8 Security Considerations for CI/CD

CircleCI Future of DevOps and CI/CD - Predict 2021

Content By Devops .com

In the software development enterprise, CI/CD refers to the combined practices of continuous integration and either continuous delivery or continuous deployment. CI/CD enables organizations to bridge the gap between development, operation activities and teams by the use of automation when building, testing and deploying applications. 

How do you maintain quality and security with frequent deployments? While CI/CD can improve the efficiency of an organization, there are many security considerations to take into account.

To gain insights on the top security considerations for CI/CD, I asked the speakers and sponsors for the upcoming SKILup Day as well as several DevOps Institute Ambassadors for their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say in part one of this two-part series:

Speaker, Grant Fritchey, Product Advocate, Redgate Software

“There are a lot of security considerations when it comes to CI/CD. As a person focused on data and data management, I’m going to say that the top security consideration is ensuring that you have compliant data for your non-production environments. Just the sheer number of people who will have access to the information means that you have a huge number of possible vectors for a breach if you’re exposing protected information.”

Speaker, Anders Wallgren, VP of Technology Strategy, CloudBees

“Secure your software delivery pipelines themselves, not just the software that you deliver with those pipelines. Everyone should have only the level of access they require in order to perform their role.

Maintain a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) so you know what you have in production. When a new vulnerability is disclosed, you will have a much easier time deciding whether and how to mitigate it if you don’t have to chase down what you have in production. Your orchestration software should do the lion’s share of the work here.”

Tracy Ragan, CEO and co-founder, DeployHub

“CI/CD tools are driven mainly by one-off scripts. There is absolutely nothing secure about one-off scripts. From build through deploy, we need to start thinking of implementing automation and policy-driven tools and dump the one-off scripts.”

Tiffany Jachja, Technical Evangelist, Harness

“Supply chain management is a major security consideration for CI/CD. If an entity gains access to a CI/CD resource or component that they shouldn’t, this can lead to vulnerabilities, downtime or even malicious code. For example, in the SolarWinds hack of 2020, attackers legitimized their software malware by injecting it into the SolarWinds build process. This build pipeline produced trusted software artifacts and obtained digital certifications before being released to over 18,000 customers worldwide. After the hack, SolarWinds took action, further restricting access to its build environment and reviewing its build process, but not before it was too late. It’s not only about automating developer and operations workflows but also how we treat and handle CI/CD pipelines.”

Jamal Walsh, Technical Product Owner, The Very Group

“You must make sure you implement security tooling within your pipeline; it’s not enough to just use CI/CD to build and deploy applications. Steps in your pipeline should include security testing tools like SAST, DAST, dependency checks, etc.”

Martin Chan, System Analyst, Global Executive Consultants Ltd. 

“The most important thing is to define the access control list and rules to control the access in the CI/CD pipeline so that the audit log can easily trace issues. Also, the system should require authentication and define password policies for all users.”

Bryan Finster, Software Engineer, DoD Platform One

“Security must be automated as part of the pipeline. Just like any other quality gate, the pipeline must be the single source of truth for security. Any manual process after code is committed increases the effort to deliver. Increased effort increases the size of each change. Larger changes are harder to check for quality and fail more spectacularly. Manual security is just security theater and is easily bypassed or forgotten. That effort is better spent improving the ability of the pipeline to use security as-a-service.”

Dheeraj Nayal, Global Community Ambassador, DevOps Institute

“Follow the three security best practices for CI/CD. We usually divide security practices into three parts that you can address with different kinds of solutions. These are:

  1. Secure pipeline configuration
  2. Code and Git history analysis
  3. Security policy enforcement

All three aspects are equally important.”

If you’d like to learn more about the latest in CI/CD and similar topics, check out the upcoming SKILup Day schedule. Or, learn more about the benefits of becoming a DevOps Institute Member. 


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