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Kubernetes Packet Capture for Dummies

Have you ever needed to analyze the traffic on your kube cluster? It’s easier to do than you might think, and you might be surprised how much traffic you can get from inside a container.
There are three steps; first get a shell inside a container on your cluster, then use tcpdump to capture network traffic, finally exfil the traffic to your local machine and inspect it with wireshark.

Get a shell on your cluster

kubectl run \
-it \
--rm \
debug \
--restart=Never \
--image=ubuntu \
--overrides='{"kind":"Pod", "apiVersion":"v1", "spec": { \
  "hostNetwork":true, \
  "nodeName": "node1" \

let’s break that down a bit

  • -it - get an interactive terminal once the pod starts
  • --rm - delete the pod once the process completes
  • --image=ubuntu - use the ubuntu base image
  • setting hostNetwork to true ensures we use have access to the instance’s network if
  • setting nodeName is optional, but if you want you can use it to determine which node your pod will run on

Capture network traffic

apt-get update && apt-get install -y net-tools tcpdump
tcpdump -w dump.pcap

Install tcpdump and run it to dump network traffic to a file. If needed, additional parameters can be used to filter what should be captured. A handy one is 'tcp port 80'.


Download your traffic dump using

kubectl cp myNamespace/debug:/dump.pcap dump.pcap

where debug is the name of the pod we started for our shell.

Then just open dump.pcap with wireshark and explore!