Getting Privileged Access Inside a Docker Container: Your Guide to Enhanced Control


Docker containers have become an indispensable part of the modern application development and deployment process. They provide a lightweight, efficient, and consistent environment that enables developers to build and deploy applications faster and more reliably.

However, there are instances where you may require enhanced control and access to the underlying host resources, specifically when working with system-level tasks or debugging issues. This is where running a Docker container with privileged access comes in handy.

In this article, we will discuss the concept of privileged access, the risks associated with it, and provide a step-by-step guide to obtaining privileged access inside a Docker container.

Understanding Privileged Access

By default, Docker containers run in a restricted environment with limited access to host resources. This is done to ensure the isolation and security of the host system. However, there are certain scenarios where this level of isolation may not suffice.

Privileged access, in the context of Docker, refers to running a container with elevated privileges, enabling it to access all devices on the host, modify the host system, and perform actions that would typically be restricted. While this grants you additional control over the container, it also comes with its share of risks.

The Risks of Privileged Access

Running a Docker container with privileged access can pose security risks and compromise the integrity of your host system. It is essential to understand these risks before proceeding:

  1. Container Escalation: Privileged containers can escalate their access to the host system, potentially gaining unauthorized control.
  2. Resource Exhaustion: Privileged containers can consume host resources without any restrictions, potentially causing resource exhaustion or denial-of-service attacks.
  3. Data Exposure: Privileged containers can access sensitive data on the host system, potentially leading to data breaches or exposure.

Due to these risks, it is vital to exercise caution when granting privileged access to a Docker container. Ensure that you only use it when absolutely necessary, and always follow best security practices to minimize potential threats.

Getting Privileged Access Inside a Docker Container

To run a Docker container with privileged access, follow these steps:

  1. Pull the desired Docker image:
$ docker pull [IMAGE_NAME]

Replace [IMAGE_NAME] with the name of the Docker image you wish to use.

  1. Run the container with the --privileged flag:
$ docker run -it --privileged [IMAGE_NAME] /bin/bash

This command will start the container in privileged mode, providing you with an interactive shell inside the container.

  1. Verify your privileged access:

Inside the container, you can verify your privileged access by running commands that require elevated privileges. For example:

# Create a new device
$ mknod /tmp/test-device c 1 5

# Mount a filesystem
$ mount -t tmpfs tmpfs /mnt/tmp

These commands should execute successfully, confirming your privileged access.


Running a Docker container with privileged access can be a powerful tool for developers when they need to perform system-level tasks or debug complex issues.

However, it is essential to understand the risks associated with this elevated level of access and follow best security practices to minimize potential threats. Always exercise caution when using privileged access and only use it when absolutely necessary.

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