Embracing and Securing Infrastructure as Code

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Embracing and Securing Infrastructure as Code

The use of Infrastructure as code continues to rise as more enterprises adopt cloud computing, transition to DevSecOps/ DevOps methodologies, and strive to boost velocity and dynamic capabilities. Enterprises should have strategies in place to help secure this adoption while also ensuring that they do not bring undue risk or even exploit cloud infrastructures.

Procurement processes, significant wait times, physical infrastructure, and server racks were all part of the traditional infrastructure deployment process. Even before cloud computing, the most common means of managing infrastructure were click-ops, or manually going into the cloud service provider’s (CSP’s) dashboard and manually instantiating infrastructure. When working with enterprise cloud settings, this approach is inefficient, error-prone, and is not scalable.

IaC shifts the paradigm by allowing infrastructure to be codified and managed programmatically, similar to how traditional application code is managed. Consequently, businesses can employ source control, re-use, versioning, drift detection, portability, and automation as a result of this.

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The popularity of Infrastructure as code (IaC) continues to increase as businesses embrace cloud computing. Security is frequently bolted on to IaC or disregarded entirely, as it is with many new technologies. So, here are some ways for safeguarding IaC, as well as the dangers of ignoring this crucial security task.

Risks involved with ease and speed

Despite all of the advantages of IaC, there are risks that companies should be aware of in order to avoid introducing extra risk into their cloud settings. Deploying IaC templates in a hurry would mean exposing the organization to risky setups and threats. The same may be true for using IaC templates that are publicly available. These templates can, and frequently do, contain insecure setups or deviations from security best practices.

The Cloud Threat Report: Spring 2020 from Palo Alto’s Unit 42 revealed a slew of worrying discoveries. Despite the fact that businesses had the potential to enforce security through IaC, they rarely did so. Nearly half of the CloudFormation templates investigated had potentially dangerous setups. Nearly 22% of all Terraform configuration files reviewed contained at least one insecure configuration, according to the researchers.

Organizations are maximizing their use of IaC, but they aren’t always assessing templates for security flaws and vulnerabilities. This covers IaC templates created in-house as well as those obtained from public repositories. When using existing IaC templates, whether from public or internal repositories, it’s critical to exercise caution and thoroughly analyze them for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.

Security best practices for Infrastructure as code

Businesses can integrate IaC into similar structures and workflows because it is utilized in the same way as other code techniques. This means it can be scanned in runtime, saved in source code management (SCM) repositories, and integrated into CI/CD pipelines.

There are a variety of IaC scanning technologies to choose from – each can check cloud infrastructure templates for both compliance violations and unsafe configurations that introduce vulnerabilities against hundreds of regulations associated with a variety of compliance frameworks.

Continuous cloud posture management (CSPM) is also required to guarantee that previously known IaC templates that were authorized to provision and execute have not deviated, and that non-compliant or insecure changes have not been introduced manually. This is where security teams must ensure that they are scanning their runtime environments for these types of events and risks on a regular basis.

It’s also a good idea to monitor the IaC SCM repositories on a regular basis, as new compliance and security checks are added to the tooling that weren’t present when the IaC templates were first committed. This aids in the discovery of previously unknown facts.

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Infrastructure as code governance

Organizations can start the process of implementing IaC governance by determining what types of IaC are being used in their environment, who is creating, storing, and executing these templates, and where these templates are being created, saved, and run. Post this, security teams can begin to bring some rigor into existing procedures, detecting vulnerabilities and compliance violations, and providing timely feedback for correction to IaC authors.

To prevent creating a bottleneck, like with anything in security, it’s critical to integrate with existing operations and methodologies. Developer processes should have some “healthy” friction to ensure that productivity is not harmed needlessly by vulnerabilities and compliance concerns are addressed, while allowing teams to operate at a pace that is relevant to stakeholders and customers.

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