Containers have become an essential component of modern software development, providing portability and scalability to applications across different environments. However, their increasing use has also led to heightened security concerns. Container security risks include root privilege escalation, Container Escape attacks, and other vulnerabilities that can lead to data breaches and system downtime.
According to a recent survey by StackRox, a container security company, nearly 90% of respondents reported that they had experienced a security incident related to containers. In addition, the survey found that:60% of respondents reported that they had experienced a misconfiguration incident that resulted in a security incident.56% of respondents reported that they had experienced a vulnerability incident that resulted in a security incident.46% of respondents reported that they had experienced a runtime incident that resulted in a security incident.
As containers continue to gain popularity for deploying and scaling applications, the importance of container security cannot be overstated. A successful attack on a container can lead to the compromise of the entire system, and can result in significant financial losses and reputational damage.
In the past few years, several high-profile container security breaches have occurred, highlighting the risks of insufficient container security. Here are some examples:
Tesla: In 2018, Tesla’s Kubernetes cluster was hacked by a crypto-mining malware that exploited a Kubernetes pod to gain access to the cluster’s resources. The attackers were able to exfiltrate sensitive data and use the cluster’s computing power to mine cryptocurrency.
Shopify: In 2020, a vulnerability in Shopify’s Docker implementation was exploited by attackers to gain access to the company’s payment card processing system. The attackers were able to obtain customers’ payment details, leading to a significant data breach.
Capital One: In 2019, a former employee of Capital One was able to exploit a misconfigured firewall in the company’s AWS environment to gain access to a container running on the system. The attacker was able to exfiltrate the personal data of more than 100 million customers, resulting in a massive data breach.
Several vulnerabilities have been discovered in popular container platforms and their associated components. Here are some examples:
CVE-2019-11253: A vulnerability in Kubernetes’ API server could allow an attacker to send a specially crafted request that would trigger a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, resulting in a system crash.
CVE-2020-8558: A vulnerability in the Kubernetes kubelet could allow an attacker to perform a Container Escape attack, allowing them to gain root privileges on the host system.
CVE-2021-22555: A vulnerability in the Docker Engine could allow an attacker to use a specially crafted image to trigger a privilege escalation attack, allowing them to gain root privileges on the host system.
Kubernetes has become the go-to container orchestration platform for enterprises. It offers flexibility, scalability, and portability, making it a popular choice for managing containers. However, Kubernetes can be complex to configure and secure, making it a prime target for attackers. To keep your Kubernetes cluster secure, it is essential to implement best practices for hardening your environment.
Minimize attack surface
Minimizing the attack surface of your Kubernetes cluster is crucial. Attack surface refers to the number of entry points that an attacker can use to gain access to your cluster. You can reduce the attack surface by:
- Disabling or removing unnecessary APIs and services
- Reducing the number of components and applications running in your cluster
- Limiting access to your cluster by using RBAC (Role-Based Access Control)
Secure the control plane
The control plane is the brain of your Kubernetes cluster, responsible for managing and orchestrating container deployments. It is essential to secure the control plane to prevent unauthorized access or tampering. You can secure the control plane by:
- Enabling TLS encryption for API server communication
- Enabling authentication and authorization for API server access
- Implementing RBAC to limit access to the control plane
- Using secure channels for etcd communication
Secure worker nodes
Worker nodes are the servers that run your container workloads. It is crucial to secure worker nodes to prevent attackers from gaining access to your container workloads. You can secure worker nodes by:
- Disabling root access and using non-root users for running containers
- Implementing network segmentation to limit traffic between nodes
- Implementing pod security policies to enforce security policies for pods
- Using trusted images from a secure registry
Monitor your cluster
Monitoring your Kubernetes cluster is essential for detecting and responding to security threats. You can monitor your cluster by:
- Collecting and analyzing logs from your cluster components
- Setting up alerts for suspicious activity or anomalies
- Conducting regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing
- Keeping your cluster components and applications up to date with security patches
Stay up to date with industry trends and emerging issues across security and compliance. Our regularly-updated resources will keep you apprised of emerging threats and issues of note for cloud-native developments.
Microstack will guide your process to mature your container security posture and help you meet your compliance goals.