Key Criteria for Evaluating Container Securityv1.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Container Security Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take
  8. About Don MacVittie

1. Summary

Containers have revolutionized the way that IT views servers. While virtual machines (VMs) allowed users to run many logical servers on a single physical machine, containers took the concept one step further, enabling servers to use fewer resources and making them easier both to deploy and to dispose of. The result is a proliferation of servers, some with lifecycles—from spin-up to destruction—measured in seconds.

The proliferation of containers has naturally attracted the attention of attackers because the mere existence of containers and container management expands the attack surface by increasing both the software infrastructure footprint and the number of servers running in an organization. Container security was created to address this problem. The tools in this space are specifically aimed at the unique issues that containers generate.

It’s not just that containers increase the attack surface but that, combined with other developments such as the growth of continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) and agile development, vulnerabilities are exacerbated, having an exponential effect upon corporate security.

What makes things worse is that containers can change so often and so quickly. It’s common now to make a change, run it through the CI/CD process, and change the way an application behaves in a matter of minutes. So, security tools must not only work to protect containers, they must work at the speed of development operations (DevOps), or the information security staff will still be reviewing files from multiple DevOps iterations ago.

Protections offered by these tools can be broken into design time, build time, and run time capabilities, with each step requiring different functionality and integrations.

Design-time considerations include the management of container definition security using an inventory of the elements that make up the software components (a software bill of materials or SBoM), while build-time concerns include scanning the product as it is produced. There are many possible vulnerability scans, such as scanning for secrets hardcoded into the container. And, finally, runtime protections include watching how the container and its application behave, looking for aberrant behavior that could indicate compromise.

In short, container security aims to address the specific security weaknesses of containers, from design to destruction, anywhere they may reside.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report details the criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an effective container security solution. The companion GigaOm Radar report identifies vendors and products that excel in those criteria and metrics. Together, these reports provide an overview of the category and its underlying technology, identify leading container security offerings, and help decision-makers evaluate these platforms so they can make a more informed investment decision.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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