A Practitioner’s Perspective of DevOps: Regular Compliance and Audits

Information Security

By Sachin Agarwal, Senior DevOps Engineer, Securonix

For my final post in this series for DevOps and security professionals new to the field, I’ll cover the topic of regular compliance and audits. My previous posts on continuous security and keeping systems updated cover the first two pillars of the DevOps framework I wrote about in my book, Mastering DevOps with Continuous Security: Advanced Strategies and Best Practices. I’m covering the third pillar in this article. Regular compliance and audits drive a secure team culture and new DevOps professionals should see automation as a major component in promoting speed of development.

Compliance and audits in DevOps

In DevOps, compliance ensures that software development and delivery are secure and trustworthy. And to ensure companies follow compliance regulations, audits are performed by external vendors (usually, but companies may have internal audits as well). Compliance involves adhering to established security policies, regulatory requirements, and industry standards throughout the development lifecycle. However, integrating traditional compliance processes and audits, which can be slow and manual, into the more dynamic world of DevOps can be challenging. Companies need to continuously adapt compliance checks to evolving technologies and workflows and ensure real-time compliance without disrupting the continuous integration and delivery processes.

Automating compliance checks and audits

Automating compliance checks and audits in DevOps means using tools that continuously monitor infrastructure, code, and configurations for any deviations from set compliance standards. This automation ensures that compliance is maintained in real-time, without hindering the speed of DevOps processes. In practice, one workflow example could be information taken from areas like networks and devices get funneled to Securonix, where we consolidate the information so organizations can detect anomalies and comply with regulations. Automation not only streamlines compliance but also reduces manual efforts and the potential for human error, ensuring that compliance and auditing is seamlessly combined with DevOps operations.

When I talk about this in my book, I break down the various components of automating compliance by security teams, seen below.

Key components of automated compliance

  • Continuous monitoring: Employ the use of tools and automation for continuously monitoring infrastructure, code, and configurations for violations and vulnerabilities.
  • Policy as code: Define security policies as code to ensure compliance is baked into the DevOps process. This means your security standards are checked in real-time during the software development process.
  • Audit trails: Maintain detailed logs of changes and security events for facilitating audits and investigations.
  • Automated reporting: Generate automated reports to offer transparency and real-time insights into compliance status. It’s helpful to provide dashboards for stakeholders to have visibility into the security program.
  • Alerting and remediation: Implement an automated process of automating alerts for violations and the subsequent remediation steps. Quick remediation reduces risk to the organization as a whole.
  • Integration with CI/CD: Embed compliance checks within the CI/CD pipeline to prevent the progression of non-compliant elements.

For both DevOps beginners and seasoned pros, automation is key to streamlining tasks and boosting efficiency. Remember to prioritize security at every step to safeguard your projects. Stay proactive with audits and compliance, utilizing tools and concepts like Policy as Code to manage rules effectively. Lastly, keep a close eye on regulatory updates to ensure your practices remain up-to-date and compliant.

This ends my series of posts, “A Practitioner’s Perspective of DevOps”, meant to give newer DevOps and security pros a look at some of the concepts I wrote about in my book and follow as part of the engineering team at Securonix. If you have any questions or would like future posts on other topics, please feel free to comment or reach out!