Top 7 Container Security Issues

It’s no secret that containerization has been one of the hottest tech trends of the last decade, and today containers are almost ubiquitous. In fact, Gartner projects that this year 75% of global enterprises will run containers in production. 

With the rise in container popularity, there have been plenty of benefits. Containers are the cornerstone of microservices architectures that have enabled cloud native apps of all sizes. However, because of their popularity, containers are also a prime target for ransomware, hackers, and other threats. 

As a result, enterprises that value a strong security posture must be able to address common container security issues. While there’s no single silver bullet for addressing container security challenges, taking a holistic approach and leveraging the right tools can go a long way. 

Here, we’ll look at the top 7 container security issues and how enterprises can address them. 

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Explore the main security issues for containers

To address container security challenges, enterprises need to understand the security risks impacting container workloads. These 7 container security issues demonstrate the wide range of strategic and tactical challenges related to container-based infrastructure. 

#1: Effectively shifting left

DevSecOps and the concept of shift left security emphasize the importance of integrating security throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and eliminating friction in the process of developing secure software. 

While DevSecOps tools and automation garner a lot of the “shift left” headlines, a big part of effectively shifting left is cultural. Different organizational units within enterprises must move away from the idea of “security as the team of no” and embrace cooperation. The organizations that are able to truly adopt a DevSecOps mindset and make security “everyone’s” responsibility are better positioned to improve security posture across an enterprise. 

#2: Managing ephemeral containers

Ephemeral containers are useful administrative and debugging tools in Kubernetes (K8s) clusters. For example, they can enable troubleshooting in environments that use distroless images. However, this also means ephemeral containers create an additional attack surface that wouldn’t otherwise exist. As a result, managing ephemeral containers is an essential aspect of K8s security

While ephemeral containers can be powerful tools for capturing debug information, enterprises should implement security policies restricting their use to only necessary workloads and environments. 

#3: Addressing misconfigurations

According to our recent cloud security survey, 27% of respondents reported a public cloud security incident. Of those incidents, 23% resulted from misconfigurations. That’s just one of many examples of the security risk posed by misconfigurations. 

To ensure robust container security and workload protection, enterprises must be able to continuously detect — and correct — misconfigurations in container cluster configurations. That means ensuring only secure configurations are used in production, and no sensitive information or secrets are exposed. 

#4: Countering known vulnerabilities 

Zero-day threats are a real risk facing enterprises today, but many breaches exploit known vulnerabilities. By scanning container images, dependencies, and workloads, enterprises can detect and implement a plan to address known vulnerabilities before they’re used in an exploit. 

Integrating security tooling throughout the SDLC and CI\CD pipelines can go a long way in addressing this container security challenge. Enterprises that shift security left can often detect threats before they make it to production or mitigate them sooner than they otherwise could. For example, Check Point CloudGuard IaaS enables enterprises to leverage virtual patching to  temporarily mitigate vulnerabilities until new containers are deployed. 

#5: Protecting against runtime threats

While signature-based detection works well to identify known exploits, many cloud workload security threats, such as zero-day exploits, require context to detect and mitigate. To provide enterprise-grade security for web applications and APIs, organizations need tooling that uses intelligence and context to detect new threats and limit false positives that hamstring productivity. Additionally, many cloud native applications can’t accommodate traditional endpoint security agents and instead require an agentless approach to runtime security. 

#6: Addressing human error

Human error is a common factor in many security incidents today. Manual processes leave room for typos, misconfigurations, and oversight that can lead to a breach. While IPS, IDS, and firewalling can help reduce risk after these misconfigurations occur, they don’t go far enough. 

Enterprises should limit manual configuration and automate as much of their security configuration as practical. Additionally, they should implement scans that use policies to detect and help address misconfigurations before they’re exploited. 

#7: Passing compliance audits 

Compliance risk is one of the single biggest risks facing modern enterprises. Failing an audit related to standards like GDPR, HIPAA, or SOX can damage an enterprise’s reputation and bottom line. 

As a result, ensuring that container workloads and K8s clusters meet compliance requirements is a must. Cloud security posture management (CSPM) and Kubernetes security posture management (KSPM) tools can help automate compliance across cloud and container infrastructure.

Addressing container security challenges with CloudGuard

Container security challenges range from protecting against highly technical exploits to strategic and cultural challenges like shifting security left. The right tools can help enterprises address the technical container security challenges directly and remove much of the friction involved with the strategic and cultural challenges. 

Check Point’s CloudGuard for Container Security is purpose-built to help organizations achieve enterprise-grade security and compliance for modern container workloads at scale. CloudGuard integrates into DevSecOps pipelines and delivers holistic protection throughout the SDLC. 

With CloudGuard, enterprises can address container security challenges by:

  • Leveraging the ShiftLeft tool to create automatically secure containers.
  • Using agentless security tooling to protect all enterprise cloud assets. 
  • Gain posture management and deep visibility across all containers, even in multi-cloud environments.
  • Enforce the principle of least privilege and help stay compliant with Admission Controller.
  • Detect configuration issues like exposed credentials.
  • Scan container images for vulnerabilities, malware, and weak configurations.
  • Automatically deploy granular security controls.

To see the power of CloudGuard first-hand, sign up for a free container security demo today. Or, if you’d like to take a deeper dive into container security challenges, download our free Guide to Container and Kubernetes Security.

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