Infrastructure as Code (IaC) – A Developer’s Perspective
Table of Contents
The organizations developed and deployed their IT infrastructure manually in the early days. The IT teams were responsible for the maintenance of hardware as well as software aspects of the infrastructure. Therefore, it is also applicable to the software development cycle. However, with technological advancement, many organizations have adopted cloud infrastructure for their business. Here comes the role of IaC (infrastructure as code), which helps automate the development and deployment of the infrastructure or applications. This document gives you an insight into the topic of infrastructure as a code (IaC), IaC security, and best practices.
What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?
In simple terms, the Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is an automation technology used in the cloud-computing framework. In IaC, all the infrastructure requirements are fabricated into a single source code file, enabling the infrastructure’s automatic creation with the required specifications. It eliminates the need for the manual provisioning, deployment, configuration, and orchestration of the infrastructure, every time an application is developed and deployed. The IaC enables the development of multiple cloud environments with similar infrastructure specifications. One can develop the infrastructure code in many file formats like YAML and json.
How Does IaC Works?
It is essential to understand the difference between the working of conventional IT infrastructure and cloud infrastructure to understand the working of the IaC,
Conventional IT Infrastructure
In the traditional method, an organization must purchase physical computing devices first if it needs to develop a website or application. It is followed by infrastructure setup, including server setting, network configuration, creating route tables, database installation, software configuration, and more. The system administrators execute all these manually. It is followed by maintenance, which involves software updates, data backup, deploying new releases, and more which are managed by the operations teams. These data centres were mostly installed on the organization’s premises, allowing the employees to access the data and the applications.
On the other hand, cloud computing takes the entire burden from the organizations and caters to the infrastructure needs. Cloud service providers provide a virtual hosting solution for the infrastructure needs of any organization. It includes features like virtual machines (VMs), databases, networks, storage, and security, which are necessary for application development, deployment, and tracking. Even though cloud computing fulfils the infrastructure needs; organizations must take care of their infrastructure needs through various tools and techniques. Here comes the need for IaC.
Working on Infrastructure as Code
Suppose an organization needs to develop a new infrastructure or scale up the existing one. In that case, it uses cloud computing tools and techniques to design it from scratch. Of course, it takes much time and manual operations each time. However, through IaC, the developers can create a single code configuration that comprises all the required infrastructure features, which you can execute to create or scale the infrastructure. In other words, the IaC code requests the cloud provider for infrastructure configuration on behalf of the company. In this way, the IaC divides the infrastructure into modular components and uses automation to make different combinations of components.
The developer can create a standard template by rehashing the infrastructure into a codified configuration, which you can use for future infrastructure development, or scaling. The codified source will take care of the work done by the system administrators and operations teams together.
Pet vs. Cattle Model
It is a popular approach used in the DevOps infrastructure. You can easily understand this model by knowing the difference between the pet and the cattle. Pets are close to us; we will take care of them if it sick and try to make them better. However, in the case of cattle, if they are sick, the owners tend to replace them with healthy ones. A similar approach is followed in the infrastructure server operations. It is otherwise known as a mutable vs immutable model.
The on premise servers are also called mutable, as these servers are important to the infrastructure and cannot be destroyed. In case of any problem or upgrade, the mutable servers are modified or fixed during their run time. It is the most popular method in the conventional IT infrastructure, where all the servers are planted in the on premise data centres. Here, the IT teams manually operate the server to change configurations, install updates and fix server issues.
With the development of cloud computing, organizations are moving towards cloud data centres. Cloud computing provides an additional feature of immutable servers, which means you cannot modify the servers. For example, if the organizations need to install updates to their applications. The developers can replace the old server with the updated one without the need to modify the server configuration. In simple terms, the IT team will destroy the existing server and switch it to the new server. In the IaC model, the developer can use infrastructure code to create any number of servers with similar configurations.
The above image explains how the updates are installed in mutable and immutable models. In the mutable model, the application is installed by modifying the server. In contrast, in the immutable model, the old server is replaced with the new one.
