Cloud Security

Container Security Issues | Challenges | Risks 101

Applications may be quickly developed, tested, deployed, and redeployed using containers in various computer environments, including the cloud.  Scalability, agility, cost savings, and quick application development are just a few advantages of containers. Despite being helpful to development teams, containers introduce new information security risks and possible dangers to the enterprise.  This article will discuss […]

Sharon R.

Written by Sharon R.

September 4, 2023 | 6 min read

Applications may be quickly developed, tested, deployed, and redeployed using containers in various computer environments, including the cloud.  Scalability, agility, cost savings, and quick application development are just a few advantages of containers. Despite being helpful to development teams, containers introduce new information security risks and possible dangers to the enterprise. 

This article will discuss the various Container Security Issues, challenges, and risks your organization can face. 

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Container Security?
  2. What are the Top Container Security Issues?
  3. What are the Container Security Challenges?
  4. What are the Container Security Risks?
  5. How can PingSafe help with Container Security Issues?
  6. Conclusion

What is Container Security?

The majority of vulnerabilities in container images may be quickly discovered by utilizing container scanning. Scanning containers with automated technologies entails comparing the contents of each container to a database of known vulnerabilities. If they discover that a picture depends on a library or other component that has a known vulnerability, they will mark the image as insecure.

What are the Top Container Security Issues?

Here are the top container security issues:

#1 Effectively shifting to the left

The first on the list of container security issues is shift left. DevSecOps and the notion of “shifting security left” underline how important it is to incorporate security into each stage of software development and ensure that security doesn’t impede the production of secure software. 

While DevSecOps technologies and automation frequently appear in “shift left” headlines, culture significantly influences how well the left is shifted. Enterprises’ various organizational units must abandon the notion of “security as the team of no” and adopt a cooperative attitude. Businesses that successfully implement the DevSecOps philosophy and make security “everyone’s” responsibility are better equipped to improve security posture throughout the organization. 

#2 Taking care of transient containers

In Kubernetes (K8s) clusters, ephemeral containers are practical administrative and debugging tools. For instance, they can make troubleshooting possible in settings where distroless images are used. Ephemeral containers can also lead to container security issues that result in an additional attack surface that would not be there otherwise. Consequently, controlling ephemeral containers is a crucial part of K8’s security. 

Ephemeral containers may be practical tools for gathering debug data, but businesses should have security policies that limit their use to only essential workloads and environments. 

#3 Resolving configuration errors

Our most recent poll on cloud security revealed that 27% of participants had experienced public container security issues. 23% of such occurrences were the result of configuration errors. That is but one illustration of the security risk that incorrect setups present. 

Enterprises must be able to regularly identify and fix container security issues like configuration problems in container clusters to guarantee strong container security and workload protection. To prevent sensitive data or trade secrets from being revealed, employing only secure settings in production is necessary. 

#4 Addressing known issues 

Even though known vulnerabilities are frequently exploited in breaches, zero-day threats still pose a genuine risk to businesses today. Enterprises can identify and address known vulnerabilities before they are used in an exploit by evaluating container images, dependencies, and workloads. 

These container security issues can be significantly improved by integrating security tooling throughout the SDLC and CI/CD pipelines. By moving security left, businesses can frequently identify vulnerabilities before they enter production or quickly neutralize them. For instance, Check Point CloudGuard IaaS allows businesses to use virtual patching to temporarily alleviate vulnerabilities before deploying new containers. 

#5 Defending against runtime dangers

While known attacks can be found using signature-based detection, many container security issues, such as zero-day exploits, require context to be identified and countered. Organizations want technology that leverages intelligence and context to detect new threats and reduce false positives that hinder productivity from providing web applications and APIs with enterprise-grade security. Furthermore, many cloud-native applications need an agentless solution to runtime security because they can’t support conventional endpoint security agents. 

#6 Dealing with human mistakes

In many security events nowadays, human error is a common contributing component. Manual procedures give opportunities for mistakes, oversights, and misconfigurations that could result in a breach. After these misconfigurations occur, IPS, IDS, and firewalling can assist reduce risk, but they are insufficient.

Limiting manual configuration and automating as much of their security configuration as possible should be the goal for businesses. They should also put in place scans that make use of policies to find and help correct misconfigurations before they are exploited.

