Container Security is the process of using security tools and policies to protect all aspects of containerized applications from potential risks. Container Security manages risks throughout the environment, including all aspects of the software supply chain or CI/CD pipeline, infrastructure, and container runtime and life cycle management applications running on containers. When implementing container network security solutions make sure they’re integrated with the underlying container orchestration for context awareness of the application.
While containers offer some inherent security advantages, including increased application isolation, containers also expand an organization’s threat landscape. Failing to recognize and plan specific security measures related to containers could increase the security risks for organizations.
The significant increase in container adoption in production environments makes containers a more appealing target for malicious actors. Plus, a single vulnerable or compromised container could potentially become a point of entry into an organization’s broader environment. Along with the rise in east-west traffic traversing the data center and in the cloud, there are few security controls monitoring this predominant source of network traffic. All of this underscores the importance of container security because the traditional network security solutions offer no protection against lateral attacks.
Container security has stepped into the spotlight as overall container usage grows. This in and of itself is beneficial, as various stakeholders are acknowledging the importance of app container security and investing in it across their platforms, processes and training. Because container security is concerned with all aspects of securing a containerized app and its infrastructure, this produces one of its overarching benefits: It can become a catalyst and force multiplier for improving IT security overall. By requiring continuous security monitoring across development, test and production environments, also known as DevSecOps, you can improve your overall security—for instance, by introducing automated scanning earlier in your CI/CD pipeline.
While container security is best thought of as a holistic field, it obviously focuses on the container itself. The National Institute of Standards and Technology published its Application Container Security Guide, which summarizes several fundamental approaches to doing so. Here are three key consideration from NIST’s report:
NIST also recommends using hardware-based root of trust, such as the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), for another layer of security confidence, as well as building culture and processes (such as DevOps or DevSecOps) suitable for containers and cloud-native development.
There are several important pillars of container security:
There are several common mistakes when it comes to securing containers and environments, including: