Container compliance refers to the policies and practices required to ensure containerized workloads comply with regulatory standards like GDPR, CIS, and PCI DSS.
The cost of failing to comply with relevant regulatory standards can have a major impact on the bottom line. For example, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) non-compliance can cost up to 4% of an enterprise’s turnover or €20M. At the same time, containers are now a cornerstone of modern software infrastructure, and containerized workloads often directly interact with the sensitive data regulations are meant to protect.
At scale, ensuring all of the containerized workloads in an environment are compliant with relevant standards can be difficult. Limited container visibility, configuration drift, and ambiguity around exactly how to implement compliant solutions create complexities and compliance challenges.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of container compliance, common compliance challenges facing modern enterprises, and how enterprises can address them.
With containers running so many critical applications today, compliance is often table stakes for doing business. However, meeting the prerequisites to conduct business in certain industries and regions is only one of the reasons container compliance is important.
Container compliance also helps enterprises:
Often, with compliance comes complexity. This is particularly true with container compliance because many standards were written before containerized workloads surged in popularity, or simply don’t clearly speak to container use cases.
Some of the most frequent challenges involved in achieving compliance for containers include:
Those high level challenges apply to multiple standards. In the sections below, we’ll look at specific standards and how they relate to container security compliance.
The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a number of standards and best practice guidelines, many of which relate directly to cybersecurity and data compliance. In many cases, complying with specific NIST standards is a prerequisite for doing business with the United States government.
Some of the most relevant NIST cybersecurity guidelines and standards enterprises should be familiar with are:
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) defines a framework that enterprises that accept or process card payments must follow to reduce the risk of fraud and data compromise. This makes PCI DSS container compliance a must for many container workloads involved in eCommerce and retail.
Achieving PCI DSS compliance includes meeting twelve data security and operational requirements including not using default values for passwords and security parameters, maintaining a firewall, securely storing cardholder data, and regularly updating antivirus programs.
Because PCI DSS is not overly prescriptive in how enterprises must meet these requirements, getting it right for container workloads can be a challenge. Tools like Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KPSM) platforms can help enterprises achieve PCI DSS compliance by automating the process of defining security policies, scanning container workloads in K8s clusters, detecting misconfigurations, and identifying issues with role-based access controls (RBAC).
GDPR applies to all organizations that handle the personal data of the European Union’s (EU’s) citizens. It includes requirements related to the encryption and pseudonymisation of EU citizen’s personal data, maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of systems involved in processing data, regular testing, and restoration capabilities in the event of an accident.
To achieve GDPR compliance for containerized workloads, enterprises must take a multi-pronged approach to container security. For example, enterprises may scan images for vulnerabilities, enforce strict network access controls, limit access to sensitive data, and monitor for threats in real time as part of the steps required to comply with GDPR.
The Center for Internet Security (CIS) maintains a set of secure configuration best practices — known as CIS Benchmarks — for a variety of systems from multiple vendors. These best practices are based on consensus derived from cybersecurity experts around the globe.
CIS Benchmarks are widely recognized across the globe as an authoritative reference for secure practices and often overlap with other cybersecurity standards like ISO/IEC 27000-series standards, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, and PCI DSS.
CIS publishes benchmarks for a variety of cloud and container-related platforms including Kubernetes and Docker. With tooling like enterprise-grade Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) organizations can streamline the process of evaluating their infrastructure against CIS standards and gain granular visbility into their containerized workloads.
Addressing container security compliance at scale takes the right combination of strategy, processes, and tools. The CheckPoint CloudGuard platform is a complete cloud security and compliance solution that is purpose-built to address a wide range of container compliance use cases.
With CloudGuard, enterprises can:
To see the power of CloudGuard first-hand, sign up for a free container security demo today or start a free CloudGuard CSPM trial. Alternatively, if you’d like to take a deeper dive into container security challenges, download our free Container Security Guide.