Security by design: A checklist for securing VMs and containers (2023)

Security by design: A checklist for securing VMs and containers (1)virtualization andCloudA gift for developers and app builders. Virtual infrastructure provides companies and developers with a cost-effective, dynamic and agile way to deliver products and services or deploy their own applications. Just like the public cloud promises to be$178 billionThis year, the market has seen a clear shift in application delivery towards automation and scalability.

But security lags behind and is often overlooked as companies and developers try to move faster to meet deadlines and requirements. For example, a survey conducted in 2017 by the SANS Institute,ReportIn the last two years, 15 percent of organizations suffered a data breach due to insecure applications, and as many as 10 percent said they did not perform security testing on mission-critical applications.

Not surprisingly, DevOps is gaining ground, both as a software engineering culture and as a toolkit that combines software development and information technology (IT) operations to enable agile development and deployment. KnuthestimateBy next year, 70 percent of enterprise DevOps initiatives will embed and automate security in the applications they use, build, or deploy.

[related:Application security for developers]

Securing the virtual environment is no different from securing the application itself. Here are some considerations and best practices that developers, IT operations professionals, and system administrators should consider when securing the infrastructure that powers their applications.

Security by design: A checklist for securing VMs and containers (2)Security by design: A checklist for securing VMs and containers (3)

Prevent security breaches in containers and virtual machines

Update containers and virtual machines

Due to the different scope and requirements of workloads, organizations use virtualization technologies according to individual needs. For example, virtual machines (VMs) are best for developers and businesses looking for the flexibility to run multiple applications, while containers are best for developers and businesses that need scalable applications.

Containers and VMs allow you to run applications multiple times or isolate them on a single platform, but they differ in how they do so. Containers virtualize the operating system (OS) to run multiple workloads on a single OS instance, while virtual machines virtualize hardware to run OS instances.

(Video) The Container Security Checklist

Therefore, any instance of an application running in containers and virtual machines is a potential attack vector if it is vulnerable or misconfigured. For example, instances that still have unneeded ports configured in containers or virtual machines can be exploited to allow hackers to gain access to application servers.

Container images should also be checked for vulnerabilities. They are constantly added to the repository, exchanged and modified (in the case of open source) - activities that increase the risk of security breaches. SANS InstitutelistAudit of Docker-based containers is a good starting point for evaluating containerized applications and host operating systems.

[related:What is serverless computing and what it means for DevSecOps]

Protect applications with the protection hypervisor

The hypervisor manages how guest operating systems access resources such as the central processing unit (CPU), memory, network, and storage. Shares resources to prevent instances from hacking each other's resources. The hypervisor is the underlying infrastructure behind the applications running on the virtual machine, which makes its security critical. National Institute of Standards and Technology DetailssuggestionProtection Manager:

  • Disable unused and unnecessary hardware or virtual services (for example, clipboard and file sharing) to reduce the attack surface.
  • Keep an eye on the hypervisor for unusual activity.
  • Traffic between VMs is actively monitored; their visibility must be explicitly enabled.
  • Track instances and limit the creation of virtual machines and virtual servers to prevent the proliferation of virtualization where running too many instances leads to inefficient management of physical and software resources.
  • Use secure and encrypted communication protocols such as Secure Sockets Layer for mitigationbrokerOr protect data while migrating or storing VM images.
  • Verify and ensure the integrity of VM images stored on a server or library.

[Information Security Guidelines:Limit network injection]

Identify vulnerabilities in containers

Images are container blueprints that are used by containers to start or run applications. A vulnerable image makes the container vulnerable to malware or hacking, so the application itself is also vulnerable to malware or hacking. Identifying security vulnerabilities (such as unsafe code) before launch and correcting them properly before scheduling an image in an orchestration environment will greatly save time and effort in reworking builds and reduce build overhead and downtime. Application Life Cycle:

  • Make sure container images are signed, verified, and sourced from trusted registries; when scanning images, consider also scanning logs as logs may be compromised and images may be compromised.
  • Protect the Demon; restrict access to it when it is exposed on the network or use encrypted communication protocols.
  • The principle of least privilege applies; unlike a hypervisor that acts as a central point of administration, any user, service or application with root access to the container can log into other containers that share the kernel.
  • isolate resources; configure control groups and namespaces accordingly, i.e. what resources and how much the container can use.
  • Security is built in to further reduce the need for additional builds; for example, Docker has its owndocumentUseful as a reference regarding the safety features built into your engine.

