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kdigger, short for "Kubernetes digger", is a context discovery tool for Kubernetes penetration testing. This tool is a compilation of various plugins called buckets to facilitate pentesting Kubernetes from inside a pod.

Here is a demo showing kdigger v1.3.0 in action, using only four buckets. Please note that around twenty plugins exist and you can read more about all the features in the following documentation.

Demonstration of kdigger v1.3.0 features

Please note that this is not an ultimate pentest tool on Kubernetes. Some plugins perform really simple actions that could be performed manually by calling the mount command or listing all devices present in dev with ls /dev for example. But some others automate scanning processes, such as the admission controller scanner. In the end, this tool aims to humbly speed up the pentesting process.

Table of content


kdigger is available on Linux amd64, arm64 and macOS amd64.

Please note that kdigger should be mostly run inside of pods on not on your host machine.

Via releases

For installation instructions from binaries please visit the releases page.

Please note that these are statically linked binaries (which is often not the case in Go on Linux by default, contrary to what one might think!).

Build from source

Just type make to build with the default build target.

git clone

Then you can move the binary somewhere included in your PATH, for example:

sudo install kdigger /usr/local/bin

Note that you will need golangci-lint to use the release target that will build for the supported architectures. You can use make install-linter to install golangci-lint on the host.

With Nix

You can use Nix with a new shell environments thanks to a contributor PR that added kdigger to nixpkgs.

nix-shell -p kdigger

You can also create docker images with kdigger and other tools easily with

docker run -it /bin/bash

Via Go

go install



What you generally want to do is running all the buckets with dig all or just d a:

kdigger dig all

Help is provided by the CLI itself, just type kdigger to see the options:

$ kdigger
kdigger is an extensible CLI tool to dig around when you are in a Kubernetes
cluster. For that you can use multiples buckets. Buckets are plugins that can
scan specific aspects of a cluster or bring expertise to automate the Kubernetes
pentest process.

  kdigger [command]

Available Commands:
  completion  Generate the autocompletion script for the specified shell
  dig         Use all buckets or specific ones
  gen         Generate template for pod with security features disabled
  help        Help about any command
  ls          List available buckets or describe specific ones
  version     Print the version information

  -h, --help            help for kdigger
  -o, --output string   Output format. One of: human|json. (default "human")
  -w, --width int       Width for the human output (default 140)

Use "kdigger [command] --help" for more information about a command.

Make sure to check out the help on the dig command to see all the available flags:

$ kdigger help dig
This command runs buckets, special keyword "all" or "a" runs all registered
buckets. You can find information about all buckets with the list command. To
run one or more specific buckets, just input their names or aliases as

  kdigger dig [buckets] [flags]

  dig, d

      --admission-create    Actually create pods to scan admission instead of using server dry run. (this flag is specific to the admission bucket)
      --admission-force     Force creation of pods to scan admission even without cleaning rights. (this flag is specific to the admission bucket)
  -c, --color               Enable color in output. (default true if output is human)
  -h, --help                help for dig
      --kubeconfig string   (optional) absolute path to the kubeconfig file (default "/home/vagrant/.kube/config")
  -n, --namespace string    Kubernetes namespace to use. (default to the namespace in the context)
  -s, --side-effects        Enable all buckets that might have side effect on environment.

Global Flags:
  -o, --output string   Output format. One of: human|json. (default "human")
  -w, --width int       Width for the human output (default 140)


You can also generate useful templates for pods with security features disabled to escalate privileges when you can create such a pod. See the help for this specific command for more information.

$ kdigger help gen
This command generates templates for pod with security features disabled.
You can customize the pods with some of the string flags and activate
boolean flags to disabled security features. Examples:

  # Generate a very simple template in json
  kdigger gen -o json

  # Create a very simple pod
  kdigger gen | kubectl apply -f -

  # Create a pod named mypod with most security features disabled
  kdigger gen -all mypod | kubectl apply -f -

  # Create a custom privileged pod
  kdigger gen --privileged --image bash --command watch --command date | kubectl apply -f -

  # Fuzz the API server admission
  kdigger gen --fuzz-pod --fuzz-init --fuzz-container | kubectl apply --dry-run=server -f -

  kdigger gen [name] [flags]

  gen, generate

      --all                   Enable everything
      --command stringArray   Container command used (default [sleep,infinitely])
      --fuzz-container        Generate a random container security context. (will override other options)
      --fuzz-init             Generate a random init container security context.
      --fuzz-pod              Generate a random pod security context.
  -h, --help                  help for gen
      --hostnetwork           Add the hostNetwork flag on the whole pod
      --hostpath              Add a hostPath volume to the container
      --hostpid               Add the hostPid flag on the whole pod
      --image string          Container image used (default "busybox")
  -n, --namespace string      Kubernetes namespace to use
      --privileged            Add the security flag to the security context of the pod
      --tolerations           Add tolerations to be schedulable on most nodes

Global Flags:
  -o, --output string   Output format. One of: human|json. (default "human")
  -w, --width int       Width for the human output (default 140)


You can try to fuzz your API admission with kdigger, find some information in this PR. It can be interesting to see if your sets of custom policies are resistant against randomly generated pod manifest.

