Kubernetes Agent + Module

In this example, the Next-Gen WAF agent is deployed in a docker sidecar, communicating with a module deployed on the application.

Integrating the Next-Gen WAF agent

The Next-Gen WAF agent can be installed as a sidecar into each pod or as a service for some specialized needs.

The recommended way of installing the Next-Gen WAF agent in Kubernetes is by integrating the sigsci-agent into a pod as a sidecar. This means adding the sigsci-agent as an additional container to the Kubernetes pod. As a sidecar, the agent will scale with the app/service in the pod instead of having to do this separately. However, in some situations, it may make more sense to install the sigsci-agent container as a service and scale it separately from the application.

The sigsci-agent container can be configured in various ways depending on the installation type and module being used.

You can use the preStop container hook to slow the pod's shutdown and ensure drain timeouts are met.

2 exec:
3 command:
4 - sleep
5 - "30"

By default, the agent prioritizes quick start up and performance readiness for preliminary inspection. However, quick startup isn't always desirable if you only want the agent to inspect traffic after loading your rules and configuration data. If you want to delay agent startup, consider configuring a startup probe.

Getting and updating the agent container image

An official signalsciences/sigsci-agent container image is available on Docker Hub.

Alternatively, if you want to build your own image or need to customize the image, then follow the sigsci-agent build instructions.

These instructions reference the latest version of the agent with imagePullPolicy: Always, which will pull the latest agent version even if one already exist locally. This is so the documentation does not fall out of date and anyone using this will not have an agent that stays stagnant. However, this may not suit your needs if you need to keep installations consistent or on a specific version of the agent. In these cases, you should specify an agent version. Images on Docker Hub are tagged with their versions and a list of versions is available on Docker Hub.

Whether you choose to use the latest image or a specific version, there are a few items to consider to keep the agent up-to-date.

Using the latest container image

If you do choose to use the latest image, then you will want to consider how you will keep the agent up to date.

  • If you have used the imagePullPolicy: Always option, then the latest image will be pulled on each startup and your agent will continue to get updates.

  • Alternatively, you may instead choose to manually update the local cache by periodically forcing a pull instead of always pulling on startup:

    $ docker pull signalsciences/sigsci-agent:latest

    Then, use latest with imagePullPolicy: Never set in the configuration so that pulls are never done on startup (only manually as above):

    1- name: sigsci-agent
    2 image: signalsciences/sigsci-agent:latest
    3 imagePullPolicy: Never
    4 ...

Using a versioned container image

To use a specific version of the agent, replace latest with the agent version (represented here by x.xx.x). You may also want to change imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent in this case as the image should not change.

1- name: sigsci-agent
2 image: signalsciences/sigsci-agent:x.xx.x
3 imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
4 ...

This will pull the specified agent version and cache it locally. If you use this method, then it is recommended that you parameterize the agent image, using Helm or similar, so that it is easier to update the agent images later on.

Using a custom tag for the container image

It is also possible to apply a custom tag to a local agent image. To do this, pull the agent image (by version or use latest), apply a custom tag, then use that custom tag in the configuration. You will need to specify imagePullPolicy: Never so local images are only updated manually. After doing so, you will need to periodically update the local image to keep the agent up-to-date.

For example:

$ docker pull signalsciences/sigsci-agent:latest
$ docker tag signalsciences/sigsci-agent:latest signalsciences/sigsci-agent:testing

Then use this image tag in the configuration:

1- name: sigsci-agent
2 image: signalsciences/sigsci-agent:testing
3 imagePullPolicy: Never

Configuring the agent container

Agent configuration is normally done via the environment. Most configuration options are available as environment variables. Environment variables names have the configuration option name all capitalized, prefixed with SIGSCI_ and any dashes (-) changed to underscores (_). For example, the max-procs option would become the SIGSCI_MAX_PROCS environment variable. For more details on what options are available, see the Agent Configuration documentation.

