Compliance Operator

- Thomas Jungbauer Thomas Jungbauer ( Lastmod: 2024-05-10 ) - 7 min read

OpenShift comes out of the box with a highly secure operating system, called Red Hat CoreOS. This OS is immutable, which means that no direct changes are done inside the OS, instead any configuration is managed by OpenShift itself using MachineConfig objects. Nevertheless, hardening certain settings must still be considered. Red Hat released a hardening guide (CIS Benchmark) which can be downloaded at

However, an automated way to perform such checks would be nice too. To achieve this the Compliance Operator can be leveraged, which runs an OpenSCAP check to create reports of the clusters is compliant or as the official documentation describes:

The Compliance Operator lets OpenShift Container Platform administrators describe the desired compliance state of a cluster and provides them with an overview of gaps and ways to remediate them. The Compliance Operator assesses compliance of both the Kubernetes API resources of OpenShift Container Platform, as well as the nodes running the cluster. The Compliance Operator uses OpenSCAP, a NIST-certified tool, to scan and enforce security policies provided by the content.

This article shall show how to quickly install the operator and retrieve the first result. It is not a full documentation, which is written by other people at: Compliance Operator, especially remediation is not covered here.

As prerequisites we have:

  • Installed OpenShift 4.6+ cluster

The Compliance Operator is available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (RHCOS) deployments only.

Install the Compliance Operator

The easiest way to deploy the Compliance Operator is by searching the OperatorHub which is available inside OpenShift.

Figure 1. Install Compliance Operator

Keep the default settings and wait until the operator has been installed.

Figure 2. Install Compliance Operator

Custom Resources (CRDs)

The operator brings a ton of new CRDs into the system:

  • ScanSetting …​ defines when and on which roles (worker, master …​) a check shall be executed. It also defines a persistent volume (PV) to store the scan results. Two ScanSettings are created during the installation:

    • default: just scans without automatically apply changes

    • default-auto-apply: can automatically remediate without extra steps

  • ScanSettingBinding …​ binds one or more profiles to a scan

  • Profile …​ Represent different compliance benchmarks with a set of rules. For this blog we will use CIS Benchmark profiles

  • ProfileBundle …​ Bundles a security image, which is later used by Profiles.

  • Rule …​ Rules which are used by profiles to verify the state of the cluster.

  • TailoredProfile …​ Customized profile

  • ComplianceScan …​ scans which have been performed

  • ComplianceCheckResult …​ The results of a scan. Each ComplianceCheckResult represents the result of one compliance rule check

  • ComplianceRemediation …​ If a rule ca be remediated automatically, this object is created.

Create a ScanBinding object

The first step to do is to create a ScanBiding objects. (We reuse the default ScanSetting)

Let’s create the following object, which is using the profiles ocp4-cis and ocp4-cis-node

kind: ScanSettingBinding
  name: cis-compliance
  - name: ocp4-cis-node (1)
    kind: Profile
  - name: ocp4-cis (2)
    kind: Profile
  name: default (3)
  kind: ScanSetting
1use the profile ocp4-cis-node
2use the profile ocp4-cis
3reference to the default scansetting

As soon as the object is created the cluster is scan is started. The objects ComplianceSuite and ComplianceScan are created automatically and will eventually reach the phase "DONE" when the scan is completed.

The following command will show the results of the scans

oc get compliancescan -n openshift-compliance

NAME                   PHASE   RESULT
ocp4-cis               DONE    NON-COMPLIANT
ocp4-cis-node-master   DONE    NON-COMPLIANT
ocp4-cis-node-worker   DONE    INCONSISTENT

Three different checks have been done. One overall cluster check and 2 separated for master and worker nodes.

As we used the default ScanSetting the next check will run a 1 am.


The operator comes with a set of standard profiles which represent different compliance benchmarks.

To view available profiles:

oc get profiles.compliance -n openshift-compliance
NAME              AGE
ocp4-cis          28m
ocp4-cis-node     28m
ocp4-e8           28m
ocp4-moderate     28m
rhcos4-e8         28m
rhcos4-moderate   28m

Each profile contains a description which explains the intention and a list of rules which used in this profile.

