Container Adoption Introduces Efficiency – and Vulnerabilities

Be Sure to Adopt Container Scanning and other Important Security Practices

Containers have evolved to address the market need for a more flexible and repeatable application development process. Application container adoption increased more than 300% since 2016 and is expected to grow 29% annually over the next five years. With this growth in container usage has come increased attention from malicious actors, and organizations are seeing more frequent cybersecurity incidents introduced that are related to containers.

So, perhaps you’ve taken the smart step of adopting containers. That’s great. But are you now also making sure to run vulnerability scans to track the status and health of those containers and, just like any other part of your network, continuously secure them against attack?


The Evolution of Containers

Containers are mechanisms that bundle everything a particular application needs – the software and all of its dependencies – so it can be slotted across multiple computing environments, regardless of operating system or networking compatibility. As a result, an organization providing an application can easily swap it in and out, simplifying the recovery or rebuild of the application.

Containers evolved from virtual machines to add greater flexibility and agility in application development. Before, if a bad update was pushed to an application, organizations needed to roll back to a prior virtual machine snapshot and then push out new updates. With containers, applications are developed, packaged, and tested in a runtime environment all within the container, allowing developers to expedite the introduction of new applications and release cycles.


The Challenges of Container Security

Fundamentally, containers are part of your network, with the same access and privileges of the system on which it sits. This critical efficiency advantage of containers is also what makes them vulnerable to threats. The past few years have seen a significant rise in container threats, as the increased attack surface containers provide has contributed to a rise in security incidents. Indeed, actors have been taking advantage of container vulnerability in three key ways.

  • Insecure Images: Containers rely on images (static files with executable code) to facilitate rapid development. By using images that appear benign, malicious actors are able to embed code with malicious intent, such as cryptocurrency mining or DDoS bots.
  • Unauthorized Access: Some containers are designed with privileges that give them the same functionality as the host machine. Should a threat actor gain access to these enhanced permissions, they could modify code, capture the host’s devices, coordinate an attack, or undertake any number of malicious acts.
  • Unsecured Communication: Containers must communicate between themselves to complete their tasks. The high churn of containers makes implementation of firewalls and other network protections challenging. However, allowing for unrestricted communications between containers makes your organization vulnerable to an increased attack surface should an unauthorized actor gain access to a container with communication permissions.



3 Vital Steps to Securing Containers

Containers thrive in an agile, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) environment, which mandates automation of software development and deployment. However, the added flexibility of containers comes at a cost.

As containers become broadly adopted across industries, so do the vulnerabilities they introduce. As developers implement changes to containers on a CI/CD basis and go live, there are steps that every organization can take to ensure the security of their infrastructure.

1.    Scan every container pre-deployment and before it gets access to the network

This ensures that both the build and the container itself are secure prior to launch. As containers are hot swappable, you need to be sure that before the hot swap happens, the actual container that you’re pushing out or storing is secure.

2.    Deploy tracking and data management mechanisms to see how the containers are behaving when changes are made

Identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities requires containers to be scanned continuously. Continuous scanning tells you when a vulnerability gets introduced, but strong data management capabilities can go even further, allowing you to track the vulnerability back to a specific version of the container by reviewing prior scan records.

3.    Adopt a system to assess vulnerabilities for all your assets

Vulnerabilities are not unique to containers; scanning all your assets on a continuous basis is a beneficial cyber hygiene practice. Addressing identified vulnerabilities will mitigate access to containers and other attack surfaces and more effectively secure your organization.


Container Vulnerability Management

The benefits of containers are vast, offering agility, consistency, and reduced costs, yet their growing adoption presents new vulnerabilities, security risks, and challenges. An automated solution can help you identify and assess vulnerabilities within containers and all your assets so they can quickly be prevented or remediated.

In the past, an attack surface only consisted of traditional IT assets like networks and servers, but today it is vast and ever-growing, including mobile devices, cloud infrastructures, virtual machines, and containers. All of these assets can house a potential vulnerability that needs proper management.

Just like any other part of the network, you need to be proactively running continuous, comprehensive vulnerability scans on your containers. Digital Defense can do that for you. Our best-in-class vulnerability management and threat assessment platform is cloud-native, built for ease of use, and committed to the highest level of performance and accuracy. For more than 20 years, Digital Defense has provided expert vulnerability and threat management solutions that protect billions of dollars in assets for clients around the globe.

Connect with us today to request a demo and find out how we can start protecting your infrastructure with a container scanning and vulnerability management solution.

The post Container Adoption Introduces Efficiency – and Vulnerabilities appeared first on Digital Defense, Inc..

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Digital Defense, Inc. authored by Digital Defense by Fortra. Read the original post at: