top of page

simplyblock and Kubernetes

Simplyblock provides high-IOPS and low-latency Kubernetes persistent volumes for your demanding database and other stateful workloads.

Continuous vulnerability scanning in production with Oshrat Nir from ARMO (video + interview)

Updated: 4 days ago

This interview is part of the simplyblock's Cloud Commute Podcast, available on Youtube, Spotify, iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Pandora, Samsung Podcasts, and our show site.

In this installment of podcast, we're joined by Oshrat Nir (Twitter/X, Personal Blog), a Developer Advocate from ARMO, who talks about the importance of runtime vulnerability scanning. See interview transcript at the end.

Key Learnings

What is vulnerability scanning?

Vulnerability scanning is a security process that involves using automated tools to identify and evaluate security weaknesses in a computer system, network, or application. The main objective of vulnerability scanning is to find vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized access, cause disruptions, or steal data. Here's a more detailed breakdown of what vulnerability scanning entails:

  • Identification:

    • Asset Discovery: The process begins with identifying all the assets (servers, networks, applications, etc.) within the scope of the scan.

    • Cataloging:  Creating a comprehensive list of these assets, including software versions, configurations, and open ports.

  • Scanning:   

    • Automated Tools: Using specialized software tools that automatically scan the identified assets for known vulnerabilities. These tools often maintain a database of known vulnerabilities, which is regularly updated.

    • Types of Scans:

      • Network Scans: Focus on identifying vulnerabilities in network devices and configurations.

      • Host Scans: Target individual computers and servers to find vulnerabilities in operating systems and installed software.

      • Application Scans: Look for security weaknesses in web applications, APIs, and other software applications.

  • Analysis:

    • Vulnerability Database: Comparing scan results against a database of known vulnerabilities to identify matches.

    • Severity Assessment: Evaluating the severity of identified vulnerabilities based on factors like potential impact, exploitability, and exposure.

  • Reporting:

    • Detailed Reports: Generating reports that detail the vulnerabilities found, their severity, and recommendations for remediation.

    • Prioritization: Providing a prioritized list of vulnerabilities to address based on their potential impact on the organization.

  • Remediation:

    • Patch Management: Applying software updates and patches to fix the vulnerabilities.

    • Configuration Changes: Adjusting system and network configurations to eliminate vulnerabilities.

    • Mitigation Strategies: Implementing additional security measures, such as firewalls or intrusion detection systems, to mitigate the risk of exploitation.

  • Rescanning:

    • Verification: Conducting follow-up scans to ensure that previously identified vulnerabilities have been successfully addressed.

    • Continuous Monitoring: Implementing ongoing scanning to detect new vulnerabilities as they emerge.

What are some vulnerability scanning tools?

There are various vulnerability scanning tools available, each with its own focus and strengths. See some of the main types below:

  • Network Vulnerability Scanners

  • Web Application Scanners

  • Database Scanners

  • Cloud Vulnerability Scanners

Some of the most widely-used tools include:

  • Tenable Nessus: Comprehensive vulnerability scanner for identifying and assessing vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and malware across various systems.

  • OpenVAS: An open-source tool for vulnerability scanning and management, derived from Nessus.

  • Enterprise TruRisk™ Platform: A cloud-based service that offers continuous vulnerability scanning and compliance management, previously known as QualysGuard.

  • Rapid7 Nexpose: A real-time vulnerability management solution that helps in identifying, prioritizing, and remediating vulnerabilities.

  • Acunetix: Focused on web application security, it identifies vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and other web-related issues.

  • IBM Security QRadar: A security information and event management (SIEM) solution that integrates vulnerability scanning and management.

  • OWASP ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy): An open-source tool aimed at finding vulnerabilities in web applications.

  • Nikto: An open-source web server scanner that checks for dangerous files, outdated server components, and other security issues.

  • ARMO Kubescape: An open-source Kubernetes security platform offering vulnerability and misconfiguration scanning, risk assessment, as well as reporting on security compliance. See our podcast episode with Oshrat Nir from ARMO.

  • Snyk: A platform to provide vulnerability, misconfiguration, and code security flaws throughout all of the development process. See our podcast episode with Brian Vermeer from Snyk.

How does Simplyblock use vulnerability scanning?

