This section contains information about security for CloudNativePG, that are analyzed at 3 different layers: Code, Container and Cluster.


The information contained in this page must not exonerate you from performing regular InfoSec duties on your Kubernetes cluster. Please familiarize yourself with the "Overview of Cloud Native Security" page from the Kubernetes documentation.

About the 4C's Security Model

Please refer to "The 4C’s Security Model in Kubernetes" blog article to get a better understanding and context of the approach EDB has taken with security in CloudNativePG.


Source code of CloudNativePG is systematically scanned for static analysis purposes, including security problems, using a popular open-source linter for Go called GolangCI-Lint directly in the CI/CD pipeline. GolangCI-Lint can run several linters on the same source code.

One of these is Golang Security Checker, or simply gosec, a linter that scans the abstract syntactic tree of the source against a set of rules aimed at the discovery of well-known vulnerabilities, threats, and weaknesses hidden in the code such as hard-coded credentials, integer overflows and SQL injections - to name a few.


A failure in the static code analysis phase of the CI/CD pipeline is a blocker for the entire delivery of CloudNativePG, meaning that each commit is validated against all the linters defined by GolangCI-Lint.


Every container image that is part of CloudNativePG is automatically built via CI/CD pipelines following every commit. Such images include not only the operator's, but also the operands' - specifically every supported PostgreSQL version. Within the pipelines, images are scanned with:

  • Dockle: for best practices in terms of the container build process


All operand images are automatically rebuilt once a day by our pipelines in case of security updates at the base image and package level, providing patch level updates for the container images that EDB distributes.

The following guidelines and frameworks have been taken into account for container-level security:

About the Container level security

Please refer to "Security and Containers in CloudNativePG" blog article for more information about the approach that EDB has taken on security at the container level in CloudNativePG.


Security at the cluster level takes into account all Kubernetes components that form both the control plane and the nodes, as well as the applications that run in the cluster (PostgreSQL included).

Role Based Access Control (RBAC)

The operator interacts with the Kubernetes API server with a dedicated service account called cnpg-manager. In Kubernetes this is installed by default in the cnpg-system namespace, with a cluster role binding between this service account and the cnpg-manager cluster role which defines the set of rules/resources/verbs granted to the operator.


The above permissions are exclusively reserved for the operator's service account to interact with the Kubernetes API server. They are not directly accessible by the users of the operator that interact only with Cluster, Pooler, Backup, and ScheduledBackup resources.

Below we provide some examples and, most importantly, the reasons why CloudNativePG requires full or partial management of standard Kubernetes namespaced resources.

The operator needs to create and manage default config maps for the Prometheus exporter monitoring metrics.
The operator needs to manage a PgBouncer connection pooler using a standard Kubernetes Deployment resource.
The operator needs to handle jobs to manage different Cluster's phases.
The volume where the PGDATA resides is the central element of a PostgreSQL Cluster resource; the operator needs to interact with the selected storage class to dynamically provision the requested volumes, based on the defined scheduling policies.
The operator needs to manage Cluster's instances.
Unless you provide certificates and passwords to your Cluster objects, the operator adopts the "convention over configuration" paradigm by self-provisioning random generated passwords and TLS certificates, and by storing them in secrets.
The operator needs to create a service account that enables the instance manager (which is the PID 1 process of the container that controls the PostgreSQL server) to safely communicate with the Kubernetes API server to coordinate actions and continuously provide a reliable status of the Cluster.
The operator needs to control network access to the PostgreSQL cluster (or the connection pooler) from applications, and properly manage failover/switchover operations in an automated way (by assigning, for example, the correct end-point of a service to the proper primary PostgreSQL instance).
validatingwebhookconfigurations and mutatingwebhookconfigurations
The operator injects its self-signed webhook CA into both webhook configurations, which are needed to validate and mutate all the resources it manages. For more details, please see the Kubernetes documentation.
The operator needs to get the labels for Affinity and AntiAffinity, so it can decide in which nodes a pod can be scheduled preventing the replicas to be in the same node, specially if nodes are in different availability zones. This permission is also used to determine if a node is schedule or not, avoiding the creation of pods that cannot be created at all.

To see all the permissions required by the operator, you can run kubectl describe clusterrole cnpg-manager.

Calls to the API server made by the instance manager

The instance manager, which is the entry point of the operand container, needs to make some calls to the Kubernetes API server to ensure that the status of some resources is correctly updated and to access the config maps and secrets that are associated with that Postgres cluster. Such calls are performed through a dedicated ServiceAccount created by the operator that shares the same PostgreSQL Cluster resource name.


The operand can only access a specific and limited subset of resources through the API server. A service account is the recommended way to access the API server from within a Pod.

For transparency, the permissions associated with the service account are defined in the roles.go file. For example, to retrieve the permissions of a generic mypg cluster in the myns namespace, you can type the following command:

kubectl get role -n myns mypg -o yaml

Then verify that the role is bound to the service account:

kubectl get rolebinding -n myns mypg -o yaml


Remember that roles are limited to a given namespace.

