Best Container Security Practices

Best Container Security Practices

Enterprises must design and enforce the best container security practices to deliver software while avoiding severe security breaches and their risks. IT decision-makers must consider these best practices as they are crucial to adopting a Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP).

A vulnerability combined with metadata exposure and an incorrect credentials configuration inside a container exploitable by malicious actors can compromise the entire cloud infrastructure. Cybercriminals can bank on the exploits chain and incorrect configurations to execute crypto mining applications in the organization’s cloud account. The purpose of developing containers was to make them act as a distribution strategy for self-contained applications, enabling them to run processes in an isolated ecosystem.

Containers have a lightweight mechanism utilizing kernel namespaces, eliminating the need for multiple additional layers in Virtual Machines (VMs), such as a complete operating system, hardware virtualization, CPU, and others. The absence of these extra abstraction layers, and tight coupling between the Operating System (OS), kernel, and container execution time, streamlines the utilization of exploits to jump inside or outside the container.

Security teams must also ensure the complete component stack for developing, distributing, and running the container is secure. Security decision-makers need to have the best practices to secure the host or VM, cloud provider configuration, container runtime, cluster technology, and other component stacks leveraged to develop and run containers.

Enterprises can apply container security to every container phase, including development, distribution, runtime, identification, and threat response. Here are a few best practices that CISOs can consider to secure their containers:

Container Host Security should be a Priority

Organizations must ensure that they host the containers in a container-focused operating system. Security teams can reduce the overall attack surface if the services do not need a host. It will be an effective way to remove all the container workloads.

Security decision-makers need to integrate the best monitoring tools in their cybersecurity tech stack to get better health visibility of the hosts. Businesses must integrate the best tools available in the market with effective security controls to secure container host systems. Incorporating the best container security tools to run all container workloads will ensure security.

Ensure Networking Environment Security

While securing containers, security teams can take advantage of Intrusion Prevention System (IPS). Additionally, integrating web filtering tools to monitor traffic moving internally and externally from the internet will help to prevent attacks and filter malicious content. Enterprises can deploy IPS to track inter-container traffic.

Security teams cannot overlook monitoring internal traffic. It is a crucial part of the container security defense mechanism because malicious attackers who have entered the business network can move laterally easily to expand their reach.

Management Stack Protection

SecOps teams must ensure that they vigilantly secure and monitor their container registry. Moreover, it is also crucial to lock down the Kubernetes installation. Enterprises can benefit from enforcing the right network policies to ensure they meet the organization’s security and development standards.

The security teams can implement various tools in the market in their tech stack to scrutinize and validate the configuration of every container once they are added to the container registry. This strategy will ensure that only the containers that adhere to the organization’s development and security standards get deployed.

Develop a Secure Foundation

Businesses should set effective workflows to review and monitor project teams’ interactions about dependencies utilized in applications. Once the IT teams patch software, these changes must be incorporated into the application to minimize risks.

Security teams must ensure that their containers do not have malware, known vulnerabilities, or exposed secrets. Enterprises can integrate the best container image scanners to eliminate risks before they enter development or deployment to production.

Protect the Development Pipeline

Security teams need to ensure that the developers’ system has stringent endpoint controls implemented. A few best container security tools have powerful endpoint control features to prevent malware, suspicious website visits, and other security bottlenecks and container risks.

CISOs should consider designing and implementing a thorough and consistent access control strategy. One crucial step to secure pipeline integrity is ensuring that only authenticated users get access to code repositories, branch integration, and trigger builds deployed in production.

Moreover, organizations need to secure the servers that execute the integrated tools. Integrating robust container security tools will help businesses offer effective controls with less overhead and enable the security teams to meet security goals and standards.

Application Security

Organizations must ensure that their code follows the best security practices to improve the overall application quality. Even simple errors or bad design selections can be the reason for multiple security vulnerabilities. Security teams must invest time, resources, and effort to ensure code quality.

Enterprises can use runtime self-protection controls to enable the SecOps teams to connect the dots between security vulnerabilities and challenges in particular code lines. This container security strategy bridges the gap while analyzing the root cause and achieving better security results.

Also Read: Why Should Companies Use Encryption?

Secure Container Images

IT teams use Container images to build containers. An error or suspicious activity in container images can expose vulnerabilities in containers deployed in production. To ensure containerized workloads and applications’ health, SecOps teams should secure container images.

Here are a few ways to secure container images:

1. Integrate the application into a container image

A container image will include a subset of the operating system and the application developed to execute in the container. Every library and tool that the organization integrated into the image exposes the containers to a potential threat. Security teams to eliminate these threats should include the application inside the container image. Ideally, it should be a static binary compilation with all needed dependencies.

2. Eliminate unnecessary components

SecOps teams should reduce all the unnecessary components the application does not require. For instance, eliminating the “sed” and “awk” binaries inbuilt on any UNIX system will help minimize the attack surface.

3. Utilize trustworthy images

Enterprises that do not generate the image from scratch must select trustworthy images. Businesses must ensure they do not choose public image repositories because anyone can use them and might have malware or misconfigurations.

Securing containers is essential for organizations to design, develop, deploy, and run applications securely. CISOs and SecOps teams can consider the best container security practices mentioned above to ensure quality applications without compromising security.

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