Simplyblock employs vulnerability scanning to ensure the security and integrity of its cloud-based aspects of their storage solutions. For the storage clusters, simplyblock seamlessly works with the industry-standard vulnerability scanning solutions. That means that storage clusters, running the simplyblock storage system, inside the customer’s AWS account can be discovered, catalogued, and monitored for outdated software, misconfigurations, and other security risks. This involves using automated tools to identify, assess, and mitigate potential security threats across their infrastructure.


Chris Engelbert: Welcome back to the next episode of simplyblock's Cloud Commute podcast. This week, I have another guest from the security space, something that really is close to my heart. So thank you for being here, Oshrat. Is that actually correct? I forgot to ask up front.

Oshrat Nir: It's hard to say my name correctly if you're not a native Hebrew speaker, but Oshrat is close enough.

Chris Engelbert: Okay. It's close enough. All right. I forgot to ask that. So maybe you do a quick introduction. Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do? And we'll take it from there.

Oshrat Nir: So thanks, Chris, for having me. This is a great opportunity. My name is Oshrat Nir. I am currently the developer advocate for ARMO and Kubescape, which is our CNCF sandbox project. We have an enterprise and an open source platform that I look after. I've been at ARMO for a year and a half. I've been in cloud native for about 5.5 years. And before that, I worked in telco. And fun fact about me is that I lived on 3 continents before I was 9 years old.

Chris Engelbert: All right. We'll come back to that. Or maybe just now. What do you mean you lived on 3 continents?

Oshrat Nir: I was born in Germany, which is Europe. Then I left Germany when I was nearly 3 and moved to the States. I lived in Philadelphia for 6 years. When I was 8.5 years old, I moved to Israel and that's where I've been living since.

Chris Engelbert: All right. So you're not-

Oshrat Nir: I don't speak German.

Chris Engelbert: Fair enough.

Oshrat Nir: I tried to learn German when I was working for a German company. My friend at Giant, shout out to Giant Swarm. But no, they did a lot of good things for me, like introducing me to cloud native, but German was not one of them.

Chris Engelbert: I agree. I feel sad for everyone who has to learn German. The grammar is such a pain. Anyway, you said you work for ARMO. So tell us a little bit about ARMO, a little bit more than it's open source or enterprise.

Oshrat Nir: Okay. So ARMO is a cybersecurity company. The co-founders are Shauli Rozen, who is now our CEO, and Ben Hirschberg, who is our CTO, and another co-founder who's now on the board called Leonid Sandler. Originally, Leonid and Ben come from cybersecurity. They've been doing it since the 90s. They built out a really, really good product that required installing an agent in a cluster. It was highly intrusive and very resource intensive. It might've been a good idea, but it was like maybe, I don't know, maybe five years ahead of its time because that was in the days where agent-less was the thing. And it kind of, it became a thing. Then what happened was that NSA and CISA came out with the guidelines for hardening Kubernetes. That was in August of 2021. They grabbed that idea and built an open source misconfiguration scanner based on that framework, and that's Kubescape.

They built it out, and it went crazy within days. The star chart was nearly perpendicular. It got to thousands of stars very quickly. By the way, we are waiting to get to 10,000 stars. So if anybody uses and likes us, please, we really, really want to celebrate that 10K milestone. We reached 1,000, 3,000, 5,000 stars very quickly. Then we added more frameworks to the misconfiguration scanner, which include CIS benchmarks. I mean, everybody uses the benchmark. These were all things that allowed people to easily adhere to these frameworks and help with continuous compliance. But you can't, I don't know, Alice in Wonderland. I worked with Lewis Carroll. ‘You need to run in order to stay in place,’ said the Red Queen to Alice.

So we had to continue to develop the product into a platform because the misconfiguration scanner is not enough. Then we went into CD scanning, image scanning. So there's image scanning, repository scanning, scan the cluster. We also have an agent-less flavor, which was the original way we worked. Then we decided, even though past experience showed that the market was good for that, to also develop an agent, an operator that you put on your cluster. Because things that you can see from inside the cluster are not the same as things you can see from outside the cluster. That's really important in terms of security, because you don't want blind spots. You want to have all your bases covered, if I were to use an American sports analogy. So you want to have everything covered. That's how Kubescape continued to develop.

At the end of 2023, or yeah, it was December of 2023, no, sorry, December of 2022. We were accepted, Kubescape was accepted by the CNCF as a sandbox project. The first misconfiguration scanner in the CNCF. And we're still there, happy, growing, and we're at a bid for incubation. So if I do another plug here now, if you're using Kubescape and you love it, please add yourself to the adopters list because we want to get to incubation in 2024. We only have 7 months to go, so yeah, please help us with that.

