Use Pod Security Policies in UCP

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

Pod Security Policies (PSPs) are cluster-level resources which are enabled by default in Docker Universal Control Plane (UCP) 3.2. See Pod Security Policy for an explanation of this Kubernetes concept.

There are two default PSPs in UCP: a privileged policy and an unprivileged policy. Administrators of the cluster can enforce additional policies and apply them to users and teams for further control of what runs in the Kubernetes cluster. This guide describes the two default policies, and provides two example use cases for custom policies.

Kubernetes Role Based Access Control (RBAC)

To interact with PSPs, a user will need to be granted access to the PodSecurityPolicy object in Kubernetes RBAC. If the user is a UCP Admin, then the user can already manipulate PSPs. A normal user can interact with policies if a UCP admin creates the following ClusterRole and ClusterRoleBinding:

$ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRole
metadata:
  name: psp-admin
rules:
- apiGroups:
  - extensions
  resources:
  - podsecuritypolicies
  verbs:
  - create
  - delete
  - get
  - list
  - patch
  - update
EOF

$ USER=jeff

$ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRoleBinding
metadata:
  name: psp-admin:$USER
roleRef:
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: psp-admin
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
subjects:
- kind: User
  name: $USER
EOF

Default pod security policies in UCP

By default, there are two policies defined within UCP, privileged and unprivileged. Additionally, there is a ClusterRoleBinding that gives every single user access to the privileged policy. This is for backward compatibility after an upgrade. By default, any user can create any pod.

Note: PSPs do not override security defaults built into the UCP RBAC engine for Kubernetes pods. These Security defaults prevent non-admin users from mounting host paths into pods or starting privileged pods.

$ kubectl get podsecuritypolicies
NAME           PRIV    CAPS   SELINUX    RUNASUSER   FSGROUP    SUPGROUP   READONLYROOTFS   VOLUMES
privileged     true    *      RunAsAny   RunAsAny    RunAsAny   RunAsAny   false            *
unprivileged   false          RunAsAny   RunAsAny    RunAsAny   RunAsAny   false            *

The specification for the privileged policy is as follows:

  allowPrivilegeEscalation: true
  allowedCapabilities:
  - '*'
  fsGroup:
    rule: RunAsAny
  hostIPC: true
  hostNetwork: true
  hostPID: true
  hostPorts:
  - max: 65535
    min: 0
  privileged: true
  runAsUser:
    rule: RunAsAny
  seLinux:
    rule: RunAsAny
  supplementalGroups:
    rule: RunAsAny
  volumes:
  - '*'

The specification for the unprivileged policy is as follows:

  allowPrivilegeEscalation: false
  allowedHostPaths:
  - pathPrefix: /dev/null
    readOnly: true
  fsGroup:
    rule: RunAsAny
  hostPorts:
  - max: 65535
    min: 0
  runAsUser:
    rule: RunAsAny
  seLinux:
    rule: RunAsAny
  supplementalGroups:
    rule: RunAsAny
  volumes:
  - '*'

Use the unprivileged policy

Note: When following this guide, if the prompt $ follows admin, the action needs to be performed by a user with access to create pod security policies as discussed in the Kubernetes RBAC section. If the prompt $ follows user, the UCP account does not need access to the PSP object in Kubernetes. The user only needs the ability to create Kubernetes pods.

To switch users from the privileged policy to the unprivileged policy (or any custom policy), an admin must first remove the ClusterRoleBinding that links all users and service accounts to the privileged policy.

admin $ kubectl delete clusterrolebindings ucp:all:privileged-psp-role

When the ClusterRoleBinding is removed, cluster admins can still deploy pods, and these pods are deployed with the privileged policy. But users or service accounts are unable to deploy pods, because Kubernetes does not know what pod security policy to apply. Note cluster admins would not be able to deploy deployments, see using the unprivileged policy in a deployment for more details.

user $ kubectl apply -f pod.yaml
Error from server (Forbidden): error when creating "pod.yaml": pods "demopod" is forbidden: unable to validate against any pod security policy: []

Therefore, to allow a user or a service account to use the unprivileged policy (or any custom policy), you must create a RoleBinding to link that user or team with the alternative policy. For the unprivileged policy, a ClusterRole has already been defined, but has not been attached to a user.

