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HomeHow To5 Ways to Maximize the Impact of IaC Scans

5 Ways to Maximize the Impact of IaC Scans


Infrastructure-as-code (IaC) continues to gain traction and is even hailed for having changed software development towards greater efficiency and shared responsibilities between the development and operations teams. It is revolutionizing modern IT, especially given the growing prominence of cloud computing.

Simply switching to IaC, however, does not automatically result in benefits, given the rampancy of security vulnerabilities and cyber attacks designed to exploit IaC issues. That’s why it’s crucial to scan your IaC code for possible security vulnerabilities. Organizations that embrace Infrastructure-as-Code need thorough scanning to ensure that the code works as intended and has no issues that can enable or facilitate cyber attacks.

Here are a few ways to maximize the sought-after benefits of IaC scans and ensure that adopting code-based management and provisioning of infrastructure does not become an additional security challenge.

Integrating Security into CI/CD Pipelines

One of the most important steps in ensuring that whichever IaC scanning solutions you use are optimized to deliver the best outcomes is to integrate them with your continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. As organizations adopt DevOps, it only makes sense to incorporate security mechanisms into CI/CD.

This integration enables the following key benefits: the early detection of vulnerabilities, minimizing lag times in the feedback loop, the consistent enforcement of security policies, and continuous security monitoring. Merging security with your CI/CD pipelines propagates the enforcement of security measures and the impact of security controls on the same areas the CI/CD pipelines reach. This eliminates the need to painstakingly identify the coverage of security solutions and configure tools accordingly.

Additionally, having the policy of integrating security and CI/CD pipelines supports collaboration between DevOps and security teams. This makes it inevitable for security, development, and operations teams to proactively work together to configure infrastructure efficiently and securely and address challenges together.

Continuous Scanning

Cybersecurity pundits often include continuous security validation in their recommendations to ensure protection against cyber threats. This extends to the security of IaC.

Given the growing aggressiveness and sophistication of cyber attacks, it is not enough to rely on periodic or regular checks. Cybercriminals are getting faster at exploiting security vulnerabilities. Leaving any window of opportunity for attacks to happen can lead to disastrous consequences.

It is advisable to employ automated IaC scanning tools to make sure that vulnerabilities are spotted and addressed as promptly as possible. These tools can continuously examine code repositories, configuration files, as well as deployment scripts to detect possible security issues and bring them to light for appropriate action – before cybercriminals discover and take advantage of them.

Adhering to Compliance Requirements

Some might see this advice as hackneyed and ambiguous, but it is important to emphasize the value of best practices and complying with cybersecurity regulations. If the idea of best practices sounds vague, it helps to turn to authoritative cybersecurity information sources like the OWASP IaC security cheat sheet. There are many sources of useful cybersecurity guides and insights to make Infrastructure-as-Code secure and reliable.

When it comes to cybersecurity regulations, none directly target IaC practices. However, IaC management is indirectly covered by existing regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that impose requirements on having security controls over infrastructure components configured and managed via IaC.

IaC scanning tools that do not have features which align with the standards described in best practices and regulatory requirements are not worth using. If these tools have the necessary functions, it is also important to properly configure or activate them in line with what best practices and regulations indicate.

Prioritizing Remediation

Current technologies afford the ability to conduct continuous security scanning and address some issues automatically. However, not all issues can be properly remedied automatically. Human involvement is still required to resolve complex concerns detected in your IaC code. IaC tools can raise an endless deluge of vulnerability alerts or notifications, but it’s up to the humans overseeing the security scanning to keep up.

As such, it is important to come up with a sensible prioritization plan. Some tools provide risk-based scoring systems to make it easier for people to address the most urgent issues. These are highly useful to avoid getting overwhelmed by the problem of information overload that is common in cybersecurity tools.

Take note that it is inadvisable to rely entirely on the IaC testing tools when it comes to identifying critical assets and resources. Proper and purposeful configuration is a must, and it may be necessary to seek the assistance of outside cybersecurity experts when doing this.

Addressing the Human Weakness

People continue to be the biggest weakness when it comes to cybersecurity. Highly sophisticated scanning solutions are essentially useless if those responsible for evaluating and managing IaC security are not well-versed with the appropriate courses of action to take. Also, without proper configuration, the best IaC scanning solutions are unlikely to provide the expected outcomes.

Hence, it is essential to invest in cybersecurity training to empower teams with the right skills and knowledge for effective security management in the context of IaC environments. Infrastructure as code engineers usually have some background in cybersecurity, but not many of them have the expertise needed, especially when it comes to the most recent threats and concerted attacks.

Development and operations teams should work together with security professionals to implement secure coding practices and formulate IaC security guidelines that address the specific needs of an organization. This collaboration helps enable more effective threat detection by fostering a culture of security awareness.

In Summary

Maximizing the impact of IaC scans entails the use of the right tools and people overseeing these tools with the necessary knowledge and insights. IaC scanning tools should be capable of continuous scanning, integration with CI/CD pipelines, and providing risk-based scoring systems for remediation prioritization. They should also align with best practices and regulations.

At the same time, the teams using these tools should take full advantage of their functions and have enough cybersecurity savvy and experience, which can be achieved with cybersecurity training and collaboration among the development, operations, and security teams.

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