For example the profile 'ocp4-cis-node' used above is containing:

oc get profiles.compliance -n openshift-compliance -oyaml ocp4-cis-node

# Output
description: This profile defines a baseline that aligns to the Center for Internet Security® Red
Hat OpenShift Container Platform 4 Benchmark™, V0.3, currently unreleased. This profile includes
Center for Internet Security® Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform 4 CIS Benchmarks™ content.
Note that this part of the profile is meant to run on the Operating System that Red Hat
OpenShift Container Platform 4 runs on top of. This profile is applicable to OpenShift versions
4.6 and greater.
  name: ocp4-cis-node
  namespace: openshift-compliance
- ocp4-etcd-unique-ca
- ocp4-file-groupowner-cni-conf
- ocp4-file-groupowner-controller-manager-kubeconfig
- ocp4-file-groupowner-etcd-data-dir
- ocp4-file-groupowner-etcd-data-files
- ocp4-file-groupowner-etcd-member
- ocp4-file-groupowner-etcd-pki-cert-files
- ocp4-file-groupowner-ip-allocations

Like the profiles the different rules can be inspected:

oc get rules.compliance -n openshift-compliance  ocp4-file-groupowner-etcd-member
-o jsonpath='{"Title: "}{.title}{"\nDescription: \n"}{.description}'

# Output
Title: Verify Group Who Owns The etcd Member Pod Specification File
To properly set the group owner of /etc/kubernetes/static-pod-resources/etcd-pod-*/etcd-pod.yaml ,
run the command:

$ sudo chgrp root /etc/kubernetes/static-pod-resources/etcd-pod-*/etcd-pod.yaml

Profile Customization

Sometimes is it required to modify (tailor) a profile to fit specific needs. With the TailoredProfile object it is possible to enable or disable rules.

In this blog, I just want to share a quick example from the official documentaiton:

The following TailoredProfile disables 2 rules and sets a value for another rule:

kind: TailoredProfile
  name: nist-moderate-modified
  extends: rhcos4-moderate
  title: My modified NIST moderate profile
  - name: rhcos4-file-permissions-node-config
    rationale: This breaks X application.
  - name: rhcos4-account-disable-post-pw-expiration
    rationale: No need to check this as it comes from the IdP
  - name: rhcos4-var-selinux-state
    rationale: Organizational requirements
    value: permissive

Working with scan results

Once a scan finished you probably want to see what the status of the scan is.

As you sse above the cluster failed to be compliant.

oc get compliancescan -n openshift-compliance

NAME                   PHASE   RESULT
ocp4-cis               DONE    NON-COMPLIANT
ocp4-cis-node-master   DONE    NON-COMPLIANT
ocp4-cis-node-worker   DONE    INCONSISTENT

Retrieving results via oc command

List all results which can be remediated automatically:

oc get compliancecheckresults -l ',' -n openshift-compliance
NAME                                             STATUS   SEVERITY
ocp4-cis-api-server-encryption-provider-cipher   FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-api-server-encryption-provider-config   FAIL     medium
Further information about remediation can be found at: Compliance Operator Remediation

List all results which cannot be remediated automatically and must be fixed manually instead:

oc get compliancecheckresults -l ',!' -n openshift-compliance
NAME                                                                           STATUS   SEVERITY
ocp4-cis-audit-log-forwarding-enabled                                          FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-file-permissions-proxy-kubeconfig                                     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-file-groupowner-ip-allocations                            FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-file-groupowner-openshift-sdn-cniserver-config            FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-file-owner-ip-allocations                                 FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-file-owner-openshift-sdn-cniserver-config                 FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-configure-event-creation                          FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-configure-tls-cipher-suites                       FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-enable-protect-kernel-defaults                    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-imagefs-available    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-imagefs-inodesfree   FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-memory-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-nodefs-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-nodefs-inodesfree    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-imagefs-available    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-imagefs-inodesfree   FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-memory-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-nodefs-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-master-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-nodefs-inodesfree    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-file-groupowner-ip-allocations                            FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-file-groupowner-openshift-sdn-cniserver-config            FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-file-owner-ip-allocations                                 FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-file-owner-openshift-sdn-cniserver-config                 FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-configure-event-creation                          FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-configure-tls-cipher-suites                       FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-enable-protect-kernel-defaults                    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-imagefs-available    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-imagefs-inodesfree   FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-memory-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-nodefs-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-hard-nodefs-inodesfree    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-imagefs-available    FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-imagefs-inodesfree   FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-memory-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-nodefs-available     FAIL     medium
ocp4-cis-node-worker-kubelet-eviction-thresholds-set-soft-nodefs-inodesfree    FAIL     medium

Retrieving RAW results

Let’s first retrieve the raw result of the scan. For each of the ComplianceScans a volume claim (PVC) is created to store he results. We can use a Pod to mount the volume to download the scan results.

