When it comes to cybersecurity, human error is one of the biggest risk factors that security teams have to contend with. According to Stanford University, approximately 88% of all data breaches are caused by employee mistakes. This can have major consequences for enterprise businesses given that the total cost of cybercrime is projected to cost companies in the trillions this year.
Basic cyber hygiene can help, but companies need a scalable way to secure their networks across all of their different deployments — including hybrid and multicloud scenarios. That's where infrastructure as code (IaC) comes into play.
Rather than relying on manual processes, IaC allows companies to use predefined code to manage and provision their infrastructure, ultimately driving improved scalability and agility. However, it can also improve security by reducing the risk of human error.
How Does Infrastructure As Code Mitigate Human Error?
One of IaC's biggest selling points is its repeatability of code. Once a developer has created their first workload using IaC, that same code can then be reused across the entire network to build subsequent pieces of infrastructure. Not only does this reduce the load on development teams and enable companies to spin up new pieces of their infrastructure more quickly, but it also helps to strengthen security overall.
"From a security perspective, infrastructure as code pushes companies to think about how they can build preapproved, predefined modules that allow them achieve an outcome," says David Wright, global staff solutions engineering lead at Hashicorp. "They're not just configuring something within a user interface on the fly, which creates room for human error. They're building a piece of code that can be validated, vetted, and tested to create a baseline security construct."
Before code ever gets deployed, it should be rigorously vetted and tested against a set of predefined security metrics. This can include platform-specific frameworks, such as a cloud adoption framework, or industry-specific regulations, such as those from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). IaC is at an advantage here because it can be repeated throughout the infrastructure once it has met security standards. Code that is custom-created for individual use cases is much more difficult to evaluate at the speed of business and can lead to a higher possibility of human error.
Similarly, if writing their own code is not an option, developers can also leverage pre-existing IaC modules that align to cybersecurity best practices to further strengthen security and reduce the risk of human error.
Leveraging Infrastructure As Code For Cloud
IaC is also particularly useful when dealing with hybrid and multicloud environments. This is because IaC enables companies to automate the provisioning and management of resources to support cloud-native applications and workloads — regardless of which cloud platform they're operating on.
Rather than submitting a request to development teams and having to wait multiple weeks for developers to build and test custom code, individual business units can leverage existing IaC modules that meet their needs. Some companies have even built out self-service portals that allow users to select predefined infrastructure from a catalog before submitting their request. This ensures development and security teams maintain control over the infrastructure while still meeting the needs of users at scale.
Ultimately, IaC enables organizations to manage their cloud infrastructure with the same versioning, testing, and automation processes that they use for their application code. This creates a more efficient and more secure operating environment while helping to reduce the risk of human error.