issues in Kubernetes clusters can be a frustrating exercise in a dynamic environment where hundreds, possibly thousands of pods are continually being created and destroyed.

First, you would need to identify on which node your workload is running, match your workload against its host-based interface, and then (with root access to the node) use tcpdump to generate a file for packet analysis. Then you would need to transfer the pcap files to your laptop and view them in Wireshark. If this doesn’t initially generate the information you need to identify and resolve the Continue reading

Introducing Data-in-Transit Encryption for Calico Enterprise

We’re excited to announce that Calico Enterprise, the leading solution for Kubernetes networking, security and observability in hybrid and multi-cloud environments, now includes encryption for data-in-transit.

Calico Enterprise is known for its rich set of network security implementations to protect container workloads by restricting traffic to and from trusted sources. These include, but are not limited to, implementing existing enterprise security controls in Kubernetes, managing egress access using DNS policy, extending firewalls to Kubernetes, and intrusion detection and threat defense. As the Kubernetes footprint expands, however, we’ve seen demand for an even greater in-depth approach to protecting sensitive data that falls under regulatory compliance mandates.

Not all threats originate from outside an organization. According to Gartner, nearly 75% of breaches happen due to insider behavior, from people within the organization such as employees, former employees, contractors or business associates, who have inside information concerning the organization’s security practices, data and computer systems. This level of exposure is unacceptable for organizations that have strict data protection and regulatory compliance requirements. No matter where a threat originates, encrypted data is unreadable to anyone except the legitimate keyholder, thus protecting the data should a breach occur.

Several regulatory standards Continue reading

Solving Microservices Connectivity Issues with Network Logs

The network is foundational to distributed application environments. A distributed application has multiple microservices, each running in a set of pods often located on different nodes. Problem areas in a distributed application can be in network layer connectivity (think network flow logs), or application resources unavailability (think metrics), or component unavailability (think tracing). Network layer connectivity can be impacted by various factors such as routing configuration, IP pool configuration, network policies, etc. When service A cannot talk to service B over the network, or an external application cannot connect to service A, network logs become an essential source of historical data needed for troubleshooting connectivity issues. Just like in a traditional network, network logs enable cluster administrators to monitor the Kubernetes microservices network.



Network Logs Can Address Multiple Use Cases

Network logs can be used to serve the unique requirements of different teams (DevOps, SecOps, Platform, Network). The value of Kubernetes network logs resides in the information collected, such as detailed context about endpoints (e.g., pods, labels, namespaces) and the network policies deployed in configuring the connection. Within the IT estate, DevOps, SecOps, Network and Platform teams can use network logs to address use cases that Continue reading

Extend Your Fortinet FortiManager to Kubernetes

Companies are leveraging the power of Kubernetes to accelerate the delivery of resilient and scalable applications to meet the pace of business. These applications are highly dynamic, making it operationally challenging to securely connect to databases or other resources protected behind firewalls.

Visibility into Kubernetes Infrastructure is Essential

Lack of visibility has compliance implications. Like any on-premises or cloud-based networked services, Kubernetes production containers must address both organizational and regulatory security requirements. If compliance teams can’t trace the history of incidents across the entire infrastructure, they can’t adequately satisfy their audit requirements. To enable the successful transition of Kubernetes pilot projects to enterprise-wide application rollouts, companies must be able to extend their existing enterprise security architecture into the Kubernetes environment.

In response, Fortinet and Tigera jointly developed a suite of Calico Enterprise solutions for the Fortinet Security Fabric that deliver both north-south and east-west visibility and help ensure consistent control, security, and compliance. Key among these integrations is the FortiManager Calico Kubernetes Controller, which enables Kubernetes cluster management from the FortiManager centralized management platform in the Fortinet Fabric Management Center.

View and Control the Kubernetes Environment with FortiManager

The FortiManager Calico Kubernetes Controller translates FortiManager policies into granular Kubernetes network 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

Tigera Announces Open-Source Calico for Windows and Collaboration with Microsoft

Tigera is pleased to announce that we have open-sourced Calico for Windows and made it immediately available for all to use for free. With the launch of open-source Calico for Windows, the vast ecosystem of Windows users now has unprecedented access to Kubernetes via the industry’s de-facto standard for Kubernetes networking and network security.

We have been collaborating with Microsoft and our joint customers over the past few years to bring Project Calico to the Windows platform, and have seen increasing demand for Windows nodes ever since the release of Kubernetes 1.14.  Most enterprises have a Windows footprint, and Windows workloads are increasingly being modernized and migrated to containers and orchestrated with Kubernetes. Enterprise users want to deploy a single solution for network security that works across both Linux and Windows workloads. Open-sourcing Calico for Windows provides those users with the best and only solution available, and for free.

