Revolutionizing Edge Security: A Unified Platform for Securing Kubernetes AI Workloads



Brad Sollar, CTO at Mainsail Industries


The rapid increase in AI use at the edge is leading to advanced cyber threats, requiring innovative security measures. At SUSECON 2024, Mainsail Industries and SUSE introduce a new security framework that provides full-stack protection for AI/ML workloads at the edge. It features Mainsail’s Metalvisor, which uses Intel’s technology to provide robust security and autonomous threat prevention for AI operations.


The challenge

The convergence of edge computing and the escalating threat of cyberattacks has created a perfect storm of vulnerabilities, especially for workloads running on memory-unsafe languages like C and C++. Memory/Stack overflows have become the weapon of choice for attackers, accounting for a majority of zero-day exploits. This alarming trend is not just a theoretical concern; it is a harsh reality reflected in the record-breaking number of zero-day attacks in recent years that were predominantly fueled by memory safety issues.

  • Memory/Stack overflows are the most common type of memory corruption in C/C++ and are one of the top vulnerabilities used by attackers.
  • The most common types of zero-day exploits are memory corruption (127) – 67.55%.
  • 2021 had the highest number of zero-day exploits on record, with 108.
  • 70% of all vulnerabilities reported to Microsoft and Google are due to memory safety.

This vulnerability is further amplified in the context of edge computing, where a vast network of interconnected devices operates at the periphery of traditional security perimeters. The distributed nature of edge workloads, coupled with the resource constraints of edge devices, makes them an attractive target for attackers seeking to exploit memory vulnerabilities. Exploiting these weaknesses can lead to devastating consequences, ranging from unauthorized data access and system compromise to the complete disruption of critical operations.

In the context of Kubernetes at the edge, memory vulnerabilities can wreak havoc on the entire infrastructure, impacting not only the workloads themselves but also the underlying hosts and controllers responsible for orchestration and management.

Kubernetes Workloads: Edge workloads written in memory-unsafe languages are prime targets for exploitation. A compromised workload can leak sensitive data, disrupt services, and even provide a foothold for attackers to pivot to other parts of the system. In the worst-case scenario, an attacker could gain control of the container and use it to spread malware or launch further attacks.

Kubernetes Compute Nodes: Edge worker nodes, often running on resource-constrained hardware, are particularly vulnerable to memory-related attacks. If a workload on a worker node is compromised due to a memory vulnerability, the attacker could gain access to the node’s operating system or other containers running on the same node. This could jeopardize the entire edge cluster.


How we address this challenge

The convergence of Mainsail and SUSE technologies offers a comprehensive, full-stack security solution for edge workloads, addressing the critical vulnerabilities inherent in memory-unsafe languages and the dynamic nature of Kubernetes environments.

Mainsail’s Metalvisor, a TypeZero hypervisor powered by Active Response Capability (ARC), provides a robust first line of defense. By operating at the hypervisor level, Metalvisor can intercept and neutralize low-level memory exploits like buffer overflows and heap corruptions before they can wreak havoc on the system. This proactive approach to security is crucial in edge environments, where resource constraints and limited visibility can make traditional security measures less effective.

SUSE delivers enterprise-grade, Kubernetes-native solutions that further enhance the security posture for your edge workloads. Rancher Prime is a comprehensive Kubernetes management platform that provides centralized control and visibility across the entire Kubernetes estate. Simplify deployment and security with Rancher Kubernetes Engine 2 (RKE2), the lightweight and hardened Kubernetes distribution. Deliver data persistence and resilience with Longhorn distributed block storage.

Enhance your defense further with SUSE NeuVector Prime. By continuously monitoring and analyzing container behavior and blocking suspicious activity in real time, NeuVector helps protect against zero-day attacks and other emerging threats that bypass traditional security measures.

The integration of Mainsail and SUSE technologies empowers enterprises with a comprehensive security solution that addresses the entire stack, from the hypervisor level up to the application layer. This not only allows you to strengthen the security of individual workloads but also enhance the overall resilience of the edge infrastructure.

  • Hypervisor-Level Protection: Metalvisor’s ARC actively detects and neutralizes memory exploits as well as other low-level threats, preventing them from compromising the system.
  • Kubernetes-Native Security: SUSE’s Rancher, RKE2, Longhorn, and NeuVector provide robust security features specifically designed for Kubernetes environments, including greater visibility, hardened Kubernetes, resilient storage, vulnerability scanning, network segmentation, and runtime protection.
  • Full-Stack Visibility: The integrated solution provides comprehensive visibility across the entire stack, from the hypervisor to the application, enabling faster detection and prevention of security incidents.
  • Proactive Defense: The combination of active response and continuous monitoring allows for proactive threat detection and mitigation, reducing the risk of successful attacks.

Embrace the power of full-stack security and protect your critical, edge workloads from memory-based attacks and zero-day exploits. Revolutionize your edge security strategy with Mainsail and SUSE.


Next steps


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Brad Sollar, CTO of Mainsail Industries is a thought leader in cyber security and confidential computing space transforming how we secure the tactical edge. Brad has worked in offensive and defensive cyber for the Army while at Lockheed Martin and developed emerging technologies at MITRE. Brad has helped federal clients adopt Kubernetes & Automation technologies in the public sector and continues to work with cutting-edge security technologies at Mainsail.

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812 views Heidi is a Partner Security Solutions Engineer at SUSE. She works closely with partners to leverage technology to enhance security measures and drive Innovation.