Container Security Orchestration Playbook

December 17, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives

  • To create and implement a defensive strategy against container-based vulnerabilities and orchestrated cyber threats.
  • To enhance the incident response capabilities of the security team.
  • To validate the effectiveness of the existing security measures within containerized environments.
  • To educate personnel on recognizing and responding to orchestrated cyber-attacks targeting container infrastructure.

Difficulty Level

  • Advanced: This exercise assumes the participants have a firm grasp of container technology and cyber-defense strategies.


Company Overview: CyberSafe Containers Inc., a leading technology firm specializing in the development of secure container orchestration solutions for enterprise-level clients, has noticed an uptick in cyber threats targeting containerized applications. The company’s prestigious clientele relies on its services for running critical applications across scalable container clusters managed by popular orchestration tools. People and Roles:
  • Alice Johnson, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
  • Bob Roberts, Incident Response Team Lead
  • Carol Evans, DevOps Team Lead
  • Dave Brown, Senior Network Engineer
  • Emily Watson, Security Analyst
Network and Systems:
  • Production Cluster: A Kubernetes-managed cluster hosting multiple containerized applications, including payment processing, customer data management, and internal communications.
  • Development Environment: A smaller, separate Kubernetes environment where new applications and updates are tested.
  • Corporate Network: Traditional IT infrastructure supporting the company’s day-to-day operations, such as email servers, employee workstations, and file storage.
Company Needs: CyberSafe Containers Inc. needs to ensure that the containerized environments they manage for clients are resilient against sophisticated cyber threats. They face the challenge of orchestrating security across a vast network of distributed containers, which can be spun up or down dynamically. Goal of Exercise: To simulate a realistic, orchestrated attack on the company’s containerized infrastructure, expose potential security weaknesses, and validate the strength of their current security posture. Through this exercise, they aim to fine-tune their security operations and response plans to protect against real-world attacks.


  • Incident Response and Cyber-defense within Containerized Environments

Exercise Attack Steps

  • Step 1: A threat actor group, known as the “Orchestrated Overlords,” begins the attack by conducting reconnaissance on the CyberSafe Containers Inc. network to identify potential entry points into the container orchestration environment.
  • Step 2: The attackers exploit a known vulnerability in an outdated container image which has not been patched and gain a foothold within the company’s development environment.
  • Step 3: Leveraging this access, the attackers escalate their privileges to gain administrative control over the development Kubernetes cluster.
  • Step 4: They deploy a rogue container that begins scanning for access vulnerabilities within the production cluster network, establishing persistent backdoors where possible.
  • Step 5: Once the attack is detected, the incident response team initiates the playbook strategy, starting with isolation of affected systems and analyzing network traffic for malicious patterns.
  • Step 6: Security analysts begin hunting for the rogue containers and attempt to reverse-engineer the attack to discover the origin of the exploitation techniques used.
  • Step 7: DevOps personnel roll out emergency patches and updates to vulnerable container images while revoking compromised credentials.
  • Step 8: Senior network engineers assess the integrity of the orchestrator’s control plane and implement network security measures to prevent lateral movement.
  • Step 9: The team conducts a thorough review of security events and logs to ensure no remnants of the attack exist within the network.
  • Step 10: A post-incident review is held where they refine their security policies and orchestration playbooks based on the lessons learned, ensuring that when new containers are deployed, they are done so with the latest security best practices in mind.