Security using Calico Profiles


With Calico as a Docker network plugin, Calico uses an identically named profile to represent each Docker network. This profile is applied to each container in that network and the profile is used by Calico to configure access policy for that container. The Calico network plugin will automatically create the associated profile if it does not exist when the container is attached to the network. By default, the profile contains rules that allow full egress traffic but allow ingress traffic only from containers within the same network and no other source. Custom policy for a network can be configured by creating in advance, or editing, the profile associated with the Docker network.


To run through the worked example in this tutorial you will need to set up two hosts with calico installed.

Follow the Manual setup if you don’t already have a cluster prepared.

Or alternatively, use one of the two quickstart clusters:

1. Create the network

To create the networks, run the following commands on one of the hosts:

docker network create --driver calico --ipam-driver calico-ipam net1
docker network create --driver calico --ipam-driver calico-ipam net2
docker network create --driver calico --ipam-driver calico-ipam net3

Note: To allocate from a specific Calico IP Pool, the --subnet a.b.c.d/xx command can be passed to docker network create. For more details see below.

2. Create the workloads in the networks

With the networks created, let’s start some containers on each host spread between these networks.

On calico-01

docker run --net net1 --name workload-A -tid busybox
docker run --net net2 --name workload-B -tid busybox
docker run --net net1 --name workload-C -tid busybox

On calico-02

docker run --net net3 --name workload-D -tid busybox
docker run --net net1 --name workload-E -tid busybox

By default, networks are configured so that their members can communicate with one another, but workloads in other networks cannot reach them. A, C and E are all in the same network so should be able to ping each other. B and D are in their own networks so shouldn’t be able to ping anyone else.

3. Check Workload Connectivity

On calico-01 check that A can ping C and E. We can ping workloads within a containers networks by name.

docker exec workload-A ping -c 4 workload-C.net1
docker exec workload-A ping -c 4 workload-E.net1

Also check that A cannot ping B or D. This is slightly trickier because the hostnames for different networks will not be added to the host configuration of the container - so we need to determine the IP addresses assigned to containers B and D.

Since A and B are on the same host, we can run a single command that inspects the IP address and issues the ping from A to B. These pings will fail. On calico-01, run:

docker exec workload-A ping -c 2  `docker inspect --format "{{ .NetworkSettings.Networks.net2.IPAddress }}" workload-B`

To test connectivity between A and D which are on different hosts, it is necessary to run the docker inspect command on the host for D (calico-02) and then run the ping command on the host for A (calico-01).

On calico-02:

docker inspect --format "{{ .NetworkSettings.Networks.net3.IPAddress }}" workload-D

This returns the IP address of workload-D.

On calico-01:

docker exec workload-A ping -c 2 <IP address of D>

replacing the <...> with the appropriate IP address of D. These pings will fail.

To see the list of networks, use:

docker network ls

Further Reading

For details on configuring more advanced policy, see Security using Calico Profiles and Policy.