How To Mature Your Container Management

  • Posted On: 16th August 2018
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How To Mature Your Container Management

You started to use containers for the productivity benefits. We get it. Containers are an excellent way to remove roadblocks from developers and reduce your technology costs. However, they don’t manage themselves. If you lack a holistic process to handle containers, you may be adding cybersecurity risk to your organization without knowing it.

What’s Container Lifecycle Management Cybersecurity?

“First, you need to understand the key phases of the container lifecycle and how to address them. Many of these phases have yet to be described. This breaks new ground, and the groundbreaking nature of containers should be considered when setting up your container lifecycle processes, selecting tools, and automating what you can automate.” – The state of container lifecycle management: Time for reinvention

Lifecycle management is a well-known concept in IT. The challenge? Translating and adapting the concept to the world of containers. As the article above notes, charting the container lifecycle is an emerging area.

When containers are first set up, security assessments and testing will be necessary. In contrast, different security oversight is required while they’re in operation. Finally, a separate set of cybersecurity practices are necessary when they’re closed down. Unfortunately, many organizations forget about this lifecycle process in their enthusiasm to achieve results with containers.

Common Mistakes in Container Lifecycle Management

You might think that your container management approach is sound. Think again. Unless you’ve done a thorough assessment, you’ve probably made one or more of these mistakes.

  • Ineffective access governance: A critical mistake is assuming that containers don’t require access oversight or identity management. Usually, this mistake occurs when you implement containers and fail to update your security approach. It isn’t enough to test access privileges for email and financial systems. Sensitive software development and operations resources such as containers need to be evaluated.
  • Deficient segregation of duties: How do you assign responsibilities for testing, QA, and development for containers? If your team is too tightly integrated, you may not have that independent view that’s vital for success. Asking IT auditors to review your cybersecurity program annually is one way to detect problems.
  • Weak cybersecurity training for employees: The overall quality of your cybersecurity training program impacts containers. We recommend starting with the fundamentals such as password management training. After you have that in place, look at other high-risk areas such as managing privileged users. In most cases, a developer or operations employee who works with containers tends to have high access privileges.
  • IT audit failure: For larger organizations, your IT audit specialists may find problems in your container security management. For example, they may point out that you have no process showing how inactive containers are shut down. Without this process, neglected containers will start to gradually increase your security risk exposure.
  • Container experimentation: Tinkering and experimentation are important to developing new technology. At first, this approach to containers is acceptable. Once your organization has used containers for 6-12 months, it’s time to mature. Specifically, you need to apply your IT governance practices to containers. This may mean adjusting expectations on how containers can be used and approved.
  • Manual approach to container governance: This mistake is related to the experimental mindset discussed above. When you first start to exercise governance over containers, you may ask a manager or analyst to take care of this responsibility. As container usage increases, you’ll find that such a manual approach doesn’t scale.

How do you solve these problems? Improving container lifecycle management starts by recognizing the problem. Next, you need to reflect on container cybersecurity and see where you have exposures. At this point, you might feel overwhelmed. There’s so much to do! Your security operations department is already busy. There’s still a way to achieve a better outcome: implement a software solution.

Which Software Solutions Help with Container Lifecycle Management Cybersecurity?

You’re probably used to thinking about Docker when it comes to containers. Docker does have an excellent annual conference and other resources to help developers. However, its resources may lack the depth you need to manage cybersecurity from a lifecycle perspective.

When it comes to choosing container security solutions, you have plenty of options. In fact, sifting through all the available options is a daunting task. To guide you through the process, we recommend carrying out a self-assessment of your container lifecycle management first. Use the following questions to start your self-assessment:

  • Does the organization provide access governance training to key staff? At a minimum, training needs to be provided to supervisors and IT staff who monitor access.
  • What security oversight applies to containers and DevOps? This point is especially important if your organization is new to using containers.
  • Do you have a robust process to decommission or deactivate containers? This question speaks to the end of the container lifecycle. If the answer is no, then your security risk exposure will only increase over time.
  • Does your process rely on a manual approach? When you first get started with container lifecycle management, using Google Docs or spreadsheets to track your process is workable. However, this manual approach tends to fall apart when staff is under pressure from other priorities.
  • What security problems have been reported for the organization? Ask around and find out if auditors, regulators, and security specialists have found gaps in your cybersecurity and access governance.

At the end of this reflection, you may be worried about the results. You might feel that you’re one hacking incident away from suffering a ransomware attack. There’s a way to put the odds of success in your favor.

How Identity Anywhere Simplifies Container Security Management

You know that a manual approach to identity management won’t scale up. As you take on more customers and launch more products, security failures will only become more costly. To safeguard your company’s reputation, identity management needs investment.

Instead of managing identity management for every cloud provider and service, Identity Anywhere centralizes these activities in one place. If you want to keep identity management controls in-house, Avatier’s Identity Anywhere can be deployed in-house. That’s a good choice for governments, healthcare, and financial companies that face high-security expectations from their stakeholders.

Written by Avatier