Your developers have started to use developers so you can scale up. It’s a popular strategy because you can save time and effort on configuring operating systems. That’s not all. Making containers and other innovative technology available in your organization means you can attract and retain technical talent easier.
Like any new technology, there are challenges to consider. For instance, your operations team may not feel confident about managing containers. That’s a valid concern to address, but it won’t be the focus today. Instead, the focus is on the security impact of using containers.
The Dangers of Sloppy Innovation: Containers Gone Wild?
Here’s the situation: spinning up containers and hoping for the best in cybersecurity isn’t going to work. There’s really only one situation where that slapdash approach to technology development makes sense: during a hackathon or some experimental critical situation. That approach isn’t going to work for the rest. All it takes is one gap in your security program to cause a reputation-damaging event.
When containers aren’t integrated into your security program, you’re leaving the door open to hackers and other problems. The first step to preventing that problem is simple: get the lay of the land before you make decisions about what cybersecurity changes are necessary.
Assessing the Impact of Containers on Your Cybersecurity Program
Let’s assume you have a reasonably mature and highly effective cybersecurity program. If the program has been in place for several years, your staff may be out of practice in adapting to change. To assess your readiness to adopt containers from a security perspective, use these self-assessment questions.
- What container technology does the organization currently use? (Aim to be comprehensive on this front)
- Who has privileged user access regarding container setup and management? (If the answer is “every developer,” then you have a high-security risk on your hands)
- What documentation and training are available internally regarding container security? (This point is critical if your organization is rapidly expanding, as new hires need guidance to understand your needs)
- What third parties outside the organization have access to your containers? (The main danger lies in not knowing who has access and why)
- How was security considered during container implementation? (The best practice is to use a security-by-design approach, to include security as a fundamental first step)
Resource: Are you planning to start a container implementation? Check out 8 Docker Implementation Mistakes You Need To Avoid for tips to make sure your efforts pay off. If you make mistake 5, hackers and criminals will find it easy to break into your company.
Now that you’ve completed this mini-assessment, you have a decision to make. Are you satisfied with the security oversight and controls for your container implementation? If the answer is no, then you need to look at encryption and other security improvement options.
What Are Your Options for Container Encryption?
With encryption, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You might use Docker secrets to apply encryption to sensitive data in Docker. That’s a good start! What if you’re using other container products? You’ll need to investigate their encryption options and see how they compare. If you have multiple container products in use, you’ll have different encryption options. Unfortunately, configuring your data encryption settings in your containers will only take you so far.
Now, what about the rest of your data flowing in and out of containers? You may need encryption on that data as well. Encryption is a worthwhile way to protect your data, but it isn’t enough on its own.
There’s a method to improve container security that you may not have considered yet. By using this strategy, your efforts to use encryption will be even more successful. If you skip this strategy, determined hackers may be able to sidestep your container data encryption easily.
The Missing Piece to Container Security: Identity and Access Management
Picture this: a manager’s access credentials are hacked. Armed with these credentials, a dishonest competitor creates a user account and starts downloading data. Since the user has a “valid” ID, he or she can sidestep your other security measures. Yikes! In a matter of minutes, critical data will leak out of your organization. With a security failure like this, you can’t assume that a software update from Microsoft, Apple, or another company will suddenly appear.
How do you prevent this disaster from happening to your company? You can never achieve 100% security protection, you can only make it harder for hackers and limit the amount of damage they can do. For instance, check whether your staff suffers from password reuse disease. That’s another security problem not solved by implementing encryption.
By improving your identity and access management program, you’ll help your employees manage their user accounts more successfully. Instead of asking managers to remember to inspect user IDs regularly, you’ll use an identity management solution. Further, you need a solution that works across your enterprise, including containers.
Naturally, we recommend Identity Anywhere to protect your containers. Designed to run in the cloud or on-premise, Identity Anywhere is a comprehensive identity management solution. It’s designed to work with Docker container technology, one of the most popular options on the market. In cybersecurity, it’s important to act fast to respond to new vulnerabilities. With Identity Anywhere, you can take a continuous delivery approach to identity management. No more waiting days to fix a hole in your identity management system, you can make updates much faster.
As you improve container security, remember to capture the business benefits of this technology. For example, you can reduce your recruitment expenses by using containers to win the war for technical talent. Competitors are constantly recruiting good developers and engineers. By giving them containers and other leading technical tools to use, your technical stars will have the chance to grow and succeed by staying with your company.