Guest post originally published on ARMO’s blog by Oshrat Nir, Head of Product Marketing at Armo

Learn about Kubernetes compliance challenges, consequences of non-compliance, and get guidance on maintaining a secure and compliant cloud environment in a dynamic Kubernetes setup.

Kubernetes is a leading open-source platform for automating containerized applications’ deployment, scaling, and management. With the growing adoption of cloud, hybrid, and multicloud environments, the topic of Kubernetes compliance has become increasingly pertinent. Kubernetes compliance means ensuring that the platform and its components adhere to applicable regulations and standards. With a rapidly growing attack surface in modern cloud environments, the emphasis on compliance has increased among Kubernetes users.

This post will explain compliance in Kubernetes, discuss the challenges of compliance, and describe potential consequences of non-compliance. After exploring the complexities of achieving compliance in a dynamic, ephemeral environment such as Kubernetes, insights and guidance will be offered regarding maintenance of a secure and compliant cloud environment.

Understanding Compliance in Kubernetes

Compliance in Kubernetes applies to various aspects of the platform, including security, data privacy, network security, and incident response. The goal of Kubernetes’ compliance requirements is to minimize the risk of security breaches and ensure that sensitive data is protected. This section will present the leading regulatory frameworks and standards that apply to Kubernetes in specific contexts, and discuss the significance of the Kubernetes attack surface.

Regulatory Frameworks and Standards

Several regulatory frameworks and standards apply to Kubernetes, depending on the industry and location of the organization. Some examples include:

Kubernetes Attack Surface

The attack surface of Kubernetes refers to the various areas of a Kubernetes cluster that are vulnerable to an attack. These areas, or attack surfaces, can be grouped as follows:

In recent years, Kubernetes has been adopted by numerous organizations, and more complex architectures have come into play as a result. This level of adoption has also increased the attack surface of Kubernetes clusters and led to the attack surface becoming more diverse and harder to control due to increasing numbers of Kubernetes clusters being deployed in multicloud and hybrid-cloud environments. Thus, organizations must implement robust security controls and continuous monitoring in order to protect their Kubernetes stack from potential attacks.

The large attack surface naturally presents challenges in achieving compliance. Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in multiple areas to gain access to sensitive information or disrupt operations.

Challenges of Achieving Compliance in Kubernetes

Compliance in Kubernetes is a complex beast, due to the architectural characteristics of the cloud and the limitations of current compliance tools. This section will first discuss difficulties related to the dynamic and ephemeral features of Kubernetes and then look at existing compliance tools’ limitations, before suggesting ways to overcome these limitations.

Why Is Compliance in Kubernetes Challenging?

As a result of its infrastructure and application stack, Kubernetes creates a complex architecture consisting of dynamic, scalable and ephemeral workloads, such as containers. Achieving compliance in a dynamic, ephemeral environment such as Kubernetes can be challenging for a number of reasons, which deserve a closer look.

Complex Architecture

Kubernetes clusters are commonly used for complex, cloud-native applications that use microservices. Their architectural complexity makes compliance across the entire environment a challenge; there may be multiple interconnected components to consider.

Ephemeral State

Pods and containers in a Kubernetes cluster are ephemeral, meaning that they are typically created and destroyed quickly and frequently. This transient state makes it challenging to maintain consistent compliance across the entire stack, as resources may be added or removed without proper oversight.

Lack of Holistic Visibility

Kubernetes creates a complex stack with applications running both in the cluster and in the underlying cloud infrastructure. There are widely adopted tools available to improve visibility, such as Prometheus for monitoring, Grafana for visualization, and initiatives such as OpenTelemetry to create a unified platform. However, these tools are limited in terms of their focus, and creating holistic visibility often remains elusive. This creates challenges in identifying and addressing compliance issues in a timely manner.


One of the critical features of Kubernetes is its ability to scale resources automatically based on demand. Although it is a compelling feature, finding security issues in a thousand-node production environment is challenging.

What Are the Limitations of Existing Kubernetes Compliance Solutions?

While Kubernetes poses several compliance challenges, the platform actively fosters collaboration with a vibrant, open-source community, and stays attuned to industry trends. It’s reasonable to assume that in the coming years, compliance management for Kubernetes will be improved and simplified. Current compliance solutions in the Kubernetes ecosystem have several limitations, including a lack of Kubernetes-specific features, limited automation, and restricted integration.

Lack of Kubernetes-Specific Features

Many compliance solutions are designed for traditional cloud infrastructure environments. As a result, their capacity to address Kubernetes-native features—such as extensions with custom resources or RBAC controls—is limited.

Limited Automation

Compliance solutions that rely on manual inspections and audits to ensure compliance can prove to be time-consuming and error-prone in an ephemeral environment such as Kubernetes. In addition, without automation and continuous controls, ensuring compliance in Kubernetes is onerous.

Limited Integration

Some compliance solutions may be siloed and integrate poorly with other tools and systems used in the Kubernetes ecosystem, such as monitoring, logging, auditing, and node-level container runtimes.

Overcoming Limitations of Kubernetes Compliance Solutions

In order to overcome these limitations, organizations should adopt compliance solutions designed explicitly for Kubernetes environments, with features such as automated compliance checks, Kubernetes-specific auditing, and integration with other tools and systems used in the Kubernetes ecosystem. In other words, relying on a compliance tool that supports a cloud environment does not guarantee sufficient feature set to ensure Kubernetes clusters’ compliance.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance in a Kubernetes environment can create avoidable risks and lead to serious consequences, including:

To mitigate these risks and consequences, organizations should adopt a comprehensive compliance strategy that includes regular audits, automated compliance checks, and ongoing monitoring of the Kubernetes environment.


Compliance in a Kubernetes environment is a complex and ongoing process. The dynamic and ephemeral nature of clusters, combined with the growing attack surface in modern cloud environments, makes it challenging to maintain a consistent state of compliance. Despite these challenges, organizations must ensure compliance in order to minimize the risk of security breaches and protect sensitive data. This requires a comprehensive approach involving continuous monitoring and assessment, automated testing and remediation, and regular updates to policies and procedures.

In light of these challenges, it is crucial to prioritize compliance in a Kubernetes environment and invest in the necessary resources and tools to maintain high compliance standards. This means staying up to date with the latest regulatory requirements and best practices, and adopting solutions that can help automate the compliance process. ARMO Platform, which is powered by Kubescape, is a Kubernetes-focused, comprehensive solution to manage compliance in any Kubernetes environment. Sign up today to secure your Kubernetes environment and stay ahead of regulatory requirements.