Getting started with Container Network Security

The following steps are recommended for installing Container Network Security. Although you can install some capabilities through GMAv1, we recommend that you install applications through GMAv2 exclusively when using Container Network Security.

Installation steps

The following steps are recommended to install and use Container Network Security through GitLab:

  1. Install at least one runner and connect it to GitLab.
  2. Create a group.
  3. Connect a Kubernetes cluster to the group.
  4. Create a cluster management project and associate it with the Kubernetes cluster.

  5. Install and configure an Ingress node:

  6. Install and configure Cilium.
  7. Be sure to restart all pods that were running before Cilium was installed by running this command in your cluster:

    kubectl get pods --all-namespaces -o custom-columns=NAMESPACE:.metadata.namespace,,HOSTNETWORK:.spec.hostNetwork --no-headers=true | grep '<none>' | awk '{print "-n "$1" "$2}' | xargs -L 1 -r kubectl delete pod

It’s possible to install and manage Cilium in other ways. For example, you could use the GitLab Helm chart to install Cilium manually in a Kubernetes cluster, and then connect it back to GitLab. However, such methods aren’t documented or officially supported by GitLab.

Managing Network Policies

Managing NetworkPolicies through GitLab is advantageous over managing the policies in Kubernetes directly. Kubernetes doesn’t provide a GUI editor, a change control process, or a revision history. Network Policies can be managed through GitLab in one of two ways:

  • Management through a YAML file in each application’s project (for projects using Auto DevOps). For more information, see the Network Policy documentation.
  • Management through the GitLab Policy management UI (for projects not using Auto DevOps). For more information, see the Container Network Policy documentation (Ultimate only).

Each method has benefits and drawbacks:

  YAML method UI method (Ultimate only)
Benefits A change control process is possible by requiring MR Approvals. All changes are fully tracked and audited in the same way that Git tracks the history of any file in its repository. The UI provides a simple rules editor for users who are less familiar with the YAML syntax of NetworkPolicies. This view is a live representation of the policies currently deployed in the Kubernetes cluster. The UI also allows for multiple network policies to be created per environment.
Drawbacks Only one network policy can be deployed per environment (although that policy can be as detailed as needed). Also, if changes were made in Kubernetes directly rather than through the auto-deploy-values.yaml file, the YAML file’s contents don’t represent the actual state of policies deployed in Kubernetes. Policy changes aren’t audited and a change control process isn’t available.

Users are encouraged to choose one of the two methods to manage their policies. If users attempt to use both methods simultaneously, when the application project pipeline runs the contents of the NetworkPolicy in the auto-deploy-values.yaml file may override policies configured in the UI editor.

Monitoring throughput **(ULTIMATE)**

To view statistics for Container Network Security, you must follow the installation steps above and configure GitLab integration with Prometheus. Also, if you use custom Helm values for Cilium, you must enable Hubble with flow metrics for each namespace by adding the following lines to your Cilium values: your Cilium values:

    enabled: true
        - 'flow:sourceContext=namespace;destinationContext=namespace'

Additional information about the statistics page is available in the documentation that describes the Threat Management UI.

Forwarding logs to a SIEM

Cilium logs can be forwarded to a SIEM or an external logging system through syslog protocol by installing and configuring Fluentd. Fluentd can be installed through GitLab in two ways:

GitLab strongly encourages using only the GMAv2 method to install Fluentd.

Viewing the logs

Cilium logs can be viewed by running the following command in your Kubernetes cluster:

kubectl -n gitlab-managed-apps logs -l k8s-app=cilium -c cilium-monitor


Traffic is not being blocked as expected

By default, Cilium is installed in Audit mode only, meaning that NetworkPolicies log policy violations but don’t block any traffic. To set Cilium to Blocking mode, you must add the following lines to the .gitlab/managed-apps/cilium/values.yaml file in your cluster management project:

  policyAuditMode: false

    eventTypes: ["drop"]

Traffic is not being allowed as expected

Keep in mind that when Cilium is set to blocking mode (rather than Audit mode), NetworkPolicies operate on an allow-list basis. If one or more NetworkPolicies apply to a node, then all traffic that doesn’t match at least one Policy is blocked. To resolve, add NetworkPolicies defining the traffic that you want to allow in the node.

Trouble connecting to the cluster

Occasionally, your CI/CD pipeline may fail or have trouble connecting to the cluster. Here are some initial troubleshooting steps that resolve the most common problems:

  1. Clear the cluster cache.
  2. If things still aren’t working, a more assertive set of actions may help get things back into a good state:

    • Stop and delete the problematic environment in GitLab.
    • Delete the relevant namespace in Kubernetes by running kubectl delete namespaces <insert-some-namespace-name> in your Kubernetes cluster.
    • Rerun the application project pipeline to redeploy the application.

Using GMAv1 with GMAv2

When GMAv1 and GMAv2 are used together on the same cluster, users may experience problems with applications being uninstalled or removed from the cluster. This is because GMAv2 actively uninstalls applications that are installed with GMAv1 and not configured to be installed with GMAv2. It’s possible to use a mixture of applications installed with GMAv1 and GMAv2 by ensuring that the GMAv1 applications are installed after the GMAv2 cluster management project pipeline runs. GMAv1 applications must be reinstalled after each run of that pipeline. This approach isn’t recommended as it’s error-prone and can lead to downtime as applications are uninstalled and later reinstalled. When using Container Network Security, the preferred and recommended path is to install all necessary components with GMAv2 and the cluster management project.

Related documentation links: