Modern Security Monitoring: Which Tools Should Be in Your Stack?
The approach you take when it comes to security monitoring needs to be completely different when you manage cloud-native or containerized applications, because troubleshooting and resolving security incidents quickly using traditional tools isn’t feasible in such a complex environment.
With that in mind, here are some tools that can help you perform effective security monitoring in a cloud-based or containerized environment.
Container monitoring tools
Image scanning tools: Container images are central to Docker security. Publicly available images can introduce vulnerabilities to your system, and it’s essential to validate every container image used. Docker Hub provides basic image scanning features. For more control over the process, you could opt for the more robust Docker Trusted Registry (DTR) that can work even behind a firewall. Additionally, there are many third-party image scanners like Quay and GitLab Container Registry. Whichever image scanning tool you choose, it’s important to keep a tight rein on the kind of images that are allowed in your stack. Always opt for official repositories wherever possible, and if you have to use unverified images, ensure they’re always scanned thoroughly.
End-to-end container monitoring tools: These tools don’t just scan images, they also secure every layer of the Docker stack, including the kernel, networking, orchestration tools, and access control. Tools like Twistlock integrate with container security tools across the board and consolidate container monitoring in one place.
Cloud monitoring tools
Tools like Threatstack, Signal Sciences, and Evident.io are solutions that power intrusion detection and security monitoring across your web applications and cloud environment. These tools can handle the fast changes of public cloud environments and help you mitigate risk by providing visibility and helping you meet compliance requirements.
Open source monitoring tools
Open source monitoring tools are a staple of any monitoring suite. Their features are purpose-built for cloud-native applications, and their vibrant developer communities ensure they’ll stay around.
Calico is a network security tool for containers. Instead of providing a single firewall for the entire network, Calico secures each instance with a firewall. This way, even if one service or pod is compromised, the others still remain secure. Calico lets you define your network security using policies. It gives just enough access to services to enable them to complete their tasks, and then revokes that access.
The ELK stack needs no introduction as a log analysis solution. ElasticSearch, the database component of the stack, provides distributed storage and analysis of log data. With automatic failover for shards, and parallel processing of queries, the ELK stack is built for scale. As you scale your usage, maintaining the ELK stack can become more difficult, but you can opt for a managed service for ELK where the vendor takes care of the maintenance of the stack so you can focus on your logging.
Prometheus is one of the hottest open source monitoring tools today, and this is largely due to its deep integration with Kubernetes. It automatically discovers Kubernetes components like pods, services, containers, and nodes. It includes an Alerts Manager that provides basic management of alerts and notifications. For advanced alert management and response orchestration, it integrates with platforms like PagerDuty.
Log analysis tools
Managing the ELK stack on your own can be tedious—especially ensuring sharding happens seamlessly once you hit the limits on your nodes. In this case, cloud-based log analysis solutions like Splunk or Sumo Logic may be just what you need. These solutions leverage machine learning to glean predictive insight from log data. They also integrate well with other monitoring tools.
Incident management tools
With the complexity of your stack, there’s a constant inflow of reporting data about every component. This can get overwhelming, and cause you to lose important alerts in all the noise. This is where it’s essential to complement all other security monitoring tools with an incident management solution like PagerDuty.
PagerDuty integrates with a wide variety of monitoring tools and consolidates all their metrics in one place. It lets you apply powerful automation rules for alerts to both reduce false positives while ensuring that the right people are always notified of events requiring attention. In an incident, you need to engage the right people immediately on the status of your stack in real-time, and that’s what PagerDuty enables.
In firefighting situations, you’ll need to collaborate with others. Previously, this was done via email, or a ticket management system, but today, communication tools like Slack, HipChat, and Flock are leading the way in facilitating team collaboration during incidents. They also enable chatbots that generate a steady stream of machine-generated data right within their chat interfaces. With integrations like PagerDuty’s Slack integration, you can sync actions across your ChatOps interface and your incident management solution, to collaborate and resolve incidents even faster.
As you secure your cloud-native applications, take a best-of-breed approach to DevSecOps and your incident lifecycle. Many tools provide unique functionality but make sure the ones you choose play well with other tools. Not only will you maximize your horsepower in detecting issues, you’ll also have the right data at your fingertips when it matters most.