A wide range of enterprise workloads and cloud-native apps run using Docker containers. As a result, Docker container security has become one of the most important aspects of cloud workload security, and protecting Docker containers is a must for enterprises that want to maintain a strong security posture.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at this popular container platform, common Docker container security issues, best practices, and tooling purpose-built to improve container security for modern enterprises.
Docker is a container platform that enables developers and system administrators to package an application with all of its dependencies into a standardized unit of code.
Docker containers allow enterprises to run applications as isolated processes in a wide range of environments, from hyper-scale cloud platforms to shared machines on-premises. Because of the platform’s agility, ease of use, and scalability, Docker containers have become a staple of modern cloud-native infrastructure.
Docker works by providing a standard platform for enterprises to run code. It packages all the required binaries, libraries, and dependencies a given app needs in a single immutable container image.
Docker container images can be created by text files known as Dockerfiles. Once the images are created, they can be instantiated as many times as needed to run workloads as Docker containers on top of a container engine (like Docker Engine or Podman). Because they are lightweight, fast, easy to instantiate, and highly scalable, containers are a better fit for many CI\CD workflows and cloud-native microservice architectures than full-blown operating systems running on virtual machines or bare-metal servers.
Docker’s popularity has also led to it becoming a high-value target for attackers. As demonstrated by threats such as posting malicious container images with Monero crypto miners to public container registries like Docker Hub and more nuanced security issues like the Docker cp vulnerability (CVE-2018-15664), enterprises must account for threats across the entire common Docker ecosystem to keep their containers secure.
Let’s take a look at some of the most container security threats facing enterprises running Docker containers and the best practices that can help DevSecOps teams mitigate them.
According to Docker, there are four major areas enterprises should consider for Docker security reviews. They are:
In addition to those Docker security considerations, it is also important for enterprises to account for the source of their container images, the libraries and binaries a given container uses, the patching of known vulnerabilities, and account for the complexity of container configuration and communication.
With all that in mind, some of the most important Docker security issues for enterprises to consider when evaluating their security posture are:
To limit their exposure to common Docker container security issues, there are several Docker security best practices enterprises can follow. In addition to the basics such as effective patch management and shifting security left, here are some of the most important:
To implement the best practices here and secure container workloads, enterprises need security solutions purpose-built with Docker and modern DevSecOps pipelines in mind. CloudGuard’s Container Security platform offers enterprises a full suite of tools to protect Docker containers and implement container security at scale.
For example, with CloudGuard, enterprises can leverage image security scanning to detect security issues with container images and proactively suggest remediation steps.
Additionally, with CloudGuard Container Security platform, enterprises also gain:
To learn more, you can sign up for a container security demo led by a CloudGuard cloud security expert. During the demo, the cloud security professional will explore container security best practices relevant to modern cloud-native environments and how you can leverage automation to implement Docker.
To learn more about the latest container security best practices, you can also download our Guide to Container and Kubernetes Security. This detailed security guide provides evidence-based insights into the security challenges enterprises face and explores practical approaches for addressing them at scale.