#7 Clearing compliance inspections

One of the main hazards that contemporary businesses face is compliance risk. The reputation and financial health of an organization can suffer if it fails an audit relating to regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, or SOX.

Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure that K8s clusters and container workloads both adhere to compliance standards. Tools for managing Kubernetes security posture and cloud security posture can automate compliance across cloud and container architecture.

What are the Container Security Challenges?

Security teams have numerous obstacles when dealing with containers, including: 

  • Lack of visibility: Although containers make code run quicker and more effectively, security personnel are mainly unaware of what is happening inside the containers. Existing security solutions do not track which containers are active, what they are doing, or how they behave on the network.  
  • Lack of knowledge: Software configuration problems are frequently caused by insufficiently qualified personnel and challenging learning curves for open-source container tools and platforms.  
  • Lack of governance can result in significant security gaps as some DevOps groups forego traditional security procedures and container checks. Significant gaps in container security are caused by software misconfigurations and IAM backdoor shortcuts, and container security incidents are now to blame for over 90% of businesses’ security concerns, including many significant assaults. 
  • Lack of participation: Security and development teams don’t usually collaborate to decide on and implement container security.  
  • Lack of standardization: Some businesses find it challenging to incorporate into containers the security standards currently in place that were created using obsolete, alternative approaches. Multiple security standards, expanding tools, platforms, and containers all contribute to security concerns.  

What are the Container Security Risks?

Here is a list of container security risks:

#1 Using insecure images

Building containers make use of either a base picture or a parent image. Utilizing images when designing containers is advantageous since you may reuse many components from an image rather than beginning from scratch. However, just like any other code, pictures or their dependencies may have container security issues.

#2 Accessing containers with the privileged flag

A privileged container may be familiar to anyone with a basic understanding of containers. The privileged flag enables containers to execute with full privileges, access all resources, and perform nearly all host-level operations. As a result, if an attacker manages to access a container operating with the privileged flag, they can cause serious container security issues.

#3 Communication between containers without limitations

For containers to achieve their objectives, communication between them is necessary. However, given the quantity of containers and microservices you might be using and the reality that containers are typically transitory, it might be challenging to set up networking and firewall rules that adhere to the maxim of granting only what is absolutely necessary. 

#4 Containers that are running harmful or illegitimate processes

Keeping track of what’s happening inside containers in a large setup where they usually only exist for a short period—sometimes only hours or minutes—becomes extremely difficult. To be more specific, the rapid switching of containers makes it nearly impossible for ordinary people to recognize which container activities are taking place at any given time, much less identify those that might be harmful and cause container security issues.

#5 Incorrectly segregated containers from the host

When it comes to container security, it has two sides. They offer various security advantages due to their immutability, short lifespan, and restricted functionality. However, containers can also be used to assault the host underneath. 

How can PingSafe help with Container Security Issues?

PingSafe is a comprehensive tool for cloud security that protects companies of all sizes and sectors. It can aid in eliminating all risks and problems, both known and unknown. It is an established platform that is aware of the attack plan.

Features:

  • In the cloud, configuration errors are automatically addressed and repaired. Misconfigurations across resources, lateral movement pathways, and impact radius are displayed in graphs.
  • Monitoring continuous security posture of new or current cloud services, focusing on security concerns and recommended practices, and notifying of security defaults.
  • Infrastructure as a Code: Comparing IaC configuration and implementation to other standards like CIS benchmark and PCI-DSS. To prevent merge and pull requests with hardcoded secrets, support for CI/CD integration can be employed.
  • Find the cloud resources/assets with known CVEs (Intelligence from 10 or more sources with thorough coverage) to handle vulnerabilities. 
  • Threat Watch: A dashboard for monitoring any problems with the zero-day vulnerabilities in your environment.
  • Bill of materials (BOM) reporting for agentless applications and security vulnerability testing for virtual machine snapshots.

Conclusion

Building a comprehensive container strategy that integrates with the organization’s security plan begins with a strong foundation for container security. Container security is an ongoing process. It must be extended into the upkeep and management of the organization’s security infrastructure and integrated into your software development lifecycle (SDLC). Security must be a significant priority in container development to decrease vulnerabilities, enhance security posture, and reduce business risk across an expanding attack surface.

To help with your Container Security Issues, you can use a tool that provides complete security and takes the problematic security task out of your hands.