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How To Protect & Secure Your Azure DevOps Pipelines

Azure DevOps Pipelines is a set of tools and processes that automates your build and release pipeline, so you can focus on building new features. With many users having contributor access to code, organisations must “assume breach.” See how these security challenges can be tackled by implementing best practices and building security into the pipeline. 

IT firms are rapidly shifting to cloud-based systems and potential security risks are also increasing. Organisations use Azure DevOps Pipelines to automate and alter the continuous integration and deployment, which includes multiple tasks like testing and deployment of codes. 

What is Azure DevOps Pipelines?

As we witness the continuous development in the IT industries, a strong need for the automation of the development steps is observed in the tech world. Azure Pipelines caters to automation of the creation, testing and distribution of codes to different digital platforms.

The primary goal of implementing this tool is to eradicate or minimise human involvement to reduce the probability of error. This pipeline uses continuous integration and continuous deployment techniques. Usually, this is a Hexa-step process, the steps of which are as follows: 

  • Planning:
    • Process flow for the execution of the project is built.
  • Development: 
    • Code is written in an easy-to-read format.
  • Building:  
    • Coding errors are removed
  • Testing: 
    • Manual tests are applied to test the security and load bearing.
  • Deployment: 
    • Code is forwarded for deployment on the required platform.
  • Monitoring: 
    • Final build is monitored to ensure its smooth operation.

Security Challenges of Azure Pipelines

Security must be the top priority of an organisation that intends to collect/use personal information and data, specifically when dealing with cloud systems. In cooperative organisations, where multiple people have access to sensitive information, the possibility of a security breach is always present. Securing the Azure Pipelines becomes necessary to take timely necessary precautions to prevent a possible breach.

There are certain security risks and challenges with Azure DevOps Pipelines. Running malicious code and leakage of code are the main security challenges that must be tackled. You must ensure that unauthorised individuals can neither access the sensitive information nor run a malicious code on your pipeline that may cause leakage of sensitive information. 

Azure DevOps Pipelines Security Best Practices 

Choosing an appropriate identity verification method is a key security best practice for Azure. Online security consultants may be contacted for better management and implementation of security policies. Service connections and accounts must have a defined scope of action that can not be exceeded. There are three sources from where you can select an authentication method:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication: 
    • This method requires more than one method of identification of a user.
  • Azure Active Directory: 
  • Personal Access Tokens: 
    • A user’s access to the organisation’s systems can be defined with Personal Identity tokens. 

All service accounts must be regularly monitored to detect any suspicious logins, and they should not have any interactive sign-in rights. The service connections should be provided access to the necessary resources only. All the board rights and complete subscription access must be kept secure and provided to no one else.

Building Security into Azure Pipelines

Production environments and pipelines have restrictions on use and access by default, but this standpoint is manageable within small organisations where there are fewer users with access to sensitive information. In larger organisations where multiple users have access to parent code, the possibility of security breach also increases. To tackle this issue, several serious actions have to be taken.

The service accounts must not be given any interactive sign-in rights and local accounts should be used for user accounts. All external guest access must be blocked if there is no business requirement for guest access. Builtin security groups must be used to define project level permissions to avoid information leaks.

Inactive users should be removed so that they have no login access to any sensitive information. If the organisation is using a Microsoft account, the inactive users have to be totally removed from the system because there is no other way to cancel their access. In case the organisation is using the Azure Active Directory, the inactive users can be deactivated while leaving the user’s Azure DevOps account active.

The Azure AD Conditional Access Policy Validation allows access to certain Internet Protocol address ranges, in this way multi factor authentication is not necessary for that location. Malicious web-based threats can be filtered and blocked by integrating Web application firewalls into your system. The Azure Pipelines can be made secure by giving permissions to specific users to perform their defined tasks, in this way sensitive information stays with the authorised user only.

Conclusion

The potential threat of security breaches in cloud-based systems requires firms to work on their cloud security infrastructure. A strong security system is necessary for Azure DevOps Pipelines to minimise security breaches. Building security into the Pipeline will protect it against code theft and misuse of information.

Want to work without fear of data loss or security breaches? Please get in touch with our Microsoft Azure Consultants.

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