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Building secure and compliant cloud-first infrastructure

Prashanth Nanjundappa VP of Product Management, Progress
Ariel photograph of high rise building pushing through clouds

Minimizing risk doesn't have to mean compromising velocity and agility. The DevSecOps approach introduces security and compliance practices at every phase in the software development lifecycle, allowing development, security, and operations teams to collaborate more effectively.

Automating the security and compliance processes can significantly reduce the time to market. Shifting security and compliance earlier in the development cycle, a.k.a. shifting left, makes it a scalable and sustainable process. Replicating tested and verified processes across the entire organization is the first step toward automation, and the most reliable method of building reusable processes is through code.

Codifying these processes will bring consistency across the organization; it simplifies time-consuming tasks and minimizes human error. Below are a few steps that developer and IT teams can take when evaluating compliance challenges and securing cloud-first infrastructure.

Understand how IT security differs from compliance

Both of these IT components manage risk, but in different ways. The security team spends time building a secure architecture that can protect, detect, and prevent security threats. The core focus here is to protect company assets and reputation.

The compliance team deals with risk management through policies and regulations that aim to ensure the organization conforms with the stipulated framework. The core focus here is to meet regulatory or contractual requirements to help operate in regulation-driven markets and stay competitive.

While meeting compliance requirements is necessary from legal and customer-demand perspectives, by itself it is not sufficient to secure organizations' infrastructure and other assets, intellectual or physical. Hence, organizations need to look at both compliance and security.

This is why more organizations are adopting DevSecOps to integrate security earlier in the development lifecycle. In fact, DevSecOps adopters are 1.6 times more likely to meet or exceed organization goals, according to the Google Accelerate State of DevOps Report 2021. DevSecOps adopters are also three times more likely to say that integrating security speeds up software delivery, while non-adopters are twice as likely to say they are slowed down by security, according to the "Building the Case for DevSecOps 2020" report from IDG and Chef.

Automate secure infrastructure management

IT teams deal with many controls meant to limit vulnerabilities and secure the organization's infrastructure and endpoints. For example, they might fluidly change corporate security policy, consistently monitor for security breaches, and proactively prevent intrusions.

Managing infrastructure configuration and logs is vital so that every system is secure and aligns with the organization's overall security posture. Implementing secure infrastructure management can help manage infrastructure and also helps validate against security policy, allowing all resources to be evaluated and updated consistently and continuously.

Automation helps secures infrastructure by:

  • Defining policies and system configurations as code to integrate with automated pipelines
  • Allowing security and compliance to shift left, increasing release velocity
  • Integrating security into the development cycle, avoiding last-minute problems before taking the application live
  • Managing diverse systems irrespective of OS
  • Detecting and correcting configuration drift to ensure the entire infrastructure is in the desired state

Deal with your compliance audit challenges

As more organizations move to the cloud, especially those that require high-release velocity, it is a huge task to ensure consistent compliance. Clusters of systems on different networks need to be configured, maintained, and monitored. Auditing such a large and disparate set of systems is time-consuming, complex, and error-prone.

IT pros need a compliance solution that streamlines the process of auditing compliance across the organization’s diverse IT real estate. DevOps and infrastructure teams can leverage infrastructure compliance tools to audit their systems' configuration and compliance posture.

IT audit teams can also run automated compliance checks that leverage the Center for Internet Security's benchmarks and the Defense Information Systems Agency's Security Technical Implementation Guide to meet compliance requirements.

Compliance audit solutions for organizations valuing time to market must:

  • Automate compliance for faster audits and remediation
  • Detect noncompliant systems, apply waivers, and update controls as needed
  • Allow continuous compliance across all IT infrastructure and resources

Many organizations will implement compliance as code to create better cohesion among stake holders.

Security and compliance: DevSecOps requires both

ITOps discussions about security are inevitably followed by discussions about compliance. They are mutually inclusive. Both are essential to reinforce cybersecurity and minimize risks and vulnerabilities.

The IT operations team works toward securing infrastructure and critical assets but compliance is not guaranteed. Organizations can be secure but noncompliant or even compliant but not secure. There can be a lack of a clear understanding about the need for security and compliance, how to achieve both, or whether one is prioritized over the other.

An efficient and effective DevSecOps strategy must prioritize both compliance and security requirements to create continuous delivery and faster release cycles. The security team implements controls and regulations that are validated and maintained by the compliance team. 

It's important to integrate security into the development lifecycle, automate secure infrastructure management, and leverage infrastructure compliance tools. Above all, compliance and security teams must collaborate.

Organizations must implement security and compliance earlier in the development cycle to secure critical business assets, prevent intrusions, and stay competitive in a regulation-driven, competitive market.

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