How to secure containers from potential cyber threats?

icon Posted by: Praveen Joshi
icon November 11, 2022

In Brief

What is Container Security? 

Container security involves the practice of implementing tools, techniques, and other measures to protect any container-based system from cyber threats. A standalone file or a group of files can be termed as a container depending on the purpose they serve. A container stores every resource you need to run an application including the application’s code, dependencies, library, runtime, and system tools. There is a fundamental difference in the approach we adopt for container security as compared to the security of the other aspects of the IT infrastructure. This is all due to the rapidly changing nature of IT architecture. 

41%

of organizations lack compliance certification for containers. 

34%

of vulnerabilities are found within the container images. 

90%

of organizations will be using containers in some form or the other by the next year. 

40%

of privacy violations in containers occur due to shared resources. 

Best Practices to Adopt for Container Security 

As we discussed earlier, containers hold every resource required to run an application. Hence, container security is necessary to deploy in your system architecture for the smooth running of the applications without any disruptions. The following are the best practices you need to adopt for ensuring an adequate level of container security: 

1. Secure Images 

The images we use to create containers are known as container images. Any misconfigurations in these images can potentially trigger vulnerabilities in the containers under production. To ensure the security of the container images you can include your application in a container image. You will find a subset of the operating system within the container image. Along with that, there is also an application designed to run in the container. For Better security, try to include as little as possible in the images. Removing all the components that you do not need can help you reduce the attack surface of the container images. Furthermore, try to create the image from scratch by yourself. If it is not possible, then try to use images from trustworthy sources to avoid any instances of malware infections.  

2. Secure Your Code and Its Dependencies 

The main purpose of using containers is to make a way to enable faster delivery of cloud-native applications. Here the meaning of application code has expanded. Still, most part of the code is under the direct control of the developers. But there are a lot of open-source dependencies that supplement the proprietary code frame to work as a whole running application. You need to check them all for vulnerabilities to ensure proper security. Implementation of integrated scanning processes with tools like software composition analysis (SCA) and static application security testing (SAST) can help you scan code and dependencies for security loopholes.  

3.Secure Registries 

Typically, we use private or public registries to store container images. You need to make the security of these registries a priority. This is to ensure that you and all your team members are using vulnerability-free container images. Use access control for your own private registry to define exactly who can access and publish images. Robust access management will prohibit anyone else from modifying, publishing, or deleting your images. This will restrict unwanted intrusion and eventually, reduce security risks. Also, you can sign your images. It allows the images to be tracked back to you. Additionally, you can use a vulnerability scanner to scan your images to detect critical threats. Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing is also viable method to use for scanning vulnerabilities. 

4. Secure Container Runtime 

Always try to create separate virtual networks for your containers. This will isolate the container and reduce the attack surface. Also, reduce the connectivity between containers and people to only the required level. Applying the principle of least privilege will help you eliminate the risk of unauthorized access. Make sure only the ports that serve the application are exposed. For all the containers, as well as the underlying machines, try to conceal every port except for SSH.  

5. Secure Deployment  

Security is not only a requirement up until development. You need to secure the deployment as well. Secure the target environment by hardening the underlying host operating system. Establishing firewall and VPC rules will help you create special accounts that limit access. You can also use an orchestration platform to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.  

Before You Go! 

  • Container security is much more complex than security in your basic IT infrastructure. It is not just executing Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing; it requires much more than that. 
  • However, you do not need to do it yourself. There are various expert Cyber Security Companies in Dubai to help you out with container security.  

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