❤️ ABS is one of the five Certified Kubernetes Service Providers in India ❤️

Securing Your Kubernetes Cluster with RBAC

RBAC, or Role-Based Access Control, is a way to control who can do what within your Kubernetes cluster. It’s like having keys to different rooms in a building. With RBAC, you can give specific people access to certain rooms, while keeping other rooms locked. In the context of Kubernetes, these “rooms” are resources like pods, nodes, and services, and the “keys” are the permissions to interact with them.

RBAC - Role-Based Access Control,
The Building Blocks of RBAC

Roles are like lists of permissions. They define what actions (like reading, writing, or deleting) can be performed on specific resources (like pods or services).


RoleBindings connect roles to users, groups, or service accounts. They answer the question, “Who gets the permissions?” If a role is a list of permissions, a role binding is a way to assign that list to specific people or entities.


ClusterRoles are similar to roles but apply cluster-wide. They define permissions for resources that aren’t limited to a single namespace. Think of them as supercharged roles for the entire cluster.


ClusterRoleBindings are like role bindings but for cluster-wide permissions. They connect cluster roles to subjects and grant them access across the entire Kubernetes cluster.

How to Implement RBAC
Enabling RBAC

You need to make sure that RBAC is enabled in your cluster. If you’re starting a new cluster, you can enable it with a flag like this:

					kubeadm init --authorization-mode=Node,RBAC

For an existing cluster, you can modify the configuration to enable RBAC.

Creating Roles and RoleBindings

To create a role, you need to define the permissions you want to grant. Here’s an example:

					apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: Role
  namespace: my-namespace
  name: pod-reader
- apiGroups: ['']
  resources: ['pods']
  verbs: ['get', 'list']

Then, you create a RoleBinding to link the role to a user, group, or service account:

					apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
kind: RoleBinding
  name: read-pods
  namespace: my-namespace
- kind: User
  name: alice
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: Role
  name: pod-reader
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io

Using ClusterRoles and ClusterRoleBindings

ClusterRoles and ClusterRoleBindings are used in the same way as roles and role bindings, but they apply to the entire cluster. This is handy when you want to grant broader permissions that span multiple namespaces.

Best Practices
Least Privilege Principle

Follow the principle of least privilege. Only grant the permissions that are absolutely necessary for a user or service account to perform their tasks. This limits the potential damage that can be done if their credentials are compromised.

Regular Auditing

Regularly audit your RBAC configurations. Make sure the permissions granted still align with your needs and security policies. Remove unnecessary access to reduce potential risks.

Role Naming Conventions

Establish a clear naming convention for your roles and role bindings. This helps you keep things organized and makes it easier to understand who has access to what.

Real-World Scenarios
Multi-Tenant Clusters

If you’re sharing a cluster with multiple teams or applications, RBAC allows you to isolate and control access for each tenant.

Team-Based Access Control

RBAC helps you define who on your team can do what. Developers might need access to create and manage pods, while operators might need control over configurations.


If you run into issues with RBAC, you can use the following command to check your roles and role bindings:

					kubectl get roles,rolebindings --all-namespaces

This will list all the roles and role bindings across namespaces. If you need more details about a specific role or role binding, you can use kubectl describe.


Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is your friend in securing your Kubernetes cluster. It’s a way to keep things organized, secure, and accessible to the right people. By following best practices and understanding the components, you can take your Kubernetes security to the next level. So, don’t be afraid of RBAC – embrace it and make your cluster more secure today.