OpenShift Container Security with Chef

Containers are integral to the modern cloud-native stack. Containers are lightweight yet encapsulate everything needed to run an application, from executables and libraries to application code and configuration files. Containers have transformed application development and deployment with increased portability, efficiency, and extensibility.  

Deploying containers is easy, so as the infrastructure scales, there can be several containers or container clusters running different applications or microservices. In such scenarios, a container orchestration tool, such as Kubernetes, helps manage large sets of containers and container clusters. Kubernetes increases infrastructure efficiency and improves cloud utilization to help reduce cloud costs.  

OpenShift is a Kubernetes-based platform that helps developers build and deploy containerized applications. It also helps manage development workflows and the entire application lifecycle. While the OpenShift platform has several built-in security features, organizations still need to implement checks and controls to ensure the security of workloads and clusters. 

In this blog post, we discuss OpenShift - the functionality and security it offers, and how Chef can be used to reinforce OpenShift container security. 

What is OpenShift? 

Red Hat OpenShift is a platform developed by Red Hat to help developers build container-based applications. Kubernetes is at the core of OpenShift, enabling users to build and deploy applications faster. It has an integrated IDE for creating and deploying docker containers, which can be managed using the Kubernetes orchestration platform.  

OpenShift is a popular platform among Kubernetes users; adoption rates have increased steadily over the last few years when compared to other container platforms such as Amazon EKS, Microsoft AKS and Google Kubernetes Engine.  

The popularity can be attributed to some of the benefits it offers: 

  • Built-in security and monitoring capabilities, multi-tenancy features and integrated storage. 
  • Increased DevOps productivity and faster development cycles as it reduces the time spent managing Kubernetes, including the underlying nodes and control plane.
  • Improved release velocity due to streamlined CI/CD processes and efficient CI/CD pipeline management. 

The diagrams below illustrate the layered system of the OpenShift platform. The Docker service creates container images, while Kubernetes provides container orchestration and cluster management capabilities. The “etcd” stores data about each object in a secure key-value format and each object can be accessed using REST APIs. 

OpenShift Container Platform Components     

Figure1: OpenShift Container Platform ComponentsOpenShift Security Challenges 

OpenShift Container Platform Architecture Overview

Figure 2: OpenShift Container Platform Architecture Overview (source:

OpenShift Security Challenges  

OpenShift is a secure platform that provides several built-in security features by default. It enforces security policies and best practices at every level in the cloud-native stack. However, as with any cloud-based platform, maintaining security and compliance posture is a shared responsibility. There will inevitably be security risks that require additional measures to prevent compromising application security. Some of the common security challenges that need to be addressed in an OpenShift environment are: 


Misconfigurations are very common in large, complex IT environments where IT admins are managing multiple cloud accounts with different configurations. In such scenarios, incorrect security settings or unintended changes in the configuration can create vulnerabilities in the OpenShift platform, exposing the platform to potential threats.  

User Access 

It is important to restrict and manage user access to the platform so that critical processes are accessed only by authorized users. Ensuring user privileges across the platform will limit the risk of malicious actions by users, which could result in a security breach.   


Maintaining compliance is a difficult task for most organizations. Organizations may need to adhere to specific regulations such as GDPR or HIPPA. Maintaining the relevant compliance posture across the OpenShift environment is essential to avoid compliance failures.  

Scaling Security 

OpenShift enables organizations to scale quickly when needed and such a dynamic complex infrastructure would require a security strategy that scales simultaneously. To scale security seamlessly, it is important to have the right tools and processes in place. 

Container Image 

Container Images must be regularly scanned for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. Maintaining trusted container images is crucial for maintaining container security, especially when using OpenShift for large deployments. 

Implementing OpenShift Container Security with Chef 

Chef container security provides additional security capabilities to the OpenShift platform. It is a comprehensive solution that equips DevSecOps teams with the right tools to maintain security and compliance posture for OpenShift environments. With Chef, security teams can scan hundreds of container clusters to detect and remediate security issues and establish continuous compliance across the organization.  

Chef container security enables you to: 

  • Define Policies: Determine security goals and create policies or follow standard benchmarks like the CIS OpenShift benchmark. 
  • Scan Configuration: Audit the configuration of OpenShift environments to identify security risks or compliance violations based on your policies.
  • Analyze and Alert: Assess audit results, analyze and prioritize failure and then alert stakeholders.
  • Remediate: Resolve security and compliance issues and repeat the audit process regularly. 

Chef container security solution offers a comprehensive toolset to secure CI/CD pipelines, continuously scan containers for security risks, manage compliance posture and gain unified visibility into the OpenShift environment. All this can be done in four easy steps: 

  • Step 1: Integrate your OpenShift environment.
  • Step 2: Select the CIS OpenShift Container Platform Level 1 and/or Level 2 profile. 

OpenShift Security with Chef Automate

  • Step 3: Schedule regular scanning of the OpenShift integration. 
  • Step 4: Access the report to view the security posture of your OpenShift environment. 

OpenShift Security with Chef Automate

These steps will ensure continuous compliance and security for OpenShift environments through Chef’s container security features: 

1. Detect misconfigurations continuously. 

2. Scanning control plane components ​such as:

  • Master node configuration files - secure API server, scheduler service, etcd service, and container network interface.
  • Secure “etcd” data directory, admin credentials, Kubeconfig file, and Key files. ​
  • Controller manager and scheduler. ​ 

3. “etcd” security ​

4. Scan and secure control plane configuration – authentication and logging. ​ 

5. Scan and secure worker node configuration – Kubelet and configuration file.​ 

6. Enforce policies - RBAC and service accounts, Pod security policies, network policies and CNI, and secrets management. 


OpenShift, along with Kubernetes, simplifies container stack management, automates installation and upgrades and speeds up development workflows. Chef container security extends OpenShift security capabilities with a range of additional security functionality to help: 

  • Maintain continuous compliance across the entire IT estate with built-in compliance for OpenShift.
  • Detect and prioritize misconfigurations across OpenShift environments.​ 
  • Enforce internal compliance policies or customized policies for misconfiguration detection and internal best practices​.
  • Remediate using remediation guidance for correcting policy violations. ​ 

To learn more about securing OpenShift with Chef, listen to the on-demand webinar here. ​


Kameerath Abdul Kareem

Kameerath Abdul Kareem is a Product Marketing Manager at Progress Chef