How Safe Are Your Docker Images?

Published: 2021-04-22
Last Updated: 2021-04-22 07:21:43 UTC
by Xavier Mertens (Version: 1)
3 comment(s)

Today, I don't know any organization that is not using Docker today. For only test and development only or to full production systems, containers are deployed everywhere! In the same way, most popular tools today have a "dockerized" version ready to use, sometimes maintained by the developers themselves, sometimes maintained by third parties. An example is the Docker container that I created with all Didier's tools[1]. Today, we are also facing a new threat: supply chain attacks (think about Solarwinds or, more recently, CodeCov[2]). Let's mix the attraction for container technologies and this threat, we realize that  Docker images are a great way to compromise an organization! 

When we deploy Docker images, we have to take care of two things:

  • Vulnerabilities present in the software installed in the image.
  • Potential malicious changes (implementation of a backdoor, extra SSH keys, exfiltration of data, etc...)

Many Docker images have already been detected as malicious[3] and are more difficult to detect but how to address "common" vulnerabilities? When you are implementing a vulnerability scanning process in your organization (note that I say "process" and not "tool"!), there are components that are difficult to scan like virtual machines in suspended mode and... Docker images!

Here is an interesting tool that you can add to your arsenal to quickly scan Docker images for vulnerabilities: grype[4]. Written in Go, the tool is very easy to deploy and use:

root@lab0:/# docker images|grep ssl
drwetter/       latest     699c2c42986f   7 weeks ago     48.5MB
jumanjiman/ssllabs-scan   latest     2a46bf22e388   10 months ago   5.66MB
root@lab0:/# grype docker:drwetter/
 - Vulnerability DB        [no update available]
 - Loaded image
 - Parsed image
 - Cataloged packages      [36 packages]
 - Scanned image           [2 vulnerabilities]
openssl  1.1.1j-r0            CVE-2021-3450  High
openssl  1.1.1j-r0            CVE-2021-3449  Medium

grype scans the contents of the Docker image to find know vulnerabilities at the operating system level (Alpine, Busybox, Ubuntu, ...) but also language-specific issues (Ruby, Java, Python, ...). Personally, I like the JSON output (--output=json) to process the results with other tools or index them.

My advice is to scan all your new Docker images, especially the ones that you downloaded from 3rd party websites. 

And you? How do you scan/audit your Docker images? Please share your tools/processes in the comments.


Xavier Mertens (@xme)
Senior ISC Handler - Freelance Cyber Security Consultant

3 comment(s)
ISC Stormcast For Thursday, April 22nd, 2021


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