What is Security as Code (SaC)?

Security as code (SaC) is the discipline of integrating security into DevOps tools and processes by identifying where security checks, tests, and gates may be included without adding extra costs or delays to the process of making changes to code and infrastructure. Developers can specify infrastructure platforms and configuration by creating code designed for the purpose. To bring DevOps agility and velocity to security, we must look to the deployment of SaC. The future of application security will be fueled by SaC.

A basic deployment of SaC can be achieved by incorporating security rules, policies, tools and agents, tests, and scans into the CI/CD pipeline as well as the code itself. Every time a piece of code is committed, tests should be automatically performed, with the results readily available to the developers for correction. By making security scan results available to development teams as code is written, resources can be optimized and both time and money saved in the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

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What is Security as Code (SaC)?

Why is SaC important?

To successfully transition from DevOps to the security-integrated approach of DevSecOps means embracing SaC. Security requirements should be defined at the inception of a project, along with the usual functional and non-functional requirements, and achieved using coded and automated means to assure consistency and repeatability moving forward. This automation creates efficiencies in the reusability of components – once tools, configurations, functions, test scopes and metrics, and success criteria have been established they can be used in subsequent deployments with almost no effort. That reduction in security overhead results in improved release velocity, as well as a security team who are freed up to focus on zero-day vulnerabilities and enhancements to existing or future products, rather than occupied by their contribution to the SDLC.

Additionally, the use of consistent policies and processes results in a consistent security posture by ensuring the same standard is applied to all development activity by all staff. This means improved overall security of the resulting product, reduced security incidents and service outages, and more satisfied customers.

Components of Security as Code

The components of Security as code for application development are access control and policy management, vulnerability scanning, and security testing. Each of these enables your development team to identify and address security issues as they arise early in the software development lifecycle rather than delaying until the project is complete and has stalled because of security issues. By adopting a SaC philosophy, you create a collaborative ethos between your development and security teams. By making security everybody’s responsibility, greater emphasis is placed upon it from the outset.

Access control and policy management: Formalize governance decision making and adherence to policy. Your development teams can concentrate on key functionality by offloading authorization to external libraries. The organization as a whole can move more quickly without jeopardizing essential security and compliance requirements thanks to security access to a central repository where they can collaborate directly with developers to monitor and verify authorization.

Vulnerability scanning: Confirm every component of your application and deployment is protected against known vulnerabilities at every stage in the life cycle. Vulnerable libraries can be found by scanning the source code, and applications may be checked for OWASP vulnerabilities such as XSS and SQL injection, for example. Containers may be examined for compliance with best practice standards, as well as vulnerabilities in specific packages. Continuous and automatic full scanning of test, staging, and production environments is the goal of SaC. Scan early and scan often to ensure security controls are in place, and issues are identified as early as possible.

Security testing: Examine code to identify issues that could compromise the application’s confidentiality, integrity, or availability. Good security involves a great deal more than preventing threats being realized. SaC must also successfully detect configuration errors, data breaches, exposed secrets, and vulnerabilities that represent attack vectors for malicious actors. Security standards ensure that an application is secure and free from security concerns, and adherence to those standards is established by security testing.

The Benefits of SaC

Security as code does not replace the need to protect systems in production, monitor them, and respond to events. It provides greater depth to application security, as well as elevating the operational baseline.

Some other benefits are listed below:

  • Changes to security requirements can be adopted quickly and comprehensively.
  • Improved collaboration between security, development, and operations teams.
  • Shift Left of security means vulnerabilities can be identified and fixed earlier.
  • Costs reductions delivered by earlier security fixes, and automation.
  • Development velocity increased by shorter release cycles.
  • Security visibility increased, and secure development practices prioritized.
  • Customer satisfaction improved by patches and updates being released more quickly.

Implementing SaC

Security as code (SaC) is a cultural change and methodology first and foremost, and it is important to appreciate that while tools are an important component of realizing the approach, there is much more required for the successful adoption of an SaC approach.

First, security policies must be established, and then you must begin writing the code that implements those policies and the resultant baselines. The development, operations, and security teams must work together to establish the current state of application security prior to SaC implementation. Once everyone understands where you are, you can establish how to get to where you want to be. It is advisable to provide training and resources to upskill your development and security teams for the move to SaC.

Once your organization is ready to adopt Security as code approach, toolsets that enable the integration of security throughout the Software Development Lifecycle can be evaluated. Robust tooling for SaC will include capabilities to scan, enforce policy, detect misconfiguration and exposed secrets as well as vulnerabilities, and provide clear and actionable results in real-time.

Security as Code with CloudGuard Spectral

CloudGuard Spectral works seamlessly with existing developer tooling to detect misconfiguration, coding errors, exposed secrets, and security vulnerabilities. With automated scanning throughout the lifecycle, you can be confident of identifying issues as soon as they arise. 

CloudGuard Spectral features include:

  • Scanning everything: From binaries to configuration, local or remote – CloudGuard Spectral scans it all.
  • Robust policy enforcement: Develop and enforce custom security controls and remediation steps, at all lifecycle stages.
  • Easy integration: Automated security tooling designed to work flawlessly with existing development environments.
  • Detection of misconfiguration and exposed secrets: Automated detection and remediation of configuration error and exposed secrets minimizes risks associated with either.
  • Real-time verification: Detect vulnerabilities as they arise, and prevent their promotion through the lifecycle.
  • Improved productivity: Thanks to super-fast results and optimization.
  • Actionable Results: Implementing SaC with CloudGuard Spectral puts security front and center of your application development process. Vulnerability management is centralized and security promoted with granular reporting.

Explore the possibilities SaC delivers to the software development lifecycle, and embrace developer security with CloudGuard Spectral. Get your free Spectral demo here.

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