Agentless Container Posture Management in Multicloud

Container security is an integral part of Microsoft for Cloud, a Cloud Native Application Platform (CNAPP) as it addresses the unique challenges presented by containerized environments, providing a holistic approach to securing applications and infrastructure in the cloud-native landscape. As organizations embrace multicloud, the silos between cloud environments can become barriers for a holistic approach to container security. for Cloud continues to adapt, offering new capabilities that resonate with the fluidity of multicloud architecture. Our latest additions to AWS and GCP seamlessly traverse cloud silos and provide a comprehensive and unified view of container security posture. 

Container image scanning for AWS and GCP managed repositories  

Container vulnerability assessment scanning powered by Microsoft Vulnerability Management is now extended to AWS and GCP including Elastic Container Registry (ECR), Google Artifact Registry (GAR) and Google Container Registry (GCR). Using Defender Cloud Security Posture Management and Defender for Containers, organizations are now able to view vulnerabilities detected on their AWS and GCP container images at both registry and runtime, all within a single pane of glass. 

With this in-house scanner, we provide the following key benefits for container image scanning:


  • Agentless vulnerability assessment for containers: MDVM scans container images in your Azure Container Registry (ACR), Elastic Container Registry (ECR) and Google Artifact Registry (GAR) without the need to deploy an agent. After enabling this capability, you authorize Defender for Cloud to scan your container images.  
  • Zero configuration for onboarding: Once enabled, all images stored in ACR, ECR and GAR are automatically scanned for vulnerabilities without extra configuration or user input. 
  • Near real-time scan of new images: Defender for Cloud backend receives a notification when a new image is pushed to the registry; they are added to the queue to be scanned immediately.  
  • Daily refresh of vulnerability reports: Vulnerability reports are refreshed every 24hrs for images previously scanned that were pulled in the last 30 days (Azure only), pushed to the registry in the last 90 days or currently running on the Azure Service (AKS) , Elastic Service (EKS) or Google Engine (GKE).  
  • Coverage for both ship and runtime: Container image scanning powered by MDVM shows vulnerability reports for both images stored in the registry and images running on the  
  • Support for OS and language packages: MDVM scans both packages installed by the OS package manager in and language specific packages and files, and their dependencies. 
  • Real-world exploitability insights (based on CISA kev, exploit DB and more)  
  • Support for ACR private links: MDVM scans images in container registries that are accessible via Azure Private Link if allow access by trusted services is enabled. 


The use of a single, in-house scanner provides a unified experience across all three clouds for detecting and identifying vulnerabilities on your container images. By enabling “Agentless Container Vulnerability Assessment” in Defender for Containers or Defender CSPM, at no additional cost, your container registries in AWS and GCP are automatically identified and scanned without the need for deploying additional resources in either cloud environment. This SaaS solution for container image scanning streamlines the process for discovering vulnerabilities in your multicloud environment and ensures quick integration into your multicloud infrastructure without causing operational friction.  

Through both Defender CSPM and Defender for Containers, results from container image scanning powered by MDVM are added into the Security graph for enhanced risk hunting. Through Defender CSPM, they are also used in calculation of attack paths to identify possible lateral movements an attacker could take to exploit your containerized environment.  

Discover vulnerable images in Elastic Container RegistriesDiscover vulnerable images in Elastic Container Registries

Discover vulnerable images in Google Artifact Registry and Google Container RegistryDiscover vulnerable images in Google Artifact Registry and Google Container Registry

Unified Vulnerability Assessment solution across workloads and clouds 

Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management (MDVM) is now the unified vulnerability scanner for container security across Azure, AWS and GCP. In Defender for Cloud, unified Vulnerability Assessment powered by Defender Vulnerability Management, we shared more insights about the decision to use MDVM, with the goal being to enable organizations to have a single, consistent vulnerability assessment solution across all cloud environments. 

Vulnerability assessment scanning powered by Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management for Azure Container Registry images is already generally available. Support for AWS and GCP is now public preview and provides a consistent experience across all three clouds.  

With the general availability of container vulnerability assessment scanning powered by Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management, we also announced retirement of Qualys container image scanning in Defender for Cloud. Retirement of Qualys container image scanning is set for March 1st, 2024. 

 To prepare for the retirement of Qualys container image scanning and consider the following resources: 

Agentless Inventory Capabilities & Risk-Hunting with Cloud Security Explorer 

Leaving zero footprint, agentless discovery for Kubernetes performs API-based discovery of your Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) clusters, their configurations, and deployments. Agentless discovery is a less intrusive approach to Kubernetes discovery as it minimizes impact and footprint on the Kubernetes cluster by avoiding additional installation of agents and resource consumption. 

Through the agentless discovery of Kubernetes and integration with the Cloud Security Explorer, organizations can explore the Kubernetes data plane, services, images, configurations of their container environments and more to easily monitor and manage their assets. 

Discover your multicloud Kubernetes cluster in a single view.Discover your multicloud Kubernetes cluster in a single view.



View Kubernetes data plane inventoryView Kubernetes data plane inventory

Using the Cloud Security Explorer, organizations can also hunt for risks to their Kubernetes environments which include Kubernetes-specific security insights such as pod and node level internet exposure, running vulnerable images and privileged containers. 




Hunt for risk such as privileged containersHunt for risk such as privileged containers


Defender Cloud Security Posture Management now complete with multicloud Kubernetes Attack Paths 

Multicloud organizations using Defender CSPM can now leverage the Attack path analysis to visualize risks and threats to their Kubernetes environments, allowing them to get a complete view of potential threats across all three cloud environments. Attack path analysis utilizes environment context including insights from Agentless Discovery of Kubernetes and Agentless Container Vulnerability scanning to expose exploitable paths that attackers may use to breach your environment. Reported Attack paths help prioritize posture issues that matter most in your environment and help you get a head of threats to your Kubernetes environment.  




Next Steps 


Maya Herskovic, Senior PM Manager, Defender for Cloud

Tomer Spivak, Senior Product Manager, Defender for Cloud

Mona Thaker, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Defender for Cloud


This article was originally published by Microsoft's Defender for Cloud Blog. You can find the original article here.