Top 4 Ways to Optimize Application Container Security

By CIOReview | Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Application containers are becoming popular as they allow easy building, packaging and promoting applications. However, it is a challenge to ensure maximum container security.

FREMONT, CA: Container-based technology is increasingly being adopted by organizations as it offers unparalleled portability. This grants the ability to move applications across different platforms and environments, which helps to run them smoothly.

Much like physical containers that revolutionized shipping, application containers are a form of digital packaging, which are transforming software development techniques. The containers provide virtual isolation for deploying and running applications that use the same operating system (OS) or cloud.

Apart from providing isolation from other applications and the host, they also improve the security of applications by restricting its full potential. Here's a list of practices an organization can adopt to optimize application container security.

Know the source of the images

Application containers are created out of layers of files (container images) and can depend on only one kernel, i.e., one type of OS. The base image, which is the most important, needs to be validated to verify that it comes from a trusted registry. As more layers and integration tools get introduced into images for optimizing deployment, the attack surface drastically increases. Without protection, open-source components enter production without being scanned or validated, which increases the potential vulnerability without even being acknowledged.

Centrally managed access control

Employing centrally managed access controls on a private registry based on the user's role will help ensure proper access control to active containers. Containers, managing a flexible and strong development cycle, need to be monitored to keep a check on the changes made and on who start or shut down containers.

Reduction of containers’ attack surface

Reducing the attack service will help prevent code with vulnerabilities to enter the production environment. Containers' primary shared kernel architecture needs standard maintenance of configurations and profiles. In a containerized environment, any user with access to the root account will be able to see and access all containers that share the same kernel. Hence, ensuring optimal isolation and hosting configurations to manage access will better secure the container.

Defining effective vulnerability assessment process

Patching for vulnerability remediation has a different process in a containerized environment. The base image needs to be updated and then, the application image rebuilt. Determining vulnerabilities assessment method helps identify vulnerabilities. Automated tools such as vulnerability scanners will identify configuration issues and vulnerabilities, and review software packages included in the container's files. Accurate vulnerability scanners can reduce vulnerabilities and improve security overall.