The sigsci-agent container has a few required options that need to be configured:

  • Agent credentials (Agent Access Key and Agent Secret Key).
  • A volume to write temporary files.

Agent credentials

The sigsci-agent credentials are configured with two environment variables. These variables must be set or the agent will not start.

  • SIGSCI_ACCESSKEYID: The Agent Access Key identifies which site in the Next-Gen WAF control panel that the agent is configured for.
  • SIGSCI_SECRETACCESSKEY: The Agent Secret Key is the shared secret key to authenticate and authorize the agent.

Because of the sensitive nature of these values, we recommend you use the built in secrets functionality of Kubernetes. With this configuration, the agent will pull the values from the secrets data instead of reading hardcoded values into the deployment configuration. This also makes any desired agent credential rotation easier to manage by having to change them in only one place.

Use the valueFrom option instead of the value option to use the secrets functionality. For example:

3 valueFrom:
4 secretKeyRef:
5 # Update my-site-name-here to the correct site name or similar identifier
6 name: sigsci.my-site-name-here
7 key: accesskeyid
9 valueFrom:
10 secretKeyRef:
11 # Update my-site-name-here to the correct site name or similar identifier
12 name: sigsci.my-site-name-here
13 key: secretaccesskey

The secrets functionality keeps secrets in various stores in Kubernetes. This guide uses the generic secret store in its examples, however any equivalent store can be used. Agent secrets can be added to the generic secret store using YAML similar to the following example:

1apiVersion: v1
2kind: Secret
4 name: sigsci.my-site-name-here
6 accesskeyid: 12345678-abcd-1234-abcd-1234567890ab
7 secretaccesskey: abcdefg_hijklmn_opqrstuvwxy_z0123456789ABCD

This can also be created from the command line with kubectl such as with the following example:

$ kubectl create secret generic sigsci.my-site-name-here \
--from-literal=accesskeyid=12345678-abcd-1234-abcd-1234567890ab \

Additional information about Kubernetes secrets functionality can be found in the Kubernetes documentation.

Agent temporary volume

For added security, we recommended the sigsci-agent container be executed with the root filesystem mounted as read only. However, the agent still needs to write some temporary files such as the socket file for RPC communication and some periodically updated files such as geolocation data.

To accomplish this with a read only root filesystem, there needs to be a writeable volume mounted. This writeable volume can also be shared to expose the RPC socket file to other containers in the same pod.

The recommended way of creating a writeable volume is to use the builtin emptyDir volume type. This is typically configured in the volumes section of a deployment, as shown in the following example:

2 - name: sigsci-tmp
3 emptyDir: {}

Containers will then mount this volume at /sigsci/tmp:

2 - name: sigsci-tmp
3 mountPath: /sigsci/tmp

The default in the official agent container image is to have the temporary volume mounted at /sigsci/tmp. If this needs to be moved for the agent container, then the following agent configuration options should also be changed from their defaults to match the new mount location:

  • rpc-address defaults to /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock
  • shared-cache-dir defaults to /sigsci/tmp/cache

Next-Gen WAF agent with a web application and Next-Gen WAF module installed

This deployment example configures the example helloworld application to use the sigsci-agent via RPC and deploys the sigsci-agent container as a sidecar to process these RPC requests.

To configure Next-Gen WAF with this deployment type you must:

  • Modify your application to add the appropriate Next-Gen WAF module, configured it to communicate with a sigsci-agent via RPC.
  • Add the sigsci-agent container to the pod, configured in RPC mode.
  • Add an emptyDir{} volume as a place for the sigsci-agent to write temporary data and share the RPC address.

Modifying and configuring the application container

The helloworld example is a language based module (Golang) that has already been modified to enable communication to the sigsci-agent via RPC if configured to do so. This configuration is done via arguments passed to the helloworld example application as follows:

  • Listening address (defaults to localhost:8000).
  • Optional Next-Gen WAF agent RPC address (default is to not use the sigsci-agent). Other language based modules are similar. Web server based modules must have the Next-Gen WAF module added to the container.