[Cloud Native Security for DevOps: cloud, clusters, containers, code]

security design

expertprovideThis year, intelligent applications based on enterprise resource planning (i-ERP), usually hosted on cloud platforms and designed to manage and automate business processes, will reach the benchmark of 15%Global 2000Companies will use these technologies to improve their bottom line and enhance customer experience. In fact, virtualization and the cloud are increasingly changing the way personal and mission-critical data is handled and processed.

But it's not just about securing containers and virtual machines. Whether your organization's workloads are physical, virtual, or cloud infrastructure (or any combination of the two), maintaining andProtect themIt can be scary. According to the DevOps culture, simplicity is the name of the game. Whether you use VMs, containers (or both) to test, run, and deploy your apps, your security shouldn't be an obstacle.included in securityIn the infrastructure where applications run, it not only helps prevent threats, but also reduces the organization's business risk.


(Video) Docker Security Essentials | How To Secure Docker Containers

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How do you provide security to a container? ›

How to secure a container?
  1. Use a container-specific host operating system. NIST recommends using container-specific host OSes, which are built with reduced features, to reduce attack surfaces.
  2. Segment containers by purpose and risk profile. ...
  3. Use container-specific vulnerability management and runtime security tools.

What are security requirements for virtualization? ›

Secure all the parts of the infrastructure
  • Hosts should have latest firmware installed and virtualized infrastructure (VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V) should have the latest security patches installed. ...
  • All active network elements (switches, routers, load balancers for balancing workloads, etc.)
Jan 9, 2020

How are VMs more secure than containers? ›

Since you're running a different operating system from the other machines on the same physical server virtualization, VMs increase the isolation level between nearby systems. In contrast, running within a single OS while using containers in cloud computing allows defects to damage the entire system.

What are the basic steps to secure virtualized systems? ›

  1. General Virtual Machine Protection.
  2. Use Templates to Deploy Virtual Machines.
  3. Minimize Use of the Virtual Machine Console.
  4. Prevent Virtual Machines from Taking Over Resources.
  5. Disable Unnecessary Functions Inside Virtual Machines. Remove Unnecessary Hardware Devices. Remove Unnecessary Hardware Devices.
Jan 13, 2021

How do you ensure containers are secured properly? ›

Container Security in Six Steps
  1. Secure the container host. Containers should be hosted in a container-focused OS. ...
  2. Secure the networking environment. ...
  3. Secure your management stack. ...
  4. Build on a secure foundation. ...
  5. Secure your build pipeline. ...
  6. Secure your application.
Sep 5, 2019

Which tool is used for container security? ›

Falco. Falco is a threat detection engine for Kubernetes. It is also an open-source project and a runtime security tool used to identify anomalous behavior in containers and hosts running on Kubernetes. It isolates any unusual activity in your application and tells you of the threats at runtime.

What are the security challenges in VMs? ›

8 Virtualization Security Issues and Risks
  • VM Sprawl. ...
  • Malware & Ransomware Attacks. ...
  • Network Configuration. ...
  • Access Controls. ...
  • Security of Offline Virtual Machines. ...
  • Workloads with Different Trust Levels. ...
  • Hypervisor Security Controls. ...
  • Cloud Service Provider APIs.
Dec 15, 2021

How to implement security to virtual machines? ›

Isolate each virtual machine you have by installing a firewall. Only allow approved protocols to be deployed. Ensure that antivirus programs are installed on the virtual machines and kept current with updates. Virtual machines, like physical machines are at risk for viruses and worms.