The following PVC have been created on our example:

oc get pvc -n openshift-compliance

NAME                   STATUS   VOLUME                                     CAPACITY   ACCESS MODES   STORAGECLASS          AGE
ocp4-cis               Bound    pvc-cc026ae3-2f42-4e19-bc55-016c6dd31d22   1Gi        RWO            managed-nfs-storage   4h17m
ocp4-cis-node-master   Bound    pvc-3bd47c5e-2008-4759-9d53-ba41b568688d   1Gi        RWO            managed-nfs-storage   4h17m
ocp4-cis-node-worker   Bound    pvc-77200e5f-0f15-410c-a4ee-f2fb3e316f84   1Gi        RWO            managed-nfs-storage   4h17m

Now we can create a Pod which mounts all PVCs at once:

apiVersion: "v1"
kind: Pod
  name: pv-extract
  namespace: openshift-compliance
    - name: pv-extract-pod
      command: ["sleep", "3000"]
      volumeMounts: (1)
      - mountPath: "/workers-scan-results"
        name: workers-scan-vol
      - mountPath: "/masters-scan-results"
        name: masters-scan-vol
      - mountPath: "/ocp4-scan-results"
        name: ocp4-scan-vol
  volumes: (2)
    - name: workers-scan-vol
        claimName: ocp4-cis-node-worker
    - name: masters-scan-vol
        claimName: ocp4-cis-node-master
    - name: ocp4-scan-vol
        claimName: ocp4-cis
1mount paths
2volumesclaims to mount

This creates a Pod with the PVCs mounted inside:

sh-4.4# ls -la | grep scan
drwxrwxrwx.   3 root root 4096 Jul 20 05:20 master-scan-results
drwxrwxrwx.   3 root root 4096 Jul 20 05:20 ocp4-scan-results
drwxrwxrwx.   3 root root 4096 Jul 20 05:20 workers-scan-results

We can download the result-files to our local machine for further auditing. Therefore, we create the folder scan_results in which we copy everything:

mkdir scan-results; cd scan-results

oc -n openshift-compliance cp pv-extract:ocp4-scan-results ocp4-scan-results/.
oc -n openshift-compliance cp pv-extract:workers-scan-results workers-scan-results/.
oc -n openshift-compliance cp pv-extract:masters-scan-results masters-scan-results/.

This will download several bzip2 archives for the appropriate scan result.

Once done, you can delete the "download pod" using: oc delete pod pv-extract -n openshift-compliance

Work wth RAW results

So above section described the download of the bzip2 files but what to do with it? First, you can import it into a tool which is able to read openScap reports. Or, secondly, you can use the oscap command to create a html output.

We have downloaded the following files:




To create the html output (be sure that open-scap is installed on you host):

mkdir html
oscap xccdf generate report ocp4-scan-results/0/ocp4-cis-api-checks-pod.xml.bzip2 >> html/ocp4-cis-api-checks.html

oscap xccdf generate report masters-scan-results/0/ocp4-cis-node-master-master-0-pod.xml.bzip2 >> html/ocp4-cis-node-master-master-0.html
oscap xccdf generate report masters-scan-results/0/ocp4-cis-node-master-master-1-pod.xml.bzip2 >> html/ocp4-cis-node-master-master-1.html
oscap xccdf generate report masters-scan-results/0/ocp4-cis-node-master-master-2-pod.xml.bzip2 >> html/ocp4-cis-node-master-master-2.html

oscap xccdf generate report workers-scan-results/0/ocp4-cis-node-worker-compute-0-pod.xml.bzip2 >> html/ocp4-cis-node-worker-compute-0.html

The resulted html files are too big to be show here, but some snippets should give an overview:

To view the html output as an example I have linked the html files:

Overall Scoring of the result:

Figure 3. Scoring

A list if passed or failed checks:

Figure 4. Scan Result list

Scan details with a link to the CIS Benchmark section and further explainations on how to fix the issue:

Figure 5. Scan details

Performing a rescan

If it is necessary to run a rescan, the ComplianceScan object is simply annotated with:

oc annotate compliancescans/<scan_name>
If default-auto-apply is enabled, remediation which changes MachineConfigs will trigger a cluster reboot.