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Kubernetes 1.30: Preventing unauthorized volume mode conversion moves to GA

With the release of Kubernetes 1.30, the feature to prevent the modification of the volume mode of a PersistentVolumeClaim that was created from an existing VolumeSnapshot in a Kubernetes cluster, has moved to GA!

The problem

The Volume Mode of a PersistentVolumeClaim refers to whether the underlying volume on the storage device is formatted into a filesystem or presented as a raw block device to the Pod that uses it.

Users can leverage the VolumeSnapshot feature, which has been stable since Kubernetes v1.20, to create a PersistentVolumeClaim (shortened as PVC) from an existing VolumeSnapshot in the Kubernetes cluster. The PVC spec includes a dataSource field, which can point to an existing VolumeSnapshot instance. Visit Create a PersistentVolumeClaim from a Volume Snapshotfor more details on how to create a PVC from an existing VolumeSnapshot in a Kubernetes cluster.

When leveraging the above capability, there is no logic that validates whether the mode of the original volume, whose snapshot was taken, matches the mode of the newly created volume.

This presents a security gap that allows malicious users to potentially exploit an as-yet-unknown vulnerability in the host operating system.

There is a valid use case to allow some users to perform such conversions. Typically, storage backup vendors convert the volume mode during the course of a backup operation, to retrieve changed blocks for greater efficiency of operations. This prevents Kubernetes from blocking the operation completely and presents a challenge in distinguishing trusted users from malicious ones.

Preventing unauthorized users from converting the volume mode

In this context, an authorized user is one who has access rights to perform update or patch operations on VolumeSnapshotContents, which is a cluster-level resource.

It is up to the cluster administrator to provide these rights only to trusted users or applications, like backup vendors. Users apart from such authorized ones will never be allowed to modify the volume mode of a PVC when it is being created from a VolumeSnapshot.

To convert the volume mode, an authorized user must do the following:

  1. Identify the VolumeSnapshot that is to be used as the data source for a newly created PVC in the given namespace.
  2. Identify the VolumeSnapshotContent bound to the above VolumeSnapshot.
kubectl describe volumesnapshot -n <namespace> <name>

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  1. Add the annotation snapshot.storage.kubernetes.io/allow-volume-mode-change: "true"to the above VolumeSnapshotContent. The VolumeSnapshotContent annotations must include one similar to the following manifest fragment:
kind: VolumeSnapshotContent
 - snapshot.storage.kubernetes.io/allow-volume-mode-change: "true"

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Note : For pre-provisioned VolumeSnapshotContents, you must take an extra step of setting spec.sourceVolumeMode field to either Filesystem or Block, depending on the mode of the volume from which this snapshot was taken.

An example is shown below:

apiVersion: snapshot.storage.k8s.io/v1
kind: VolumeSnapshotContent
 - snapshot.storage.kubernetes.io/allow-volume-mode-change: "true"
 name: <volume-snapshot-content-name>
 deletionPolicy: Delete
 driver: hostpath.csi.k8s.io
 snapshotHandle: <snapshot-handle>
 sourceVolumeMode: Filesystem
 name: <volume-snapshot-name>
 namespace: <namespace>

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Repeat steps 1 to 3 for all VolumeSnapshotContents whose volume mode needs to be converted during a backup or restore operation. This can be done either via software with credentials of an authorized user or manually by the authorized user(s).

If the annotation shown above is present on a VolumeSnapshotContent object, Kubernetes will not prevent the volume mode from being converted. Users should keep this in mind before they attempt to add the annotation to any VolumeSnapshotContent.

Action required

The prevent-volume-mode-conversion feature flag is enabled by default in the external-provisioner v4.0.0 and external-snapshotter v7.0.0. Volume mode change will be rejected when creating a PVC from a VolumeSnapshot unless the steps described above have been performed.

What's next

To determine which CSI external sidecar versions support this feature, please head over to the CSI docs page. For any queries or issues, join Kubernetes on Slack and create a thread in the #csi or #sig-storage channel. Alternately, create an issue in the CSI external-snapshotter repository.

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