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There are a lot of things that you probably are unfamiliar with when it comes to CI/CD and the operating protocols that go along with it. One of the first things that you are going to need to know is that CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. It can also stand for Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, depending on the situation.

All of these important topics will be discussed and covered so that you have a great understanding of what CI/CD means as well as how it works. You will also have the opportunity to learn about security in CI/CD pipelines and learn if there are potential security risks.

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration is the process where developers and contributors push code to a shared platform such as GitHub. These types of platforms are also sometimes recognized as code repositories. This process usually happens relatively often, sometimes as often as five or 20 times per day.

When the code is successfully pushed to the code repository, it is not unusual for a fully-automated testing server to check the imported code as soon as it arrives. The testing server can then provide contributors and developers with important information about the code’s performance within the testing server. The testing server can output performance attributes, checks, and other important information, as well.

This process allows developers to analyze their code and improve it with every new transfer to the code repository. Glitches can exist in code, and the process of Continuous Integration makes it possible to seamlessly find issues in programming code quickly. This process also allows for consistent code deployments to occur. 

Continuous Delivery vs. Continuous Deployment

There are a couple of minor differences between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment that need to be discussed. The differences mainly have to do with automation, efficiency, and deployment of source code.

Continuous Delivery

It is probably a good idea to start with Continuous Delivery because it is likely going to be a little bit easier to understand. This process serves a few different purposes, but it mainly involves the process of ensuring that software is released effectively when requested.

This function makes it possible to enforce rapid deployments that consistently output software when needed. A fully-automated deployment system is required to achieve this goal. There is a lot of new technology available that can be utilized to achieve Continuous Delivery as intended.

One important thing to note about Continuous Delivery is that it could potentially involve an approval process during the automated delivery process. This means that someone might have to finalize a deployment in some rare cases, but this is one significant difference from Continuous Deployment where code updates are deployed through the entire pipeline to production.

There are a few minor differences with Continuous Deployment, and those minor differences will be discussed within the next section.  

Continuous Deployment

The Continuous Deployment process is only slightly different from Continuous Delivery. Everything is a little bit more automated, and there are definitely no approval requirements to deploy code. Every code change that is pushed through the automated process will swiftly reach production without any approvals or interventions.

Continuous Deployment and Continuous Delivery are extremely similar, but this potential intervention process does separate these two concepts from each other. They both still use a lot of automation to deploy updated code changes regularly.

Security Risks

It is widely recognized that CI/CD pipelines are capable of efficiently improving the workflow of delivering software through a fully-automated process. The problem is that there are some important security risks that might be vulnerable to exposure.

Managing the Pipeline

A lot of technological tools are utilized within a traditional CI/CD pipeline, but there are a few vulnerabilities that could open the door for cyber threats and malicious hackers.

One of the best ways to keep an eye on a CI/CD pipeline is to keep it monitored at all times. This allows for irregularities to be noticed swiftly so that action can be taken before a security threat occurs. CI/CD pipelines are not exempt from the threat that exists, and locking down pipeline systems could help to stop a cyber threat.

Code Analysis

There are some reputable code analysis tools that can help you to keep an eye on the code that is used within your pipeline. This is a great way to prevent potential loopholes for cyber attackers to take advantage of.

Audits on the pipeline and code should take place regularly to maintain a high-security level at all times. These steps will reduce the chances of a cyberattack and generally improve the security of your CI/CD pipeline.

Final Summary

You should now have a general understanding of the automation that goes into a CI/CD pipeline. There are some potential security vulnerabilities that come along with it, but the good news is that there are ways to protect your pipeline by taking crucial defensive steps to make it more challenging for attacks to take place.

You have learned about code depositories, automated systems, and the general workflow of a CI/CD pipeline. These important topics are imperative to ensure that you learn everything that you need to know about CI/CD and the security protocols that are needed to effectively manage a pipeline.

It can be stressful, confusing, and frustrating to try and learn about CI/CD pipelines, but the process of learning and consuming information will improve your chances of understanding how they work and why they are needed in the industry.