What are the three 3 biggest challenges you face when configuring a VM? ›

It's essential to understand the difficulties with virtualization and how to overcome them.
  • VM Sprawl. Challenge: Virtualization sprawl happens when it's impossible to effectively control and manage all virtual machines (VMs) connected to a network. ...
  • Application Performance. ...
  • Bottlenecks. ...
  • Licensing Compliance.
Oct 26, 2021

How secure are VMs? ›

Are virtual machines secure? Because a virtual machine is isolated from your host computer, you might think that it's more secure. But keep in mind that having a VM is like having a second computer. It's still vulnerable to the same attacks your host computer would be.

How secure is a container? ›

While containers seem to behave like small virtual machines (VMs), they actually don't – and so require a different security strategy. Traffic between apps in a container does not cross perimeter network security, but should be monitored for malicious traffic between apps and their images.

What is the difference between VMs and containers? ›

A container is a software code package containing an application's code, its libraries, and other dependencies. Containerization makes your applications portable so that the same code can run on any device. A virtual machine is a digital copy of a physical machine.

What are the five 5 practices to ensure security for enterprise networks? ›

5 Fundamental Best Practices for Enterprise Security
  • Your first line of defense are firewalls. This is your first line of defense. ...
  • Use a secure router to police the flow of traffic. ...
  • Have a Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2). ...
  • Keep your email secure. ...
  • Use web security.
Jan 6, 2017

What are the five 5 factors to remember when selecting a virtualization solution? ›

Here are the five most important things that you should keep in mind when implementing a virtualization solution:
  • Hypervisor type. ...
  • Operating System rebooting. ...
  • Virtualization Method. ...
  • Deployment work. ...
  • Multiprocessing.
Jun 5, 2012

What are the 3 main core component required to implement virtualization? ›

To use virtualization, there are three main hardware components that are needed: the processor, memory, and storage. The processor should be powerful enough to handle the workload of the virtual machines and have the ability to support the virtualization technologies of the operating system.

What are 5 ways you can prevent container syndrome? ›

How to prevent container syndrome in babies
  • Allow baby plenty of supervised free time on a blanket on the floor, or in a large play yard. ...
  • Limit baby's exposure to containers. ...
  • Increase supervised tummy time during the day. ...
  • Hold your infant in your arms, or in a sling for short periods during the day.
Aug 10, 2022

What security risk of containers should be considered? ›

Container security risks are majorly categorized as: Compromise of a container image or container as a whole. Misuse a container to attack other containers, the host Operating System (OS) or other hosts, among others.

How are containers security sealed? ›

Seals using lead wire and a seal, plastic seals, metal strip seals, bolt seals, e-seals, and sometimes even number padlocks are used to seal containers during their voyage. Of these, the safest and the most commonly used is the bolt seal.

What are the 4 C of container security? ›

The 4C's of Cloud Native security are Cloud, Clusters, Containers, and Code. Note: This layered approach augments the defense in depth computing approach to security, which is widely regarded as a best practice for securing software systems.

Which two software tools are used to manage containers? ›

Major container management software vendors and tools
  • Amazon Elastic Container Service and Elastic Kubernetes Service.
  • Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service.
  • Canonical Charmed Kubernetes.
  • Cloud Foundry.
  • D2iQ Kubernetes Platform.
  • Google Kubernetes Engine.
  • IBM Red Hat OpenShift.

How to maintain security in docker container? ›

When using Docker containers, you should use the following practices to ensure maximum security.
  1. Avoid Root Permissions. ...
  2. Use Secure Container Registries. ...
  3. Limit Resource Usage. ...
  4. Scan Your Images. ...
  5. Build Your Networks and APIs for Security. ...
  6. Docker Container Monitoring.

What are 3 security operations challenges? ›

The three big issues are the following:
  • staff shortage.
  • skills shortage.
  • knowledge shortage.

What are 3 data security issues? ›

There are many data security threats that organizations face daily. Some of these threats include malware, ransomware, phishing attacks and social engineering. Malware is a type of software that is designed to harm or damage a computer system.