“We are seeing an influx in interest in Windows Kubernetes workloads, as well as interest in securing those workloads. Calico has been a key means of deploying network security policies across both Windows and Linux platforms, however, their Windows support has been commercially licensed by Tigera until today,“ said Continue reading

Announcing eBPF Mode GA

A few days ago, our team released Calico v3.16. As part of that release, we have marked the eBPF dataplane as “GA”, signalling that it is now stable and ready for wider use by the community. In this blog post I want to take you through the process of moving from tech-preview to GA. If you’re not already familiar with eBPF and the benefits of the Calico eBPF dataplane, or if you want to see throughput and latency graphs compared to the standard Linux dataplane, I recommend that you read our introductory blog post. To recap, when compared with the standard Linux dataplane (based on iptables), the eBPF dataplane:

  • Scales to higher throughput, using less CPU per GBit
  • Natively supports Kubernetes services (without kube-proxy) in a way that:
  • Reduces latency
  • Preserves external client source IP addresses
  • Supports DSR (Direct Server Return) for reduced latency (and CPU usage)
  • Uses less CPU than kube-proxy to keep the dataplane in sync

For the tech preview release, our focus was on covering a broad set of features and proving out the performance of the new dataplane. However to meet the bar for GA, we had to:

Kubernetes Pod Networking on AWS: Getting There from Here

Thinking about running Kubernetes on AWS? To optimize your chances of success, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of Kubernetes pod networking. As applications grow to span multiple containers deployed across multiple clusters, operating them becomes more complex. Containers are grouped into pods, and those pods can be networked and scaled to meet your specific needs.

Kubernetes provides an open source API to manage this complexity, but one size doesn’t fit all. So you’ll want to get a handle on the different methods available to support your project. Then when you’re ready to move forward, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what will work best for you. If this sounds challenging, not to worry. Our short video explains Kubernetes pod networking on AWS and can answer many of the questions you may have. We’ve also included some great examples to help guide you.

Want to learn more about Calico Enterprise? Check out these resources.


Free Online Training
Access Live and On-Demand Kubernetes Training

Calico Enterprise – Free Trial
Network Security, Monitoring, and Troubleshooting
for Microservices Running on Kubernetes

The post Kubernetes Pod Networking on AWS: Getting There from Here appeared first on Tigera.

Achieving CI Velocity at Tigera using Semaphore

Tigera serves the networking and policy enforcement needs of more than 150,000 Kubernetes clusters across the globe and supports two product lines: open source Calico, and Calico Enterprise. Our development team is constantly running smoke, system, unit, and functional verification tests, as well as all our E2Es for these products. Our CI pipelines form an extremely important aspect of the overall IT infrastructure and enable us to test our products and catch bugs before release.

We eventually reached a point where we needed to adopt a complete continuous integration and delivery architecture to maintain our development velocity, from code push to Kubernetes. We decided to adopt the hosted CI solution from Semaphore as an integral part of our workflow. Our test rigs on Semaphore ensure that the product is tested on three Kubernetes versions on seven different platforms, including Kubeadm, GKE, EKS, AKS, OpenShift, Rancher, and Kops. As a result, a typical pipeline can have up to 100 jobs distributed over various stages. We also have different pipelines to test our code and build Docker images for it.

Here’s a run for one of the components of our open source offering: All the Continue reading

The New Model for Network Security: Zero Trust

The old security model, which followed the “trust but verify” method, is broken. That model granted excessive implicit trust that attackers abused, putting the organization at risk from malicious internal actors and allowing unauthorized outsiders wide-reaching access once inside. The new model, Zero Trust networking, presents an approach where the default posture is to deny access. Access is granted based on the identity of workloads, plus other attributes and context (like time/date, source, destination), and the appropriate trust required is offered at the time.

Calico Enterprise Zero Trust Network Security is one of the most effective ways for organizations to control access to their Kubernetes networks, applications, and data. It combines a wide range of preventative techniques including identity verification, least privilege controls, layered defense-in-depth, and encryption of data-in-transit to deter threats and limit access in the event of a breach. Kubernetes is particularly vulnerable to the spread of malware as a result of the open nature of cluster networking. By default, any pod can connect to any other pod, even across namespaces. Without a strong security framework, it’s very difficult to detect malware or its spread within a Kubernetes cluster.

Zero Trust policies rely on real-time visibility into workloads, Continue reading

Mitigating the Risks of Instance Metadata in AWS EKS

Compromising a pod in a Kubernetes cluster can have disastrous consequences on resources in an AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) account if access to the Instance Metadata service is not explicitly blocked. The Instance Metadata service is an AWS API listening on a link-local IP address. Only accessible from EC2 instances, it enables the retrieval of metadata that is used to configure or manage an instance. Although you can only access instance metadata and user data from within the instance itself, the data is not protected by authentication or cryptographic methods.