For this helloworld application to work with the sigsci-agent it must have the sigsci-agent address configured as the second program argument and the sigsci-tmp volume mounted so that it can write to the socket file:

2 containers:
3 # Example helloworld app running on port 8000 against sigsci-agent via UDP /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock
4 - name: helloworld
5 image: signalsciences/example-helloworld:latest
6 imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
7 args:
8 # Address for the app to listen on
9 - localhost:8000
10 # Address sigsci-agent RPC is listening on
11 - /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock
12 ports:
13 - containerPort: 8000
14 volumeMounts:
15 # Shared mount with sigsci-agent container where the socket is shared via emptyDir volume
16 - name: sigsci-tmp
17 mountPath: /sigsci/tmp

Adding and configuring the agent container as a sidecar

The sigsci-agent container will default to RPC mode with a Unix Domain Socket (UDS) file at /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock. There must be a temp volume mounted at /sigsci/tmp to capture this socket file and must be shared with the pod. The web application must be configured to communicate with the sigsci-agent via this UDS socket. The deployment YAML must be modified from the example above by adding a second argument to specify the sigsci-agent RPC address of /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock.


It is possible to use a TCP based listener for the sigsci-agent RPC, but this is not recommended for performance reasons. If TCP is needed (or UDS is not available, such as in Windows), then the RPC address can be specified as ip:port or host:port instead of a UDS path. In this case, the volume does not have to be shared with the app, but it does need to be created for the sigsci-agent container to have a place to write temporary data such as geodata.

Adding the sigsci-agent container as a sidecar:

2 containers:
3 # Example helloworld app running on port 8000 against sigsci-agent via UDP /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock
4 - name: helloworld
5 image: signalsciences/example-helloworld:latest
6 imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
7 args:
8 # Address for the app to listen on
9 - localhost:8000
10 # Address sigsci-agent RPC is listening on
11 - /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock
12 ports:
13 - containerPort: 8000
14 volumeMounts:
15 # Shared mount with sigsci-agent container where the socket is shared via emptyDir volume
16 - name: sigsci-tmp
17 mountPath: /sigsci/tmp
18 # Next-Gen WAF agent running in default RPC mode
19 - name: sigsci-agent
20 image: signalsciences/sigsci-agent:latest
21 imagePullPolicy: Always
22 env:
24 valueFrom:
25 secretKeyRef:
26 # This secret needs added (see docs on sigsci secrets)
27 name: sigsci.my-site-name-here
28 key: accesskeyid
30 valueFrom:
31 secretKeyRef:
32 # This secret needs added (see docs on sigsci secrets)
33 name: sigsci.my-site-name-here
34 key: secretaccesskey
35 # If required (default is /sigsci/tmp/sigsci.sock for the container)
37 # value: /path/to/socket for UDS OR host:port if TCP
38 securityContext:
39 # The sigsci-agent container should run with its root filesystem read only
40 readOnlyRootFilesystem: true
41 volumeMounts:
42 # Default volume mount location for sigsci-agent writeable data
43 # NOTE: Also change `SIGSCI_SHARED_CACHE_DIR` (default `/sigsci/tmp/cache`)
44 # if mountPath is changed, but best not to change.
45 - name: sigsci-tmp
46 mountPath: /sigsci/tmp

The above sigsci-agent configuration assumes that sigsci secrets were added to the system section above.

Adding the agent temp volume definition to the deployment

Finally, the agent temp volume needs to be defined for use by the other containers in the pod. This uses the builtin emptyDir: {} volume type.

2 volumes:
3 # Define a volume where sigsci-agent will write temp data and share the socket file,
4 # which is required with the root filesystem is mounted read only
5 - name: sigsci-tmp
6 emptyDir: {}
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