Hardening Linux containers


Aaron Grattafiori of NCC Group has just published research on Linux containers and security hardening.

[…] Our recently-posted whitepaper starts off exploring the various motivations behind Linux containers and how they contrast with more traditional hardware virtualization on modern general purpose CPUs. The whitepaper then explores Linux namespaces, cgroups, and capabilities in depth, listing example use and illustrating potential risks. Next is an in-depth discussion of the various threats to any container deployment, either container to host attacks, cross-container attacks,and other potential threats to any container deployment, regardless of size. To counter these threats and add future defense in depth, this whitepaper also includes an exploration of key security features such as user namespaces, seccomp-bpf and Mandatory Access Control. While these features are often discussed as they relate to containers, the protections can be applied to any Linux application, regardless of container deployment. After exploring container basics, threats, and security features, an overview of Docker, LXC and CoreOS Rkt is included. This overview covers the container solution background, key components and includes a brief security analysis of each platform. This section ends by contrasting different container defaults, before enumerating various security recommendations to counter weaknesses (both in general for any container platform, and specifically for LXC, Docker and CoreOS Rkt). These configuration tweaks, security actions, strategies and recommendations help establish hardened Linux containers and adding defense in depth to any application deployment. To conclude, a number of future related technologies are briefly explored such as unikernels, microservices and other container platforms, this also includes a discussion of hybrid container/hardware virtualization using minimal hypervisors. […]

Full paper:

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