It’s no question: containers are here to stay. They’re convenient for developers and they fit well in a DevOps environment. Since they use the same deployment model as traditional applications (build, deploy, run), keeping them secure should be as easy as making sure your already-deployed security programs are still running. Simple, right?
In truth, it’s much more complicated than that.
Containers are still a relatively recent development, so not every security problem has been ironed out yet. While containers are isolated from the majority of their host infrastructure, it’s still possible for an unsecure container to create a systems-wide security breach. That said, there are measures that developers and IT teams can implement to help keep their containers in safe hands. Container security may require a lot of set-up, but it’s important in maintaining the safety of both your containers and systems. Knowing these basics of container security will help your teams understand where potentially risky areas of the container lifecycle are and how to secure them.
Security across the entire spectrum
Container security doesn’t just stop at securing the application. Securing your containers means keeping every part of the container pipeline protected. Every aspect of the container lifecycle from creation to deployment needs to be locked in tight to keep your containers secure. The host OS and host terminal should also be secured to prevent dangerous files from corrupting any container instances. Whenever possible, companies should integrate their existing enterprise security tools into the container cycle to boost their security.
Since containerization is a separate field from the rest of computing, you can’t assume that your standard security tools will do the job. While some security platforms do support container security out-of-the-box, not all of them do. To help remedy this, developers should put measures to test the security of deployed containers in place. Automated processes can detect a build’s progress through the pipeline and alert you of any security issues. You can learn of any points where the container is exposed to security risks or if the container itself isn’t secure.
When reviewing a container lifecycle, especially one that’s DevOps-friendly, it’s important to consider who should access your container images. Many container management platforms provide role-based access control (RBAC) capabilities, allowing teams to set specific access permissions based on roles. Private registries also administer these roles. RBAC policies protect against unpermitted access from anyone across the development cycle, letting you keep containers internally secure.
A container runtime is the process that execute containers on their native hosts. It’s an essential part of the container deployment cycle, but it can also be a major security risk. Unsecure application and runtime code can cause a security issue that could spread to every container on your machine. It’s always a good idea to destroy and replace potentially dangerous containers rather than simply patching them.
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