The vulnerability disclosed in glibc on Tuesday, which was discovered jointly by engineers at Google and Red Hat, has attracted a lot of attention in the media, just as Heartbleed did before it. Essentially, through this flaw, attackers could remotely crash or even force the execution of malicious code on machines without the knowledge of the end user. As patches are being delivered by Linux vendors and community distributions, there’s one glaring issue at play:
Who’s fixing containers?
Many companies playing in the Linux container space are developing, and, in some cases, delivering container scanners to help identify issues like glibc, or Heartbleed before it. But these vendors aren’t actually in control of the containers that their users are deploying, let alone the underlying operating system powering these container deployments. This means that while they are offering the tools for you to find these problems, when it comes to actual fixes, they may not have the expertise, capabilities or the ownership to actually fix the problem.
In short - in our view, container scanners are a paper tiger. Sure, they look fierce and they’ll roar to let you know that trouble’s on the way, but they fold like the paper that they’re made out of when you need them to do more than just...well...scan.
That’s why we believe that container security is about far more than just a vulnerability scanner. Not only do we provide a certified container registry, the tools for container scanning, and an enterprise-grade, supported platform with security features for container deployments, we back all of this up with more than 20 years of Linux operating system experience. You remember Linux - that thing that virtual machines, the cloud and containers were supposed to make irrelevant?
Turns out it still matters. A lot. Once you peel back that first layer, it’s often Linux all the way down. And it takes real skill and real experience to properly fix problems like glibc when they emerge in the middle of a mission-critical deployment.
Containers hold significant promise for the enterprise, but for adoption to take off in a meaningful way, security must be a priority, and it starts at the operating system layer. Even if you can boot securely, running an insecure container in an insecure environment doesn’t actually help anyone, especially you, the user. If a vendor’s container security story starts and stops with container scanning, we believe that it’s falling short and offering a false sense of security. Good security is timeless; containers don’t change any rules, they just change how we play the game.
Not only can Red Hat help you identify the vulnerabilities affecting your containers and the underlying infrastructure, but we also can
Deliver the fix to you, as a patch and a rebuilt container image through our certified container registry. Before anyone even knew about the issue with glibc, Heartbleed and countless other vulnerabilities, Red Hat had experts working on a fix and to rebuild and test our container images alongside our enterprise platform.
Help provide the tools and strategies to properly test the image.
Offer verification that the images are functioning as they should.
Even if you’re not in a place to rip and replace your container images, you can still go old school and ‘yum update’ inside of the containers, as we give you the tools and processes to do exactly that with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host.
Linux containers are the way forward for enterprise IT, but in the face of innovation, you can’t forget the solid foundation provided by the operating system or the right partner to maintain it for you.
When it comes to real container security, you don’t want a paper-thin tiger; you want a real-life watch dog. And that’s what Red Hat and our decades of expertise in building stable, more secure enterprise solutions offer you.
About the author
Gunnar Hellekson is vice president and general manager for the Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® business. Before that, he was chief strategist for Red Hat’s U.S. Public Sector group. He is a founder of Open Source for America, one of Federal Computer Week’s Fed 100 for 2010, and was voted one of the FedScoop 50 for industry leadership. Hellekson was a founder of the Military Open Source working group, a member of the SIIA Software Division Board, the Board of Directors for the Public Sector Innovation Group, the Open Technology Fund Advisory Council, New America’s California Civic Innovation Project Advisory Council, and the CivicCommons Board of Advisors.
Prior to Red Hat, Hellekson worked as a developer, systems administrator, and IT director for a number of internet businesses. He has also been a business and IT consultant to not-for-profit organizations in New York City. During that time, he spearheaded the reform of safety regulations for New York State’s electrical utilities through the Jodie Lane Project.