That Linux flaw may be fixed, but what about your containers?

'Container scanners are a paper tiger,' Red Hat warns

Countless patching efforts are now under way for the years-old bug discovered in the GNU C Library this week, but organizations that use container technology shouldn't relax just yet.

"As patches are being delivered by Linux vendors and community distributions, there’s one glaring issue at play: Who’s fixing containers?" wrote Red Hat's Gunnar Hellekson, director of product management, and Josh Bressers, security strategist, in a blog post Friday.

Red Hat and Google independently discovered the glibc buffer-overflow bug, which opened the door to attacker-controlled domain names, attacker-controlled DNS servers and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Container vendors have increasingly offered container scanners as a way to help identify issues like the one found in glibc this week, but those vendors "aren’t actually in control of the containers that their users are deploying, let alone the underlying operating system powering these container deployments," Hellekson and Bressers wrote.

So, while vendors may offer the tools to help organizations find the problems, they may not have the expertise, capabilities or the ownership to actually fix the security bugs, the two added. As a result, businesses may be living under a false sense of security.

"In our view, container scanners are a paper tiger," Hellekson and Bressers said. "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."

Not surprisingly, Hellekson and Bressers went on to highlight Red Hat's own certified container registry, tools for container scanning and container-security features and services.

Regardless of the vendors your company uses, though, it may be wise to check into the security state of your containers and make sure the glibc bug doesn't live on.

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Katherine Noyes

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