Cloud Security

Container Security Best Practices: Easy Guide 101

We benefit from a constant stream of new developments in the technologically advanced Information Age, each of which makes it possible to complete essential activities faster and more effectively than ever. However, every technological advance also raises the possibility of vulnerabilities in security. With containerization, this is the situation. Although container technology has existed for […]

Sharon R.

Written by Sharon R.

August 24, 2023 | 6 min read

We benefit from a constant stream of new developments in the technologically advanced Information Age, each of which makes it possible to complete essential activities faster and more effectively than ever. However, every technological advance also raises the possibility of vulnerabilities in security. With containerization, this is the situation. Although container technology has existed for 40 years, its rapid adoption redefines cloud computing, particularly in how companies create and deploy apps and services.

This article will examine the top 10 Container Security Best Practices to help you and your organization build a more secure environment.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Container Security?
  2. 10 Container Security Best Practices
    1. Secure your Container Images
    2. Managing Secrets Securely
    3. Securing Registries
    4. Identify and Fix Security Misconfigurations
    5. Secure Runtime
    6. Secure Kubernetes
    7. Reducing Your Attack Surface with Thin, Short-Lived Containers
    8. Manage and Automate Vulnerability Scanning
    9. Using Tools for Container Security
    10. Keeping track of container activity
  3. How can PingSafe help Container Security?
  4. Conclusion

What is Container Security?

Container Security safeguards containerized environments far more complex than conventional workloads. Production environments deploy a sizable number of containers. Security professionals and administrators must protect more components in a containerized system than in a conventional deployment.

Implementing and maintaining security controls to safeguard containers and the underlying infrastructure is container security. By incorporating security into the development process, it will be possible to ensure that every component is protected from the beginning of its design to the conclusion of its useful life.

10 Container Security Best Practices

Here are the 10 best container security best practices:

#1 Secure your Container Images

The first one in container security best practices is securing container images. Container images are used to create containers. Containers used in production could be exposed to vulnerabilities in container images through malicious or misconfigured actions. You must secure container images to ensure the safety of your workloads and applications running in containers. Here are a few methods for doing this:

Include the app in a container image. A container image stores the application and a portion of the operating system intended to execute in a container. Every resource you add to the image, including libraries and tools, could be dangerous. You must put the program within the container image to reduce these risks. This must be a binary that has been statically compiled and includes all necessary dependencies.

To follow container security best practices, Include as few components as possible; take out whatever the application doesn’t require. Remove the “sed” and “awk” binaries, for instance, which are always present on UNIX systems. You can decrease the assault surface by doing this.

Use reliable photos – If you aren’t making the image from scratch, you should pick reliable photographs. Anyone can utilize public image repositories like Docker Hub, and they might be infected with malware or have incorrect setups.

#2 Managing Secrets Securely

The next in container security best practices is: Do not save passwords and secrets in code or configuration files, such as a Dockerfile. Otherwise, this sensitive data will be duplicated to containers and cached in intermediate container layers, even after a container is destroyed. A usual best practice for securely preserving secrets is using a dedicated secrets manager, such as Vault or AWS Secrets Manager, to store and manage secrets and credentials.

#3 Securing Registries

The next in container security best practices is securing registries. Container images are often kept in either public or private registries. It is vital to protect these registries to ensure that all team members and collaborators use images that are as free of vulnerabilities as humanly possible. Here are a few strategies for protecting container registries:

Use access control – If you have your private registry, you must set up access restrictions that specify who can view and publish photographs and who is not. A fundamental security precaution called access control can stop unauthorized individuals from editing, sharing, or erasing your photographs.

Sign your photos — Signatures make it easier to identify who signed them. This makes replacing the signed picture with a compromised one challenging. 

#4 Identify and Fix Security Misconfigurations

The next in container security best practices is: Before releasing containerized applications into production, you can fix vulnerabilities by spotting security misconfigurations when creating container images. Static configuration analysis is used to check configuration parameters, which can be time-consuming and prone to human mistakes if done manually.

#5 Secure Runtime

The following list of container security best practices will assist you with securing runtime:

  • Make distinct virtual networks for each of your containers; this can help to decrease the attack surface.
  • Use the least privilege approach and only provide connectivity between containers that genuinely require it.
  • Do not expose any other ports besides SSH; just the ports the application needs should be exposed. Use this idea for both the underlying machines and containers.