Which of the following are best practices when protecting your VMs? ›

Manage your VM security posture
  • Apply OS security settings with recommended configuration rules.
  • Identify and download system security and critical updates that might be missing.
  • Deploy recommendations for endpoint antimalware protection.
  • Validate disk encryption.
  • Assess and remediate vulnerabilities.
  • Detect threats.
Nov 15, 2022

What is an example of virtual security? ›

Virtual Network Security Measures

Some of the most common include: Implementing a firewall:A firewall can help block unauthorized access to your network, control traffic flows, and protect against malware. Using encryption:Encryption can help to protect data in transit as well as at rest.

What is VM in security? ›

Virtualized security, or security virtualization, refers to security solutions that are software-based and designed to work within a virtualized IT environment. This differs from traditional, hardware-based network security, which is static and runs on devices such as traditional firewalls, routers, and switches.

Which security measures can help prevent VM escape? ›

To minimize vulnerability to VM escape, Skoudis recommends that you:
  • Keep virtual machine software patched.
  • Install only the resource-sharing features that you really need.
  • Keep software installations to a minimum because each program brings its own vulnerabilities.

What are the three common security concerns in virtual environments? ›

They are:
  • Data Breaches.
  • Weak Identity, Credential, and Access Management.
  • Insecure APIs.
  • System and Application Vulnerabilities.
  • Account Hijacking.
  • Malicious Insiders.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
  • Data Loss.
Jun 20, 2017

What are the 5 best practices for virtual machine management? ›

Here are six best practices for virtual server management.
  • Use self-service management to prevent VM sprawl. ...
  • Provide VM templates to ensure right sizing. ...
  • Take advantage of tools to monitor performance. ...
  • Ensure VM security with appropriate permissions. ...
  • Use VPN, multifactor authentication for remote access.
Mar 9, 2021

What's the most common security risk of virtual hosts? ›

Hypervisor security

Nearly 35% of security risks in server virtualization are related to hypervisors. Hypervisors enable the deployment of virtual desktops for remote users and the running of numerous virtual computers on a single piece of hardware.

Can a VM run in a container? ›

Again, the answer is absolutely yes. Running your application in a set of Docker containers doesn't preclude it from talking to the services running in a VM. For instance, your application may need to interact with a database that resides in a virtual machine.

What is the best use for VMs? ›

The main purpose of VMs is to operate multiple operating systems at the same time, from the same piece of hardware. Without virtualization, operating multiple systems — like Windows and Linux — would require two separate physical units.

What is the purpose of VMs? ›

Virtual machines (VMs) allow a business to run an operating system that behaves like a completely separate computer in an app window on a desktop.

What is the safest container? ›

The safest container materials include glass (ex. Pyrex), stainless steel, and lead-free ceramic. These are better choices than even the safer plastics, which contain chemical additives that may not have been well evaluated for safety.

What are container vulnerabilities? ›

A container image vulnerability is a security risk that is embedded inside a container image. While vulnerable images themselves don't pose an active threat, if containers are created based on a vulnerable image, the containers will introduce the vulnerability to a live environment.

What are containers in security? ›

A container is a standalone file or package of software files with everything you need to run an application. The application's code, dependencies, library, runtime, and system tools are all “contained” within the container.

Why are VMs more secure than containers? ›

Since you're running a different operating system from the other machines on the same physical server virtualization, VMs increase the isolation level between nearby systems. In contrast, running within a single OS while using containers in cloud computing allows defects to damage the entire system.

What are the 3 types of virtualization? ›

There are three main types of server virtualization: full-virtualization, para-virtualization, and OS-level virtualization.

Why containers are less secure than VMs? ›

Containers only run a single application. So in theory, they have less attack surface than a VM. If a container has a vulnerability, it's likely to be in the application that's running in it, and that weakness would be there if it ran in a VM or on an actual system.

