Security Considerations for CI/CD Orchestration

Encora | October 13, 2021

In one of the many ways that automation is shaping the software development world, continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery / continuous deployment (CD) are helping businesses get products to market in a quicker, more reliable fashion. 

However, as convenient and helpful as these automated processes are, they do come with additional security burdens that need to be addressed to maintain safety and integrity.

What is CI / CD?

CI is the process by which developers make small changes to their code while checking the code at the same time. Developers have automated this process because of the number of steps needed. CI allows for teams to automatically “build, test and package their applications in a reliable and repeatable way.” This allows for streamlined code changes, which gives developers more time to make any changes needed to improve the software. 

Continuous  delivery or continuous deployment (CD) is the “automated delivery of completed code” so it can be tested and delivered. This allows for the continuous delivery of updated code to the appropriate environments, like testing and deployment. Together these terms are called CI/CD orchestration. 

Next is continuous deployment. Once a change passes the automated tests, it is automatically placed in production. This results in many changes being automatically deployed. 

In short, CI “is a set of practices performed as developers are writing code, and CD is a set of practices performed after the code is completed.”. Also, CI/CD links together development, operations activities, and teams. 

How to Improve Security

Security is of utmost importance in this day and age of digital hackers. Here are 6 ways to improve the security of your CI/CD orchestration. 

  1. One crucial way to implement more security into your CI/CD orchestration is through having proper role-based access control (RBAC). Regulated environments require a separation of duties. And, since engineers need to be more efficient, it is helpful to have controls that ensure only specific people or entities can deploy and only certain people or entities can view what is in the pipeline. 
  2. Automating quality and guaranteed rigor will allow you to keep up with the demands of the current pace of business. Having automated analysis and approval workflows along with segregation of duties will boost security. This means that users can not approve the changes they create. In this case, security is built into the CI/CD process. 
  3. Start your security processes in the CI pipeline. Once something has been delivered or deployed, it’s too late for security concerns—the application is already in an environment. This is frequently referred to as “shift left security”. Start with basic static code analysis, security scanners, etc., and then keep maturing. Whatever tools you integrate into CI Server, ensure the corresponded integrated development environment (IDE) plugins are made available to developers.. This will allow developers to do first-level validation in the IDE as they code. 
  4. Use tools to measure the security risks and take appropriate action. Different development activities will have different security issues. This will be customized based on the industry your organization is in. You must evaluate the technology you’re using and consider its unique security requirements. 
  5. Include security as a functional requirement, not as an afterthought. Security needs to be put on equal footing with all other SDLC requirements and built into the “design, test, deployment and delivery of any feature.”. 
  6. Implement security at every step of your CI/CD pipeline. Automate tests in tooling so they are performed on several functions at different levels for code accuracy. Patch management tends to be the most vulnerable part of testing in a pipeline. So, make sure all commercial and proprietary holes are fixed before the software is released.  Using coding checks should be the first step before moving onto more difficult areas. 

Encora Knows Security

Are you concerned about your security risks when it comes to your CI/CD processes? Encora has been helping companies implement security processes since 2005. Encora is an award-winning software and digital product engineering company, with awards ranging from Company of the Year from the American Business Awards, along with an Achievement in Customer Satisfaction award. And that was just in 2021! Encora has been winning awards like Great Place to Work and ranking on the IT Training Companies to Watch list since 2015. You can rest assured they’ll bring their winning attitude when it comes to working with your business. If you’re concerned about your security in your company’s CI/CD process, Encora’s engineers can help check the code for security issues along with many other processes to help maintain and increase your company’s level of security. Get started today, reach out to Encora here for a more secure future. They’re excited to talk with you and find a way to help your business become even more successful and secure. 

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