Immutable Model with IaC
- The IaC in the immutable model facilitates the automatic replacement of servers with similar configurations each time. Instead of managing many servers, the IaC can replace them with new servers to pace up with the upgraded configuration.
- It helps in quick recovery from any server issues and in scaling the infrastructure with ease. Eliminating the chances of human error.
Declarative Vs. Imperative Approach
Both approaches provide directions to the automation platform, such as IaC.
In this approach, the user can define the systematic procedures to execute the desired output. It allows you to create complex configurations with immense details, which is possible by defining the steps in stages to attain the goal. This model gives more control to the developer to specify the configuration and how to attain it. It is easy to create a customized infrastructure to achieve the desired result.
The above image shows how the 100’s API calls are made to execute the commands in the specific order defined by the developer.
The declarative approach is more result-oriented than concentrating on the configuration steps. Here, the user can define the final configuration, and the automation platform takes care of the rest. It does not require the input of procedures to attain the goal. The user with minimum development knowledge can also use this approach to create new infrastructure.
The above image shows how IaC automates with minimum API calls to attain the required configuration demand.
Why Is Declarative Approach More Popular Than Imperative Approach?
Even though the imperative approach facilitates customized infrastructure development, it is subjected to configuration drift. It means the defined steps may not produce the desired outcome. However, in the case of the declarative approach, irrespective of the starting point, the ending result will be the same each time. It is because it does not require skilled developers to configure the steps. Understanding basic code is sufficient to develop infrastructure where the rest of the work is done by the IaC.
Infrastructure as Code in DevOps
In simple terms, the Infrastructure as Code works on the principle of the DevOps model. DevOps is the amalgamation of principles, techniques, and tools to improve the speed of application development and deployment. The DevOps principle defines the entire software development cycle to enhance the output of the organizations. In the DevOps model, the development and operations teams work simultaneously to increase the speed of software production. In addition, the security team also works with the development team to strengthen the application security features.
The same principle is used in the Infrastructure as Code model to develop and deploy the cloud infrastructure at a fast pace. The organizations create the infrastructure codes to implement the DevOps principle in the cloud environment. For example, the IaC enables organizations to create multiple servers with similar specifications, which helps the IT teams to develop and test the applications simultaneously. The IaC also eliminates the need for separate IT teams. Instead, it automates the management or provisioning of the infrastructure. Using the DevOps principle, the IaC can automate the process to get the same result every time.
The lead of IaC in DevOps
As we know, DevOps is the most popular SDLC (software development life cycle) model to improve business productivity. The IaC adds to the efficiency of the DevOps model by automating the configuration and maintenance of the cloud infrastructure. In other words, the IaC adds value to the DevOps model. Here are a few points explaining how the IaC assists DevOps.
Collaboration of Teams
In a typical software development team, the design, development, deployment, and maintenance teamwork separately, which takes more time and resources. However, IaC enables the interlinking of departments for an effective developmental process. For example, the IaC can create multiple servers with similar configurations, creating a similar environment for the development and testing teams. So that both the teams can work simultaneously to deploy the applications in a short span to attain a DevOps principle of speedy output.
The IaC supports various programming languages, including SQL, C++, Java, and more. The nature of the language could be either declarative or imperative. The imperative approach needs the developer to define each step to attain the desired infrastructure configuration. However, in the case of the declarative approach, one can determine the required configuration. At the same time, the rest is taken care of by the IaC without any human interference. It also enables automatic updates based on the desired configuration output.
By utilizing the infrastructure codes, the DevOps team can eliminate the need for human resources in infrastructure development. In addition, it automates the infrastructure’s development, testing, deployment, and maintenance, contributing to the continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) pipeline.
As the infrastructure is codified, it paves the way for codified security in all the layers of the cloud infrastructure. Efficient security strategies can be defined using the IaC model, which helps secure the DevOps process.
Problems Solved by Infrastructure as Code
The infrastructure as code rectifies several drawbacks of previous infrastructure development methods. Some of the major hitches that reduced the efficiency of the application development are given below.
