Containers are one of the greatest advantages of the cloud. They allow IT teams to work with code from the underlying infrastructure it’s a part of, and experiment with them without affecting the larger system. They are easy to deploy and secure, but there is still potential for vulnerabilities and cybersecurity issues that require additional oversight. Read on to learn the ways you can monitor and patch your different cloud containers.
What Are Containers?
It is essential to understand what containers are to begin understanding how to monitor and patch containers. Containers are a cloud workload distribution method where IT teams can virtually isolate code to deploy and run applications sharing a standard operating system. In addition, containers allow IT teams to take technology stacks and run them elsewhere without installation efforts.
These IT teams can run containers on different scalable cloud services without worrying about hardware support, operating systems, or cloud infrastructure; they’re able to run in an isolated environment. The containers can still hold all necessary components to run software and test variables without considering platform compatibilities, such as files, libraries, and environment variables.
Because a container is isolated from the existing IT infrastructure, it cannot consume all the host’s physical resources. The operating system constrains a container’s access to physical resources. Another reason containers virtualize single applications to test away from the IT infrastructure is that they have a lot of vulnerabilities. While these containers are isolated, they are not secure and require special security precautions to protect data.
The Difficulty With Monitoring Containers
Because cloud computing is now a foundational element of business, more organizations are moving to the cloud than ever before, but so are cybersecurity threats. While many organizations mix their infrastructure, employing on-premises computing technology and public and private clouds, these threats still exist, and it is challenging to keep them protected.
Organizations need to patch their containers to ensure they are secure regularly. Still, visibility across all types of workload distribution methods and assets, such as containers, is challenging. On top of containers, security teams regularly monitor databases, virtual machines, and microservices. These assets typically work on open-source operating systems, leading to network teams overlooking them in favor of traditional network structures. As a result, businesses must be proactive in their monitoring and management processes to protect themselves against vulnerabilities and zero-day threats.
How To Properly Monitor Containers
Containers are standard software packages bundled with related files and dependencies. Their contained style allows IT professionals to quickly deploy them across different environments, as they are agile, portable, and scalable. However, accompanying this, they also need to be secure. Container security protects the entire ecosystem it is implemented within, so the container application pipeline needs to be sure and the infrastructure and deployment environment.
It is complicated to monitor these containers and ensure they perform correctly and are secure. Containers are ephemeral, unlike other server-based applications. Because of this, monitoring them can be pretty difficult. On top of monitoring for security reasons, monitoring is crucial for ensuring that the container runs smoothly and resource usage and costs are optimal.
Some of the best ways to properly monitor your containers are to:
- Monitor the entire DevOps toolchain.
- Ensure that monitoring covers containers, clusters running the containers, inter-container communications and telemetry, and servers running worker nodes.
- Visualize the container infrastructure, allowing you to identify where the problems are occurring.
- Add context to alerts so they can help troubleshoot the real issues.
These are some of the better practices for container monitoring. Some additional tools you should integrate into your monitoring system are:
- API monitoring and tracing connections between containers and external services.
- A performance baseline so that you can be alerted when operations go outside expectations.
- Network performance monitoring allows your team to troubleshoot faster and monitor all performance layers.
While you can better monitor your different containers with these tools, you still must be able to actively patch them and fix their performance issues or system vulnerabilities.
How To Patch Effectively
As mentioned previously, businesses that are not proactively patching leave themselves open to attacks. Organizations must keep all their workload distribution assets, notably containers, actively patched to protect from these threats. Every cloud environment is different; furthermore, every container system is even more nuanced. There is no approach to patching containers that work in every situation. While this is true, there are approaches that every organization should implement to set themselves up for success when tackling every unique problem.
Firstly, organizations need to monitor their entire infrastructure continually. Doing this creates a better understanding of vulnerabilities they can fix before they occur. Another approach would be considering a cloud management service. Because the cloud environment is perpetually changing and hard to fully understand, many choose to subscribe to a managed service that solely works to identify vulnerabilities in your infrastructure. They can identify issues and then direct you to the proper solutions to make your containers more secure.
The Issues With Patching Containers
Unfortunately, patching is never as simple as identifying a vulnerability and pasting a simple solution. Patching comes in many waves, as your team must not only identify the issue but also stage and test multiple, widely-varying solutions and hope their implementation does not result in more issues further down the line.
Organizations have integrated their patch management with comprehensive cloud workload protection platforms (CWPP) to navigate these issues better. With these solutions, security teams take care of a vulnerability and then proactively patch other similar parts of the container that could share similar vulnerabilities, eradicating an issue before it happens. As a result, businesses will continue turning towards cloud computing for its numerous advantages, but they may not be ready to deal with the complications that come with it. These potential headaches are a significant reason why many organizations will turn towards services that can consolidate their different technologies and automate some security processes.
Monitoring and patching containers in the cloud is a complicated and extensive process. Unfortunately, no one-size-fits-all approach will take care of every issue, which is why you should consider looking into Azure-managed cloud services from Atmosera. At Atmosera, we have the tools to transform your business with the cloud and manage all the cloud headaches you otherwise would have taken on yourself.