What happened when Kubescape was accepted into the CNCF, we had to break it out of our enterprise offerings, out of our commercial offering. So we broke it out, and now we have two offerings. We have ARMO platform, which is the enterprise offering. It's either SaaS or as a private installation, whatever works. And of course, Kubescape, which is open source, free for all, anybody can use or contribute. It seems that people really know and love Kubescape. This is the impression I got from when I came back from Paris at the KubeCon. I mean, people stopped at the ARMO booth and said, "Oh, you're Kubescape." So yeah, Kubescape is very known. It's a known brand, and people seem to like it, which is great.

Chris Engelbert: Right, right. So as I said, we just had a guest, like, I think 2 weeks ago, Brian Vermeer from Snyk. I just learned it's actually pronounced Snyk [Sneak]. And they're also in the security space. But from my understanding, ARMO is slightly different. So Snyk mostly looks at the developer and the build pipeline, trying to make sure that all possible vulnerabilities are found before you actually deploy. Common coding mistakes, like the typical SQL injection, all that kind of stuff is caught before it actually can get into production. But with the onsite or continuous online scanning, whatever you want to call it, ARMO is on the other side of these things, right? So why would you need that? Why would you want that continuous scanning? I mean, if there was no security issue, why would there be one in production at some point?

Oshrat Nir: Okay, so first, let's kind of dial this a little back. Snyk talks about themselves as an app tech company, and they look at things from the workload or application point of view, and then they work their way down. And they get informed by information from cloud providers, etc. ARMO is the other way around. We start from the infrastructure.

Kubernetes infrastructure is like something that has never been before. I mean, Kubernetes is different. You can't use legacy processes and tools to scan your Kubernetes because you just don't get everything that you need. Kubernetes is ephemeral, it scales up, it scales down. Containers don't last as long, so you don't have time to test them. There's a lot of things that you could do in the past and you can't do with Kubernetes.

So the way we look at securing Kubernetes and by extension the applications or the workloads running on it is the fact that we start from the infrastructure. We work off of those frameworks, best practices that we talked about, and we use runtime to inform our security because one of the main problems that people securing Kubernetes have is the fact that if they work according to best practices, their applications break or may break. And what you need to do is understand application behavior and then secure the infrastructure informed by that.

So it's sort of a different perspective. We kind of do bottom up and Snyk does top down, and we kind of meet at the application, I would say, because I don't think Snyk goes all the way down to Kubernetes and we don't go all the way up to the SaaS or all of those four little acronyms that aren't exactly in the Kubernetes world, but over Kubernetes.

Chris Engelbert: So as a company, I actually want both tools, right? I want the development side, the bottom up to make sure that I catch as much as possible before even going into production. And I want the top down approach in production to make sure that nothing happens at runtime, because I think ARMO also does compliance testing in terms of that my policies are correct. It looks for misconfiguration. So it looks much more on the operational side, stuff that a lot of the other tools, I think, will not necessarily catch easily.

Oshrat Nir: Correct. ARMO looks again, we are there throughout the software development lifecycle from the beginning, even to the point where you can do registry scanning and repo scanning and image scanning before. And then as you write things and as you build out your pipelines, you put security gateways in the pipelines using ARMO.

And an interesting thing, we have started to leverage eBPF a lot from many of the things that we do. In order to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio, one of the problems that there is in the world of DevOps and in the operations is alert fatigue, a lot of false positives. And people are so overwhelmed. And there's also a missing piece, because again, even in the world of CVEs, when you're judging things only by their CVSS, only by the severity and the score of the CVE, then you might not be as efficient as you need to be. Because sometimes you have a high severity vulnerability, somewhere, that doesn't even get loaded into memory. So it's not a problem that you have to deal with now. You can deal with it somewhere in the future when you have time, which is never, because nobody ever has time.

But the idea is, again, having production informing what happens in operation by saying, ‘Okay, this way the application or the workload needs to work, and this is why I care about this vulnerability and not that vulnerability.’

Chris Engelbert: Right, right.