The major obstacle to the manual development of the infrastructure is that the configuration may be subjected to slight changes each time, as humans cannot produce identical environments. Of course, it may not be a problem on a small platform. Still, when scaling up the resources, the resultant infrastructure will be alienated from the original format. The IaC helps avoid this situation by creating identical infrastructure every time. So that the testing and production environment will be the same, enhancing the software development cycle and resulting in rapid outputs and updates.
The infrastructure code ensures that the output environment is the same every time. It is more important in business that utilizes multiple servers for their operation, where it becomes essential to maintain consistency in the infrastructure provisioning. It might seem an arduous task with manual operations, but with IaC, desired output can be obtained irrespective of the starting point. This phenomenon is known as idempotence. The IaC makes use of two methods to attain the idempotence,
- One is through declarative scripts, where the IaC gets the required output, whichever the starting point is.
- The other is creating immutable infrastructure, which makes it easy to remove the outdated infrastructure and add a new one, thus saving time for re-configuration.
The IT teams will work on the platform’s manual configuration in conventional infrastructure development. With the release of frequent changes and updates in the configuration, it will be hard to keep track of the changes made to the original configuration. The IaC ensures that all the changes made to the configuration are recorded and secured. You can use these version records for future reference of the IT team to get a clear idea about the modifications made in the infrastructure, which you can also use for the future development of the business.
Lag In Provisioning
In the IaC process, every infrastructure component is included in the coding file. This feature improves the speed of provisioning by applying automation techniques in infrastructure development. It overcomes the time lag in provisioning when a manual process is involved. Furthermore, as all the components are included as code, it facilitates instant development of testing and production environments.
In the IaC model, the developer can use the codified scripts n number of times to create cloned infrastructures. Whereas in the conventional method, the scripts cannot be reused, which leads to the development of new scripts each time. The reusability of the scripts can aid in creating multiple servers without requiring manual scripting. Therefore, identical environments are created with less time and effort.
Lack of Innovation
The traditional IT teams would invest enormous time and effort in developing and maintaining the on premise infrastructure platforms. However, with the introduction of cloud computing, businesses are shifting from the age-old on premise environment to the new era, which has reduced the efforts of the IT teams by implementing IaC in the DevOps approach. Instead of handling all the development processes manually, the IaC utilizes workflow automation to execute the process without any manual interference. In addition, it takes care of the entire infrastructure development and maintenance so that the IT teams can use their potential time for innovation.
Infrastructure as Code beyond Automation
Generally, the infrastructure as code is considered an automation tool to execute the infrastructure provisioning and maintenance without human interference. However, the truth is that the role of IaC in application development goes beyond the simple automation concept. The infrastructure code helps to implement the software development concepts like DevOps in the process. Instead of just automating the infrastructure, the IaC helps faster development and deployment of the application compared to the traditional approach. It helps instant infrastructure creation and version control, rescuing the platform from configuration drift. The infrastructure code allows instant modification and testing, thus mitigating runtime errors. It shows that without IaC, IT automation is incomplete.
Types of IaC Tools
The tools used in infrastructure as code platforms can be classified based on their application in infrastructure development. They are explained below.
Simple coding scripts are one of the primary IaC tools used to execute simple and minor tasks. However, as scripting can only handle basic levels, you cannot use it in complex infrastructures.
As the name implies, configuration tools are used to codify the software that handles the installation and configuration of servers.
IaC tools codify the entire cloud infrastructure platform based on the business requirement. Using this tool, the developers can define all the components included in the infrastructure.
The containers with entire software, including the libraries and operating system that helps run the application in any environment, are utilized in the IaC platforms.
Top Infrastructure as Code Tools
Terraform is one of the highly used infrastructures as a code (IaC) tools in the market, which supports most cloud platforms like GitHub, AWS, and cloud flare.
The terraform improves reliability by maintaining consistency across all the cloud platform providers. The terraform is also an open-source tool with many tools and scripts, making the terraform’s foundation solid.
Ansible is also an open-source software like terraform. Red Hat Inc. founded it in 2012. Ansible is a configuration management tool with a commercial extension like ansible tower. However, its architecture is different from other tools. For example, it does not have a server or agent and can easily manage UNIX and Windows hosts. In addition, the configuration tasks are conducted by SSH/PowerShell sessions.
