How To Streamline Certificate Lifecycle Management In Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) with AppViewX KUBE+

Kubernetes is an open-source platform designed to simplify application deployment, streamline operations, and help organizations build a resilient infrastructure and rapidly achieve business objectives.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is a managed Kubernetes service provided by Microsoft Azure that runs Kubernetes in the Azure cloud and on-premises data centers. It simplifies deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications with automated updates and seamless integration into the Azure ecosystem.

While AKS helps deliver a more secure Kubernetes environment for its customers by automating security patches, there are other areas of security that are practiced in a shared responsibility model. One security aspect in particular involves ensuring effective certificate lifecycle management (CLM) to provide trust, strong authentication, and encryption throughout the AKS environment.

With Azure AKS managing the Kubernetes environment, AppViewX offers a comprehensive certificate lifecycle management solution, AppViewX KUBE+, tailored for Kubernetes, that is seamlessly integrated with AKS. AppViewX KUBE+ helps automate transport Layer Security (TLS) and mutual TLS (mTLS) certificate lifecycle management within AKS to further bolster Kubernetes security. Through end-to-end certificate lifecycle automation, including complete discovery and inventory, automated provisioning and renewal, and strong policy creation and enforcement, organizations can streamline CLM processes in AKS and promote secure, trusted, and efficient cloud-native operations.

Decrypting Security: TLS Termination Tactics in Azure Kubernetes

SSL/TLS certificates play a crucial role in securing web applications and services, ensuring secure access, authentication, and encryption. TLS termination points vary in an Azure Kubernetes deployment, driven by unique use cases, security needs, and compliance requirements. Here are the TLS termination points in Kubernetes where TLS certificates must be managed:

  • Application gateway termination: Use publicly-trusted TLS certificates to terminate TLS at the application gateways.
  • Ingress termination: When end-to-end encryption is not a requirement, offload processing to the ingress controller, or application gateway can enhance workload performance to simplify configuration and management.
  • Pod-level termination: For stronger security, enabling end-to-end encryption from the client to a Kubernetes pod is critical. Here, TLS terminates within the pod, securing communication within the Kubernetes cluster.
  • Mutual TLS within pods: mTLS encrypts internal data flows and provides secure authentication, focusing on in-transit security within the Kubernetes cluster.
Kubernetes Application Access Flow
Figure 1 – Kubernetes Application Access Flow

Certificate Lifecycle Management Challenges in Azure Kubernetes Environments

As Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) adoption accelerates and certificates proliferate across various clusters, certificate management becomes an increasingly complex challenge.

The absence of built-in public key infrastructure (PKI) and CLM mechanisms, policies, and processes for automating certificate management, rotation, and renewal poses significant challenges for organizations.

Specifically, the multi-faceted certificate management challenges in AKS environments include:

  • Complexity of Kubernetes environments: In dynamic and agile application setups, manual certificate management is error-prone, time-consuming, and creates risk. Poor certificate management undermines security and increases vulnerabilities.
  • Disconnected processes and team silos: Managing many clusters with disparate methods leads to inconsistency. DevOps and CloudOps want speed, while InfoSec needs security. This gap can slow down releases and create security blind spots.
  • Unapproved certificate provisioning: Obtaining certificates from unapproved Certificate Authorities (CAs) or using self-signed certificates leads to security and PKI teams losing control. Rapid provisioning of certificates that violate enterprise-wide PKI policies for the sake of speed creates security weaknesses and compliance issues.
  • Monitoring certificate expiry: Every certificate has a set expiration date, so certificates must be constantly tracked, monitored, and renewed. Manually tracking thousands of certificates and expirations is not practical and often leads to outages, vulnerabilities, and service disruptions.
  • Lack of PKI standards and compliance: Ad-hoc PKI approaches lead to weak crypto standards, expired certificates, and security and compliance risks.
  • Absence of central PKI governance: Strict control and governance of PKI processes is required to ensure multiple teams have the proper roles and rights. Manual management hampers audit and security oversight.

Strengthening Security with Certificate Lifecycle Management for AKS

The integration of AppViewX KUBE+ within Azure AKS delivers visibility, automation, and control that simplifies certificate lifecycle management processes across Azure Kubernetes environments.

Simplify certificate lifecycle management across Kubernetes environments with AppViewX KUBE+

Here’s how AppViewX KUBE+ helps organizations effectively and efficiently manage certificates across Kubernetes and container workloads:

  • Robust automation: AppViewX KUBE+ leverages the automation and orchestration capabilities of the AppViewX platform to fully automate certificate lifecycle management within Kubernetes. AppViewX KUBE+ automates the entire certificate lifecycle including discovery, inventory, issuance, auto-renewal, policy creation, and governance for all certificates across Kubernetes.
  • Aligning DevOps and Security: AppViewX KUBE+ helps to eliminate the divide between the DevOps/CloudOps teams who need speed and agility and the security and PKI teams who emphasize security by offering a centralized console with self-service management capabilities backed by enterprise-wide PKI policies. With built-in integrations with all major enterprise-grade CAs, AppViewX KUBE+ helps ensure compliance and security without hindering application development and delivery velocity.
  • Operational efficiency: For CIOs and CISOs, AppViewX KUBE+ enhances security and increases operational efficiency by eliminating manual, error-prone, and non-compliant certificate management processes.
AppViewX KUBE+ Certificate Lifecycle Management for Kubernetes
Figure 2: AppViewX KUBE+ Certificate Lifecycle Management for Kubernetes

AppViewX KUBE+ for AKS – Features and Benefits:

  • Simplify certificate lifecycle management across Azure and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) environments
  • Gain complete visibility into Azure-native certificates, ensuring proactive monitoring and compliance adherence
  • Minimize downtime with automated certificate renewals tailored for Azure environments
  • Maintain regulatory compliance through centralized PKI policy creation and enforcement and audit capabilities
  • Scale certificate lifecycle management seamlessly in dynamic Azure setups
  • Foster team collaboration between DevOps and Security teams, streamlining certificate management and promoting self-service capabilities
  • Boost performance and security in Azure Kubernetes environments with optimized certificate lifecycle management

Level Up Your Kubernetes Security with AppViewX KUBE+ and Azure AKS

Discover the power of AppViewX KUBE+ integrated with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) to simplify certificate management, fortify security, and enhance cross-functional collaboration. AppViewX KUBE+ helps automate CLM processes, ensure compliance, boost operational efficiency, and strengthen security. Contact our team of experts for a demo or more information on how to streamline CLM, unlock value, and drive innovation with AppViewX KUBE+ and Azure AKS.

Simplify Certificate Management Across Ingress, Service Mesh, and Kubernetes Infrastructure Components

Tags

  • Azure Kubernetes Service
  • certificate lifecycle management
  • Certificate Management
  • CloudOps
  • DevOps
  • Kubernetes
  • PKI

About the Author

Karthik Kannan

VP - Product Management

VP - Product Management at AppViewX heading Automation and Low Code Suite. Oversee product lifecycle: vision > concept > ideation > design > launch.

More From the Author →

Vignesh Kumar Kathiravan

Product Manager

Passionate about container and kubernetes security

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