Guest post originally published on Magalix’s blog by Andrew Zola
GitOps adoption is on the rise, driven by enterprise migration to the cloud. We can attribute its growing popularity to its efficiency in streamlined infrastructure management. As such, cloud security is an essential component that goes along with it.
While GitOps helps companies accelerate delivery and time to market, it also helps improve Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) pipeline security. It can serve as a foundation where developers identify and resolve potential vulnerabilities throughout the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and GitOps together enable CI, CD, version control, and collaboration. In this scenario, DevOps teams will only interact with the Git interface. All integrations and deployments will be fully automated.
Why is GitOps Important?
You can automate plenty of IT operations when you manage applications, IaC, and state in centralized repositories. This approach takes the burden off developers as it manages security and compliance through code.
Enterprises that leverage CI/CD pipelines and IaC deploy updates using a linear series of tests and gates before implementation. It also complements Agile and DevOps protocols and best practices.
In cloud environments, if there’s a sudden increase in application traffic, you’ll probably have some performance issues and (of course) poor user experiences. To resolve this problem, you can quickly increase the resource allocation for your cloud-native application.
You can define specific resource increments and push those changes to the repository. Whenever this is the case, the changes will be reviewed and verified by other developers quickly and approved for production and deployment.
These types of incidents initialize the Git operator and trigger the GitOps CI/CD pipeline. The Git operator must compare the states, identify the new configuration as a state change, and orchestrate the underlying infrastructure automatically to match the desired state.
However, you must monitor potential failures which are automatically generated and notified. In the absence of potential issues, it will automatically modify your resource allocation to meet new user requirements. If it fails or you end up with configuration errors, you can simply roll back to the previous state and start over.
You can leverage GitOps to control changes and verify them as a single source of truth, for example:
Changes are Auditable
Version control keeps track of what was shipped and allows you to roll back on demand. An audit trail of comments, reviews, and the decisions made on your repository from your commit history.
Configuration as Code (CaC)
Manage all your YAML files on Git to quickly check if you’re compliant with security policies. As access policies are declared in configuration files, you can quickly know who has access and to what.
Match Production to Desired State in Git
As a single source of truth, the standard workflows for code and infrastructure changes with automatic alerts on drifts improve reliability and mitigate the risk of human error. In this case, permissions, security scans, and tests help make your changes more secure and highly reliable, avoiding infrastructure drift.
In advanced GitOps environments, you can also make changes to Git repositories and automatically apply them to live infrastructure through tags for Quality Assurance (QA) testing.
How Does GitOps Impact Cloud Security?
A few years ago, early adopters maintained two or more separate Git repositories for both their infrastructure code and application code. Two different teams often managed these. This approach aims to limit the risk radius, but recently, things have started to change.
GitOps’ ability to consider just about everything as code has a massive impact on security. When all security policies are coded, you can easily hold everything in version control. In this case, all changes will be revised and pushed into an automated pipeline that in turn verifies, deploys, and continuously monitors all changes.
Everything-as-Code Enables Continuous Cloud Security
GitOps helps boost cloud security by being a single source of truth, ensuring immutability and developer velocity. In this scenario, you won’t have to wait until the end of the development cycle to think of security testing because you shift security left, early.
Policy-as-Code Enables Early Feedback
Security testing for cloud-native applications is part of every iteration. For example, writing policies and enforcing them at commit time provides early testing and feedback about changes that may create security issues at the end of the pipeline.
This means that you identify and eliminate errors and vulnerabilities long before the code goes to production. The GitOps approach to security complements continuous integration and CI/CD protocols ensuring that everyone follows security best practices down the pipeline.
What is Policy as Code?
Policy-as-code is essentially a concept of codifying your policies. By committing security policies to code, you write a code plan to automate and manage security policies.
When implementing code policies created in a high-level language, you must leverage a policy enforcement engine or platform. This approach helps maintain a security standard within organizations by enforcing certain rules within specific clusters or across the company.
These code-based rules live in text files and ensure that development teams consistently follow best practices.
By treating everything as code, GitOps helps improve the security of several different elements in the development pipeline (including policy and configurations). When all of this comes together, developers can iterate faster with version control, enable continuous integration, test automation, and other features in Git.
When developers leverage automation, they have total auditability and version control of infrastructure templates. This approach helps boost developer velocity with clean separations of concerns. This means that you don’t need access to CI/CD platforms or production environments to push code into the repository.
This separation helps enhance security protocols and allows teams to adopt the practice of least privilege. This translates into a much smaller attack surface that’s only accessed by a few verified users.
If you’re using Kubernetes external secrets, you can also securely store them inside your cloud-native secret store. This approach enables the quick rotation of any secret on-demand automatically and independently of Git. You can also use finely-grained Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) on each secret.
When it comes to security, GitOps also holds developers accountable. It makes the whole process easier by embedding security scanning and guardrails throughout the entire SDLC.
When you fortify your security posture with code, you’ll be alert to the following threats:
- Git users impersonating one another.
- Hackers removing security features.
- Insecure old versions of Git.
- Malicious users attempting to rewrite history.
Any potential bug or divergence to a set state will be caught quite early in the development cycle. So, you can use GitOps as your strategy to shift security further left.
If you face a situation where changes made to the pipeline lead to a data breach, you can come back to GitOps and trigger a rapid response to address the issues. When you store IaC in a repository, you can also quickly determine the lines of code that were affected within it.
When there is a potential for rapid identification of the size and scale of an attack, you can respond and recover much faster. This approach helps mitigate risk and reduces the possibility of a breach occurring.
At Magalix, we’re in the business of programmatically enforcing security standards with Policy-as-Code (PaC). This approach helps build developer-centric experiences with CI/CD for cloud-native applications.
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Enforcing PaC across your organization helps:
- Apply governance standards across Kubernetes clusters in a click
- Deploy customized policy checks across cloud environments
- Validate infrastructure compliance earlier in the SDLC
- Fortify your infrastructure by implementing PaC in DevOps workflows
With the right playbooks and GitOps workflows in your cloud-native environment, your DevOps teams can innovate faster without compromising security or compliance. You can also tailo