Rezilion Research Discovers Hidden Vulnerabilities in Hundreds of Docker Container Images

February 23, 2023

3 Min Read


BE'ER SHEVA, Israel, Feb. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Rezilion announced today the release of the company's new research, "Hiding in Plain Sight: Hidden Vulnerabilities in Popular Open Source Containers," uncovering the presence of hundreds of docker container images containing vulnerabilities that are not detected by most standard vulnerability scanners and SCA tools.

The research revealed numerous high severity/critical vulnerabilities hidden in hundreds of popular container images, downloaded billions of times collectively. This includes high-profile vulnerabilities with publicly known exploits. Some of the hidden vulnerabilities are known to be actively exploited in the wild and are part of the CISA known exploited vulnerabilities catalog, including CVE-2021-42013, CVE-2021-41773, CVE-2019-17558.

This finding follows Part I of the research, released in October, which was the first quality assessment for leading open-source and commercial vulnerability scanners and SCA tools. The vulnerability scanner benchmark survey discovered the most common causes for scanner misidentifications, including false positive and negative results.

The new research dives deeper into one of the root causes identified in the assessment - inability to detect software components not managed by package managers. The study explains how the inherent method of operation of standard vulnerability scanners and SCA tools relies on acquiring data from package managers to know what packages exist in the scanned environment, making them susceptible to missing vulnerable software packages in multiple common scenarios in which software is deployed in ways that circumvent these package managers. This research shows precisely how wide this gap is and its impact on organizations using third-party software. The report provides numerous real-world examples of some of the most popular docker container images that contain dozens of such hidden vulnerabilities. The report also offers recommendations on minimizing the risk presented in the research.

According to the report, package managers circumventing deployment methods are extremely common in Docker containers. The research team has identified over 100,000 container images that deploy code in a way that bypasses the package managers, including most of DockerHub's official container images. These containers either already contain hidden vulnerabilities or are prone to have hidden vulnerabilities if a vulnerability in one of these components is identified.

The report identifies four different scenarios in which software is deployed without interaction with package managers, such as the application itself, runtimes required for the operation of the application, dependencies as are necessary for the application to work, and dependencies required for the deployment/build process of the application that are not deleted at the end of the container image build process and shows how hidden vulnerabilities can find their way to the container images.

"We hope this research will educate developers and security practitioners of the existence of this gap so that they will be able to take appropriate actions to minimize the risk as well as push vendors and open-source projects to add support for these types of scenarios," said Yotam Perkal, Director, Vulnerability Research at Rezilion. "It's important to note that as long as vulnerability scanners and SCA tools fail to accommodate for these situations, any container image that installs packages or executables in this manner may eventually contain 'hidden' vulnerabilities if any of these components become vulnerable."

To download the full report, please visit:

About Rezilion:

Rezilion's software supply chain security platform automatically assures that the software you use and deliver is free of risk. Rezilion detects third-party software components on any layer of the software stack and understands the actual risk they carry, filtering out up to 95% of identified vulnerabilities. Rezilion then automatically mitigates exploitable risk across the SDLC, reducing vulnerability backlogs and remediation timelines from months to hours, while giving DevOps teams time back to build.

Learn more about Rezilion's platform at and get a 30-day free trial.

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