Last updated at Thu, 30 Nov 2023 01:09:28 GMT

This is the latest post in our blog series on shifting left in cloud security. In our last post, we kicked off the series with a high-level overview about Rapid7’s approach to shifting cloud security into the application development lifecycle. For this post, we’ll dive into a key aspect of our approach: integrating cloud security with developer and DevOps tooling.

Incentivizing adoption by reducing friction

When integrating security into any part of the development lifecycle there are some important factors to consider, including the security tools you’ll integrate, the processes you’ll ask developers to follow, and how aggressively you intend to enforce certain policies. When making these decisions, it’s important to consider the goals of adopting DevOps practices and infrastructure as code (IaC) respectively: to improve the velocity of application development and delivery, and to empower development teams to provision cloud infrastructure resources on a self-service basis.  

Infusing security into these goals requires guardrails and routine checks to make sure the need for speed doesn’t create vulnerabilities or potentially exploitable misconfigurations. For IaC development, this is accomplished by having individual developers scan templates and plans as early as possible, and at key points in the CI/CD pipeline, before they’re considered for use in staging or production deployment. This is much easier said than done, as it relies on organizational buy-in, particularly from the developers who are typically laser-focused on bringing new products and features to market as fast as possible with the highest quality possible.

As with anything that relies on multiple teams collaborating in a process, the goal is to make it as easy as possible to adopt and demonstrate tangible value to all involved. Shifting security left into the software development lifecycle (SDLC) via developers and CI/CD tool integrations is a perfect application of this. One common example is allowing developers to execute scans on IaC templates or plans prior to a push or pull request, using a local command-line interface (CLI) tool.

The comfort of the CLI

In this context, a CLI tool allows a developer to interact with IaC security scanning features via a terminal prompt for familiarity and convenience. This comfortable experience will encourage adoption by using the CLI rather than engaging with a security product interface or API directly. In late 2021, we released our first CLI tool to initiate IaC scans in InsightCloudSec (ICS): mimics.

mimics has many intended uses that will expand over the time, but for now, the primary goals are:

  1. Enabling developers to execute on-demand security scans of their IaC plans and templates with results delivered directly in the CLI, thereby shortening the discovery and feedback loop for security and compliance issues to the point of immediate remediation
  2. Enabling DevOps teams to easily integrate IaC security scans at any point in the CI/CD workflow, thereby standardizing the process and enforcing security compliance checks and remediation as needed before progressing to the next integration or deployment step

In all cases, the mimics CLI simplifies integration and doesn’t require more costly script-based integration with the ICS API.  In some cases, unique IaC security capabilities are exclusively available via mimics.

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Introducing GitHub Actions integration

InsightCloudSec recently launched a GitHub Action to facilitate a bidirectional integration with our IaC scanning feature. Our goal is to streamline the incorporation of IaC security scans into your cloud application CI/CD process governed by GitHub. If you’re not familiar with GitHub Actions, they allow you to automate, customize, and execute workflow steps, including security and compliance checks. In doing so, users can discover, create, and share Actions with other community members.

A great use of the mimics CLI is to integrate with GitHub using our Action to trigger an ICS IaC scan at defined points in your workflow. Upon completion of the scan, you’ll receive an overall pass/fail result in reply, as well as detailed findings, if any, in SARIF format for display in the GitHub Advanced Security module as security alerts. If you don’t subscribe to the GitHub Advance Security module, you can still trigger IaC security scans and receive an overall pass/fail result to govern the workflow step, plus a detailed findings report in one of various readable formats.

More DevOps tool integrations on the way

As you can see, Rapid7’s InsightCloudSec is meeting developers and DevOps teams where they are today and expanding in the near future. We want to make integrating security controls by development teams easier. And we aren’t stopping there. We have a deep roadmap of additional integrations that will be coming soon. However, it’s important to note that you’re not limited by our formal integrations. The mimics CLI makes your custom integrations a snap, and we have examples in our product documents.

We understand the profound impact shifting security left can have on organizational buy-in, overall team efficiency, and of course, cloud security outcomes. Keep an eye out for upcoming enhancements that will further help you seamlessly integrate security throughout the entire SDLC.

If you’re interested in learning more about how InsightCloudSec helps your team get contextualized insight into your cloud security and risk posture, be sure to check out our bi-weekly demo series Gaining Layered Context in Cloud Security, which goes live every other Wednesday at 1pm EST.

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