Oshrat Nir: Now, speaking of that, ARMO is working on introducing, we already have this in beta in Kubescape, but it's coming out at ARMO as well, on cloud-native detection and response, like runtime, or for runtime. So we have built out, since we've been working with the workload, since we've been using eBPF to see how applications are supposed to act so that we can secure the infrastructure without breaking the application, what we're doing now is saying, ‘Okay, so now we know how the application needs to act’, so I can actually alert you on when it's acting abnormally, and then we have anomaly detection. I can actually detect the fingerprints of malware, and then I can flag that and say, ‘Look, this might be problematic. You might be needing to look at this because you might have a virus,’ because people might be scanning CVEs. And sorry for the 90s reference, but I'm a Gen X-er, people might be scanning for CVEs, but they're not looking for viruses on images. And that's just the problem waiting to happen.

Chris Engelbert: Especially with something like the XZ issue just recently.

Oshrat Nir: There you go.

Chris Engelbert: And I think that probably opened the eyes of a lot of people, that to what extent or to what length people go to inject stuff into your application and take over either your build pipeline or your eventual production. I think in the XZ situation, it was like a backdoor that would eventually make it into production, so you have access to production systems.

Yeah, I agree. And you said another important thing, and I'm coming from a strong Java background. It's about dynamically loading libraries or dependencies. And Java was like the prime example in the past. Not everything you had in your classpath was necessarily loaded into RAM or into memory. But you have the same thing for JavaScript, for PHP, for Python, and especially JavaScript, TypeScript, Python. Those are like the big comers, not newcomers, but the big comers or upcomers in terms of dynamic languages. So yeah, I get that. That is really interesting in the sense of you look at runtime and just because something is in your image doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. It's going to be bad the second it's loaded into memory and is available to the application. That makes a lot of sense. So you said ARMO runs inside the Kubernetes cluster, right? There's an operator, I guess.

Oshrat Nir: Yeah.

Chris Engelbert: So do I need to be prepared of anything? Is there anything special I need to think about or is it literally you drop it in, and because it's eBPF and agent-less it does all the magic for me and I don't have to think about it at all. Like magic.

Oshrat Nir: Yeah, the idea is for you not to think about it. However, we do give users tools. Again, we're very cognizant of alert fatigue because what happens is people are overwhelmed. So they'll either work themselves to burnout or start ignoring things. Neither is a good option.

Okay, so what we want to do is thinking about the usability about the processes, not just the UX, but about the processes that are involved. So we have configurable security controls. You can quiet alerts for specific things, either forever, because this is a risk you're willing to take. Or that's just the way the app works and you can't change it or you're not changing for now.

So you can configure the controls, you can set down alerts for a configurable period of time or forever. And all of these things are in order to bring you to the point where you really, really, focus on the things that you need. And you increase the efficiency of your security work. You only fix what needs are these things. A good example here is a task path. People, I mean, it's called an attack chain, an attack vector, kill chain, there's lots of terminology around the same thing. But basically what it says is that there's a step by step task or thing that an attacker would use in order to compromise your entity.

There are different entry points that are caused by either misconfigurations or viruses or vulnerabilities, etc. So what we do is we provide a visualization of a possible attack path and say, ok, it's sort of a, I'm hesitant to use the word node because Kubernetes, but it's kind of a node of the subway map sort of thing where you can basically, you can check for each node what you need to fix. Sometimes there's one node where you need to fix one misconfiguration and you're done and you immediately hardened your infrastructure to the point where the attack path is blocked. Of course, you need to fix everything around that. But the first thing you need to do is to make sure that you're secure now. And that really helps and it increases the efficiency.

Chris Engelbert: Right. So you're basically cutting off the chain of possible possibilities so that even if a person gets to that point, it's now stopped in its tracks, basically. All right. That's interesting. That sounds that sounds very useful.

Oshrat Nir: Yeah, I think that's an important thing because that's basically our North Star where we're saying we know that security work is hard. We know that it's been delegated to DevOps people that don't necessarily like it or want to do it and are overwhelmed with other things and want to do things that they find more interesting, which is great. Although, you know, security people, don't take me personally, I work for a security company. I think it's interesting. But my point is, is that and this is I'm sorry, this is a Snyk tagline. Sorry, Brian. But but you want security tools that DevOps people will use. And that's basically what we're doing at ARMO. We want to create a security tool that DevOps people will use and security people will love. And again, sorry, Snyk. That's basically the same thing, but we're coming from the bottom, your from the top.

Chris Engelbert: I to be to be honest, I think that is perfectly fine. They probably appreciate the call out, to be honest.