#6 Secure Kubernetes

Here are a few suggested container security best practices to assist you in keeping Kubernetes secure:

Enable TLS everywhere – To protect against traffic sniffing and authenticate identities at both ends of each connection, you should enable TLS for all components that support it.

Utilize a service mesh design. High-performance sidecar proxies are connected through networks of persistent encrypted connections. They manage traffic, implement policies, and monitor it all without disrupting microservices.

Use OPA – Open Policy Agent (OPA) imposes unique policies on a Kubernetes object without modifying the Kubernetes API server’s configuration or code.

#7 Reducing Your Attack Surface with Thin, Short-Lived Containers

The next in container security best practices is reducing the attack surface. Containers are made to be light and transient. They should not be treated as servers. The container shouldn’t be updated occasionally every few weeks or months or with frequent file additions. This strategy can degrade your security posture because you effectively increase an attack surface that is not maintained regularly.

The number of components in each container should be kept to a minimum, and each container should be as thin as possible. This tactic can help to reduce the attack surface. Additionally, you should deploy a fresh, new container as soon as a vulnerability in standard images is discovered and promptly fix the problem.

#8 Manage and Automate Vulnerability Scanning

The next in container security best practices is: You may identify security vulnerabilities at each stage of the container lifecycle and reduce security risks before they materialize by automating vulnerability screening and management in the CI/CD pipeline.

Analyzing the application code for security flaws and coding errors is known as code scanning. Static application security testing (SAST) finds the application code’s vulnerabilities. To give visibility into open-source components in the application build, software composition analysis (SCA) generates a software bill of materials (SBOM) and compares components to databases of known open-source vulnerabilities.

#9 Using Tools for Container Security

The next in container security best practices is using tools for container security. Platforms for container orchestration, like Kubernetes, offer security protections. These measures, however, are not enough to guarantee the confidentiality and integrity of containerized applications. A unique issue is ensuring that none of the third-party software parts used in the workload contain critical vulnerabilities.

Rogue processes could threaten containers since they might be able to access other containers and container images notwithstanding isolation. Applications may use a container image even if it contains a vulnerability. Misconfigured permissions may make these problems worse as well.

You can reduce security risks by utilizing container security technologies to control access, test security, and protect your infrastructure. 

#10 Keeping track of container activity

The next in container security best practices is keeping track of container activity. Workloads that are containerized are quite dynamic. There are frequently several instances operating for one container image. Additionally, fresh versions and graphics are released at a rapid rate. As a result, problems can spread quickly between different containers and applications. Due to this, it is imperative to pinpoint these problems as soon as possible and address each one directly.

Containerized workloads need granular monitoring to give IT and security teams access to components operating within the environment.

You should use security methods and tools that can assist you in making the following components observable to maintain security:

  • When utilizing a container orchestration software like Kubernetes, master nodes
  • Container engines
  • Containers running workloads
  • Networking and middleware in containers

How can PingSafe help Container Security?

PingSafe is a complete cloud security tool that offers cloud security for businesses of all sizes and industries. It can help get rid of any existing and discovered threats and issues. It is a leading platform that is familiar with the attack strategy.

Features:

  • Misconfigurations in the cloud are automatically handled and fixed. Graphs display misconfigurations across resources, lateral movement paths, and impact radius.
  • Notifying of security defaults, monitoring ongoing security posture of new or existing cloud services, concentrating on security issues and container security best practices.
  • Infrastructure as a Code: Compare IaC implementation and configuration to other standards, such as PCI-DSS and CIS benchmarks. CI/CD integration support can be used to stop merge and pull requests with hardcoded secrets.
  • Determine the cloud assets/resources with known CVEs (Intelligence obtained from ten or more sources with comprehensive coverage) for vulnerability management. An evaluation of zero-day vulnerabilities is provided. 
  • Threat Watch: A dashboard for tracking every issue with your environment’s zero-day vulnerabilities.
  • Agentless software bill of materials (SBOM) reporting and VM snapshot security vulnerability scanning.

Conclusion

Containers require strict control and quick security, much like recently emerging technologies. Container security is unique because it must be safeguarded both during development and use. Both should be prioritized. Businesses with expanding container infrastructures should spend money on container-specific solutions and orchestration tools to find and get rid of dangers. Use these 10 Container Security Best Practices to make your containers more secure.