Security Market Segment LS
Thursday, 17 January 2019 05:13

Docker playground site allowed server access as it was not secured

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Docker playground site allowed server access as it was not secured Courtesy Docker

Researchers at security firm CyberArk were able to gain access to the underlying server running Docker's playground website because of the additional permissions provided in the set-up, the company says, adding that this was unlikely to be the case on all production sites which used Docker.

The method whereby the CyberArk researchers gained access was detailed in a blog post on Monday. The playground or test site, known as Play-with-Docker, allows anyone to experience what Docker can offer without having to do any installation or configuration.

Docker performs operating-system-level virtualisation and differs from regular virtual machines in that it does not require a full copy of the Linux kernel for every single instance, but uses the same kernel code.

Nimrod Stoler, the main researcher involved, told iTWire that the difference between Play-with-Docker and other production sites running Docker lay in the application.

"The default Docker container configuration in Linux is a great configuration for about 80% of the applications, but what happens with the other 20%?" Stoler asked.

"Most applications would run just fine inside a Docker default container, but with some applications, the default Docker container is just not enough, and more privileges are required to have the application run properly."

Stoler said: "The privileges required by an application, could be, for example, more RAM, more processing power, more disk space, access to different devices (e.g. USB camera, audio devices or a disk-on-key) or an application may require specific Linux capabilities to function properly, which generally means access to more kernel functions than the default container allows.

"In all of these cases, the default Docker container is just not enough, and developers turn to a more ‘privileged’ setup to accommodate the application requirements."

He said with in the case of Play-with-Docker, the application required more privileges, and the Play-with-Docker developers had provided those privileges for the container but had not secured the environment properly, and left some entry points.

"To summarise: Play-with-Docker is running a privileged Docker container on the Internet, in what could be regarded as a production site. However, they did not secure their containers and environment properly, which allowed us to hack into it and escape to the underlying hosts," Stoler added.

CyberArk's said it had reported its findings to Docker and the Play-with-Docker maintainers and the application was secured by them.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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