The confidence in container applications continues to increase in terms of the number of businesses running these applications and also in terms of the number of containerized deployments in the complete application lifecycle.
According to recently concluded surveys, almost 80% of IT professionals are leveraging containers and 90% of them are using these in production environments. The number of IT teams with more than 40% of their applications running in containers has also doubled in size.
The ease of IT infrastructure management, the need for scalability, performance, availability of applications, and the rise of development methodologies such as DevOps, have made containerized technology a mainstay in application development and deployment.
A large number of organizations are utilizing it for the entire software development lifecycle as well. The move towards containers can also be attributed to the rise of stateful applications that need access to persistent storage as they require access to a database.
While the increase in container adoption is a clear sign of mature and proven technology, this has also made containers more inviting targets for attacks. Reports suggest that 94% of security professionals are concerned about container security.
Given the impact a security breach can have on organizational outcomes, security, even when it comes to containers, cannot be an afterthought especially as containers see adoption not only from application developers but also by data scientists.
Trends in container security
The objective of it is to safeguard the software integrity of containers. It encompasses securing the container pipeline and the application, securing the container deployment environment(s) and infrastructure, and ensuring integration with enterprise security tools, and meet or improve existing security policies.
Here are some trends making waves in container security that tech professionals need to know about:
Container security has to shift left in development and shift right in deployment
The days when application development employed unsecured containerized environments and attached container security somewhere in the middle of the development process are long over. The exposure to insider attacks, zero-day attacks, and other vulnerabilities leaves these applications defenseless. With the number of container attacks increasing, container security has to “shift left” to build the right defense in this container environment by embedding security in the development process itself.
With this approach, developers, and not security analysts, become the key people responsible for ensuring container security. Developers can find and fix issues at an early stage of the software development lifecycle and mitigate them proactively as opposed to performing a penetration test at the end. This approach makes fixing things cheaper, faster, and less burdensome on the operations teams and infrastructure.
Enterprises also have to recognize that container security risks still remain as they push containerized applications into production. As such, enterprises have to shift right to completely protect vulnerable environments and orchestration platforms all through the application lifecycle.
Building a security mesh over a service mesh
Building a security mesh over the application mesh is another rising trend in container security as organizations realize that safeguards have to go beyond the traditional network and host security box. This approach helps enterprises counteract the threat of attacks and provides better security to guard vulnerable containerized environments.
By building a security mesh, enterprises can leverage an architecture that enables a new layer of defense. Automation also plays a big role in managing these defenses and, hence, becomes an essential area in which enterprises should increase capabilities.
Container image scanning is integral to CI/CD
Container scanning is another part of the container ecosystem that has to also ‘shift left’. This strategy demands that the scanning and analyzing of container images happen early in the DevOps process.
Reports show that 74% of the customers scan images during the pre-deployment phase. This scanning helps them identify and address potential security threats and risks and prevents these from moving into production. Integrating container image scanning into the CI/CD pipeline is a container security trend to look out for.
Automating security solutions, rules, and configurations as a part of the CI/CD pipeline augment container security techniques advancing them along the lines of ‘policy-as-a-code’. This security approach becomes easy to implement because enterprises are looking at making use of tools such as Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs), Kubernetes ConfigMaps, etc., and others to automate security solutions.
Declaring security policies in code based on analysis of application behavior enhances container security and can also be used by traditional security teams to implement cloud-native global security policies in the container environments.
Cloud 2.0 will be accelerated by containers
Enterprises recognize that the path to Cloud 2.0 is being paved by container technologies. This is so because enterprises understand that opportunity in going beyond VM-centric cloud infrastructures by adopting more data- and services-focused solutions. Enterprises also want to transform their cloud capabilities by embracing advanced technologies along with containerization, serverless, cross-cluster and hyperscale management, and the aforementioned service and security meshes. Cloud 2.0 provides native cloud security and helps businesses secure the use of containers.
Adopting containers holds great promise for enterprises as it brings in the organizational efficiency advantage. The adoption of cloud and containers enables organizations to become more agile in the face of constant change and enable automation easily.
However, following the security best practices becomes essential. While there might not be any need to implement a dramatic shift in how security best practices are implemented, security definitely needs refinement in approach and concentrated focus to determine how, when, and where all security must be implemented.