A recent blog described a scenario where an attacker compromised a pod in an EKS cluster by exploiting a vulnerability in the web application it was running, thus enabling the attacker to enumerate resources in the cluster and in the associated AWS account. This scenario was simulated by running a pod and attaching to a shell inside it.

By querying the Instance Metadata service from the compromised pod, the attacker was able to access the service and retrieve temporary credentials for the identity and access management (IAM) role assigned to the EC2 instances acting as Kubernetes worker nodes. At that point, the attacker was able to pursue multiple exploits, Continue reading

Security Policy Self-Service for Developers and DevOps Teams

In today’s economy, digital assets (applications, data, and processes) determine business success. Cloud-native applications are designed to iterate rapidly, creating rapid time-to-value for businesses. Organizations that are able to rapidly build and deploy their applications have significant competitive advantage. To this end, more and more developers are creating and leading DevOps teams that not only drive application development, but also take on operational responsibilities formerly owned by platform and security teams.

What’s the Value of a Self-Service Approach?

Cloud-native applications are often designed and deployed as microservices. The development team that owns the microservice understands the behavior of the service, and is in the best position to define and manage the network security of their microservice. A self-service model enables developers to follow a simple workflow and generate network policies with minimal effort. When problems occur with. application connectivity, developers should be able to diagnose connectivity issues and resolve them quickly without having to depend on resources outside of the team.

Developers and DevOps teams can also take a leading role in managing security, which is an integral part of cloud-native applications. There are two aspects to security in the context of Kubernetes.

Enforcing Enterprise Security Controls in Kubernetes using Calico Enterprise

Hybrid cloud infrastructures run critical business resources and are subject to some of the strictest network security controls. Irrespective of the industry and resource types, these controls broadly fall into three categories.

  1. Segmenting environments (Dev, Staging, Prod)
  2. Enforcing zones (DMZ, Trusted, etc.)
  3. Compliance requirements (GDPR, PCI DSS)

Workloads (pods) running on Kubernetes are ephemeral in nature, and IP-based controls are no longer effective. The challenge is to enforce the organizational security controls on the workloads and Kubernetes nodes themselves. Customers need the following capabilities:

  • Ability to implement security controls both globally and on a per-app basis: Global controls help enforce segmentation across the cluster, and work well when the workloads are classified into different environments and/or zones using labels. As long as the labels are in place, these controls will work for any new workloads.
  • Generate alerts if security controls are tampered with: Anyone with valid permissions can make changes to the controls. There is a possibility that these controls can be modified without proper authorization or even with a malicious intent to bypass the security. Hence, it is important to monitor changes to the policies.
  • Produce an audit log showing changes to security controls over time: This is Continue reading

Enabling Microsegmentation with Calico Enterprise

Microsegmentation is a security technique that is used to isolate workloads from one another. Microsegmentation limits the blast radius of a data breach by making network security more granular. Should a breach occur, the damage is confined to the affected segment.  Application workloads have evolved over time – starting from bare metal, to a mix of on-prem and cloud virtual machines and containers. Similarly, the pace of change has dramatically increased, both in terms of release updates and auto-scaling.

Enforcement of network security has also evolved over time, with organizations using a mix of physical/virtual firewalls and platform-specific security groups to manage network security. This creates the following challenges:

  1. Management Overhead – Organizations have to maintain different products, teams and workflows to manage and operate segmentation across containers, VMs and bare metal. The diagram above shows how different platforms may require different approaches to segmentation, thereby creating a burden on the operations team.
  2. Lack of Cloud-Native Performance – With hybrid cloud becoming a norm, products built for traditional workloads can neither scale nor enforce security for cloud-native deployments with minimal latency.

Calico Enterprise provides a common policy language for segmentation that works across all of your hybrid cloud and Continue reading

Announcing the Tigera – Nutanix Partnership

Today we are pleased to announce our partnership with Nutanix, creators of the industry’s most popular hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) technology. HCI combines datacenter hardware using locally-attached storage resources with intelligent software to create flexible building blocks that replace legacy infrastructure consisting of separate servers, storage networks, and storage arrays.

Networking and securing microservices running Kubernetes and securely accessing external resources can be challenging, often requiring the use of overlay networks and NATs. At scale, this becomes extremely complex. Cloud-native enterprises seeking a consistent container networking experience across multiple cloud environments have adopted Calico, the de facto standard in open-source Kubernetes networking technologies.

Nutanix is now offering Calico as a component of Karbon, Nutanix’s enterprise Kubernetes management solution that enables turnkey provisioning, operations, and lifecycle management of Kubernetes. With this integration, Karbon users can now take advantage of simplified Kubernetes networking and production-grade network security based on Calico’s native tooling, providing scalable throughput that meets the performance demands of Karbon users.

