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Monitor mode

When defining a policy, you can choose between two modes, specified in its spec.mode. By default, the policy is deployed in mode: protect, where it accepts, rejects, or mutates requests.

One can choose to deploy a policy in monitor mode. In monitor mode:

  • The policy accepts all requests, as if the policy wasn't installed.
  • The policy-server traces the policy normally. Details are included in the trace on whether the request would have been rejected, or if a mutation would have been proposed by the policy.
  • The policy-server metrics are updated normally, with the mode included in the metric baggage. Therefore, it's easy to filter policies by mode, and focus on the ones deployed via monitor mode.

The mode is an attribute included in the ClusterAdmissionPolicy and AdmissionPolicy resources. There are two values that the mode attribute can assume: monitor and protect. The mode defaults to protect if omitted.

To create a policy in monitor mode you to need include the mode: monitor as part of the specification of the resource. For example, as highlighted, in this ClusterAdmissionPolicy:

kind: ClusterAdmissionPolicy
name: psp-capabilities
mode: monitor
policyServer: reserved-instance-for-tenant-a
module: registry://
- apiGroups: [""]
apiVersions: ["v1"]
resources: ["pods"]
mutating: true

Changing policy mode

For security purposes, a user with UPDATE permissions on policy resources can make the policy more restrictive. This means that you can change the mode of an existing ClusterAdmissionPolicy or AdmissionPolicy from monitor to protect.

However, you can't change the mode of an existing ClusterAdmissionPolicy or AdmissionPolicy from protect to monitor.

So, to change the mode of a policy from protect to monitor, you need to delete the policy and re-create it in monitor mode. Switching a policy from protect to monitor is effectively the same as deleting the policy so this approach ensures that the user has policy delete permissions.

A note on mutating policies

Mutating policies in monitor mode won't perform a mutation on the resource. In monitor mode policies log what their action would have been. They also log the mutation patch they would have produced in protect mode.

When a mutating policy is in monitor mode, later policies evaluate an unchanged, and so different resource, than when the mutating policy is in protect mode.