Red Hat Doubles Down on Container Security

Red Hat partners with Black Duck to provide Deep Container Inspection in an effort to secure containers.

Red Hat

As Docker container use grows in the enterprise, so too do concerns about the security and integrity of container applications. To help solve that challenge, Red Hat is announcing a new partnership with Black Duck Software to deliver secure and trusted containers to enterprise users.

Red Hat is branding its approach to securing containers Deep Container Inspection (DCI).

"Deep Container Inspection is an umbrella term that we use to describe the processes and technologies for scanning and then making policy decisions about container content," Mike Werner, senior director of Global Technology Ecosystems at Red Hat, told eWEEK. "Our joint work with Black Duck fits under this umbrella, but so do specific technologies like SCAP and CloudForms policies; DCI is just a blanket term."

SCAP, the Security Content Automation Protocol, is technology that Red Hat makes use of as part of its overall Linux platform efforts, while CloudForms is Red Hat's own cloud management platform.

There are multiple efforts under way in the open-source community to help secure containers, including the Docker Notary and Content Trust initiatives. The basic idea behind those efforts is to provide mechanisms that help guarantee the authenticity of a given container application image and its authorship.

"We elected to work with Black Duck given their decade-plus experience in identifying and assessing open-source vulnerabilities, as well as the fact that they're an objective third-party with regard to Linux containers," Werner said. "We are continuously working with and evaluating other technologies, including Notary, but this joint work with Black Duck provides the capabilities that we feel will help address an immediate market need."

Werner explained that Black Duck is able to inspect components in application layers that are incorporated and supported by the application vendor, following the same principles of trust and provenance that Red Hat applies to the platform components.

"In addition to vulnerability assessment, Black Duck can inform application developers and users about when such content is outdated, and provides insight into the open-source licenses involved," Werner said.

Red Hat has been working on certifying container applications for enterprise uses since at least March 2014, when the company formally announced a container certification program.

"The intent is for the Black Duck scanning technology to be integrated into the Red Hat container certification workflow, adding another scanning and verification tool to an already robust process," Werner said. "This will give individual developers, commercial application builders like ISVs [independent software vendors] and customers the confidence that the images they are building or using as components of their layered applications are checked, monitored and certified to contain the intended code and are free of known vulnerabilities."

Red Hat has multiple technologies that support containers, including its OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering. Werner explained that there is an application registry included with OpenShift Enterprise that developers and users can use for a local environment. Additionally, there is the Red Hat Registry, which contains official containers from Red Hat, as well as certified containers from Red Hat partners.

"Red Hat already has a vigorous scan and check process within our own products and repositories, which encompasses the OpenShift registry and the Red Hat Registry," Werner said. " With today's announcement, this scan and check process now includes Black Duck, both as a part of our partner (ISV) process and as an included component within OpenShift for customers and developers."

Werner added that with the inclusion of Black Duck's scanning, container images built within OpenShift will now have the same vulnerability scanning and risk assessment opportunities as those developed by Red Hat's commercial partners.

The new Black Duck container scanning capabilities will not come with an extra price tag from Red Hat.

"Put simply, this is a technology collaboration focused on the Linux container market," Werner said. "That being said, we are exploring how Red Hat and Black Duck can work together in different ways in the future, but there are no financial terms or additional costs to end users, partners or developers."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.