Ansible is known for its automation capability. Its configuration methodology can track changes and control the server and services.
It also acts as an infrastructure as a code tool; with this single tool, we can control all DevOps tasks. The infrastructures are defined in the ansible-playbook and commit source control.
Spectral is an IaC solution because it has an IaC security solution. Still, it is not a dedicated IaC tool. Instead, spectral is a secret scanner that protects you from a possible secret leak, like credentials.
The credentials are essential during the initial system setup. Due to the large volume of data, the developers have to hard code credentials into configuration files during the initial setup. If these details are not checked properly, it may lead to and massive data breach. SpectralOps helps to protect this data.
A puppet is an open-source tool; unlike other tools, it is slightly different from our list. Puppets can be integrated with any existing platform. It is a foundation for many CD/CI pipelines built by DevOps engineers. A puppet is a high-level programming language that can solve problems without a programmer’s procedure. It is considered a preferred method of IaC. Puppet also has a large community to improve and extend it.
One of the unique features of Pulumi is that it keeps the core concepts and features of well-developed tools like terraform and offers support for the cloud giants like AWS, CGP, and Azure cloud.
AWS Cloud Formation
It is also an all-rounder like terraform, which will allow us to manage the infrastructure and automate any deployments. However, the Cloud Formation only works with the AWS IaC. The Cloud Formation templates can be written using both YAML and JSON. It helps them to manage scale and automate the resources of AWS fast and straightforwardly.
It will also help us preview the changes before deployment so that we can easily visualize the impact of the changes.
Azure Resource Manager (ARM)
Azure resource manager is one of the top IaC tools developed by Microsoft, mainly for their platform infrastructure management. It handles dependencies and infrastructures using the azure resource manager template.
Azure help in controlling the access of services and resources very easily. It uses a Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). It will also allow the users to finetune the scope of access with the help of groups and subscriptions. In addition, the ARM system has very good organization tools, which let us manage resources and groups.
Google Cloud Deployment Manager
It is Google’s infrastructure manager, which also uses high-level programing language to automate the management, creation, provisioning, and configuration of the google cloud platform. The google cloud deployment manager uses YAML and Python scripts to manage resources.
It is so developer-friendly due to its reusability. Once the resources are grouped, you can also use the code in the future to produce another consistent deployment. It will also help you preview the impact of the changes before deployment. It will help us to visualize the changes more effectively. Another big advantage of this tool is its integration with Google’s ecosystem. Due to this, the deployment software does not require any additional configuration software.
Chef is one of the popular IaC tools in the industry. However, it has a huge advantage over others. It can work with all the platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure, allowing users to switch easily between the different cloud platforms without losing their IaC configurations. The chef is very flexible. It is scalable and enforceable in any existing CI/CD pipeline.
SaltStack is an open-source IaC tool. One of the major advantages of this tool is remote SSH connection and agent-based operations. In addition, a python-based IaC tool uses declarative and procedural definitions to provision resources. However, SaltStack is not considered the most secure IaC solution compared to other market tools.
Vagrant is a product of HashiCrop’s, the same terraform creator, for the large-scale computational environment. Still, the vagrant mainly concentrates on the small-scale computational environment. It will also work well with all operating systems, like Windows, Linux, and Mac. Vagrant uses declarative, which can also work well with other IaC tools, especially if that tool is procedural and can, enforce uniformity across the system.
With vagrant, you can set up a virtual machine, run your test, and save all the successful configurations in that VM. You can also share it with other developers to ensure they can work in the same development environment. The vagrant works with any VM, like Virtual Box, AWS, and other cloud services that provide VM solutions. It can also be integrated with other IaC like Chef and Puppet.
Applications of Infrastructure as Code
One of the major advantages of infrastructure as code is workflow automation. The IaC facilitates automatic scaling of the infrastructure according to the business requirements. For example, suppose the company must develop and maintain multiple software applications. In that case, it requires multiple yet similar environments for QA (testing), staging and production phases parallelly. Therefore, it is more complex to scale and maintain this infrastructure through manual processes. However, the IaC tools can automate the infrastructure scaling based on the business needs. It also automatically takes the data backup when the servers are removed, reducing the risk of data loss. Thus, you can automate the deployment of the applications through IaC tools and techniques.
