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IaC Finest Practices – DZone

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Infrastructure as code (IaC) is the apply of managing and provisioning computing assets utilizing configuration recordsdata or scripts slightly than guide deployment and configuration processes. This permits builders and operations groups to collaborate extra successfully, automate deployments, and enhance consistency and reliability.

Infrastructure as Code — Everything You Need to Know

Nonetheless, IaC additionally introduces new safety challenges and dangers that have to be comprehensively addressed at each stage of the DevOps software program improvement lifecycle (SDLC).

On this weblog put up, we’ll break down each step of the DevOps lifecycle, from planning to post-deployment, and spotlight the potential safety dangers related to every stage. We may also present finest practices and suggestions for mitigating these dangers and guaranteeing the safety of your IaC infrastructure.

By following these pointers, you possibly can confidently undertake IaC in your DevOps processes with out compromising the safety of your functions and knowledge.

Let’s dive in and discover the safety challenges and options of IaC within the DevOps SDLC!

security challenges and solutions of IaC in the DevOps SDLC

Download the cheat sheet.


The planning stage involves defining the requirements and design of the infrastructure, as well as identifying the potential threats and vulnerabilities that may affect it. At the planning stage, there are two main things you should be doing to secure your IaC:

  • Threat modeling
  • Establishing privileges

Threat Modeling

For threat modeling, it is common to use a standard framework or methodology, such as STRIDE or DREAD, to identify and prioritize the most critical risks in the design of your infrastructure. You can also use tools like Microsoft’s Threat Modeling Tool or OWASP Threat Dragon to help you in risk modeling. Contemplate using encryption, hashing, and key administration strategies to guard delicate knowledge and credentials each in transit and at relaxation. You must also have a plan for dealing with untrusted enter. Moreover, take into account how community controls like a WAF can enhance your utility’s safety posture.

Establishing Privileges

Always follow the principle of least privilege, which means granting only the minimum permissions and access levels required for each resource and account. For user accounts, implement segregation of duties by separating the responsibilities of different team members. Minimizing the power of individual credentials reduces the damage that can be done if a cybercriminal hijacks an account or credential.


The development or coding stage involves writing and updating the code or scripts that define the infrastructure. Some of the security best practices for this stage are:

  • Security-based IDE plugins
  • Pre-commit hooks
  • Static analysis
  • Secrets management

IDE Plugins

In DevOps, the culture is all about “shifting left,” which means it’s better to catch bugs and security issues sooner rather than later. As a developer, the quickest feedback you can get is right in your IDE while you are writing your IaC. There are various IDE plugins that are capable of identifying vulnerabilities in your code as you write it. A few examples are:

  • TFLint — TerraForm linter with some safety best-practice guidelines
  • Checkov — misconfiguration scanner for a number of varieties of IaC
  • Snyk — code, container, and IaC scanner that gives an IDE plugin

Pre-Commit Hooks

Pre-commit hooks automate the execution of static code analysis tools before the code is committed to your version control system. For example, remediating exposed secrets can get messy when the secret is already in the git history of your repository. If you set up a secret scanner as a pre-commit hook, it will catch secrets before they get committed and save you from some extra cleanup work later.

Creating a pre-commit hook to detect secrets with GGShield in less than 2 minutes

ggshield is a CLI utility that runs in a neighborhood atmosphere or in a CI atmosphere to assist detect greater than 300 varieties of secrets and techniques, in addition to different potential safety vulnerabilities or coverage breaks.

Static Analysis

Once the code has been committed to your version-controlled repository, you can scan it with static code analysis tools. There are various scanning tools, depending on what you are trying to scan. Some popular IaC static analysis tools are:

  • ggshield — sure, the GitGuardian CLI can be used to scan for infrastructure as code vulnerabilities by working the command:
  • Kube Bench — Kubernetes configuration scanner primarily based on CIS Kubernetes Benchmark
  • Coverity — static evaluation platform just like Snyk

Study extra about utilizing ggshield to scan IaC misconfigurations:

Introducing Infrastructure as Code Security Scanning

Secrets Management

Secrets management is a complex topic in and of itself, but it’s all about making sure your secrets are accessible in a secure way. If you want to learn more about how to be good at secret management, check out our Secrets Management Maturity Model.

