An ultimate guide to Container Vulnerability Scanning

icon Posted by: Hasan Sameer
icon December 7, 2022

In Brief:

What is Container Scanning?

Container scanning is a comprehensive process that involves tools, techniques, tips, and tricks to detect and uncover all the hidden vulnerabilities within the containers and all their components. It is a key step, or the most important step to be precise, towards Container security. Both developers and the security teams get a fair idea of where things could go wrong. Moreover, it gives the cybersecurity teams room to fix the security loopholes and prepare a response plan as well, in case of any incident.


of organizations are planning to include containerized apps in their infrastructure over the next year.


has been the growth rate of containerization among businesses through the last year.


of respondents during a study in 2019 said that their container strategy wasn’t detailed enough.


of container users had to deal with at least one security incident over the last 12 months.

Basics of Container Vulnerability Scanning Services

As we have already established that there are several ways through which vulnerabilities infiltrate your container environment. So, you need to scan every potential gateway and aspect of your containers. The software inside the container, the interaction mechanism between the container and host OS as well as between adjacent containers, and the network configurations also need to be checked.

There are automated container scanner tools for analyzing all aspects of the container environment and detecting security vulnerabilities. Whether it is a vulnerability introduced by code, or through images, these tools can scan and uncover them effectively. Even if you get your images from trusted sources, there are still slight chances that they might contain vulnerabilities. When you detect a bunch of vulnerabilities together, it allows you to fix them all at once.

You can easily integrate security scanners during various stages of development. A few tools come with IDE plugins that enable you to scan Docker files and indicate alternative images having fewer vulnerabilities or are slimmer in size. Integrating vulnerability scanning to continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines is also an approach that a lot of organizations adopt to make things smoother.

Types of Container Security Scanning

The following are a few different types of container security scanning technologies:

  • Network configuration: to scan our Docker image port as well as the network configuration for finding security issues.
  • Identity and access management: restricts containers from getting access to the resources that are not essentially required to keep things operational. These are tools that allow you to assign specific roles and responsibilities to your Docker containers. They also help you to enforce and monitor predefined roles.
  • User-defined policies: with the help of these tools, you can define and enforce custom security policies in containers.
  • Open-source tools: these tools are available for free through a license to help you with container vulnerability scanning. You can easily integrate them with other open-source tools, including frameworks, integrated development environments (IDEs), and operating systems.

Best Practices for Container Vulnerability Scanning

Even with the most full-proof vulnerability scanning service, you need to make sure that all your steps are in line with security. The following are the best practices you can adopt for scanning vulnerabilities efficiently within containers:

  • Embed Image Scanning in the CI/CD Pipeline: You need to be careful while building and publishing the container images. Embedding image scanning in CI/CD pipeline will enable you to automate the container scanning process and catch vulnerabilities before any can enter the registry or production.
  • Scan for Third-Party Library Vulnerabilities: Container applications use a lot of third-party dependencies and libraries. This increases the chances of vulnerabilities making their way to your applications. Hence, it is important to deploy adequate measures to scan third-party vulnerabilities.
  • Use Minimal Base Images: Heavy and complex images would make your container processes slow, sluggish, and more vulnerable to security issues. Therefore, try to use the lightest image possible. It will improve the pace of building and scanning the application.
  • Optimize the Ordering of Layers: You need to pay proper attention to the RUN commands in your Dockerfile to optimize container images. Efficiently optimize the ordering of layers by placing the bigger ones first. This will help you prioritize reusing existing layers.

Before You Go!

  • Container Vulnerability Scanning is a trickier process in comparison to scanning traditional infrastructure.
  • Doing it yourself is equivalent to lining up for failure. We recommend taking assistance from cyber security firms for better results.


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