The IaC is proved more efficient in the multi-cloud environment, where organizations use a combination of public and private cloud infrastructure. Growing demand for online applications and websites has pushed companies to deploy frequent applications and updates in the market. You can achieve it only through multi-cloud deployment, where diverse cloud platforms are used. The infrastructure code files (JSON or YAML) act as a template for the cloud configuration, which you can it to develop manifold cloud infrastructures with the desired configuration.
The conventional software development process required configuration changes to the servers, leading to the software’s runtime interruption. Therefore, one can shut the application for the users for maintenance or updates. However, in the present scenario, the organizations cannot interfere in the application runtime. Therefore, here comes the role of IaC, which is popular for its immutable servers. When the running server encounters issues or needs updates, you can easily swap it with the newly provisioned server. Thus, eliminating the need for reconfiguring the servers and saving from configuration drifts. It also includes an automatic time stamp and version for the server that can use for future reference.
This feature is becoming popular in the cloud infrastructure due to its simple solution that saves time and resources. Usually, companies opt for multiple cloud environments from different providers to cope with the growing demand. It includes the testing, development, and production environment with identical configurations. However, suppose the testing application affects any of the environments. In that case, the developers must work from scratch to create a similar environment. You can avoid it using docker container technology to create the environment instantly. The containers include the docker image of the server configuration, which one can execute to create the infrastructure at any time needed.
Automation of Security
The automation of infrastructure security plays a vital role in the widespread use of IaC tools in the DevOps model. As the DevOps approach recommends, the IaC combines security policies and procedures with the CI/CD pipeline to automate the infrastructure and the application’s security. Therefore, the IaC evaluates every configuration change for its security validation. Security automation helps to eliminate vulnerabilities in the early stage. However, the infrastructure code files have access to the application source codes to facilitate testing and development automation, which poses a new threat to the applications. Therefore, it is essential to implement strict security practices to avoid data breaches.
Data Backup and Recovery
The IaC tools can automate the data backup and recovery workflow, rescuing the application from data loss even though many tools are available to recover VMs (virtual machines). Which is not enough to run the application after recovery and thus requires core infrastructure upon which one can execute the applications. In the IaC method, the cloud infrastructure is stored as coding files, which are easy to recover. In addition, you can use the IaC tools to automate the recovery process in unforeseen scenarios like cyber-attacks or natural disasters.
The multi-tenant environment is highly sustainable for SaaS-based companies. The demand for software applications has pressured companies to design, develop and maintain multiple applications simultaneously. Each application requires its own separate QA, Dev, and UAT environments. It results in multiple cloud environments, which become hard to maintain and track. The IaC tools can be used as a solution by using a single infrastructure code to create multiple servers, which are easy to maintain. It also reduces production time. The tools like Terraform and Pulumi are used to create multi-tenant environments.
Instead of deploying a single version of the application, the simultaneous deployment approach directs to deploying different versions of a single application simultaneously. For example, take two environments with a similar configuration, A and B. In this case, the IT team deploys version 1 in environment A (staging). If it works properly, version 2 is moved to environment B (live). Both applications run together, diverting V1 traffic to V2. In case of any malfunction in V2, the traffic can be diverted to V1 until the problem is fixed. The IaC tools help ease this process by automating the scaling of servers and maintenance.
Benefits of Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Infrastructure as code has numerous benefits, some of which are mentioned below.
In simple terms, enacting the IaC approach will self-regulate business productivity, boosting the software development process. The classic infrastructure development involves large IT teams who must put enormous time and effort into developing and maintaining the infrastructure. However, the latest IaC technology uses automation to carry out all the tasks without requiring manual configuration and maintenance. The IaC tools are used to develop multiple cloned environments, for instance, development, testing, and production environments that need to be similar for more efficiency. It also utilizes declarative scripts to automate the changes to the servers to get desired configuration output.
