Compliance Audit and Remediate with a Single Solution - Chef InSpec

When it comes to software application delivery, DevSecOps teams are in a constant tug-of-war to balance software release velocity and IT security. The dev and operations teams are all too familiar with the impact of security and compliance issues on application delivery. Unfortunately, security and compliance audits done at the end of the delivery process bring in unforeseen impediments that can compromise the efficiency of the dev teams.

Implementing, validating, auditing, remediating, and maintaining a compliance state across an organization is a critical task that is time-consuming and error-prone if done manually. Automating compliance audits will help identify and remediate vulnerabilities faster. It improves DevSecOps efficiency by reducing risk and allowing the engineers to spend less time maintaining the compliance state. This blog post discusses how Chef InSpec can automate and streamline compliance audits and make the software delivery phase less stressful for the dev and test teams.

What Makes Compliance Audits Challenging?

Dev teams are under constant pressure to deliver business value faster; their focus is entirely on getting the next significant feature or function to production as quickly as possible. Compliance audits ensures an organization abides by external/internal regulations and governance guidelines. In a typical software development cycle, compliance audits determine IT security risks by evaluating the current compliance state of the organization’s assets against standards such as CIS benchmarks and DIST STIGs.

Security and compliance audits take up a lot of productive time, so it is usually relegated to the end of the application delivery process. A typical software delivery phase begins when the dev team assigns the application to the security and compliance teams.

The security and compliance teams scan the application for vulnerabilities and validate the compliance state. The process generates a lot of data and reviewing everything can take significant time. It becomes even more complicated if the existing compliance policies are not defined or appropriately updated. These variables create a lot of back and forth between teams before the software is successfully validated.

The compliance audit process is inevitably complex. Handling each process manually will make it repetitive and cumbersome for those involved. The application delivery phase becomes a drawn-out affair that compromises software quality and security.

Compliance audit should not end with application delivery; compliance is and should be a continuous linear process with periodic checks and remediation. So, it is crucial to audit regularly to maintain compliance levels more often than once or twice a year. But most organizations ignore periodic audits till it becomes absolutely necessary. This approach makes it difficult to assess actual compliance levels that create vulnerabilities that take even more time to remediate.

If you don't maintain compliance levels, then the organization is forced to deal with:

  • Increased risk of security breaches
  • Security incidents that are difficult to resolve
  • Increased operational overheads
  • Losing customer trust and brand credibility

Continuous Compliance with Chef

Regular compliance audits are vital to maintaining continuous compliance. Incorporating periodic compliance checks in every phase of the software development cycle reduces the burden on the dev teams during the delivery phase. Compliance automation can greatly reduce the roadblocks and delays inherent in the delivery phase. Automating compliance audits makes periodic checks less cumbersome. It increases efficiency and lowers the risk of human errors; vulnerabilities are identified and fixed sooner, so there is no compromising security at any stage in the software development cycle.

"In addition to exhibiting high delivery and operational performance, teams who integrate security practices throughout their development process are 1.6 times more likely to meet or exceed their organizational goals. Development teams that embrace security see significant value-driven to the business." State of DevOps 2021

Chef InSpec enables continuous compliance by streamlining and automating all the manual processes involved during audits. Incorporating compliance at every stage of development will resolve most of the complexities that tend to crop up during the software delivery phase. With Chef, you have a single solution to handle -

  • Audit for Security: Implement continuous security assessments and easily tune/customize audits to identify new CVEs or Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures faster.
  • Audit for Compliance: Pair compliance checks with CIS or DISA-STIGs benchmarks to maintain continuous compliance.
  • Test Configuration: Verify configuration management results to enhance the effectiveness of existing infra management and testing tools.

Chef InSpec "codifies" compliance policies which means that the rules and requirements are written in code. These policies are defined to reflect the ideal compliance state and can be interpreted in any environment without any ambiguity. For example, check if the Telnet server is installed or allow the installation of libselinux.

describe package('telnet') do
     it { should be_installed }
     its('version') { should eq '1.17' }

Audits become an automated and repeatable process that does not require manual intervention - vulnerabilities are identified sooner while remediation is simplified. This makes it possible to incorporate compliance and security testing into every phase of software development. Chef InSpec is a comprehensive solution that manages compliance requirements from development to production.

Chef InSpec offers

  • An integrated platform to automate compliance audits and remediation for continuous compliance.
  • Compliance-as-code approach that is highly flexible and code-driven.
  • Enables quick and secure remediation of vulnerabilities.
  • Environment agnostic compliance testing - test for compliance on-premise, cloud, and hybrid cloud environments.
  • Updated library of CIS benchmarks, DISA-STIGs certified profiles.

Chef enables on-demand auditing and remediation and gives customers a consolidated view of their organization’s security and compliance status in real-time.

Learn more about using Chef InSpec here.


Kameerath Abdul Kareem

Kameerath Abdul Kareem is a Product Marketing Manager at Progress Chef