One of the most challenging aspects of implementing a secure Cloud-Native environment is keeping up with the constant rate of change. As your teams gain familiarity and momentum with the basics, keeping track of everything going in and out of your stack becomes overwhelming and unmanageable.
The Cloud-Native landscape itself is constantly evolving making it extremely challenging to understand what to govern and how to govern it. For those that are considering the push towards Cloud-Native, or even those that are well into their journey, Cloud-Native and Kubernetes have seemed to become synonymous with complexity.
With so many moving pieces, custom integrations, and a plethora of 3rd party solutions available, developing and implementing a governance strategy can seem impossible. In parallel, securing your new environment will continue to increase in difficulty in what is an already steep learning curve.
Security in the DevOps Era
Let’s take a real-world, general, high-level example of how security is handled in the DevOps space. A developer checks in their code to their source code repository, the CI/CD solution picks that up, does this thing and at some point in this pipeline which ultimately goes into the security team’s queue of code that must be analyzed and inspected. The security team would need to take a closer look at the code dependencies, the images, networking rules, and everything that goes into configuring your microservice.
And that goes into a queue and so by the time the security is ready with their response or modifications request, the developer has already moved onto the next project. And so security calls back to them they're already thinking about something else. And so that context switching is costly; and it’s not only the monetary cost. The mental switching between one task and another reduces the overall efficiency and concentration.
Shift Left in the DevOps Era
Watch this video to learn more about the shift, the challenges, and what organizations stand to gain as they shift left.
Security vs Speed and Agility
Development speed and agility are the key cornerstones for DevOps teams. With the multiple daily container builds and deployments, it’s no longer feasible to introduce security at the end of the software lifecycle, for security teams to inspect and approve or deny.
Leaving security at the tail-end of the software development, even in the Agile environment, often hinders releases and has been the cause of adversarial relationships between DevOps and security teams - bringing your hard earned agility to a halt.
Furthermore, the more frequent deployments translate into smaller windows of opportunity to find and fix security vulnerabilities - leaving your organization exposed to the evolving threat landscape.
A More Vulnerable Cloud Infrastructure
As the shift towards cloud-native took place, a corresponding cultural change also took place in the workplace. It’s not only IT and security professionals with an in-depth knowledge of the security process who touch the cloud infrastructure, now both developers and DevOps teams impact the cloud with their changes.
In the new microservice-based architecture, both the developer and DevOps can secure or expose their application. Developers can now impact their application’s security in myriad ways: from selected libraries and container-based images to pod configurations in their Kubernetes manifests.
On the other hand, DevOps can make the infrastructure more vulnerable to potential threats by changing the configuration of their Kubernetes clusters and the rest of the lower layers in their cloud infrastructure. The lapse of applying access control or a misconfiguration of a network policy can go unnoticed, leaving mission-critical services exposed.
It’s now a commonplace occurrence to see up to 3000 people deploying applications and making structural changes to infrastructure. Factor in continuation integration and deployments, and frequent production deployments, leads to security teams unable to control and secure all that is cloud.
Who Owns Security?
DevOps and developers are achieving their goals, and products are being shipped to customers faster, but where are the proper preventative security measures implemented? How are organizations securing their cloud-native applications? Are organizations securing their infrastructure against potential threats? Who owns and manages the cloud-native infrastructure?
Securing your applications and environment at scale requires an all hands on deck approach as security has become a shared responsibility. Developers are not always security engineers. Security engineers are not always DevOps (or software engineers). Asking your development teams to handle security hasn’t typically been the norm.
What is DevSecOps?
To scale with today’s demand, many organizations are investing in DevSecOps, the trifecta of all 3 responsibilities shared across the organization, but specifically across these 3 technical stakeholders.
DevSecOps offers a new security model by incorporating a security-based mindset into DevOps workflows, sharing security responsibility across all teams, and shifting visibility to the left.
Embedding Security into DevOps Workflows
And so, what policy-as-code, security-as-code, governance-as-code; really codifying these standards is doing for security, what it - in this DevSecOps what infrastructure-as-code has done for Ops teams. And because now these things are codified, you can implement them into your SDLC workflows, your CI/CD tools, build time, deploy time, and then runtime.
There are new vulnerabilities constantly being discovered that you have to look into and patch and secure, and so, we use analytics and reporting to gain more visibility to start answering the real questions. When it comes to security, are we compliant? Are we secure? For how long?
Policy-as-Code: Your Security Guardrails
In the DevSecOps world, with policies-as-code, organizations can embed security at every stage of the software delivery life cycle (SDLC). So even before the developer commits to their local repository, they could run the necessary tooling to identify whether or not they have problems before it even gets committed and the same line of thinking traverses through the stack. It gets applied at CI/CD and at deploy time.
When enterprises integrate policy-as-code within their DevOps workflows, it helps build a developer-centric experience with continuous deployment for cloud-native applications. In this scenario, you can establish "automated operators" within the Kubernetes cluster or your cloud infrastructure to continuously monitor the repositories for changes.
Whenever a change is discovered, the operators automatically trigger an update. This approach helps achieve exceptional governance levels in all clusters from a single source of truth and normalizes hybrid environments.
Workflows and Playbooks
By creating a centralized playbook, enacted and enforced across the whole SDLC lifecycle, you can then enable your teams to innovate faster without compromising security. The playbook can include industry regulatory policies or IT standards and benchmarks. Or customized rules you would like to enforce across the organization.
The key ingredient to creating a successful and sustainable governance framework for organizations is transparency between your teams - developers, operations, and security teams.
This can be accomplished through unified compliance reports and dashboards, which provide ample opportunity for teams and stakeholders to review the custom policy report and take the necessary action.
Security is Everyone's Responsibility
At the end of the day, a security breach impacts everyone at the organization, regardless of who caused the breach, be it the developer, DevOps, security, or even the CEO. A security breach negatively impacts everyone at the organization. What’s important is that potential exploits are prevented and taking the necessary reactive measures as quickly as possible.
Securing cloud infrastructure is everyone’s responsibility and should be treated as a priority. It should be incorporated into your development, your architecture meetings, your design, time, accounting, and even budget. It should be added to your checklist of things that must be completed in order to push software out to production.
Magalix is in the business of helping companies enforce policy-as-code across their entire Kubernetes and cloud infrastructure. We help organizations identify and secure workloads to meet cloud-native applications' scale needs while accommodating a continuous flux.