Right. So because we're almost running out of time, we're pretty much running out of time right now. Do you think that there is or what is your feeling about security as a thought at companies? Do they like neglect it a little bit? Do they see it as important as it should be? What is your feeling? Is there headroom?

Oshrat Nir: Well, I spend a lot of time on subreddits of security people. These people are very unhappy. I mean, some of them are really great professionals that want to do a good job and they feel they're being discounted. Again, there's this problem where there are tools that they want to use, but the DevOps that the people that they serve them to don't want to use. So there needs to be a conversation. Security is important. Ok, F16s runs on Kubernetes. Water plants, sewage plants, a lot of important infrastructure runs on Kubernetes. So securing Kubernetes is very important.

Now, in order for that to happen, everybody needs to get on board with that. And the only way to get on board with that is to have that conversation and to say, ‘ok, this is what needs to be done. This is what we think you need to do it. Are you are you on board? And if not, how do we get you on board?’ And one of the ways to get you on board is ok, look, you can put this in the CICD pipeline, forget about it until it reminds you. You can scan a repository every time you pull for it or an image every time you pull it. You can you have a VSCode plugin or a GitHub action. And all of these things are in order to have that conversation and say, look, security is important, but we don't want to distract you from things that you find important. And that's a conversation that has to happen, has to happen all the time. Security doesn't end.

Chris Engelbert: Right, right. Ok, last question. Any predictions or any thoughts on the future of security? Anything you see on the horizon that is upcoming or that needs to happen from your perspective?

Oshrat Nir: Runtime is upcoming. It's like two years, even two years ago, what's the thing? Nobody was talking about anything else except shift left security. You shift left. DevOps should to do it. We're done. We shifted left. And we found that even if one thing gets through our shift left, our production workloads are in danger. So next thing on the menu is runtime security.

Chris Engelbert:  It's a beautiful last sentence. Very, very nice. Thank you for being here. It was a pleasure having you. And I hope we we're going to see. I think we never met in person, which is which is really weird. But since we're both in the Kubernetes space, there is a good chance we do. And I hope we really do. So thank you very much for being here.

Oshrat Nir: Thanks so much for having me, Chris.

Chris Engelbert: Great. For the audience next week, next episode. I hope you're listening again. And thank you very much for being here as well. Thank you very much. See ya.

Key Takeaways

  • Oshrat Nir has been with ARMO for 1.5 years, bringing 5.5 years of experience in cloud native technologies. ARMO, the company behind Kubescape, specializes in open source-based CI/CD & Kubernetes security, allowing organizations to be fully compliant to frameworks like NSA or CIS, as well as secure from code to production.

  • The founders of ARMO built a great product that required installing an agent in a cluster, which was highly intrusive & resource intensive. It was around five years ahead of its time, according to Oshrat. After the NSA and CISA came with guidelines on Kubernetes, the founders built an open source misconfiguration scanner based on that framework, which was Kubescape.

  • Kubescape quickly gained popularity, amassing thousands of stars on GitHub and became accepted by the CNCF (Cloud Native Computing Foundation) as a sandbox project – the first misconfiguration scanner in the CNCF. They’re still growing & are aiming to get to incubation in 2024.

  • Currently they have 2 offerings; the ARMO platform, which is the enterprise offering, and Kubescape, which is open source.

  • Oshrat also speaks about Snyk, which focuses on application security from a top-down approach, identifying vulnerabilities during development to prevent issues before deployment. ARMO takes a bottom-up approach, starting from the infrastructure and working upward, “We kind of do bottom up and Snyk does top down, and we kind of meet at the application.” 

  • Oshrat also mentions how they have started to leverage eBPF to improve their scanning without changing the applications or infrastructure, which will help their users, particularly to decrease alert fatigue and the number of false positives.

  • ARMO is also introducing cloud-native detection and response for runtime. Since using eBPF, they are able to integrate additional anomaly detections.

  • Oshrat also spoke about the importance of the usability of the processes, which is why they have configurable security controls where you can quiet down or configure alerts for a period of time so you can focus on what you need, which greatly increases the efficiency of your security work.

  • Oshrat underscores the need for dialogue and consensus between security and DevOps teams to prioritize security without overwhelming developers.

  • Looking ahead, Oshrat predicts that runtime security will be a critical focus, just as shift left security was in the past. ARMO has you covered already.


bottom of page