Securing your Docker containers and the hosts upon which they run is key to sustaining reliable and available services. From my professional DevSecOps perspective, securing the containers and the orchestrators (e.g., OpenShift, Docker Swarm, and Kubernetes) is usually far from easy. This is primarily because the goal posts change frequently thanks to the technology evolving at such a rapid pace.
A number of relatively new-world challenges need to be addressed but one thing you can do to make a significant difference is remap your server’s user (UIDs) and group (GIDs) ranges to different user and group ranges within your containers.
With some unchallenging configuration changes, it’s possible to segregate your host’s root user from the root user inside your containers with a not-so-new feature called User Namespaces. This feature has been around since Docker 1.10, which was released sometime around February 2016. I say that it’s a not-so-new feature because anybody that has been following the containerization and orchestration space will know that a feature more than six months old is considered all but an antique!
To get us started, I’ll run through the hands-on methodology of running host-level, or more accurately kernel-level, User Namespaces.
First, here’s a quick reminder of the definitions of two commonly related pieces of terminology when it comes to securing your Docker containers, or many other vendors’ containers for that matter. You might have come across cgroups. These allow a process to be locked down from within the kernel. When I say locked down, I mean we can limit its capacity to take up system resources. That applies to CPU, RAM, and IO, among many aspects of a system.