Below we provide a quick summary of the permissions associated with the service account for generic Kubernetes resources.

The instance manager can only read config maps that are related to the same cluster, such as custom monitoring queries
The instance manager can only read secrets that are related to the same cluster, namely: streaming replication user, application user, super user, LDAP authentication user, client CA, server CA, server certificate, backup credentials, custom monitoring queries
The instance manager can create an event for the cluster, informing the API server about a particular aspect of the PostgreSQL instance lifecycle

Here instead, we provide the same summary for resources specific to CloudNativePG.

The instance manager requires read-only permissions, namely get, list and watch, just for its own Cluster resource
The instance manager requires to update and patch the status of just its own Cluster resource
The instance manager requires get and list permissions to read any Backup resource in the namespace. Additionally, it requires the delete permission to clean up the Kubernetes cluster by removing the Backup objects that do not have a counterpart in the object store - typically because of retention policies
The instance manager requires to update and patch the status of any Backup resource in the namespace

Pod Security Policies

A Pod Security Policy is the Kubernetes way to define security rules and specifications that a pod needs to meet to run in a cluster. For InfoSec reasons, every Kubernetes platform should implement them.

CloudNativePG does not require privileged mode for containers execution. The PostgreSQL containers run as postgres system user. No component whatsoever requires running as root.

Likewise, Volumes access does not require privileges mode or root privileges either. Proper permissions must be properly assigned by the Kubernetes platform and/or administrators. The PostgreSQL containers run with a read-only root filesystem (i.e. no writable layer).

The operator explicitly sets the required security contexts.

Restricting Pod access using AppArmor

You can assign an AppArmor profile to the postgres, initdb, join, full-recovery and bootstrap-controller containers inside every Cluster pod through the annotation.

Example of cluster annotations

    kind: Cluster
        name: cluster-apparmor


Using this kind of annotations can result in your cluster to stop working. If this is the case, the annotation can be safely removed from the Cluster.

The AppArmor configuration must be at Kubernetes node level, meaning that the underlying operating system must have this option enable and properly configured.

In case this is not the situation, and the annotations were added at the Cluster creation time, pods will not be created. On the other hand, if you add the annotations after the Cluster was created the pods in the cluster will be unable to start and you will get an error like this:

metadata.annotations[]: Forbidden: may not add AppArmor annotations]

In such cases, please refer to your Kubernetes administrators and ask for the proper AppArmor profile to use.

Network Policies

The pods created by the Cluster resource can be controlled by Kubernetes network policies to enable/disable inbound and outbound network access at IP and TCP level. You can find more information in the networking document.


The operator needs to communicate to each instance on TCP port 8000 to get information about the status of the PostgreSQL server. Please make sure you keep this in mind in case you add any network policy, and refer to the "Exposed Ports" section below for a list of ports used by CloudNativePG for finer control.

Network policies are beyond the scope of this document. Please refer to the "Network policies" section of the Kubernetes documentation for further information.

Exposed Ports

CloudNativePG exposes ports at operator, instance manager and operand levels, as listed in the table below:

System Port number Exposing Name Certificates Authentication
operator 9443 webhook server webhook-server TLS Yes
operator 8080 metrics metrics no TLS No
instance manager 9187 metrics metrics no TLS No
instance manager 8000 status status no TLS No
operand 5432 PostgreSQL instance postgresql optional TLS Yes


The current implementation of CloudNativePG automatically creates passwords and .pgpass files for the postgres superuser and the database owner.

As far as encryption of password is concerned, CloudNativePG follows the default behavior of PostgreSQL: starting from PostgreSQL 14, password_encryption is by default set to scram-sha-256, while on earlier versions it is set to md5.


Please refer to the "Password authentication" section in the PostgreSQL documentation for details.

You can disable management of the postgres user password via secrets by setting enableSuperuserAccess to false.


The operator supports toggling the enableSuperuserAccess option. When you disable it on a running cluster, the operator will ignore the content of the secret, remove it (if previously generated by the operator) and set the password of the postgres user to NULL (de facto disabling remote access through password authentication).

See the "Secrets" section in the "Connecting from an application" page for more information.

You can use those files to configure application access to the database.

By default, every replica is automatically configured to connect in physical async streaming replication with the current primary instance, with a special user called streaming_replica. The connection between nodes is encrypted and authentication is via TLS client certificates (please refer to the "Client TLS/SSL Connections" page for details).

Currently, the operator allows administrators to add pg_hba.conf lines directly in the manifest as part of the pg_hba section of the postgresql configuration. The lines defined in the manifest are added to a default pg_hba.conf.

For further detail on how pg_hba.conf is managed by the operator, see the "PostgreSQL Configuration" page of the documentation.


Examples assume that the Kubernetes cluster runs in a private and secure network.


CloudNativePG delegates encryption at rest to the underlying storage class. For data protection in production environments, we highly recommend that you choose a storage class that supports encryption at rest.