One of the interesting areas of Kubernetes to explore is how it handles networking, and this is a quick post looking at one assumption which can be made about Kubernetes networking and how it doesn’t always hold. Whilst Kubernetes can assign pod IP addresses on the same LAN as the host VM, it’s more normal for the CNI to hand out IP addresses from a separate range, and then implement some kind of overlay networking between the cluster nodes to get traffic from pods on one node, to pods on other nodes. As part of this duty, Kubernetes nodes will often act as routers, so if you can get traffic to the node they’ll happily forward it on.

This could leave you with the idea that pods aren’t accessible from elsewhere on the LAN that the cluster lives on, which could in turn provide a false sense of security about their accessibility, so it’s important to know that whilst pods aren’t usually accessible, that’s not a security feature.

To demonstrate this I setup a single node Kubeadm cluster and a client machine on the same LAN. In this setup the cluster node is at and the client at

On the cluster node if I do kubectl get po -A -o wide we can see the pod IP addresses for the pods running in the cluster :-

NAMESPACE         NAME                                       READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE   IP                NODE      
calico-system     calico-kube-controllers-546d44f5b7-gchk4   1/1     Running   1          16h        kubeadm120
calico-system     calico-node-475ff                          1/1     Running   1          16h   kubeadm120
calico-system     calico-typha-54879db669-6m4pr              1/1     Running   1          16h   kubeadm120
default           testweb                                    1/1     Running   1          16h        kubeadm120
kube-system       coredns-74ff55c5b-pp2kt                    1/1     Running   1          16h        kubeadm120
kube-system       coredns-74ff55c5b-x8fzx                    1/1     Running   1          16h        kubeadm120
kube-system       etcd-kubeadm120                            1/1     Running   1          16h   kubeadm120
kube-system       kube-apiserver-kubeadm120                  1/1     Running   1          16h   kubeadm120
kube-system       kube-controller-manager-kubeadm120         1/1     Running   1          16h   kubeadm120
kube-system       kube-proxy-kkb2v                           1/1     Running   1          16h   kubeadm120
kube-system       kube-scheduler-kubeadm120                  1/1     Running   1          16h   kubeadm120
tigera-operator   tigera-operator-657cc89589-624rj           1/1     Running   2          16h   kubeadm120

Whilst some of them (the ones using host networking) are on the network, some of the others are on the pod network of which was configured when I setup the cluster. So, from my client machine, I can’t immediately address services on the pod network. If I try to access the nginx web server on the “testweb” pod, it won’t work, as my client doesn’t know how to route traffic to it.

However, like the post title says, Kubernetes is a router, so if I can add a route on my client, telling it that the network can be reached via the Kubernetes cluster node, I can get traffic to it!

This is easily enough done, just add a route like this sudo route add -net netmask gw and then bingo, curl will return our nginx container’s home page.

Why does that work?

So we can then look a bit into why this works. The first part is routing. If we look at the routing table on our cluster node we can see routes for our pods. route -n shows :-

Kernel IP routing table
Destination     Gateway         Genmask         Flags Metric Ref    Use Iface         UG    100    0        0 ens33 UH    0      0        0 cali8c667e24141 UH    0      0        0 calib967dfbd495 UH    0      0        0 calib9199d171be UH    0      0        0 calie65c0ecd96a UH    0      0        0 cali68caf03a5f4 UH    0      0        0 cali78a7a37ae9d     U     0      0        0 docker0   U     0      0        0 ens33 UH    100    0        0 ens33

So we know the node has a route for the pods which is local as there’s no “G” flag on it. The other part of the equation is packet forwarding. Checking the standard Linux sysctl for this with sysctl net.ipv4.ip_forward we can see that packet fowarding is enabled

net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1

So traffic sent to the kubernetes node will be forwarded, based on its routing table, and will get to the pod ok.


This is a relatively minor point, but one worth remembering, just because you can’t get access to pod IP addresses from outside the cluster by default, it’s not a security barrier you should be relying on. In general services running in pods on the cluster should be secured, just like any other service running in your network as they are likely to be accessible in one way or another. If you do want to restrict access to pods running in a cluster, using network policies will be the way to go.


Security Geek, Kubernetes, Docker, Ruby, Hillwalking