Tips to secure your Tanzu application platform workloads

Reading Time: 5 mins


The Tanzu Application Platform is a cloud-native application platform that enables organizations to build, deploy, and manage modern applications efficiently. While it offers numerous benefits in terms of scalability, flexibility, and productivity, it is essential to address the security aspects of the platform. Securing workloads in the Tanzu Application Platform is crucial to protect applications, data, and infrastructure from potential threats. Here are several key steps and best practices to enhance the security of TAP workloads:

Examples of security breach

While Kubernetes provides robust security features, it’s not immune to security breaches. Here are three notable security breach examples in Kubernetes:

  1. Tesla’s Cryptocurrency Mining: In 2018, attackers compromised Tesla’s Kubernetes cluster by exploiting a vulnerability in the Kubernetes dashboard. They gained unauthorized access to the cluster and used its resources to mine cryptocurrency, causing performance issues. This breach highlighted the importance of securing the Kubernetes dashboard and regularly updating Kubernetes components to address known vulnerabilities.
  2. Verkada’s Camera System Breach: In 2021, Verkada, a cloud-based video surveillance company, experienced a security breach where hackers gained unauthorized access to thousands of their cameras. The breach was attributed to misconfiguration in their Kubernetes cluster, which allowed the attackers to bypass authentication and gain administrative access. This incident highlighted the significance of implementing secure configurations and access controls within Kubernetes clusters.
  3. Shopify’s Data Exposure: In 2020, Shopify, an e-commerce platform, disclosed a security incident where two rogue employees accessed customer data from Shopify merchants. The breach involved accessing and exfiltrating data from Kubernetes clusters. This breach underscored the importance of implementing strong access controls, monitoring mechanisms, and user activity logging to detect and respond to suspicious activities within Kubernetes clusters.

My 9 tips to secure TAP

  1. Strong Identity and Access Management (IAM) 
  • Implement robust authentication and authorization mechanisms.
  • Utilize strong passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), Single Sign-On (SSO), or certificate-based authentication.
  • Employ role-based access control (RBAC) to ensure appropriate access privileges for users and services.

    2.  Container Security

  • Regularly update container images with the latest security patches and libraries.
  • Use OOTB test and scan to detect any image vulnerabilities using Grype or tools like CB, snyk, prisma scanner, trivy etc ..
  • Employ runtime protection mechanisms like image signing, image verification, and container runtime security solutions.
  • Ensure proper isolation between containers running on the same host using namespaces, resource quota.
  • Safely manage sensitive information like API keys, database credentials, or encryption keys within containers. Avoid hardcoding secrets in container images or source code.

     3.  Network Security

  • Use network segmentation to isolate workloads and limit communication between containers.
  • Implement firewall rules and network policies to control inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Use service mesh technologies like TSM (Istio) that provides advanced network security features like mTLS, traffic encryption and fine-grained access controls.
  • Utilize network security tools like intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS) or network firewalls.
  • Monitoring network traffic and detecting potential security threats using monitoring and observability tools like Prometheus, Grafana and VMware Aria Operations for Applications.
  • Enforcing secure communication between applications and services using encryption protocols like Transport Layer Security (TLS)

     4.  Secure Application Development

  • Follow secure coding practices and frameworks like OWASP Top 10 to mitigate common vulnerabilities.
  • Regularly conduct security code reviews and vulnerability assessments.
  • Perform dynamic application security testing (DAST) and static application security testing (SAST) for early vulnerability detection.
  • For source code scanning use Grype to detect any vulnerabilities and integrate metadata store with external DB for auditing.
  • Promote security awareness and provide training to developers on secure coding practices, common vulnerabilities, and mitigation techniques
  • Validate and sanitize all user input to prevent common security vulnerabilities like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and command injection attacks

     5.  Logging, Monitoring, and Auditing

  • Implement centralized logging and monitoring to capture application and system logs.
  • Utilize security information and event management (SIEM) solutions to detect and respond to security incidents.
  • Enable auditing and logging for actions performed within the Tanzu platform.
  • Define and monitor key security metrics to identify anomalies or suspicious activities.

     6.  Data Protection

  • Encrypt sensitive data at rest using technologies like volume-level encryption or database encryption.
  • Utilize key management solutions to securely manage encryption keys.
  • Implement proper data classification and access controls based on sensitivity levels.
  • Regularly backup data and test data restoration processes for disaster recovery.

    7.  Patch Management

  • Establish a comprehensive patch management process for Tanzu components and underlying infrastructure.
  • Regularly apply security patches and updates to address known vulnerabilities.
  • Monitor vendor security advisories and subscribe to relevant security mailing lists for timely information.

    8.  Incident Response and Recovery

  • Develop an incident response plan outlining roles, responsibilities, and response procedures.
  • Conduct regular security drills and tabletop exercises to test incident response capabilities.
  • Define recovery processes to restore services and applications in case of a security incident.
  • Continuously improve incident response processes based on lessons learned from previous incidents.

     9.  Ongoing Security Monitoring and Testing

  • Perform regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to identify and address security weaknesses.
  • Implement runtime security monitoring tools to detect anomalous behavior or malicious activities.
  • Stay updated with the latest security best practices and industry trends for Tanzu and underlying technologies.
  • Engage third-party security experts for independent security assessments and audits.

Remember, security is a continuous process, and it’s important to stay updated with the latest security best practices, monitor emerging threats, and promptly apply security patches and updates.