Build and Test

In the building and testing phases, you have the opportunity to see what the infrastructure will look like and how it will behave. These are the key security practices you should be following in this phase of the DevSecOps pipeline:

  • Separation of environments
  • Dynamic testing
  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Container image scanning
  • Artifact signing

Separation of Environments

Use a dedicated testing environment that mimics the production environment as closely as possible but with isolated resources and data. Sharing things like databases between environments can lead to production data being put at risk when a vulnerability is introduced to a test environment.

Dynamic Testing

Dynamic testing tools perform automated tests on the deployed infrastructure to check its configuration and behavior against the expected security policies and standards. A couple of popular IaC dynamic testing tools are InSpec and Terratest.

Container Image Scanning

When your applications use container images, it’s important to take inventory of the software that is baked into each image and look for vulnerable, outdated versions. You can scan a newly built image in your CI pipeline with a tool like Aqua or Snyk, nevertheless it’s additionally a good suggestion to scan your whole container registry frequently to make sure that new vulnerabilities are being observed when a picture isn’t receiving updates. And do not forget about leaked secrets and techniques in photos’ layers!

Secrets exposed in Docker images: Hunting for secrets in Docker Hub

Artifact Signing

When you sign build artifacts such as binaries and container images, you are ensuring the integrity of your services between the time they are built to the time they are deployed. To learn more about why supply chain security is important and how you can implement it, check out our blog on Supply Chain Security.


Deploying IaC happens automatically, so there isn’t much involvement from operations at this stage. However, there are still policies you’ll need to follow in your deployment pipeline to ensure that you are meeting best practices when it comes to securely deploying your assets:

  • Immutability
  • Inventory management


Once your infrastructure is deployed, you don’t want it to deviate from what is defined in your code. Post-deployment changes can introduce unintended bugs or vulnerabilities. Whenever a change is needed, you should first update your code and then follow the CI/CD process to redeploy the entire infrastructure. If possible, use policies or controls to prevent the modification of your infrastructure after it has been deployed.

Inventory Management

Inventory management is a foundational part of most cybersecurity frameworks. When you commission and decommission assets, your IaC tools should be automatically updating your overall asset inventory so you have an accurate picture of your attack surface. Applying tags to assets is another practice that can help you organize and maintain your inventory. Tags improve your ability to identify configuration drift and deprecated systems that have not been decommissioned properly.


Post-deployment monitoring has historically been the bread-and-butter of security programs, but as deployment environments have changed and shifted to the cloud, there are some new approaches to securing IaC. Nonetheless, the two keys of security monitoring remain the same:


When provisioning and configuring IaC resources, you should have audit and security logging in place to keep a record of the creation of and access to your infrastructure. Forwarding logs to a SIEM or analysis engine can help you identify anomalies like resources being spun up outside of the normal deployment cycle or configuration changes outside of provisioning (tying back to the importance of immutability).

Threat Detection

Building runtime threat detection into your IaC is the best way to ensure that you are made aware when the infrastructure you have created is under attack. There are countless security tools to choose from depending on the type of infrastructure you are deploying. There are tools like Falco to detect anomalies in Kubernetes pods or EDR instruments for conventional digital machine infrastructure. You may also ahead extra logs to a SIEM relying on what is required to allow your detection technique.

Summary: 15 Infrastructure as Code Best Practices


  • Threat modeling: Use a framework to identify and prioritize risks in the infrastructure design. Consider encryption, hashing, key management techniques, and network controls.
  • Establishing privileges: Follow the principle of least privilege and implement segregation of duties to minimize the power of individual credentials.


Build and Test


  • Immutability: Do not allow post-deployment changes that deviate from what is defined in the code. Use policies or controls to prevent modification of the infrastructure after it has been deployed.
  • Inventory management: Commission and decommission assets, automatically update the asset inventory and apply tags to assets to organize and maintain the inventory.



In this blog post, we have discussed some of the best practices and tools for securing IaC at each stage of the DevSecOps software development lifecycle. By following these steps and referencing the cheat sheet, you can improve the security, reliability, and consistency of your IaC throughout your DevOps pipeline.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into infrastructure security with Terraform, be sure to check out our previous blog post. It offers a detailed exploration of Terraform security practices and techniques that you can use to enhance your IaC security further. Don’t miss out on this valuable resource!

Infrastructure as Code Security: Security Tools — GitGuardian

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