See how kdigger can generate random container securityContext:

./kdigger gen --fuzz-container -o json | jq '.spec.containers[].securityContext'

Or generate a dozen:

for _ in {1..12}; do ./kdigger gen --fuzz-container -o json | jq '.spec.containers[].securityContext'; done

Fuzz your admission API with simple commands similar to:

while true; do ./kdigger gen --fuzz-pod --fuzz-init --fuzz-container | kubectl apply --dry-run=server -f -; done



I updates this tool from time to time, when I have new ideas after reading a book or doing CTF challenges, you can find information in the changelog.

Usage warning

Be careful when running this tool, some checks have side effects, like scanning your available syscalls or trying to create pods to scan the admission control. By default these checks will not run without adding the --side-effects or -s flag.

For example, syscalls scans may succeed to perform some syscalls with empty arguments, and it can alter your environment or configuration. For instance, if the hostname syscall is successful, it will replace the hostname with the empty string. So please, NEVER run with sufficient permissions (as root for example) directly on your machine.

The admission scan will by default run as server dry-run but will generate API server logs.

Results warning

Some tests are based on details of implementation or side effects on the environment that might be subject to changes in the future. So be cautious with the results. For example, CoreDNS is considering removing the wildcard feature, see CoreDNS issue 4984.

On top of that, some results might need some experience to be understood and analyzed. To take a specific example, if you are granted the CAP_SYS_ADMIN capability inside a Kubernetes container, there is a good chance that it is because you are running in a privileged container. But you should definitely confirm that by looking at the number of devices available or the other capabilities that you are granted. Indeed, it might be necessary to get CAP_SYS_ADMIN to be privileged but it’s not sufficient and if it is your goal, you can easily trick the results by crafting very specific pods that might look confusing regarding this tool results.

It might not be the most sophisticated tool to pentest a Kubernetes cluster, but you can see this as a Kubernetes pentest 101 compilation!

Why another tool?

I started researching Kubernetes security a few months ago and participated in the 2021 Europe KubeCon Cloud-Native Security Day CTF. I learned a lot by watching various security experts conferences and demonstrations and this CTF was a really beginner-friendly entry point to practice what I learned in theory. During a live solving session, I had the opportunity to see how Kubernetes security experts were trying to solve the challenge, how they were thinking, what they were looking for.

So I decided to create a tool that compiles most of the checks we usually do as pentesters when in a Kubernetes pod to acquire information very quickly. There already are various tools out there. For example, a lot of experts were using amicontained, a famous container introspection tool by Jessie Frazelle. This tool is truly awesome, but some features are outdated, like the PID namespace detection, and it is not specialized in Kubernetes, it is only a container tool that can already give a lot of hints about your Kubernetes situation.

That is why, in kdigger, I included most of amicontained features. You can:

  • Try to guess your container runtime.
  • See your capabilities.
  • Scan for namespace activation and configuration.
  • Scan for the allowed syscalls.

But you can also do more Kubernetes specific operations:

  • Retrieve service account token.
  • Scan token permissions.
  • List interesting environment variables.
  • List available devices.
  • Retrieve all available services in a cluster.
  • Scan the admission controller chain!

Anyway, this tool is obviously not an automatically hack your Kubernetes cluster application, it is mostly just a compilation of tedious tasks that can be performed automatically very quickly. You still need a lot of expertise to interpret the digest and understand what the various outputs mean. And also, during pentest and challenges, you do not always have Internet access to pull your favorite toolchain, so you can also see this compilation as a checklist that you can somehow perform manually with a basic installation and a shell.

How is this tool built?

In addition to all the available features, this tool was built with a plugin design so that it can be easily extended by anyone that wants to bring some expertise.

For example, you are a security researcher on Kubernetes, and when you are doing CTFs or pentesting real infrastructure, you are often performing specific repetitive actions that could be automated or at least compiled with others. You can take a look at /pkg/plugins/template/template.go to bootstrap your own plugins and propose them to the project to extend the features! You only need a name, optionally some aliases, a description and filling the Run() function with the actual logic.

