Container Threats in the Cloud: What Enterprises Need to Know

With the changing cybersecurity landscape, enterprises need to incorporate stringent security mechanisms to protect their in-house infrastructure and cloud-native applications—those built using microservices; that are container-based and running on platforms such as Kubernetes. And when we talk about cloud-native application security, the container security threat in the cloud is often overlooked.

Containers are the packages of software programs containing all the necessary elements, including libraries, configuration files, and binaries required to run an application in an environment. Containers can be run from anywhere since they virtualize the operating system.

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Since the use of containers is skyrocketing, certain cybersecurity risks also are increasing. Containers and their associated tools, including orchestration tools, can cause numerous vulnerabilities and cause enterprise losses worth millions of dollars.

Let’s uncover the aspects of container threats and how enterprises can mitigate the risks.

Container Vulnerabilities Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Although containers may have certain security advantages, they also have unique cybersecurity challenges and risks that could severely impact an enterprise. Organizations leveraging containers and failing to recognize their security risks—and implement adequate security measures—may compromise their sensitive business information and customer data.

Container security vulnerabilities have increased in the past couple of years as cloud-native and container-based application adoption has risen. Businesses are beginning to incorporate cloud-native-specific security measures, but as they do, cybercriminals are working on finding new ways around those measures so they can compromise systems.

Hence, the conventional container security practices won’t work in today’s high-risk scenarios, especially when several threats target businesses and consumers. Apart from this, even if a single container is compromised, it can potentially become the entry point into the organization’s network, leading to mass destruction as the conventional network security mechanism offers no protection against these kinds of attacks.

Hence, enterprises need to quickly put their best foot forward to adopt stringent cloud security mechanisms to ensure robust security for containers and associated application files.

Types of Container Security Vulnerabilities

Some of the most common container security vulnerabilities in today’s era that are known to most the cybersecurity experts are listed below:

● API Server Access: Access and authorization require adequate focus from a security point of view because of their fundamental role. The API server is the automated front end of the orchestrator. Enterprises should ensure their security configuration by allowing only specific applications to have the proper credentials. Hence, protecting the API server should be the top priority.
● Access and Authorization: The API server’s access and authentication should be emphasized from the beginning to avoid configuration failure. Hackers try to gain unauthorized access to the API server by bypassing weak authentication mechanisms. Hence, developers should incorporate a robust access control mechanism that restricts unauthorized access via multi-factor authentication and risk-based authentication.
● Image Vulnerabilities: Containers are built from images, and hackers infiltrate images with certain kinds of malware that further cause severe harm to containers. This can lead to corrupted and poisoned containers and files, leading to data thefts and associated vulnerabilities. Enterprises must ensure they have the right set of security tools to detect and manage any changes to images.

Container Security Best Practices

Enterprises jumping on a digital transformation bandwagon should ensure they leverage cloud containers most securely and reliably. Reviewing and analyzing the overall state of the container and orchestrator security is the initial step that should be taken quite seriously during the entire software development life cycle.

Whether it’s planning and analysis, development, or deployment of the application, IT staff must pay special attention to the vulnerability areas mentioned above to mitigate the risks.

Depending on the organization type and operations, businesses should also incorporate cutting-edge security technologies, including a customer identity and access management (CIAM) mechanism that helps secure critical business information and sensitive consumer data.

Apart from this, specific cloud-native security tools that are specifically designed for enhancing the overall security of containers in the cloud could help mitigate the risks for both users and businesses.

In Conclusion

With the increasing adoption of containers in the cloud, businesses often ignore the security-related aspects, which could lead to data breaches, cyberattacks and identity theft. Adding multiple authentication and authorization layers and using certain container security tools could help businesses reduce the risk.

Deepak Gupta

Deepak Gupta is CTO and co-founder at LoginRadius.

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