Cloud Security

Beginners Guide To Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) Scanning

Infrastructure as code is a cutting-edge method of managing, monitoring, and provisioning infrastructure using code rather than the conventional manual approach to interacting with the processes.

Shubham Gupta

Written by Shubham Gupta

January 5, 2023 | 5 min read


Infrastructure-as-Code, also known as IaC, is quickly becoming an important component of today’s IT infrastructure, transforming how cloud resources are provisioned and managed in a secure, cost-effective, and scalable manner.

IaC enables enterprises to increase their capacity for provisioning and automating infrastructure configuration and application deployment at scale across a variety of IT environments, including on-premises, in the cloud, and hybrid.

Infrastructure-as-Code is important in cloud computing because it provides developers with a software solution for managing networks, virtual machines, load balancers, and connection topologies via code versioning and software-defined infrastructure.

It relieves them of the need to provide the specified resources physically and manually. Because of the reliance on IaC technology, IaC technologies such as Terraform, AWS CloudFormation, Azure Resource Manager, Helm Charts, and Puppet have emerged.

IaC is now an essential component of DevOps workflows, speeding up software development and delivery. IaC has many benefits for businesses, but it also introduces new security concerns due to its rapid adoption and extensive customizations within templates, which serve as weak spots that hackers can exploit.

To profit from IaC, developers and entire security teams must handle the security concerns associated with IaC deployments by checking the IaC template for errors. This is where Infrastructure-as-Code Scanning comes into play. Read on to learn more about the significance of IaC scanning in establishing IaC security.

What is Infrastructure-as-Code Scanning?

IaC scanning is the method of analyzing and identifying security flaws in IaC templates and infrastructure configurations to secure cloud, infrastructure, and app deployments.

Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) scanning tools provide IaC security by automatically assessing various components of a network, infrastructure, or application codebase for vulnerabilities or misconfigurations. This protects against data loss, cyberattacks, downtime, and deployment errors in live environments. The IaC tools employ a set of established security policies and best practices to aid in the identification of any malicious or prospective security risk within the systems.

The principle of least privilege, network segmentation, data encryption, and resource authorization policies are some of the security best practices that can be used to create this ruleset. IaC scanning in the pre production environment uses this consistent security ruleset and scanner scripts in the early stages of software development to achieve IaC security.

How Does IaC Scanning Work?

For a long time, organizations have used software composition analysis (SCA) and static application security testing (SAST) techniques to scan codebases for errors and vulnerabilities. The problem with the majority of SCA and SAST tools is that they do not prioritize IaC scripts because they were designed to scan feature codebases.

As a result, specialized IaC scanning tools for IaC templates and codebase are required. The procedure is essentially the same regardless of which IaC scanner you use.

IaC scanning begins with integration into development workflows prior to the build step. IaC then checks IaC templates for configuration errors and security flaws by running security scans against them. This necessitates inspecting new commits for infrastructure changes that differ from the original template.

As part of IaC scanning, IaC components such as templates, modules, files, and so on are compared to a predefined list of security policies and best practices. Following that, the IaC scanning tool looks for missing variables in the form of incorrect configurations and settings that do not meet legal requirements. DevSecOPs teams can be quickly informed of any problems that need to be resolved prior to any IaC deployments being completed.

Why Do You Need IaC Security Scanning?

Let’s talk about some of the security risks associated with Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) in general before we get into the benefits of IaC scanning.

  1. Complex Environments: Modern enterprise networks often include a combination of on-premises data centers, hybrid cloud environments, and multi-cloud environments . This forms complex infrastructures, making the development of an efficient, secure, and manageable IaC codebase difficult.
  2. Compliance Violations: Modern development necessitates that organizations adhere to a wide range of regulatory standards and security controls, including HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and others. When these compliance controls are not enforced during the IaC process, compliance violations occur.
  3. Evolving Cyber Threats: Cyber Threats are evolving because of modern IT infrastructure advancements and the widening cybersecurity landscape. IaC engineers face a challenge in ensuring that their infrastructure is secure from the most recent cyberthreats.
  4. Broad Attack Surface, Potential Data Exposure: IaC templates may contain vulnerabilities and incorrect deployments, increasing the attack surface and potentially exposing data. Important assets, for example, may be exposed to the internet from source control due to secrets hidden within the IaC codebase.

So, How Does IaC Scanning Help?

Cloud security is no longer an afterthought once development is complete. DevOps teams in modern software development approaches have shifted the security paradigm to the left to form DevSecOps.

DevSecOps integrates security throughout the software development lifecycle. This allows you to incorporate security into your infrastructure-as-code templates and container images very early.

IaC scanning occurs during the software’s pre production phase, reducing the potential cost and impact of security breaches caused by misconfigurations. As a result, IaC scanning contributes to the shift-left cloud security strategy by shifting an organization’s security paradigm from detection to prevention. Developers who use IaC scanning benefit in a variety of ways, including:

  • IaC scanning assists developers in identifying and detecting configuration errors, unsecured deployments, and security holes that could expose the infrastructure to attack.
  • IaC scanning allows developers to validate their systems against a predefined set of security rules and recognized regulatory benchmarks.
  • In general, organizations can use IaC scanning to create a security shift-left paradigm to prevent potential cyberattacks.
  • When IaC scanning tools detect infrastructure vulnerabilities or misconfigurations, they notify developers and guide them through the remediation process, allowing for more secure deployments.
  • IaC scanning is incorporated into the CI/CD pipelines by implementing guardrails that reject any dubious pull requests and builds, preventing any misconfigurations from being released to production.

Why Use PingSafe for IaC Scanning?

Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) scanning is a crucial component of modern security strategies among enterprises due to the pervasive use of IaC today. Scanning IaC templates, as previously stated in this post, helps reduce the security risks associated with IaC by identifying oversights and misconfigurations that could lead to cyberattacks.

The main question concerning IaC scanning is whether it is sufficient to maintain the security posture of the environment. With the increasing complexity of modern IT infrastructure, including on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, the answer is NO- IaC alone is not enough.

PingSafe steps in to provide a unified platform for scanning your entire cloud infrastructure through the eyes of an attacker and assisting you in quickly, effectively, and scalable remediation of vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.

PingSafe’s IaC, Docker image, and secret scanners allow you to incorporate security early in the development process. PingSafe provides additional use cases alongside Infrastructure-as-Code scanning, compliance monitoring, vulnerability management, serverless security, container security, and cloud misconfigurations.

Register right away to begin IaC scanning and achieve comprehensive cloud security.