Areas for improvement

The expertise proposed by the tool could be refined and more precise. For now it's mostly dumping raw data for most of the buckets and rely on the user to understand what it implies.

Generally, the output format is not the best and could be reworked. The human format via array lines does not fit all the use cases perfectly but is simple to generalize without having each plugin to implement their format. The tool also proposes a JSON output format.

How to experiment with this tool?

Good news! We created a mini Kubernetes CTF with basic steps to try the tool and resolve quick challenges. For more information go to the minik8s-ctf repository.


You can list and describe the available buckets (or plugins) with kdigger list or kdigger ls:

$ kdigger ls
|       NAME      |           ALIASES          |               DESCRIPTION              | SIDEEFFECTS | REQUIRECLIENT |
| admission       | [admissions adm]           | Admission scans the admission          | true        | true          |
|                 |                            | controller chain by creating (by       |             |               |
|                 |                            | default with dry run) specific pods to |             |               |
|                 |                            | find what is prevented or not.         |             |               |
| apiresources    | [api apiresource]          | APIResources discovers the available   | false       | true          |
|                 |                            | APIs of the cluster.                   |             |               |
| authorization   | [authorizations auth]      | Authorization checks your API          | false       | true          |
|                 |                            | permissions with the current context   |             |               |
|                 |                            | or the available token.                |             |               |
| capabilities    | [capability cap]           | Capabilities lists all capabilities in | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | all sets and displays dangerous        |             |               |
|                 |                            | capabilities in red.                   |             |               |
| cgroups         | [cgroup cg]                | Cgroups reads the /proc/self/cgroup    | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | files that can leak information under  |             |               |
|                 |                            | cgroups v1.                            |             |               |
| cloudmetadata   | [cloud meta]               | Cloudmetadata scans the usual metadata | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | endpoints in public clouds.            |             |               |
| containerdetect | [container cdetect]        | ContainerDetect retrieves hints that   | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | the process is running inside a        |             |               |
|                 |                            | typical container.                     |             |               |
| devices         | [device dev]               | Devices shows the list of devices      | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | available in the container.            |             |               |
| environment     | [environments environ env] | Environment checks the presence of     | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | kubernetes related environment         |             |               |
|                 |                            | variables and shows them.              |             |               |
| mount           | [mounts mn]                | Mount shows all mounted devices in the | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | container.                             |             |               |
| node            | [nodes n]                  | Node retrieves various information in  | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | /proc about the current host.          |             |               |
| pidnamespace    | [pidnamespaces pidns]      | PIDnamespace analyses the PID          | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | namespace of the container in the      |             |               |
|                 |                            | context of Kubernetes.                 |             |               |
| processes       | [process ps]               | Processes analyses the running         | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | processes in your PID namespace        |             |               |
| runtime         | [runtimes rt]              | Runtime finds clues to identify which  | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | container runtime is running the       |             |               |
|                 |                            | container.                             |             |               |
| services        | [service svc]              | Services uses CoreDNS wildcards        | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | feature to discover every service      |             |               |
|                 |                            | available in the cluster.              |             |               |
| syscalls        | [syscall sys]              | Syscalls scans most of the syscalls to | true        | false         |
|                 |                            | detect which are blocked and allowed.  |             |               |
| token           | [tokens tk]                | Token checks for the presence of a     | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | service account token in the           |             |               |
|                 |                            | filesystem.                            |             |               |
| userid          | [userids id]               | UserID retrieves UID, GID and their    | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | corresponding names.                   |             |               |
| usernamespace   | [usernamespaces userns]    | UserNamespace analyses the user        | false       | false         |
|                 |                            | namespace configuration.               |             |               |
| version         | [versions v]               | Version dumps the API server version   | false       | true          |
|                 |                            | informations.                          |             |               |


Admission scans the admission controller chain by creating (by default with dry run) specific pods to find what is prevented or not. The idea behind this bucket is to check, after you learned that you have create pods ability, if no admission controller like a PodSecurityPolicy or another is blocking you to create node privilege escalation pods. Like mounting the host filesystem, or the host PID namespace, or just a privileged container, for example.

This bucket currently automatically tries to create:

  • a privileged pod
  • a privilege escalation pod
  • a host network pod
  • a host path pod
  • a run as root pod
  • a host PID pod

So, if you are granted rights to create pods, you can check the presence of any admission controller that might restrict you.

Note that it uses --dry-run=server by default but you can really create the pods with the --admission-create admission plugin specific flag.

