As a Chief Information Security Officer, CIO, or DevOps engineer, it’s essential to ensure that your platform is correctly configured to deliver stable and reliable services to your users. However, misconfigurations can occur for various reasons, ranging from human error to changes in your infrastructure. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to detect and solve misconfigurations problems in your software DevOps platform.
To begin with, it’s essential to understand what a misconfiguration is and how it can affect your platform.
What is a misconfiguration?
A misconfiguration is a deviation from the intended configuration of your system, which can lead to various problems such as downtime, security vulnerabilities, and poor performance.
Examples of misconfigurations are unprotected delivery code branches, lack of code reviews, poor access control practices like the lack of multi-factor authentication, publicly accessible storage buckets in the cloud infrastructure, flaws in CI/CD pipelines, critical data not encrypted at rest, weak password policies and non-rotated encryption keys.
How can you detect misconfigurations?
There are several ways to detect misconfigurations in your platform. One approach is to use monitoring tools that alert you to any deviations from your baseline configuration. These monitoring tools can be configured to emit alerts when a configuration in a DevOps system has changed but it is not compliant with the expected state. Other examples could be:
- Commit signing: To avoid code tampering and keep the provenance of changes in code, the organization may require that all commits should be signed by the author. Code repositories may be configured to require signed commits (for example in pull requests), and a misconfiguration could be reported when this is not enforced.
- Build pipeline has security-related steps: There are many checks that could be integrated into the build pipeline to improve the security of the resulting artifacts. Secrets scanning, identifying known vulnerabilities in source code or in dependencies, running fuzzers, generating the Software Bill-of-Materials (SBOM), and so on. A misconfiguration here is the lack of checks in the pipeline as required by the target software policy.
- Lack of Code Reviews: Code Reviews are the best-known control to avoid security issues. To be effective, code reviewers should know what to look at when reviewing for security-related misbehaviors, like business-oriented vulnerabilities or even intentional backdoors. But on the other side, reviews should be enforced, and not doing them should raise alerts. Misconfiguration monitors can check that code reviews are required at given points, for example before merging a pull request into a code branch that will be used for delivery.
- Least privilege: Excessive rights help attacks to progress and move laterally. Tools and systems should grant a minimal set of permissions to do the work needed. Misconfiguration detectors can help to set a locked-down configuration, for example by looking for administrator privileges when not needed, or default unlocked configurations.
- Keep control on delivery: A tighter control on how and where components and images are published and consumed. A misconfiguration detector might report when a public repository is used by a package manager instead of the organization’s internal registry which may act as a ‘white-list’ firewall, or when releasing software does not require some cryptographic protection like digital signatures or certification of provenance
Once you have detected a misconfiguration, the next step is to solve the problem. Here are some steps you can follow to troubleshoot and fix misconfigurations:
How to solve misconfigurations?
Modern software pipelines integrate multiple tools ranging from SCM repositories and build tools to CI/CD systems and configuration management tools. Misconfigurations of these tools open the door to supply chain attacks.
Contextualized remediation procedures are provided, so DevOps engineers can quickly fix the misconfiguration and learn how to avoid similar issues in the future. Here are some steps to consider:
- Identify the root cause of the misconfiguration: The first step in solving any problem is to identify its root cause. In the case of a misconfiguration, you need to determine what caused the deviation from the intended configuration. Was it a human error, a change in your infrastructure, or a bug in your code? Once you have identified the root cause, you can take the appropriate action to fix the problem.
- Roll back to a known good configuration: If the misconfiguration was caused by a recent change to your system, you may be able to fix the problem by rolling back to a known good configuration. This involves reverting to a previous version of your system’s configuration, which should be stable and free of any misconfigurations.
- Update your documentation: If the misconfiguration was caused by a lack of documentation, it’s essential to update your documentation to ensure that similar problems don’t occur in the future. This includes updating your system’s configuration files, as well as any internal documentation or procedures that are relevant to your platform.
- Implement automation: Automation can help prevent misconfigurations by automatically detecting and correcting deviations from the intended configuration. This can be done using tools such as configuration management systems, which allow you to specify your desired configuration and automatically apply it to your system.
How can a Supply Chain Security Platform help your organization?
A software supply chain security platform helps ensure the security and integrity of your company by monitoring the entire software development and distribution process. This includes:
- Tracking the source of software components.
- Verifying the integrity of software releases.
- Identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities.
One of the primary benefits of a software supply chain security platform is that it can detect misconfigurations early in the development process before they become a problem. This is because the platform continuously monitors the software development process and alerts the relevant teams if it detects any deviations from the intended configuration.
Once a misconfiguration has been detected, the software supply chain security platform can help solve the problem by providing the necessary tools and information to fix the issue. For example, the platform may provide detailed logs or error messages that can help developers identify the root cause of the problem.
In addition to detecting and solving misconfigurations, a software supply chain security platform can also help prevent misconfigurations from occurring in the first place. This can be done using automation and configuration management tools, which ensure that the software is correctly configured and free of any vulnerabilities.
In conclusion, misconfigurations can cause serious problems for your software DevOps platform, ranging from downtime to security vulnerabilities. By using monitoring tools, performing regular audits, and implementing automation, you can detect and solve misconfigurations quickly and effectively, ensuring that your platform remains stable and reliable for your users.
Finally, a software supply chain security platform like Xygeni is an essential tool for organizations looking to ensure the security and integrity of their software. By continuously monitoring the software development and distribution process, the platform can detect and solve misconfigurations.