CI/CD is a recommended technique for DevOps teams and a best practice in agile methodology. CI/CD is a method for consistently delivering apps to clients by automating the app development phases. Continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment are the key concepts.
CI/CD adds continuous automation and monitoring throughout the whole application lifetime, from the integration and testing phases to delivery and deployment. Together, these related processes are typically referred to as a "CI/CD pipeline" and are supported by agilely collaborating development and operations teams.
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. A successful CI involves routinely building, testing, and merging new code changes to an app into a shared repository. It offers a solution to the issue of having too many potentially incompatible branches of an app in development at once.
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.
The Continuous Delivery process serves a few different purposes, but it mainly ensures that software is released effectively when requested.
Continuous delivery typically entails that an operations team can deploy a developer's changes to a live production environment after they have been automatically checked for bugs and submitted to a repository (such as GitHub or a container registry). It provides a solution to the issue of limited visibility and communication between the development and business teams. Continuous delivery aims to guarantee that deploying new code requires the least amount of work possible in this regard.
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.
The Continuous Deployment process is only slightly different from Continuous Delivery. Continuous deployment is the process of automatically pushing a developer's changes from the repository to the live environment where customers can use them. It deals with the issue of operations teams being overburdened with manual tasks that impede app delivery. By automating the next step in the pipeline, it expands on the advantages of continuous delivery.
Addressing CI/CD Security Risks
Your CI/CD pipeline aids in delivering apps quickly and effectively, but it does not always keep them secure. While CI/CD processes have numerous benefits, they can also introduce new security concerns due to their speed and lack of monitoring. These threats can be controlled, but only if security is prioritized in your CI/CD process.
These threats can include one (or any) of the following:
- Insecure coding
- Insufficient access controls
- Security misconfigurations
- Exposure of secrets
- Use of flawed third-party libraries
- Supply chain attacks
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.
In addition to continuous monitoring, code analysis can help you keep an eye on the code that is used within your pipeline and is a great way to prevent potential loopholes for cyber attackers to take advantage of. Tools like Static Application Security Testing (SAST), Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), Software Composition Analysis (SCA) and pen testing should be used 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.
Applications have become the water in the mill that makes the world operate. Apps have changed how we interact with organizations and how we live our lives. Apps have also transformed how businesses operate. The first step to understanding the importance of secure software is having a background on the concepts that lie underneath software development.
But handling security in a sufficient manner is one of the biggest difficulties development teams employing a CI/CD pipeline confront. Teams must incorporate security without causing their integration and delivery processes to stall. One of the most crucial measures to attaining this goal is to move security testing earlier in the life cycle. This is particularly true for established DevOps businesses that depend on automated security testing to maintain delivery velocity.
Utilizing the appropriate tools at the appropriate moment decreases overall friction, boosts release velocity, and enhances the quality and safety of released applications.