API Resources

APIResources discovers the available APIs of the cluster. These endpoints are interesting because it only requires authentication and can leak some sensitive information. Indeed, you can learn about CRDs installed in the cluster, leaking for example the presence of Prometheus using Prometheus Operator, or the installation of the Falco, etc. Generally, it can inform you on the stack used in the cluster if the components are installed using CRDs.

This is equivalent of running kubectl api-resources, the output is just abbreviated.

Prior v1.14, the endpoints used required not authentication. Now the API discovery (and version, health, ready) endpoints are grouped in the system:discovery ClusterRole (visible with kubectl get clusterrole system:discovery -o yaml). The rest is in system:basic-user for the self authorization review with SelfSubjectAccessReviews and SelfSubjectSulesSeviews and system:public-info-viewer. The only part remaining for unauthenticated user is version, health, ready, live endpoints (see with kubectl get clusterrolebinding system:public-info-viewer -o yaml).


Authorization checks your API permissions with the current context or the available token. If you use kdigger inside a pod as planned, it will check and use the service account token that is normally mounted inside the pod. Then it will basically operate exactly the same operation as if you do kubectl auth can-i --list and display the result.


Capabilities lists all capabilities in all sets and displays dangerous capabilities in red.

Basically, in a non-privileged container, the result might look like that:

Comment: The bounding set contains 14 caps, it seems that you are running a non-privileged container.
|     SET     |                    CAPABILITIES                    |
| effective   | [chown dac_override fowner fsetid kill setgid      |
|             | setuid setpcap net_bind_service net_raw sys_chroot |
|             | mknod audit_write setfcap]                         |
| permitted   | [chown dac_override fowner fsetid kill setgid      |
|             | setuid setpcap net_bind_service net_raw sys_chroot |
|             | mknod audit_write setfcap]                         |
| inheritable | [chown dac_override fowner fsetid kill setgid      |
|             | setuid setpcap net_bind_service net_raw sys_chroot |
|             | mknod audit_write setfcap]                         |
| bounding    | [chown dac_override fowner fsetid kill setgid      |
|             | setuid setpcap net_bind_service net_raw sys_chroot |
|             | mknod audit_write setfcap]                         |
| ambient     | []                                                 |

This bucket might be especially useful to spot critical capabilities that can help you to escalate your privileges. This can be a good hint on whether you are running inside a privileged container or not.

This bucket also checks for the NoNewPrivs flag in /proc/self/status that will be set to 1 if allowPrivilegeEscalation is set to false in the SecurityContext of the Pod. Note that allowPrivilegeEscalation is always true when the container:

  • is run as privileged, or


Cgroups reads the /proc/self/cgroup files that can leak information under cgroups v1. The CgroupPath can leak many information, for example, you can see these kinds of paths:


These strings can give you information about the kind of container used, here the kubelet/kubepods part can confirm we are in a Kubernetes pod's container. Also you can learn about the container runtime used, here docker with containerd, also the container ID, the pod UID, the snapshot key, etc.

Knowing the container ID and the container runtime can be interesting to determine where on the host will be stored the files written to the container filesystem. This is for example useful when exploiting hooks that will be called in the context of the host, and thus escape the container, see these kinds of escapes for more information.

For kernels using cgroups v2, /proc/self/mountinfo can still leak information about the container ID. See this Stackoverflow thread and its related threads for more information.


Cloudmetadata scans the usual metadata endpoints in public clouds. It is usually quite simple to find at which service provider a VM come from, because of many leaks in the filesystems, the environment variables, etc. But from a containers in a VM, it can be harder, that's why this plugin performs a scan on the network via the usual service running at or alike. See the source code for endpoints used and links to more endpoints.

This plugin only gives you the information of the availability of the main endpoints, which means that you might running in a specific public cloud. If that's the case, further research, using available endpoints for that cloud, can be conducted. You can potentially retrieve an authentication token or simply more metadata to pivot within the cloud account.


ContainerDetect retrieves hints that the process is running inside a typical container. This bucket follows a discussion on Twitter about detection technics

For now, it's composed of six hints:

  • systemd is not PID 1
  • kthreadd is not PID 2
  • inode number of root is not 2
  • root is an overlay fs
  • /etc/fstab is empty
  • /boot is empty


Devices show the list of devices available in the container. This one is straightforward, it's equivalent to just ls /dev. Nevertheless, the number of available devices can also be a good hint on running in a privileged container or not.