Consistency in infrastructure development plays a vital role in boosting the efficiency of business operations. When an IT team develops a server, they create it with specific configurations and features according to the requirement. For example, if the company needs to scale up the business operation so in need of a similar server configuration. The team may probably miss a few configuration details during the development phase. It is not a big issue until 10 more similar server setup is needed. Then it becomes a hectic task to maintain consistency in the development. It can be easily sorted out using infrastructure codes that produce the same results each time when executed.
Minimum Developmental Cost
The IaC method saves the organization a huge chunk of money in multiple ways. As the IaC automates the workflow of infrastructure development, you can develop multiple environments almost instantly. Reducing the need for intensive human resources in the menial process. Instead, valuable time and resources can be diverted to research and innovation, forming the basis for the business’s success. Thus, saving a huge large amount from being wasted on the operation and maintenance. The IaC also reduces the developmental cost as it implies automation for the development, testing, and production environment that facilitates the DevOps model.
Reduces Human Risk
Humans are always bound to make mistakes, with no exception for IT experts. Even a highly skilled IT professional can make mistakes in multi-tasking. Previously, the entire IT infrastructure was built and maintained the on-premises by IT teams, which poses a high risk of human error. For example, if an IT expert leaves the organization, no one will be aware of the IT assets and how to operate them, where the business is vulnerable to the human factor.
However, with the cloud computing age, all the companies are heading towards cloud infrastructure for their business operations. However, even though the cloud environment has simplified the business process, it has increased asset management and scalability complexity. It is where the IaC appears to log the entire development and maintenance process, which can be used as a reference. It improves transparency in business operations.
Monitoring and Performance Visibility
The major advantage of IaC is that all the infrastructure configurations, updates, and management are recorded automatically. It gives clear visibility over the working of the software development process. You can use these records to monitor the infrastructure provisioning changes, which helps to understand the business development. The monitoring also assists in improving accountability, where the person accountable for changes can be easily identified. The application’s performance can be analysed by monitoring the sequential changes recorded by IaC tools.
Scalability and Availability
The success of any business relies on the scalability of the resources. Where cloud computing has made the scalability of resources relatively easy, but scalability’s full potential can be experienced using the IaC tools. Unlike the cloud infrastructure, the IaC can automate the scale-up or down process according to the requirement without any manual assistance. The IaC tools also help categorize the resources based on their need and usage, improving the resource’s visibility for management purposes. The faster infrastructure development makes the resources readily available for business needs. The increased availability of the infrastructure positively affects business development.
What is Infrastructure as Code Security?
The infrastructure as code security emphasizes the protection of the cloud infrastructure and the application configuration. The IaC security ensures that the infrastructure is deployed under security and compliance requirements. It means that IaC security does not provide direct immunity from cyber threats. Instead, it integrates the infrastructure with the security best practices to eliminate vulnerabilities.
Need for IaC Security
As IaC plays a major role in the cloud infrastructure configuration, securing the IaC environments from vulnerabilities is essential. If there is an error in the developmental phase, it affects the security of the whole infrastructure or application. Nevertheless, with the help of IaC, the application’s security can be evaluated and fixed through automation. The IaC can help improve the infrastructure’s security, which is possible by including the security codes in the developmental phase. Suppose the IaC is developed by Default with the security configuration. In that case, it helps protect the cloud infrastructure and the applications.
Vulnerabilities Associated with the Infrastructure as Code
The most common vulnerability in the IaC infrastructure is the default template used in the development phase. Here, the developer may utilize available IaC templates that could have hidden vulnerabilities. As a result, it threatens the entire infrastructure, which could attract cyber-attacks.
Insecure Primary Node
The primary node is the controller of the IaC, which contains specifications and configurations of the infrastructure. If the primary node of the IaC infrastructure is not secured, it leads to threats like data leaks or data theft.
The security of any online infrastructure highly depends upon the user access limit to the resources. Therefore, it is essential to include proper user access data in the infrastructure, which helps to increase security.
Configuration drift occurs in the IaC application when the changes are made in the production phase. As a result, it increases the chance of changes in security configuration and creates hidden vulnerabilities.
