Container security requires more than securing your images
Introduce security measures into your early build and deployment stages
Many of us saw this scene play out several times over: customer financial records are exposed and account numbers are hacked. Security and compliance in a modern-day, cloud-native application are not only requirements. They are a challenge to most enterprise developers.
A container is a standard unit of software that packages up code and all its dependencies so the applications run quickly and reliably from one computing environment to another. Containers are becoming increasingly prominent, especially in cloud environments. There are several use cases for containers such as microservices, DevOps, and application migration and modernization. The benefits of using containers include:
- Portability between different platforms and clouds.
- Efficiency through using far fewer resources than virtual machines and delivering higher utilization of compute resources.
- Agility that allows developers to integrate with their existing DevOps environment.
- Higher speed in the delivery of enhancements.
- Faster app start-up and easier scaling.
- Easier management.
- Improved security by isolating applications from the host system and from each other.
Even though one of the bullet points notes that containers include “improved security,” containerization introduces potential security vulnerabilities that users must address. As more development shops use containers, the complexity of managing the increased growth creates management complexity and security exposures. Security needs to be built into the container pipeline so containers ensure reliability, scalability, and trust.
What are the security implications of containers? Container security includes implementing security tools and policies to assure that your container is running as intended, including protection of infrastructure, software supply chain, and runtime. Container security needs to be continuous. As a developer, be concerned with securing the:
- Applications within the container.
- Container build pipeline.
- Container deployment environment.
- Container management stack.
- Container host.
- Attack surface of the container environment.
Introduce security measures as early as possible as a core component of your build and deployment stages in addition to the runtime period. Begin the security process by integrating it into the development cycle. Next, as the containers move toward deployment, container security ensures that the secured container was not modified. Finally, runtime monitoring of containers looks for any signs of hacking and enforces policies that allow only authorized activity.
Design your container platform to automatically and regularly scan and patch containers, ensuring these containers always use the latest versions of their dependencies and libraries. This reduces the security risk that is exposed by the other code that your container depends on. Security tools are available to solve the problem from build time to run time. Address security across the entire container lifecycle.
Enterprise DevOps and DevSecOps teams are typically the individuals who are responsible for ensuring container security and compliance. It is important that these teams don’t slow down the container pipeline by securing containers with manual processes. Read NeuVector’s 10 Steps to Automate Container Security Into the CI/CD Pipeline ebook to:
- Learn about the top security concerns in the CI/CD pipeline.
- Discover the 10 steps to start container security automation from build to ship to run.
- Evaluate who is responsible for each automation step, and what techniques can be used for integration.
- Automate modern cloud-native security controls such as virtual patching, admission controls, security policy as code, and container network segmentation.