An Ultimate Guide to Docker Security Best Practices

icon Posted by: Hasan Sameer
icon November 23, 2022

In Brief

Importance of Docker Container Security

Millions of users and more than a hundred billion image pulls are associated with Dockers. It is significantly changing the way how applications are built over a large user base. Security has become a core responsibility of developers. Before they push the images to the Docker Hub or other registries, they need to make sure the images are scanned properly. It will help in finding and fixing security risks that might potentially originate from Linux packages, user permissions, network configurations, open-source tools, or access management. Ensuring that your Docker container is secure can make up a robust delivery line for shipping applications without any vulnerability issues within their infrastructure. 

38%

of users deploy adequate security to the data stored in containers.

40%

of Docker Security violations originate due to using shared resources.

41%

of organizations lack compliance certifications for container use.

94%

of respondents during a survey accepted that they have container security implications.

Top 7 Best Practices for Docker Security

It will take more than the traditional measure to ensure the complete security of Docker Containers. Testing your cloud environment with Azure or aws pen testing can uncover a few vulnerabilities to tackle. But you need to target the Dockers with rooted security practices for them. Let us have a close look at the best security practices for Docker Containers… 

1. Keep Everything Up to Date 

Docker Engine as well as the operating system hosting the Docker operations must be updated frequently. Missing out on updates might leave a wide range of vulnerabilities exposed. The host and the container share the kernel. If the container is breached by a hacker, it can directly affect the host. You should download and install the updates made available by the vendor even if your current OS is not having any vulnerabilities.    

2. Always Choose a Suitable Underlying OS 

However, you may work with Dockers and containers on a general-purpose operating system. But it is better to choose a container-specific operating system for better security. An enabled SELinux, automated updates, and image hardening are some of the default security features that you get with these container-specific operating systems. If you are having a general-purpose OS, you need to make a security framework from scratch. An OS like Bottlerocket from AWS can take off this load from you. It is a special OS specifically designed for hosting containers. It is free, open-source, and Linux-based.  

3. Avoid Privileged Containers 

There is a provision for letting the container run as root on the local machine. You can do it by making use of the privilege mode provided by Docker. However, by running the container in the privilege mode, you give the host root access to all devices. It also provides the ability to tamper with Linux security modules like AppArmor and SELinux. These kinds of privileges invite a lot of security risks. An attacker might easily exploit these privileges if a container is compromised. One with malicious intent can escalate privileges for their benefit.  

4. Use Short-Lived Containers 

Unlike servers, containers are ephemeral and lightweight by design. Constantly adding files to the containers with a high frequency is not recommended. This can increase the attack surface of your container that you need to maintain. Update the container resources once every couple of weeks or months. This won’t let your security posture become weak.  

5. Use Container Security Tools 

There are native tools on offer to enhance the security capabilities of the containers by the orchestration platform. You can take care of the container’s security health with the help of these tools. However, this is only applicable to an ideal case where no third-party software or resources are included in the operation. These tools can assist you in managing access controls, testing security, and protecting your infrastructure.  

6. Segregate Container Networks 

Docker containers need to make use of the network interfaces on the host for communicating with the outside world. All Docker hosts possess a default bridge network. You must specify a different network for each container otherwise, a new container automatically connects to the default bridge network of the previous docker host.  

7. Monitor Container Activity  

There is a highly dynamic workload processing through the containers. One image might be running at multiple instances. Also, new images are deployed at a rapid speed. This might generate security issues if the process is not monitored and controlled. You need to manage it before it gets critical and out of control. Monitoring container activity will give you real-time reports of any issues that might lead to a security failure.  

Before You Go! 

  • The above 7 practices are extremely helpful in maintaining a robust Docker Security posture. However, you must also ensure that your cloud is also safe. Methods like aws pen testing can help with that. 
  • There are several cyber security dubai services to assist you with complex security procedures. You may connect to get help.  

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