Pod Security Admission

An overview of the Pod Security Admission Controller, which can enforce the Pod Security Standards.
FEATURE STATE: Kubernetes v1.25 [stable]

The Kubernetes Pod Security Standards define different isolation levels for Pods. These standards let you define how you want to restrict the behavior of pods in a clear, consistent fashion.

Kubernetes offers a built-in Pod Security admission controller to enforce the Pod Security Standards. Pod security restrictions are applied at the namespace level when pods are created.

Built-in Pod Security admission enforcement

This page is part of the documentation for Kubernetes v1.25. If you are running a different version of Kubernetes, consult the documentation for that release.

Pod Security levels

Pod Security admission places requirements on a Pod's Security Context and other related fields according to the three levels defined by the Pod Security Standards: privileged, baseline, and restricted. Refer to the Pod Security Standards page for an in-depth look at those requirements.

Pod Security Admission labels for namespaces

Once the feature is enabled or the webhook is installed, you can configure namespaces to define the admission control mode you want to use for pod security in each namespace. Kubernetes defines a set of labels that you can set to define which of the predefined Pod Security Standard levels you want to use for a namespace. The label you select defines what action the control plane takes if a potential violation is detected:

Pod Security Admission modes
enforcePolicy violations will cause the pod to be rejected.
auditPolicy violations will trigger the addition of an audit annotation to the event recorded in the audit log, but are otherwise allowed.
warnPolicy violations will trigger a user-facing warning, but are otherwise allowed.

A namespace can configure any or all modes, or even set a different level for different modes.

For each mode, there are two labels that determine the policy used:

# The per-mode level label indicates which policy level to apply for the mode.
# MODE must be one of `enforce`, `audit`, or `warn`.
# LEVEL must be one of `privileged`, `baseline`, or `restricted`.
pod-security.kubernetes.io/<MODE>: <LEVEL>

# Optional: per-mode version label that can be used to pin the policy to the
# version that shipped with a given Kubernetes minor version (for example v1.25).
# MODE must be one of `enforce`, `audit`, or `warn`.
# VERSION must be a valid Kubernetes minor version, or `latest`.
pod-security.kubernetes.io/<MODE>-version: <VERSION>

Check out Enforce Pod Security Standards with Namespace Labels to see example usage.

Workload resources and Pod templates

Pods are often created indirectly, by creating a workload object such as a Deployment or Job. The workload object defines a Pod template and a controller for the workload resource creates Pods based on that template. To help catch violations early, both the audit and warning modes are applied to the workload resources. However, enforce mode is not applied to workload resources, only to the resulting pod objects.


You can define exemptions from pod security enforcement in order to allow the creation of pods that would have otherwise been prohibited due to the policy associated with a given namespace. Exemptions can be statically configured in the Admission Controller configuration.

Exemptions must be explicitly enumerated. Requests meeting exemption criteria are ignored by the Admission Controller (all enforce, audit and warn behaviors are skipped). Exemption dimensions include:

  • Usernames: requests from users with an exempt authenticated (or impersonated) username are ignored.
  • RuntimeClassNames: pods and workload resources specifying an exempt runtime class name are ignored.
  • Namespaces: pods and workload resources in an exempt namespace are ignored.

Updates to the following pod fields are exempt from policy checks, meaning that if a pod update request only changes these fields, it will not be denied even if the pod is in violation of the current policy level:

  • Any metadata updates except changes to the seccomp or AppArmor annotations:
    • seccomp.security.alpha.kubernetes.io/pod (deprecated)
    • container.seccomp.security.alpha.kubernetes.io/* (deprecated)
    • container.apparmor.security.beta.kubernetes.io/*
  • Valid updates to .spec.activeDeadlineSeconds
  • Valid updates to .spec.tolerations

What's next

Last modified August 05, 2022 at 2:39 PM PST: Remove prerequisites (29d9fa5a5f)