# List Existing Cluster Roles
admin $ kubectl get clusterrole | grep psp
privileged-psp-role                                                    3h47m
unprivileged-psp-role                                                  3h47m

# Define which user to apply the ClusterRole too
admin $ USER=jeff

# Create a RoleBinding linking the ClusterRole to the User 
admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
kind: RoleBinding
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
metadata:
  name: unprivileged-psp-role:$USER
  namespace: default
roleRef:
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: unprivileged-psp-role
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
subjects:
- kind: User
  name: $USER
  namespace: default
EOF

In the following example, when user “jeff” deploys a basic nginx pod, the unprivileged policy then gets applied.

user $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: demopod
spec:
  containers:
    - name:  demopod
      image: nginx
EOF

user $ kubectl get pods
NAME      READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
demopod   1/1     Running   0          10m

To check which PSP is applied to a pod, you can get a detailed view of the pod spec using the -o yaml or -o json syntax with kubectl. You can parse JSON output with jq.

user $ kubectl get pods demopod -o json | jq -r '.metadata.annotations."kubernetes.io/psp"'
unprivileged

Using the unprivileged policy in a deployment

Note: In a most use cases a Pod is not actually scheduled by a user. When creating Kubernetes objects such as Deployments or Daemonsets the pods are being scheduled by a service account or a controller.

If you have disabled the privileged PSP policy, and created a RoleBinding to map a user to a new PSP policy, Kubernetes objects like Deployments and Daemonsets will not be able to deploy pods. This is because Kubernetes objects, like Deployments, use a Service Account to schedule pods, instead of the user that created the Deployment.

user $ kubectl get deployments
NAME    READY   UP-TO-DATE   AVAILABLE   AGE
nginx   0/1     0            0           88s

user $ kubectl get replicasets
NAME              DESIRED   CURRENT   READY   AGE
nginx-cdcdd9f5c   1         0         0       92s

user $ kubectl describe replicasets nginx-cdcdd9f5c
...
  Warning  FailedCreate  48s (x15 over 2m10s)  replicaset-controller  Error creating: pods "nginx-cdcdd9f5c-" is forbidden: unable to validate against any pod security policy: []

For this deployment to be able to schedule pods, the service account defined wthin the deployment specification needs to be associated with a PSP policy. If a service account is not defined within a deployment spec, the default service account in a namespace is used.

This is the case in the deployment output above, there is no service account defined, therefore a Rolebinding to grant the default service account in the default namespace to use PSP policy is needed.

An example RoleBinding to associate the unprivileged PSP policy in UCP with the defaut service account in the default namespace is:

admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
kind: RoleBinding
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
metadata:
  name: unprivileged-psp-role:defaultsa
  namespace: default
roleRef:
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: unprivileged-psp-role
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
subjects:
- kind: ServiceAccount
  name: default
  namespace: default
EOF

This should allow the replica set to schedule pods within the cluster:

user $ kubectl get deployments
NAME    READY   UP-TO-DATE   AVAILABLE   AGE
nginx   1/1     1            1           6m11s

user $ kubectl get replicasets
NAME              DESIRED   CURRENT   READY   AGE
nginx-cdcdd9f5c   1         1         1       6m16s

user $ kubectl get pods
NAME                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
nginx-cdcdd9f5c-9kknc   1/1     Running   0          6m17s

user $ kubectl get pod nginx-cdcdd9f5c-9kknc  -o json | jq -r '.metadata.annotations."kubernetes.io/psp"'
unprivileged

