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Version: v3.6.x

Exempting Namespaces

Feature State: The Config resource is currently alpha.

Exempting Namespaces from Gatekeeper using config resource

The "Config" resource must be named config for it to be reconciled by Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper will ignore the resource if you do not name it config.

The config resource can be used as follows to exclude namespaces from certain processes for all constraints in the cluster. An asterisk can be used for wildcard matching (e.g. kube-*). To exclude namespaces at a constraint level, use excludedNamespaces in the constraint instead.

kind: Config
name: config
namespace: "gatekeeper-system"
- excludedNamespaces: ["kube-*", "my-namespace"]
processes: ["*"]
- excludedNamespaces: ["audit-excluded-ns"]
processes: ["audit"]
- excludedNamespaces: ["audit-webhook-sync-excluded-ns"]
processes: ["audit", "webhook", "sync"]
- excludedNamespaces: ["mutation-excluded-ns"]
processes: ["mutation-webhook"]

Available processes:

  • audit process exclusion will exclude resources from specified namespace(s) in audit results.
  • webhook process exclusion will exclude resources from specified namespace(s) from the admission webhook.
  • sync process exclusion will exclude resources from specified namespace(s) from being synced into OPA.
  • mutation-webhook process exclusion will exclude resources from specified namespace(s) from the mutation webhook.
  • * includes all current processes above and includes any future processes.

Exempting Namespaces from the Gatekeeper Admission Webhook using --exempt-namespace flag

Note that the following only exempts resources from the admission webhook. They will still be audited. Editing individual constraints or config resource is necessary to exclude them from audit.

If it becomes necessary to exempt a namespace from Gatekeeper webhook entirely (e.g. you want kube-system to bypass admission checks), here's how to do it:

  1. Make sure the validating admission webhook configuration for Gatekeeper has the following namespace selector:

    - key:
    operator: DoesNotExist

    the default Gatekeeper manifest should already have added this. The default name for the webhook configuration is gatekeeper-validating-webhook-configuration and the default name for the webhook that needs the namespace selector is

  2. Tell Gatekeeper it's okay for the namespace to be ignored by adding a flag to the pod: --exempt-namespace=<NAMESPACE NAME>. This step is necessary because otherwise the permission to modify a namespace would be equivalent to the permission to exempt everything in that namespace from policy checks. This way a user must explicitly have permissions to configure the Gatekeeper pod before they can add exemptions.

    In order to add the label to a namespace, that namespace must be listed under the gatekeeper controllerManager.exemptNamespaces parameter when installing via Helm.

  3. Add the label to the namespace. The value attached to the label is ignored, so it can be used to annotate the reason for the exemption.

Similarly, you can also enable the exemption of entire groups of namespaces using the --exempt-namespace-prefix and --exempt-namespace-suffix flags. Using these flags allows the label to be added to any namespace that matches the supplied prefix or suffix.

Difference between exclusion using config resource and --exempt-namespace flag

The difference is at what point in the admission process an exemption occurs.

If you use --exempt-namespace flag and label, Gatekeeper's webhook will not be called by the API server for any resource in that namespace. That means that Gatekeeper being down should have no effect on requests for that namespace.

If you use the config method, Gatekeeper itself evaluates the exemption. The benefit there is that we have more control over the syntax and can be more fine-grained, but it also means that the API server is still calling the webhook, which means downtime can have an impact.