Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, DevOps, Docker

7 Mins Read

Guide to Container Security – Everything You Need to Know


Industry vendors today emphasize security and isolation concerns for containers as a top priority, even though they are splitting their applications into services and microservices. Strategies for maintaining container security include reducing the attack surfaces in container images, avoiding public container images, and implementing role-based access controls (RBAC).

Using smartphones as an example, a secure container might be a logical area of the smartphone that contains corporate applications and data that are isolated from the owner’s apps and personal data. A dual persona approach is used in mobile device management (MDM) to manage secure containers.

Unlike files, containers are immutable. As a result, it is necessary to update the container image every time the application or microservice is modified and to launch a new container every time it is deployed. It is essential that continuous monitoring, observability, and security are maintained in this type of environment which is highly dynamic.

Integrating container security into the development cycle should be a continuous process. In addition to mitigating risk and reducing vulnerabilities across a dynamic and complex attack surface, you can leverage the power of security as part of your continuous deployment cycle.

Automation of manual touch points is essential for ensuring efficiency. In addition to developing, this also includes maintaining and operating the underlying infrastructure. You should, for instance, protect the build pipeline container images, the runtime host, your chosen platform, and all layers of your application.

Common mistakes to avoid

  • Take security for granted – Containers are widely recognized as an innovative technology that requires new security methods. However, certain safety principles will continue to apply. For example, all systems should be patched and up to date, including the operating system and container runtime.
  • Tool and environment enhancements and configuration flaws – The container orchestration platform offers several unique security features. However, it must be properly configured for each environment to ensure security. Do not perform security configurations with platform default settings. For example, if you give a container only the permissions it needs to run the container the first time you run it in production, you may not be able to track the state of your application and environment. You may be at significant risk if this happens, and the problem is not detected in time. It is especially important for highly distributed systems that span multiple clouds and on-premises infrastructure. You must ensure monitoring, logging, and testing are correctly configured. It will minimize the number of unknown vulnerabilities and reduce other blind spots. Security bugs at all stages of the
  • CI / CD pipeline– do not ignore the rest of the software development pipeline. Implement security early in the development cycle. It often requires consistent application of tools and policies related to the entire channel and changes as needed.

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Overview of Secure Image Development

Scanning the image is particularly important, but it is not enough. Make sure image security is shifted to the left, do not use insecure pictures in the first place, and make sure your new image does not contain any vulnerable components. Here are some steps to improve the security of your container images early in the development process.

a. Secure Code Running in Containers

It is intended that containers run software applications. Open source and proprietary code will typically be combined in these applications. Secure images require secure code, which is a critical aspect of securing images.

A variety of automated tools are available that can help you scan your code for vulnerabilities: Software Composition Analysis (SCA) can help discover vulnerabilities in open source components Static Application Security Testing (SAST) can scan your proprietary code for security flaws, bugs, and code quality issues Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) can help you test the application at runtime to discover exploitable vulnerabilities It is important to have these or similar tools as a mandatory step in your CI/CD pipeline, to ensure that all code you add to a container image is known to be safe.

b. Use Minimal Base Images

The container image is most often derived from the base image (the FROM line of the Docker File). When choosing a base image, you can choose from many public images (fewer features, components, and dependencies). Choosing a minimalist image can reduce the attack surface in the first place. It also improves resource utilization and reduces container weight. Think about the overhead of running a base image in hundreds or thousands of containers.

c. Use Trusted Images

Do not use container images from unknown publishers in public repositories. There are several sources of trusted images where you can have some confidence that the image is free of vulnerabilities and has not been modified by an attacker. For example, Official Docker Hub images are curated by Docker experts and reviewed for features and security. The Docker Verified Publishers badge indicates that the image is high quality and directly supported by Docker affiliates. For example, MySQL images are maintained now by Oracle. You can use a notary public or similar tool to verify that the image is signed by the trustee and has not been altered.

d. Be Aware of Container Image Layers

In a Docker File, you start from a base image and add additional components needed for your containers to function. You do this using RUN, COPY and ADD commands. Technically, each of these commands adds another layer to the container image, and each layer creates a new attack surface.

It is essential to be aware of the layers you want to add to your container and mitigate security risks using the following guidelines:

  • Make sure each layer accurately adds the tools needed for the relevant phases of the development lifecycle.
  • Ensure that the tools or components added to these middle tiers are using the latest version and are free of security vulnerabilities.
  • Most tools are only needed during the development and testing stages. Please delete it in the production environment. The best way to do this is to use a multi-level build.

Container Security Solutions

In the beyond few years, devoted safety answers have emerged that may assist stable containerized environments. Here are a few of the typically used varieties of box safety answers:

  • Container Monitoring

    Tools that may reveal bins through runtime to discover malicious site visitors, misconfigurations, and vulnerabilities brought over time.

  • Container Scanning

    Tools that may test photos for acknowledged safety vulnerabilities. These gear should combine into the CI/CD toolchain and permit the scanning of box photos through the development, testing, and manufacturing stages.

  • Container Firewalls

    A devoted factor that regulates site visitors to and from a box and site visitors on outside networks and legacy applications. Container firewalls normally run as “add-ons” with box workloads.

  • Container Network

    A device that permits you to install micro-segmentation to outline safety regulations that decide which customers or gadgets can get admission to bins, and to isolate vital workloads from the relaxation of your network.


Container protection techniques’ goal is to restrict what box root customers can do outdoor the box. It is essential to save you unauthorized entry to software programming interfaces (APIs) in addition to hosts and different back-give-up structures even though a maximum of the box protection strategies limit entry to those structures and hosts. It may be tough to pick the proper box tool, particularly while huge protection and DevOps groups proportion obligation for containerized applications. For example, the choice for whether to apply Trend Micro or Twistlock might also additionally boil right all the way down to whether the patron prefers to have box protection by a characteristic set of greater complete protection facts and occasion management (SIEM) product or stay a committed product this is the only consciousness of the safety vendor’s expertise.

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WRITTEN BY Pranav Awasthi

Pranav Awasthi is a Research Associate (Migration, Infra, and Security) at CloudThat. He completed his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science and completed various certifications in multi-cloud such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. His area of interest lies in Cloud Architecture and Security, Application Security, Red teaming, and Penetration Testing. Apart from professional interests. He likes to spend some time learning new generation techs and tools also reading books and playing sports.



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