Applying the unprivileged PSP policy to a namespace

A common use case when using PSPs is to apply a particular policy to one namespace, but not configure the rest. An example could be where an admin might be want to configure keep the privileged policy for all of the infrastructure namespaces but configure the unprivileged policy for the end user namespaces. This can be done with the following example:

In this demonstration cluster, infrastructure workloads are deployed in the kube-system and the monitoring namespaces. End User workloads are deployed in the default namespace.

admin $ kubectl get namespaces
NAME              STATUS   AGE
default           Active   3d
kube-node-lease   Active   3d
kube-public       Active   3d
kube-system       Active   3d
monitoring        Active   3d

First, delete the ClusterRoleBinding that is applied by default in UCP.

admin $ kubectl delete clusterrolebindings ucp:all:privileged-psp-role

Next, create a new ClusterRoleBinding that will enforce the privileged PSP policy for all users and service accounts in the kube-system and monitoring namespaces, where in this example cluster the infrastructure workloads are deployed.

admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRoleBinding
metadata:
  name: ucp:infrastructure:privileged-psp-role
roleRef:
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: privileged-psp-role
subjects:
- kind: Group
  name: system:authenticated:kube-system
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
- kind: Group
  name: system:authenticated:monitoring
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
- kind: Group
  name: system:serviceaccounts:kube-system
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
- kind: Group
  name: system:serviceaccounts:monitoring
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
EOF

Finally, create a ClusterRoleBinding to allow all users who deploy pods and deployments in the default namespace to use the unprivileged policy.

admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRoleBinding
metadata:
  name: ucp:default:unprivileged-psp-role
roleRef:
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: unprivileged-psp-role
subjects:
- kind: Group
  name: system:authenticated:default
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
- kind: Group
  name: system:serviceaccounts:default
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
EOF

Now when the user deploys in the default namespace they will get the unprivileged policy but when they deploy in the monitoring namespace they will get the privileged policy.

user $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: demopod
  namespace: monitoring
spec:
  containers:
    - name:  demopod
      image: nginx
---
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: demopod
  namespace: default
spec:
  containers:
    - name:  demopod
      image: nginx
EOF
user $ kubectl get pods demopod -n monitoring -o json | jq -r '.metadata.annotations."kubernetes.io/psp"'
privileged

user $ kubectl get pods demopod -n default -o json | jq -r '.metadata.annotations."kubernetes.io/psp"'
unprivileged

Reenable the privileged PSP for all users

To revert to the default UCP configuration, in which all UCP users and service accounts use the privileged PSP, recreate the default ClusterRoleBinding:

admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRoleBinding
metadata:
  name: ucp:all:privileged-psp-role
roleRef:
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: privileged-psp-role
subjects:
- kind: Group
  name: system:authenticated
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
- kind: Group
  name: system:serviceaccounts
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
EOF

PSP examples

UCP admins or users with the correct permissions can create their own custom policies and attach them to UCP users or teams. This section highlights two potential use cases for custom PSPs. These two uses cases can be combined into the same policy. Note there are many more use cases with PSPs not covered in this document.

  • Preventing containers that start as the Root User

  • Applying default seccomp policies to all Kubernetes Pods.

For the full list of parameters that can be configured in a PSP, see the Kubernetes documentation.

Example 1: Use a PSP to enforce “no root users”

A common use case for PSPs is to prevent a user from deploying containers that run with the root user. A PSP can be created to enforce this with the parameter MustRunAsNonRoot.

admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: PodSecurityPolicy
metadata:  
  name: norootcontainers
spec:
  allowPrivilegeEscalation: false
  allowedHostPaths:
  - pathPrefix: /dev/null
    readOnly: true
  fsGroup:
    rule: RunAsAny
  hostPorts:
  - max: 65535
    min: 0
  runAsUser:
    rule: MustRunAsNonRoot
  seLinux:
    rule: RunAsAny
  supplementalGroups:
    rule: RunAsAny
  volumes:
  - '*'
EOF

If not done previously, the admin user must remove the ClusterRoleBinding for the privileged policy, and then add a new ClusterRole and RoleBinding to link a user to the new norootcontainers policy.

# Delete the default privileged ClusterRoleBinding
admin $ kubectl delete clusterrolebindings ucp:all:privileged-psp-role

# Create a ClusterRole Granting Access to the Policy
admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRole
metadata:
  name: norootcontainers-psp-role
rules:
- apiGroups:
  - policy
  resourceNames:
  - norootcontainers
  resources:
  - podsecuritypolicies
  verbs:
  - use
EOF

# Define a User to attach to the No Root Policy
admin $ USER=jeff

# Create a RoleBinding attaching the User to the ClusterRole
admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
kind: RoleBinding
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
metadata:
  name: norootcontainers-psp-role:$USER
  namespace: default
roleRef:
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: norootcontainers-psp-role
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
subjects:
- kind: User
  name: $USER
  namespace: default
EOF

If a user tries to deploy a pod that runs as a root user, such as the upstream nginx image, this should fail with a ConfigError.

user $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: demopod
spec:
  containers:
    - name:  demopod
      image: nginx
EOF

user $ kubectl get pods
NAME      READY   STATUS                       RESTARTS   AGE
demopod   0/1     CreateContainerConfigError   0          37s

user $ kubectl describe pods demopod
<..>
 Error: container has runAsNonRoot and image will run as root

Example 2: Use a PSP to apply seccomp policies

A second use case for PSPs is to prevent a user from deploying containers without a seccomp policy. By default, Kubernetes does not apply a seccomp policy to pods, so a default seccomp policy could be applied for all pods by a PSP.

admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: PodSecurityPolicy
metadata:  
  name: seccomppolicy
  annotations:
    seccomp.security.alpha.kubernetes.io/allowedProfileNames: 'docker/default'
    seccomp.security.alpha.kubernetes.io/defaultProfileName:  'docker/default'
spec:
  allowPrivilegeEscalation: false
  allowedHostPaths:
  - pathPrefix: /dev/null
    readOnly: true
  fsGroup:
    rule: RunAsAny
  hostPorts:
  - max: 65535
    min: 0
  runAsUser:
    rule: RunAsAny
  seLinux:
    rule: RunAsAny
  supplementalGroups:
    rule: RunAsAny
  volumes:
  - '*'
EOF

If not done previously, the admin user must remove the ClusterRoleBinding for the privileged policy, and then add a new ClusterRole and RoleBinding to link a user to the new applyseccompprofile policy.

# Delete the default privileged ClusterRoleBinding
admin $ kubectl delete clusterrolebindings ucp:all:privileged-psp-role

# Create a ClusterRole Granting Access to the Policy
admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: ClusterRole
metadata:
  name: applyseccompprofile-psp-role
rules:
- apiGroups:
  - policy
  resourceNames:
  - seccomppolicy
  resources:
  - podsecuritypolicies
  verbs:
  - use
EOF

# Define a User to attach to the No Root Policy
admin $ USER=jeff

# Create a RoleBinding attaching the User to the ClusterRole
admin $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
kind: RoleBinding
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
metadata:
  name: applyseccompprofile-psp-role:$USER
  namespace: default
roleRef:
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: applyseccompprofile-psp-role
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
subjects:
- kind: User
  name: $USER
  namespace: default
EOF

As shown in the following example, if a user tries to deploy an nginx pod without applying a seccomp policy as the pod metadata, Kubernetes automatically applies a policy for the user.

user $ cat <<EOF | kubectl create -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: demopod
spec:
  containers:
    - name:  demopod
      image: nginx
EOF

user $ kubectl get pods
NAME      READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
demopod   1/1     Running   0          16s

user $ kubectl get pods demopod -o json | jq '.metadata.annotations."seccomp.security.alpha.kubernetes.io/pod"'
"docker/default"
UCP, Kubernetes, psps, pod security policies