What are the four 4 requirements to protect and secure the server rooms? ›

There are four layers of physical security measures for server room protection — perimeter security, facility controls, computer room controls and cabinet controls. The following are physical security practices that can keep server rooms safe and secure.

What are the three 3 basic network security measures? ›

This includes within a corporate or home network and outside of those networks such as across the internet or on a service provider's network.
They are as follows:
  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS)
  • Secure Shell (SSH)
  • Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)

What are the six 6 basic network security measures? ›

Here are six essential measures needed to keep your network safe.
  • Keep Informed. ...
  • Educate Your Team. ...
  • Know Avenues of Attack and Preempt Them. ...
  • Install Antivirus and Other Security Programs. ...
  • Make Sure Your System is Physically Secure. ...
  • Test Your Security. ...
  • About the Author.

What are the 3 best practices when IT comes to service virtualisation? ›

10 Service Virtualization Best Practices
  • Don't Reinvent the World. ...
  • Don't Put the Cart Before the Horse. ...
  • Test the Correct System. ...
  • One Size Does Not Fit All. ...
  • Don't Count on Artificial Intelligence. ...
  • Avoid Random Responses. ...
  • Avoid Data Overload. ...
  • Support Negative Test Cases.
Oct 19, 2020

What are the requirements of virtualization security? ›

Secure all the parts of the infrastructure
  • Hosts should have latest firmware installed and virtualized infrastructure (VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V) should have the latest security patches installed. ...
  • All active network elements (switches, routers, load balancers for balancing workloads, etc.)
Jan 9, 2020

What are the 4 major virtualization areas? ›

It's time to get this straight.
  • Network virtualization. Network virtualization takes the available resources on a network and breaks the bandwidth into discrete channels. ...
  • Storage virtualization. ...
  • Desktop virtualization. ...
  • Application virtualization.
Apr 19, 2019

What are the four 4 essential features required to configure virtualisation software application? ›

Before migrating to a new technology solution such as a virtualized environment, four essential areas need to be considered for managing it.
  • Patch Updates. ...
  • Disable Unnecessary Functionality. ...
  • Use templates and scripted management. ...
  • Minimize Use of Virtual Machine Console. ...
  • Enable UEFI Boot.
Feb 14, 2022

How does container security work? ›

Container security is the process of implementing security tools and policies to assure that all in your container is running as intended, including protection of infrastructure, software supply chain, runtime, and everything between.

Do shipping containers have security? ›

Shipping Container Security Systems

The shipping container's security system will blare an alarm when a thief breaches the entrance and, depending on the type of alarm, could even alert authorities about the break-in. For many thieves, the alarm going off will be enough for them to quickly leave the scene.

What is the most secure method of shipping? ›

How Does Registered Mail Work? Registered Mail is the most secure way to send a package through the USPS. As part of the security conditions for this mail class, Registered Mail must be sent with proof of mailing which requires a trip to the Post Office (you cannot deposit your package in a collection box).

How to secure a container docker? ›

When using Docker containers, you should use the following practices to ensure maximum security.
  1. Avoid Root Permissions. ...
  2. Use Secure Container Registries. ...
  3. Limit Resource Usage. ...
  4. Scan Your Images. ...
  5. Build Your Networks and APIs for Security.
  6. Docker Container Monitoring.

How are containers checked? ›

VACIS/NII x-ray exam. The most typical inspection is the Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) or Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII). The process is simple: your container is X-rayed so CBP agents can look for contraband items or cargo that doesn't match the paperwork provided.

Does containers resolve security issues? ›

Expert-Verified Answer. Container resolves security issues because containers helps to package up applications and Dockers containers have built-in security features. It also use name spaces by default that prevent applications from being able to see other containers on the same machine.


1. Container Security 101
(The Linux Foundation)
2. Container Security Best Practices
3. Aqua Platform: Runtime Security Overview
(Aqua Security)
4. Virtual Machines vs Containers
(PowerCert Animated Videos)
5. The COMPLETE Linux Hardening, Privacy & Security Guide!
6. Containerized Application - Security Recommendations
(SDN TechForum)


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