Containers provide very important functionality: They package various software applications in “containers” to ensure that they are able to run correctly when moved from one computing environment to another.
The container model has all its dependencies packaged into virtual containers. A container not only contains an application but all supporting packages that are needed to run the application effectively. Thus, they provide flexibility, ease of use, and the ability to share resources. However, security is a primary concern when any new technology is pushed into production. Therefore, it is vital to focus on container security because poor security can put various applications and processes at risk for the entire enterprise. Threat Stack’s container security solutions monitor your containerized environments for risky and anomalous behavior and provide the visibility you need, no matter where your container strategy stands. You can deploy the Threat Stack agent on your host or even as a containerized agent to gain visibility into your containers. If you see risky behavior in a container, you’ll be able to follow the path of your attacker across your infrastructure.
Whether you’re using Docker or Docker with Kubernetes, security considerations must be paramount. Below, we discuss security tips and best practices that need to be incorporated for secure and safe utilization of containers.
Container Security Tips
The following container security tips will help you create a secure environment:
- Monitor the container ecosystem to help detect any security breach immediately, and raise an alarm when any suspicious activity is detected.
- Use built-in container features to assist in identifying the publication date, authenticity, and integrity of the images.
- Include a robust vulnerability management program that has multiple checks throughout the container lifecycle.
- Employ third-party security tools to help determine whether the container is free of malicious or corrupt files.
Container Security Best Practices
Industry-wide accepted best practices that will lead to more secure use of containers include the following:
1. Harden the Container Runtime
When running containers, it is essential to harden the container daemon and the host environment.
As a best practice, follow Center for Internet Security (CIS) guidelines. Depending on the needs of your enterprise, you might have to choose the subset of the clause applicable to you. Remove native services that are non-critical from the host, and ensure that non-compliant containers are not deployed in the environment.
2. Eliminate Vulnerabilities Before Deployment
Container images are mostly built by using a base image and incorporating other layers on top of it. The use of such a base image or library could introduce malicious code that could put the application at risk.
As a best practice, always use a vulnerability analysis tool and also incorporate a vulnerability scanning function that can verify that the images are safe.
3. Enforce Control Over Images
Developers generally use images and build code giving priority to convenience and speed rather than authenticity and security. This poses a risk if no control is maintained regarding the origin of the images.
As a best practice, put policies in place that specify trusted sources, registries, and controls throughout the container lifecycle, and that also act as gatekeepers for the authenticity of images.
Wrapping Up . . .
Containers won’t fix all your problems in the cloud, but they do offer myriad benefits for the right applications. If you’re moving to containers, Docker may be just what you’re looking for — but don’t lose sight of the importance of securing your containerized environments. Threat Stack offers Docker integration to help you make smarter security decisions at the same time that you’re streamlining your data consumption. (In fact, as we pointed out earlier, Threat Stack can even be deployed as a container.)
If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at these two recent articles based on the insights of 33 IT experts, including Threat Stack’s Director of Product Marketing, Todd Morneau: Container Concerns; The Future of Containers.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the Threat Stack Cloud Security Platform® and its capabilities with Docker and Kubernetes, sign up for a demo. Our security and operations experts will be pleased to discuss your organization’s specific requirements.