Containers in the Cloud Next on Cybercriminals’ Radar

Over the past couple of years, containers have solved many complex issues related to the compatibility and portability of deployments. But that means they contain sensitive information that can attract the attention of cybercriminals.

Securing containers in the cloud should be a major priority for businesses to ensure a robust security environment to safeguard their crucial business information.

Digital transformation has offered endless possibilities for businesses to stay ahead of the curve by leveraging cutting-edge technologies. However, being digitally advanced doesn’t guarantee adequate security, especially in a business environment where enterprises are swiftly adopting cloud technologies.

According to a survey conducted by Statista in 2021, around 64% of respondents agreed that data loss/leakage is their biggest cloud security concern. Since more and more organizations worldwide are migrating workloads to the cloud, security concerns have become more pertinent. One major concern is the increasing risk of vulnerabilities in containers that serve as lightweight software packages containing entire runtime environments.

Securing containers in the cloud is the next step organizations should take to ensure a robust security environment and safeguard their crucial business information.

Why Containers are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks

Containers, like any other computing or software system, are made up of different interconnected components that link to other applications. These containers contain all the necessary elements to run in any environment, virtualize operating systems and run from any private data center or public cloud.

And like any other application or system, containers are vulnerable to several different types of cybersecurity threats since a defect in the overall security of these containers could allow an attacker to gain access and total control over the entire system.

Cybercriminals can leverage access to a container environment to move through you environment; exploit sensitive data and cause losses worth millions of dollars, not to mention the damage to your brand’s reputation. Businesses must detect and remediate different container vulnerabilities to mitigate cybersecurity
risks early.

Detecting Container Vulnerabilities

Enterprises leveraging containers usually follow a solid development pipeline process with planning,
coding, revision and building steps followed by rigorous testing, releases and deployments. At every phase, there’s an opportunity for the organization to detect and resolve any vulnerabilities that can create a loophole for attackers to exploit.

However, many organizations still stumble when trying to locate weaknesses in their
systems. They may consider traditional security tools or rely on conventional testing techniques that aren’t as effective in container environments. Instead, enterprises leveraging containers in the cloud should approach mitigating the risks differently.

Registry Scanning

A registry could be defined as the collection of repositories used to store container images that are
the templates used for deploying multiple instances of running containers. The registry is integral and commonplace; many vulnerability scanning tools can be configured to scan images contained inside a registry. Moreover, this method is widely used to identify container vulnerabilities since it’s a low-cost and high-value method for finding and fixing security issues. Registry scanning can help organizations quickly identify and fix the issues that can potentially reside in containers and any defective or old containers can be quickly identified and rectified.

Runtime Environment Scanning

One of the oldest and most reliable methods used to find vulnerabilities inside containers is to scan against a
running container to highlight defects. In this approach, any faulty image is replaced with a new one. This is perhaps the best way to detect and rectify rogue containers that aren’t appropriately deployed.

CI/CD Pipeline Scanning

Continuous development/continuous integration (CI/CD) pipelines are crucial phases of software product development in which developers develop the code, review it and test it. Several workflow automation tools, including GitLab, Bamboo and Jenkins, are widely used to build software modules, and make for the perfect place to perform security scanning.

In this phase, any issues can be quickly identified early and remediated at la ower cost than in the later, advanced stages of development or when the product is deployed. Enterprises can leverage several vulnerability management tools that offer a flawless integration with these workflow automation tools.

Container Security Best Practices

Enterprises thinking of incorporating strategies and products for managing container vulnerabilities must consider some fundamental principles to ensure adequate container security. These include:

● Building containers with minimum base images or using distro-less images from a trusted source.
● Adding stringent layers of security through robust security mechanisms like risk-based authentication (RBA).
● Choosing a vulnerability scanning tool that aligns with the organization’s processes, existing ecosystem and DevOps practices.
● Planning to implement vulnerability scanning at every phase of development.

By following these security best practices, enterprises can secure their containers and minimize
the chances of a data breach or an intrustion into their system.

Bottom Line

Container security shouldn’t be ignored by enterprises embarking on a digital transformation journey. Since containers are prone to different vulnerabilities, organizations must incorporate rigorous testing in different software development life cycle phases to scan and highlight these vulnerabilities. The best practices mentioned above could help organizations secure their containers in the cloud and mitigate the risk.

Deepak Gupta

Deepak Gupta is CTO and co-founder at LoginRadius.

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