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Your Guide to Container Security Best Practices: Forrester Report

Container security best practices

Containers support scalability, agility, cost reduction, and accelerated development. As organizations are increasing their investment in containers, security challenges that come along are not any less. Forrester shared a report on a few best practices that will help security teams ensure container security. After the development team has adopted the containers, security teams have to figure out means to protect a containerized environment. They may face the following challenges:

  • Traditional security tools are too heavyweight for monitoring containers and container orchestration platforms. Security teams require dedicated, lightweight tools whose agents are built for container clusters and distributed containerized apps. Tools must have reporting and dashboarding must be specific to containers.
  • Container image repositories tend to contain images that are too big. Security teams find it difficult to secure overstuffed container images.
  • It was noted that standards like PCI sometimes contain requirements that don’t make sense for containers. It is a challenge to map existing processes and tools to containers.
  • Security teams face challenges in managing different orchestration platforms, container types, and runtime environments. Tools often support only limited types of containers and runtime environments. The implementation details vary between these environments, which makes it more complex for the security teams.
  • Developers tend to modify and use images from different repositories, use them as is or modify them to meet their needs. Without a clear set of baseline images, container registries, and controls, it is hard to ensure image integrity and authenticity.

Implementing container security policy and tools are relevant at the build and launch stages of the ‘secure what you sell’ model. According to reports, 48% of security decision-makers plan to adopt container security during testing, 30% in development, and 19% during design.

Points to remember while implementing container security:

  • The security team and development team can collaborate for implementing container security. As per reports, some firms have dev teams doing the day-to-day decision making and security team laying out requirements and setting policies. In a few other firms, security teams want ownership of container security decision-making.
  • As the container security market has started to grow, the emergence of new tools and vendors in container security has confused the customers. Container and orchestration platform providers, cloud workload, and host OS providers are offering container security measures natively while partnering with specialists.

Container Security Best Practices

As we read in the beginning, container security is quite complex. It is a rapidly changing field. The primary requirement is to protect data stored in and moving between containers.

Implementing Technical Best Practices In Development And Deployment

The benefits of containerization can be achieved only if there are appropriate technical container security measures.

  • There must be strict change control policies for images. The team must scan, secure and tag images and check them into the internal registry with version control. From here, these ‘golden images’ can be used for internal use.
  • Follow Zero Trust principles to container deployments. and use role-based access control for the rights for container orchestration system admins. It is a best practice to only allow CI/CD tools and build pipelines to check-in containers into the registry.
  • Prioritize automation and forget runtime patching. Manual processes in container land are slow, inaccurate, and insecure. Teams must prioritize automation and be sure that everything is scripted. Reports claim patching containers at runtime is a bad idea as it’s not a DevOps-friendly process and can counteract build pipeline configuration and image scanning.
  • Organizations can create container templates that include basic security baselines to ensure consistency. Creating descendants of a template can minimize configuration change processes.

Use Technical Best Practices with Education, Vendor Relationships, And Policy

For a container strategy to be successful, the security teams should think beyond just the technical tools. They can do the following:

  • Regular training can mitigate organizational challenges. The training must cater to resolving the issues that the team has faced.
  • Security teams should consider roadmap influence while selecting container security vendors. Engage with vendors that would accommodate feature requests.
  • It is a good practice to establish and document container governance and policy. It will support the security teams when presenting requirements to the development and I&O teams.

Container security roadmap

The security team can prioritize their container security roadmap according to the challenges faced. Best practices that address some of the problems are:

  • For challenges faced due to traditional tools, teams can partner with vendors on the product roadmap and prioritize automation.
  • If the security teams are dealing with the risks of overstuffed images, they can adopt strict change control policies for images, get them documented and ensure consistency.
  • Upon facing awareness issues, the security teams must conduct relevant training, establish governance policies and document them, partner with the vendor on the product roadmap.
  • Adopt strict policies, document them, and prioritize automation to control gaps.

Source credits: Best Practices for Container Security

Also read: 12 technology trends shaping the future of digital business – Gartner report

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