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How to Complete an Infrastructure Compliance Audit in DevOps
Most industries have essential compliance standards. In the UK, healthcare must abide by the Department of Health. Restaurants must adhere to FSA regulations. And numerous industries in the United States are subject to the FTC.
Among many misconceptions about DevOps is the idea that DevOps is a ‘wild west’, in which developers can do as they please without having to worry about compliance. This is untrue. DevOps must also be compliant with certain regulations.
The issue is that the regulations any DevOps infrastructure must comply with depends on how the software will be used. There is no overriding regulation for DevOps, but there are compliance standards for security, safeguarding, etc.
To make sure that your DevOps infrastructure is compliant with all relevant regulations, it’s important to complete an infrastructure compliance audit. Here’s how:
I. Importance of infrastructure compliance in DevOps
DevOps has changed the face of software development, speeding up projects and boosting end-product quality. But at the same time, DevOps can suffer from a lack of clear regulation.
This isn’t always anyone’s fault. That’s part of the problem and one reason why DevSecOps is fast overtaking DevOps as the system of choice for conscientious companies. DevOps are often siloed into small teams working on isolated areas of the project, which means that when the whole thing comes together as a complete infrastructure, vital aspects may have been missed.
This means that software infrastructure may not be compliant, especially when it comes to security. And this can, in turn, lead to serious consequences for the company. Security breaches due to non-compliant DevOps infrastructure could result in fines or even license loss (depending on industry, location, and relevant standards).
So it’s a very good idea to run an infrastructure compliance audit in DevOps before software is released. But how?
II. How to complete an infrastructure compliance audit in DevOps
Here are some suggestions to help you complete an infrastructure compliance audit in DevOps.
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1. Determine relevant regulatory requirements and standards
As a general rule, your DevOps infrastructure should be as solid as it can be. No matter what industry your software is aimed at, security is a huge consideration.
That being said, different industries will have different regulatory requirements and standards. So, be sure to thoroughly research the regulations and standards that the software will be subject to before starting any audit.
For a general compliance framework, the ISACA guidelines provide a comprehensive overview of what is required and how to go about it. But it’s still worth researching specific industry guidelines as well.
2. Gather and form an audit team
The right team is essential for a good audit. Ideally, your audit team should have:
- Someone from your DevOps team who understands the project.
- An independent expert who can make sure that everything is done fairly, thoroughly, and without bias.
- A security expert who can check for cybersecurity compliance.
- Someone who understands the regulations the software will be subject to.
3. Define audit objectives and criteria
Don’t go in blind. Define objectives and criteria for your audit. This way, your whole team will know:
- What they are looking for.
- How they can find it.
- Why they are looking for it.
- The desired result.
4. Evaluate infrastructure configurations and controls
Having put together your audit team and established your objectives and criteria, it’s time to dig into your infrastructure.
Evaluate configurations thoroughly. Make sure that there are no security risks or weaknesses where cybercriminals could get through.
This means considering every level of your workflow. For example, if you’re using ERP systems to manage your projects and store your documents, all your information will be kept in one place. On the one hand, this is really useful but on the other hand, you want to make sure that you’re using a system that’s secure and doesn’t leave your company vulnerable.
Also, check your controls. Do you have adequate control systems for every eventuality? What happens if a particular control fails, and how likely is that failure? Do your control systems have any conflicts, and if so, how could this affect infrastructure compliance?
5. Validate disaster recovery and backup protocols
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Disaster recovery and backup protocols are crucial aspects of cybersecurity compliance. It’s one thing to be able to prevent attacks, but if you can’t recover and protect your data if an attack does get through, you’ll be in trouble.
So, a crucial part of your audit should be validating your disaster recovery and backup protocols.
Be as rigorous as you can about this. You could even stage white hat attacks on your system to check just how well-prepared you are and how well your software can recover from attacks.
6. Compile and present findings and observations
Having conducted your audit, make a report. Compile your findings and consider their implications.
You also need to work out who needs to see your findings. Who should you present your report to, and why? Who has the skills and authority to fix any problems you have found, and who needs to know about the implications of your findings (for example, production delays)?
7. Develop plans for remediation activities
If you’ve found problems with your DevOps infrastructure, work out what you can do to make it right.
It is a good idea at this point to establish what resources and systems you can use to close any infrastructure loopholes and make everything compliant. Tools such as ERP software can be used in combination with workflows to help manage this process by assigning projects to team members and providing multi-level task descriptions.
If you find problems that can’t be fixed, chances are that you may have to unravel some of your code and go back to an earlier point in development. This may feel frustrating, but it’s much better than running into glitches and compliance issues further down the line, when the software is live.
8. Implement compliance monitoring and alert mechanisms
Having made sure that your software is compliant, it’s important to stay compliant.
So, the final stage of your audit should be to install continuous testing facilities, compliance monitoring, and alert mechanisms.
Software is not static. and cybercriminals move fast. This means that your software can quickly fall out of compliance, no matter how careful you are about auditing your initial infrastructure.
By setting up a monitoring and alert system, you will be able to maintain compliance on an ongoing basis.
III. Use audits to gain and keep infrastructure compliance in DevOps
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By following these steps, you can complete an infrastructure compliance audit that will tighten your software and systems.
This not only helps to produce useful, robust software in the first place, it also future-proofs that software to an extent by making sure that it is secure and up to code on an ongoing basis.