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RunC Container Breakout Vulnerability

Despite the huge advantages that containers offer in application portability, acceleration of CI/CD pipelines and agility of deployment environments, the biggest concern has always been about isolation. Since all the containers running on a host share the same underlying kernel, any malicious code breaking out of a container can compromise the entire host, and hence all the applications running on the host and potentially in the cluster.

That fear of container isolation failing to hold up turned out to be true yesterday when a vulnerability in runC was announced. runC is the key and most popular software component that most container engines rely on for spinning up containers on a host. The announced vulnerability allows an attacker to break out of the container isolation through a well-crafted attack (technical details of the vulnerability and the exploit are at https://seclists.org/oss-sec/2019/q1/119) and compromise the entire host. The vulnerability is particularly nasty because it is not covered by the default AppArmor or SELinux kernel-enforced sandboxing policies.

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Container Security Becomes a Priority for Enterprises

Among the IT innovations that businesses are using to digitally transform operations, containers might be the most disruptive and revolutionary.

“They’re a real game changer,” Qualys Chief Product Officer Sumedh Thakar said at QSC 2018 in Las Vegas.

DevOps teams have embraced containers because they boost speed and flexibility in app development and delivery, and are ideal for microservices. In fact, by 2020 more than 50% of organizations will run containerized applications in production, up from under 20% in 2017, according to Gartner. Thus, security teams must prioritize protecting the applications that DevOps teams create with this OS virtualization method.

“We see container security as a significant new paradigm coming at us, which will bring a lot of change,” Qualys CEO Philippe Courtot said.

Asif Awan, Qualys’ Container Security CTO

But to ensure the security and compliance of container-based code, organizations can’t rely on conventional application security products. “Your existing tools aren’t going to work,” said Asif Awan, Qualys’ Container Security CTO. Unsurprisingly, organizations cite security as the biggest challenge when deploying containers, according to Forrester.

“Security automation is a simple term but to get a handle over that entire automated and ever-accelerating CI/CD (continuous integration and delivery) pipeline is becoming more and more difficult,” Awan said.

Responding to this need, Qualys offers a comprehensive security solution that monitors and protects containerized applications from the inside.  In order to do that, Qualys technology collects granular behavior data about the application, providing deep visibility and enforcing normal application behavior for runtime protection.

Read on to learn about Qualys’ container security approach.

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Infosec Teams Race To Secure DevOps

With DevOps adoption spreading, infosec teams are scrambling to address the new security challenges stemming from DevOps’ accelerated code development and app deployment. But while IT organizations have made notable progress adapting security to their DevOps processes, work remains to be done.

That’s a key finding from SANS Institute’s “Secure DevOps: Fact or Fiction” report, which was discussed recently in a two-day webcast (Part 1 & Part 2) co-sponsored by Qualys. A revealing statistic: Under 50% of respondent organizations have fully “shifted left” to embed security throughout their DevOps pipelines, a figure that should be higher.

“Security is still being built in at the end, whereas risk reduction should start earlier in the software development lifecycle,” said Barbara Filkins, a SANS analyst. With security in the early stages of application design, “we can eliminate many issues that we’d see at the back end,” she said.

Threading security throughout DevOps also preserves the benefits of continuous and quick software delivery, like improved customer support and employee productivity. 

“As a DevOps engineer, you’re looking to automate security at the speed of what business needs,” said Qualys Product Management Director Hari Srinivasan.

“The goal is enabling a transition from DevOps to secure DevOps that is factual, not fiction,” Filkins said.

Read on to learn about DevSecOps challenges, best practices and case studies.

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QSC18: The Need for Security Visibility in the Age of Digital Transformation

Enterprises are moving full steam ahead when it comes to their digital transformation efforts. They’ve aggressively adopted cloud infrastructure and other cloud services, IoT, application containers, serverless functionality, and other technologies that are helping their organization to drive forward.

Those organizations that are way down the road in their digital transformation efforts say that they’ve witnessed improved business decision-making – both when it comes to making better decisions and when it comes to making those decisions more rapidly. They also say that they’ve improved their customer relationships by delivering an improved customer digital experience.

So it’s time to celebrate and declare digital victory, right?

Hold off before we book the band and order the champagne for the big party. In fact, those who want to move forward securely and confidently in their risk and regulatory compliance postures have some challenges ahead.

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