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Maintaining Security with Container Technology
Application container technologies have been built into Unix-based operating systems for over two decades. Container technology helps to provide a sandboxed environment by bundling applications. Each container runs on top of the underlying operating system’s kernel by encapsulating a running application and its userspace.
As a result, as long as the OS kernel remains the same, a container can be distributed and deployed independently in the host machine. Containers free developers from performing complicated tasks like dependency management and manually setting up complex environments. This will help clients witness a faster and more reliable development and deployment process.
That sounds a lot like a VM
Although it might seem similar to the process of running virtual machines, containers main differentiator is that they don’t bundle up the entire operating system, performing better than traditional virtual machines. The amount of hardware required to run a dozen virtual machines can run hundreds of containers without additional investment. In addition, while VMs may require up to a few minutes to load, a typical container can be loaded in milliseconds.
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What about security?
While container technology provides added isolation compared to non-virtualized environments, they often provide less isolation and protection in comparison to VMs. Hence, the organizations that plan to adopt container technology must be aware of its security concerns.
Vulnerable container images
Images are the fundamental component of the container technology, which can be created or downloaded by the developers from several open-source repositories. While this allows containers to be an automated and flexible process, the images may contain security vulnerabilities or malicious codes. This is the reason why developers need to track images throughout the development lifecycle for ensuring immediate remediation of any vulnerability when discovered.
Keep an eye on access control
It is important for organizations to give root permission to users based on their need to perform specific tasks and on a per task basis. This initiative will help organizations minimize the number of compromised accounts in the case of a malicious attack. As access to one container might enable hackers to reach more containers, organizations, system administrators, and DevOps teams must establish and enforce strict policies regarding access control throughout the development process.
Tighten container security and enjoy the ride
Container technology allows development teams to deliver innovative and stable products faster. However, in order to leverage the true power of container technology, they must also invest in new security practices ranging from the automated tools they put in place early in the development lifecycle.
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By Nima Vahdat, SVP, Associate General Counsel, loanDepot