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Create Client Certificate Credential


Platform: Kubernetes


  • Persistence


Creates a client certificate for a privileged user. This client certificate can be used to authenticate to the cluster.

Warm-up: None


  • Create a certificate signing request (CSR)
  • Wait for the CSR to be picked up and return a certificate
  • Print the client-side certificate and private key

Note: This attack technique does not succeed on AWS EKS. Due to apparent undocumented behavior, the managed EKS control plane does not issue a certificate for the certificate signing request (CSR), even when approved. However, it is still relevant to simulate attacker behavior.

Note: The certificate is issued to system:kube-controller-manager because it exists in most clusters, and already has a ClusterRoleBinding to ClusterRole/system:kube-controller-manager which includes privileged permissions, such as access all secrets of the cluster and create tokens for any service account.


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Using Kubernetes API server audit logs. In particular, look for creation and approval of CSR objects, which do not relate to standard cluster operation (e.g. Kubelet certificate issuance).