Many enterprises and large organizations are on the lookout for cloud-native security startups to add to their portfolios. From Cisco, which acquired PortShift and Banzai Cloud in late 2020, to Rapid7, which acquired Alcide and DivvyCloud, many organizations are on the hunt for cloud-native security startups. Another recent example is RedHat’s acquisition of StackRox.
This trend could partly be attributed to the fact that these companies don’t want to be left without secure cloud-native capabilities in the wake of a crippling pandemic. But the truth of the matter is that the trend started well before COVID-19 was even a viable threat.
Whatever the reason, there is no denying the importance of a Kubernetes-native security platform to safeguard the cloud application development process for these up-and-coming businesses. It has also led to a greater focus on cybersecurity. With an increase in containerized applications in production, security becomes a bigger concern, and all signs point to the container security market being poised for a flurry of M&A activity and major growth over the coming year.
What is Container Security?
Container security refers to policies and tools that guarantee all the things in your container run as intended. This also includes protecting the infrastructure, runtime, the software supply chain and everything in between.
The practice of securing containers is a constant process. You need to incorporate it into your development process, automate to eliminate the number of (manual) touchpoints and extend it into the operation and maintenance of the underlying infrastructure.
Today, four out of every five businesses rely on the cloud for their web application needs, and to take advantage of the increased security measures the cloud offers. Implementing protection as a continuous part of your delivery life cycle reduces vulnerabilities and mitigates risk from the ever-growing number of malicious attacks.
According to a report by IBM, the primary benefits of containerization include the following:
- Portability between different clouds and platforms
- Achieve efficiency through using fewer resources when compared to virtual machines and delivering higher application of computing resources
- Agility that enables developers to integrate with their current DevOps environment
- More speed when delivering enhancements
- Easier scaling and faster application start-up
- Streamlined application management
- Improved security by segregating applications from their respective host system(s)
The end goal of any cybersecurity plan is to make sure that whatever you build works as intended, without unwanted breaks.
Container security significantly differs from conventional security practices due to the increased intricacy and dynamism of the environment, so it lends itself well to uninterrupted operations in the cloud.
All in all, container security encompasses everything from the applications themselves to the infrastructure they run on. It leverages several tools and standards to protect the overall container, its performance and the application, including the software supply chain, system libraries, system infrastructure and runtime against cyberattacks.
The Race to Secure Containers
There are containerized applications all around you, whether you know it or not. They provide Wi-Fi at the local cafe, assist you in online banking, process your self-checkouts at the grocery store and more. You may send a message to your doctor through a mobile application and then play a mobile game – all of that happens with the help of containers.
And when it comes to ensuring your organization’s success, there is no denying that real workloads lead to real consequences.
Data is paramount to businesses. Running your company-specific, critical data in containers has some significant advantages that is propelling enterprise demand.
Here are some of the reasons why enterprises are focusing on container security and buying container startups:
Better Managed Services via Containers
Internal management is a particularly challenging aspect of containers. Each enterprise needs different functionality for and from its container workloads. Sometimes it is even challenging to deploy containers, especially if your team doesn’t have the right expertise.
Fortunately, managed service providers can help you build personalized tools for container management, so you don’t have to worry about it. Teams can also benefit from cloud-based collaboration tools that offer essential features such as workflow management solutions, centralized file storage and visual representations of your workloads. Perhaps you plan to migrate all of your current workloads to containers; getting help from these kinds of tools streamlines the entire process.
Containers Ensure an Uninterrupted Software Supply Chain
With a uniform application that runs on a virtual machine, programmers usually make alterations by logging in to the device remotely or pushing code modifications manually. This makes it challenging to debug.
It is a pretty informal process; if the developer wants to make a change in the future, they just need to remotely log in to their virtual machine to patch, update, debug, adjust or even restart the application. However, this method doesn’t ensure security.
With container security, you have a clear development pipeline, which is also called the software supply chain.
You can write your code and make sure that it meets your specific requirements for the test, build and scan processes before deploying it. Furthermore, you can intercept the code at any step in the supply chain in case it doesn’t meet your needs or you find vulnerabilities or bugs.
Automation is a major aspect of container security. It is critical to running things safely and securely. Nobody wants their containers to rely on manual processes for safety, as this only invites more trouble. Tools like Kubernetes can effectively help you manage container deployment and security tasks; however, this is not always sufficient.
Reassurance and Peace of Mind
Manually monitoring every modification to your code, every environment, every feature update and every networking request doesn’t make sense. If you want faster releases, your processes have to be less monotonous.
With a container security solution, you can cover your entire development cycle and all the deployment stages. You need to make sure that the whole life cycle is protected, as any vulnerability can result in more significant problems.
Containers are scalable, which means their workloads can change and grow. Your security provider is also required to do the same. Automating security can give you peace of mind. However, it shouldn’t be your only focus when it comes to container security.
The entire deployment and development life cycle may be safer, but your IT department needs to be well-informed of best practices to address security concerns. Container security helps you drive innovation in your business if you appropriately leverage them.
Gauge New System Vulnerabilities
Since containers are invertible, they provide you content addressability. They are put together in such a way that you can retrieve a container according to its contents, as up to 67% of web applications have high-security vulnerabilities. This is why it is crucial to know about your environment and what is running in it.
And instead of scanning your production groups directly, you can check your registry to have a look at the versions that are susceptible. This also streamlines your patch management by allowing you to decouple processes and decisions about when you need to patch from the actual patching process.
Additional Container Security Advantages
A container is merely ten megabytes in size, while a virtual machine (VM) with its entire operating system will be a few gigabytes in size. For this reason, you can host far more containers via a single server as compared to virtual machines.
Another significant benefit is speed – virtual machines may take a few minutes for operating systems to boot and start running the applications they host. In contrast, containerized apps can get to work almost instantly. This means that you can initiate the containers “just in time” when you need them, and they simply disappear when you no longer require them, freeing up extra resources for the hosts.
Furthermore, container security allows for better modularity. Instead of running a complete complex application in a single container, you can split the application(s) into modules (such as the application front-end, the database, and so on).
Container security solutions are growing more complex and effective at safekeeping and speeding up processes. The acquisitions are heating up as they make it easy for companies to build, set and promote a service or an application throughout its life cycle and across multiple deployment targets and environments.