Docker Security Concerns

Docker is a popular platform for OS-level virtualization instances known as containers. Flexible containerization is completely changing the way we build and maintain applications at scale.

With positivity and momentum of growth in mind, we must keep information security in mind. Let’s take a look at four potential threats and strategies to help secure your container deployments:

1. Vulnerable images:  Anyone can publish a new repository on Docker Hub, so check that you’re familiar with the project maintainer before deploying. Running untested builds from spurious sources may lead to the unintentional introduction of vulnerable components, or even malicious code execution. It is best to check for the official Docker Store and “Certified” program that offers a variety of assured and deployment-ready packages. Paid plans on the Hub feature a “Security Scanning” tool that can check images for known vulnerabilities.

2. IAM breaches:  Cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services, aim to provide hardened Identity and Access Management (IAM) role structures by default. These can be used in tandem with your Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances for example to ensure your users have been issued the appropriate access rights as per the Principle of Least Privilege. When deploying containers ensure that your registry is sufficiently protected, possibly with two-factor authentication.

3. Excess resource usage: By default, a Docker container has no resource constraints. As a result, actively deploying containers without resource limits could lead to severely degraded host performance. Make sure to set limits on memory, bandwidth and disk usage to mitigate performance issues. Such issues could be caused also by malicious code (such as denial of service code execution).

4. Container breakouts: An adversary that gains access to one of your containers should not be able to move laterally to other containers or the Docker host. However, Docker is evolving quickly and privilege escalation exploits may arise, so take care to build infrastructure with a layered defense-in-depth approach in mind.