Environment checks the presence of Kubernetes related environment variables and shows them. Like always, it's not sufficient, but detecting Kubernetes related environment variables can give you a pretty good idea that you are running in a Kubernetes cluster. That might be useful if you want to quickly find out where you are. Of course, this one is easy to confuse, by just exporting some environment variable or removing some.


Mount show all mounted devices in the container. This is equivalent to use the mount command directly but the number of mounted devices and reading path can show you mounted volumes, configmap or even secrets inside the pod.


Node retrieves various information in /proc about the current host. It seeks information in /proc/cpuinfo, /proc/meminfo and /proc/version to understand the context of execution of the containers. These files are not namespaced and thus leak information about the reality of the underlying node.

It lists information about the CPU model, the number of cores, the total memory available, the part that is used, the kernel version and some compilation details about it.


PIDNamespace analyzes the PID namespace of the container in the context of Kubernetes. Detecting the PID namespace is almost impossible so the idea of this bucket is to scan the /proc folder to search for specific processes such as:

  • pause: it might signify that you are sharing the PID namespace between all the containers composing the pod.
  • kubelet: it might signify that you are sharing the PID namespace with the host.

By the way, the detection in amicontained is based on the device number of the namespace file, a detail of implementation which is no longer reliable and most of the time wrong. This is why I tried a different approach.


Processes analyzes the running processes in your PID namespace. It is similar to any ps command that list all processes like ps -e or ps -A. It gives you the information of the number of running processes and if the first one is systemd.


Runtime finds clues to identify which container runtime is running the container. This one is calling exactly the same code that the one in amicontained. It is using a package of the genuinetools/bpfd project to spot artifacts about container runtime that could betray their presence.

Please note that this is a 3-year-old part of that code and that it makes no distinction between Docker and containerd.


Services uses CoreDNS wildcard feature to discover every service available in the cluster. In fact, it appears that CoreDNS, that is now widely used in Kubernetes cluster proposes a wildcard feature. You can learn more about it here in the documentation.

This bucket is extremely useful to perform discovery really fast in a Kubernetes cluster. The DNS will kindly give you every service domain present in the cluster.

Note: This feature was removed starting as of CoreDNS v1.9.0 because it was mostly used by bad actors (like this tool). See the associated discussion on the corresponding Github issue. Kubernetes v1.24 was still using CoreDNS v1.8.6, but the v1.25 version updated CoreDNS to v1.9.3. That's why this plugin no longer works on v1.25 and above.


Syscalls scans most of the syscalls to detect which are blocked and allowed. This one is also using a lot of the amicontained code base except that it also banned the SYS_PTRACE scan that causes a racing condition that can hang the program forever.

This is one really nice way to see if you are in a privileged container with a lot of capabilities quickly: the list of blocked syscall might be almost empty.

This bucket also checks the Seccomp flag in /proc/self/status, it will display if Seccomp is disabled, running in strict or in filter mode.


Token checks for the presence of a service account token in the filesystem. Then it dumps the stuff it finds in /run/secrets/ which is composed of the service account token itself, the namespace and the CA certificate of the kube API server.

You might want to use the -o json flag here and use jq to get that token fast!


UserID retrieves UID, GID and their corresponding names. It also gives homeDir as a bonus! Unfortunately, we can list all group IDs without CGO enabled. This is almost (because id is better) equivalent to run the id command directly.


UserNamespace analyses the user namespace configuration. The user namespace is transparent and can be easily detected. It is even possible to read the mapping between the current user namespace and the outer namespace. Unfortunately for now, user namespaces cannot be used with Kubernetes.


Version dumps the API server version information. It access the /version path that is accessible even by unauthenticated users. So even without a service account token you can request this information. You can get more information on what you can access as an system:unauthenticated user with kubectl describe clusterrolebinding | grep unauthenticated -B 9 for example. You may encounter the system:public-info-viewer cluster role, you can describe it with kubectl describe clusterrole system:public-info-viewer and display:

Name:         system:public-info-viewer
Annotations: true
  Resources  Non-Resource URLs  Resource Names  Verbs
  ---------  -----------------  --------------  -----
             [/healthz]         []              [get]
             [/livez]           []              [get]
             [/readyz]          []              [get]
             [/version/]        []              [get]
             [/version]         []              [get]


As kdigger is a security checklist when pentesting from inside a pod's container, please consider adding a plugin if you have some checks that are not covered by the tool. To do that, you can use the template and load your plugin into the project here. I will be happy to see your PR!

If you have any other ideas or advice, consider opening an issue or directly contact me @mtardy_ on twitter or by email.

A small digger trying to move the evergreen stuck cruise ship in the suez canal


Apache License 2.0