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Software containers have become increasingly popular. Many organizations have realized the benefits of containerization and how they are crucial for their business activities. Unfortunately, as it is the case of many technologies, security of these containers has been somehow neglected. This can be as a result of lack of understanding by security teams who fail to take note of these technologies and the issues that they bring with regard to security. To understand the areas that are most vulnerable, you must first understand how these containers operate.

Container vulnerabilities

Software containers are lightweight virtual machines (VMs) that reduce strain on the system. New vulnerabilities and exploits emerge when vendors conduct research. Although some individuals do not take vendor reports seriously, care needs to be taken to ensure that your organization does not fall victim to such vulnerabilities. Even though containers are now replacing traditional services because of their effectiveness in running applications from different environments such as public cloud and private data centers, they have their vulnerabilities. Below are some of the vulnerabilities of cloud containers:

Container images

Images are a crucial part of containers. They act as building blocks for containers and allow developers to create their own application images with ease. However, one should not always trust images fully as they may have security flaws. You must at all time make sure that they are signed by and originate from trustworthy sources to minimize exposure. Images must always be vetted and all codes validated to find out whether or not they are vulnerable to cyberthreats.

Web host

Although containers are known for isolating applications and their dependencies in a self-contained unit which can function anywhere, it can also present security flaws. For this reason, you need to understand that a container can have an effect on the host and take measures to ensure the safety of the host. Due to the potential threats, it is wise to use systems such as Kubernetes to limit what units can or cannot access. Most shared web hosting services however lack such constraints and therefore means security is also in question.

Kernel root accounts

A basic strategy of any security plan is to reduce the attack surface. This restricts code that has vulnerabilities from entering a particular environment. Containers have different operational and structural components that require attention. The large attack surface of a container poses a greater danger and therefore requires more attention to ensure the configurations and profiles in a cloud container are well maintained on a continuous basis to reduce threats. With such a challenge, a container management process that entails frequently scanning images before and after they have been built is required, and so is patching of the vulnerable areas and ensuring standards are met. This ensures that only safe containers are deployed.

Despite the challenges and vulnerabilities associated with cloud containers, cloud computing is the future. As such, there is no real option to go back because the challenges are too little compared to the benefits of portability, flexibility, and scalability that cloud offers. IT professionals need to ensure the right strategies are adopted together with proper culture and tools. All these will enhance security and risk that data stored in cloud faces. It also reduces the risk of data breaches which is the order of the day in the current environment.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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