Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Is Docker Ready for Prime Time?

Docker - ready for prime time or not? It's a question that has been asked (and answered) hundreds if not thousands of times already. So - rather than repeat that long and somewhat tired conversation I want to focus on one piece of the debate - Security.
There's three issues that I see with Docker and Security
  1. Because Docker is opensource it has been widely adopted and is almost certainly already deployed, whether you like it or not, inside your organization. This makes for all sorts of security nightmares that the CISO's and their teams are unable to control. What if an employee introduces uncontrolled code to a mission critical stack? What does that do for Compliance, internal audit and Corporate governance issues not to mention liability problems.
  2. Many others have covered the point about large attack surface. Thousands of containers vs hundreds of apps, VMs etc. The larger the attack surface the more vulnerable your organization is to internal and external breaches.
  3. The very flexibility that Docker and containerization in general provide gives it a massive security hole. What if a rogue employee or external intruder plants a container that launches and East-West attack? Good luck finding that single container in the thousands you have already deployed.
There is plenty of advice out there on how to implement Docker security effectively - this article from Amir Jerbi co-founder and CTO of Aqua Security, is a good basis.
In my discussions with customers about Docker it's clear that, at the Enterprise level, they are just not comfortable yet in adopting Docker. Typical responses include 'Maybe next year,' 'let's wait and see', 'who else is using Docker across their infrastructure?' All good points with limited answers. Look at the list of Docker customers at Are these all in production? Let's hope so.
When customers ask me about Docker security I always tell them 'Be careful, move forward in a considered way and you might just end up where you expect to be. If you let it get out of control you will spend a lot of time and money getting Docker under control.' Full disclosure - we offer Docker/Containerization as a service from Alauda We do this because Containerization as a service is intrinsically more secure running on AWS or Azure than letting Docker loose in your Datacenter.
What do you think? Is Docker ready for Prime time?

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