Unprotected Data Transfer
Such vulnerabilities happen when the communications channels are not properly secured using data encryption or secured VPN connections.
Best Practices for Infrastructure as Code Security
Visibility Over Asset Inventory
The major purpose of any security tools or techniques is to secure the organization’s assets. Therefore, it also implies IaC security. Therefore, the companies should identify their assets to tag them and monitor which helps to safeguard them from data leaks or theft. It is also important to discard unused resources that could become a potential target for cyber-attacks. Therefore, identifying and tracking assets plays a crucial role in IaC security.
Scan The IaC Templates
The coding templates form a vital part of the IaC infrastructure. However, even though these templates facilitate quick development and deployment, they have great drawbacks. For example, these templates might contain default configurations or misconfigurations that create vulnerabilities in the application or infrastructure. Therefore, it is essential to establish regular workflow monitoring, which helps identify insecure configurations, public cloud storage, unencrypted data, and more.
Restore The Environmental Drifts
The main purpose of the IaC application or infrastructure is to maintain consistency in the development and deployment. Some minor changes are made in the output configuration based on the customer’s requirements. These minor changes accumulate together to form a major drift from the original template, creating vulnerabilities in the application. You can prevent it by utilizing frequency IaC template scanning that keeps the drift in check.
Include Automation in Developer Workflow
Including automation in the IaC security can improve the efficiency of the infrastructure or application. It also helps identify security breaches in the IaC templates early. For example, suppose scanning the IaC templates is automated in the developmental phase. In that case, it can help the developers fix the development errors rather than leave them to the production level. It helps to minimize the damage of configuration drift or errors.
Seal Hard-Coded Secrets
The exposure of hard-coded secrets becomes inevitable when these codes are introduced into the IaC infrastructure or application. It is because it makes the hard code secret accessible to all the members who are involved in the project. Public accessibility could result in the breach of the organization’s secrets, which is detrimental to the business. Therefore, you can secure the hard-coded secrets by preventing the hard code from getting into the version control system.
Mitigate The Code Leaks
With advancements in hacking tools and techniques, no code is fool proof. Therefore, it is essential to have a proper backup plan in case of a data breach or exposure. Identifying the breach at an earlier stage is a vital step in mitigating the effect. Continuous monitoring tools can find suspicious activities in the code files. A warning system embedded in the IaC infrastructure will signal early in case of a data breach. These steps will help to reduce the after-effect of the data breach.
Utilize Security Tools
Well-established security procedures and policies are indispensable in securing the infrastructure code from being tampered with or removed. The DevOps tools play a vital role in monitoring code security. In most cases, the hackers target the developer’s account, which opens the doorway to tamper with other accounts and source codes. It demonstrates the importance of securing resources and accounts from cybercriminals.
Limit The Access
It is the first step of any security features applied in the IT infrastructure, on-site or cloud computing. Limited access to critical resources like source code, hard-coded secrets, and accounts can reduce the possibility of a data breach. In addition, the organization should provide authentication to the users based on their job description and requirement. Indiscriminate access to all resources could pave the way for illegal access that could result in intellectual property theft, data breach, exposure of source code, and more.
Avert Code Tampering
The most common form of cyber threat in IaC is code tampering. Hackers can easily access the source codes by acquiring the developer’s account credentials. If the developer account is compromised, it is simple to tamper with the code and steal critical resources. It is essential to check for misconfigurations and accept the versioning of the IaC only after validation to prevent such cyber-attacks.
Use Simple Security Features
Organizations can work on simplifying the security procedures, which is handy during a cyber-attack crisis. However, monitoring and securing the assets becomes extremely difficult if the implemented security feature is complex. All the assets can be identified and secured based on the credibility of the asset to make the security measure easier. However, if more unidentified assets are in the IaC infrastructure, it becomes hard to prevent data theft or exposure.
Even though the IaC has huge benefits, it is not free from security threats. For a successful business, it is important to have an effective security measure to safeguard the company’s critical assets. Therefore, organizations need to implement proper IaC security procedures and policies to secure the infrastructure and applications. In addition, several tools and techniques can be used to monitor the resources and prevent any cyber-attacks.