“Karbon, now with Calico embedded, gives our customers significantly more powerful networking and network security capabilities while preserving the simplicity of provisioning and operating a Kubernetes cluster,” said Greg Muscarella, VP of Products at Nutanix. “Calico eliminates Continue reading

A Look at the New Calico eBPF Dataplane

Calico was designed from the ground up with a pluggable dataplane architecture. The Calico 3.13 release introduced an exciting new eBPF (extended Berkeley Packet Filter) dataplane targeted at those ready to adopt newer kernel versions and wanting to push the Linux kernel’s latest networking capabilities to the limit. In addition to improved throughput and latency performance compared to the standard Linux networking data plane, Calico’s eBPF data plane also includes native support for Kubernetes services without the need to run kube-proxy. One of the ways Calico’s eBPF dataplane realizes these improvements is through source IP preservation and Direct Server Return (DSR)

Kube-proxy and Source IP

The application of Network Address Translation (NAT) by kube-proxy to incoming network connections to Kubernetes services (e.g. via a service node port) is a frequently encountered friction point with Kubernetes networking. NAT has the unfortunate side effect of removing the original client source IP address from incoming traffic. When this occurs, Kubernetes network policies can’t restrict incoming traffic from specific external clients. By the time the traffic reaches the pod it no longer has the original client IP address. For some applications, knowing the source IP address is desirable or required. For example, Continue reading

Now GA: Data-in-Transit Encryption in Calico v3.15

We’re excited to announce that the latest release of Calico includes encryption for data-in-transit. Calico is the open source networking and network security solution for containers, virtual machines, and host-based workloads, offering connectivity and security for container workloads.

One of Calico’s best-known security features is its implementation of Kubernetes Network Policy, providing a way to secure container workloads by restricting traffic to and from trusted sources. This enables the traffic to be controlled, however, the traffic itself had previously remained vulnerable to interception.

A common solution to this problem is to encrypt traffic at the application layer using protocols like Transport Layer Security (TLS). Traffic can also be encrypted at a lower infrastructure level using IPsec. However, these approaches introduce an additional layer of complexity. Calico avoids that complexity by utilizing WireGuard to implement data-in-transit encryption.

WireGuard is run as a module inside the Linux kernel and provides better performance and lower power consumption than IPsec and OpenVPN tunneling protocols. The Linux version of WireGuard reached a stable production release in March and was introduced as a tech preview in the 3.14 release of Project Calico. We are pleased to announce that WireGuard encryption is now generally available with Continue reading

Kubernetes Security: Lateral Movement Detection and Defense

What is Lateral Movement?

Lateral movement refers to the techniques that a cyber-attacker uses, after gaining initial access, to move deeper into a network in search of sensitive data and other high-value assets. Lateral movement techniques are widely used in sophisticated cyber-attacks such as advanced persistent threats (APTs). An adversary uses these techniques to access other hosts from a compromised system and get access to sensitive resources, such as mail systems, shared folders, and legitimate credentials, ultimately gaining access to the identified target. Lateral movement techniques enable a threat actor to avoid detection and retain access over an extended dwell time of weeks, or even months, after the initial breach.

What are the Stages of Lateral Movement?

There are three primary stages of lateral movement: reconnaissance, credential/privilege gathering, and gaining access to other resources in the network.

How Does an Adversary Gain Unauthorized Access to a Kubernetes Cluster?

In a Kubernetes cluster, an attacker will gain initial access by compromising a pod. Once the pod is compromised, there are three main areas where the attacker can begin reconnaissance and move through the lateral movement stages to learn more about the cluster: the cloud provider metadata service, the pod networking and Continue reading

Everything You Need to Know about Kubernetes Services Networking

As a leading, open-source multi-cluster orchestration platform, Rancher lets operations teams deploy, manage and secure enterprise Kubernetes. Rancher also gives users a set of CNI options to choose from, including open-source Project Calico. Calico provides native Layer 3 routing capability for Kubernetes pods which simplifies the networking architecture, increases networking performance and provides a rich network policy model makes it easy to lock down communication so the only traffic that flows is the traffic you want to flow.

Calico utilizes Kubernetes Services, an abstraction layer which defines a logical set of pods and enables load balancing and service discovery for those pods. Services are one of the key Kubernetes primitives you need to understand to glue microservices together and expose your applications outside of the cluster. The Service resource provides an abstract way to expose an application running on a set of Pods as a network service. Sounds simple, but what’s the difference between a Cluster IP, Node Port, and Load Balancer service? And how do all these abstractions translate to real under the covers networking behavior?

Here is a short 7-minute video that explains all this and more!

In the video you’ll learn:

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