Using Kiali to configure and observe mesh security.

Authorization Policies and Sidecars

Security is one of the main pillars of Istio features.

The Istio Security High Level Architecture provides a comprehensive solution to design and implement multiple security scenarios.

In this tutorial we will show how Kiali can use telemetry information to create security policies for the workloads deployed in a given namespace.

Istio telemetry aggregates the ServiceAccount information used in the workloads communication. This information can be used to define authorization policies that deny and allow actions on future live traffic communication status.

Additionally, Istio sidecars can be created to limit the hosts with which a given workload can communicate. This improves traffic control, and also reduces the memory footprint of the proxies.

This step will show how we can define authorization policies for the travel-agency namespace, in the Travel Demo application, for all existing traffic in a given time period.

Once authorization policies are defined, a new workload will be rejected if it doesn’t match the security rules defined.

In this example we will use the loadtester workload as the “intruder” in our security rules.

If we have followed the previous tutorial steps, we need to undeploy it from the system.

kubectl delete -f <(curl -L -n travel-portal

We should validate that telemetry has updated the travel-portal namespace and “Security” can be enabled in the Graph Display options.

Travel Portal Graph

Every workload in the cluster uses a Service Account., and workloads use the default cluster.local/ns/travel-portal/sa/default ServiceAccount defined automatically per namespace.

This information is propagated into the Istio Telemetry and Kiali can use it to define a set of AuthorizationPolicy rules, and Istio Sidecars.

The Sidecars restrict the list of hosts with which each workload can communicate, based on the current traffic.

The “Create Traffic Policies” action, located in the Overview page, will create these definitions.

Create Traffic Policies

This will generate a main DENY ALL rule to protect the whole namespace, and an individual ALLOW rule per workload identified in the telemetry.

Travel Agency Authorization Policies

It will create also an individual Sidecar per workload, each of them containing the set of hosts.

Travel Agency Sidecars

As an example, we can see that for the travels-v1 workload, the following list of hosts are added to the sidecar.

Travels V1 Sidecar

If the loadtester workload uses a different ServiceAccount then, when it’s deployed, it won’t comply with the AuthorizationPolicy rules defined in the previous step.

kubectl apply -f <(curl -L -n travel-portal

Now, travels workload will reject requests made by loadtester workload and that situation will be reflected in Graph:

Loadtester Denied

This can also be verified in the details page using the Outbound Metrics tab grouped by response code (only the 403 line is present).

Loadtester Denied Metrics

Inspecting the Logs tab confirms that loadtester workload is getting a HTTP 403 Forbidden response from travels workloads, as expected.

Loadtester Logs

AuthorizationPolicy resources are defined per workload using matching selectors.

As part of the example, we can show how a ServiceAccount can be added into an existing rule to allow traffic from loadtester workload into the travels-v1 workload only.

AuthorizationPolicy Edit

As expected, now we can see that travels-v1 workload accepts requests from all travel-portal namespace workloads, but travels-v2 and travels-v3 continue rejecting requests from loadtester source.

Travels v1 AuthorizationPolicy

Using “Outbound Metrics” tab from the loadtester workload we can group per “Remote version” and “Response code” to get a detailed view of this AuthorizationPolicy change.

Travels v1 AuthorizationPolicy

According to Istio Sidecar documentation, Istio configures all mesh sidecar proxies to reach every mesh workload. After the sidecars are created, the list of hosts is reduced according to the current traffic. To verify this, we can look for the clusters configured in each proxy.

As an example, looking into the cars-v1 workload, we can see that there is a reduced number of clusters with which the proxy can communicate.

Cars v1 clusters

As part of this step, you can update the AuthorizationPolicies and Istio Sidecars generated for the travel-agency namespace, and experiment with more security rules. Or, you can delete the generated Istio config for the namespace.