What is Security as Code and who can benefit?

Angelika Agapow
Angelika Agapow
Content Marketing Specialist
July 06
18 min


Cloud technology has revolutionized the way businesses operate, enabling them to better serve their customers and improve overall performance. As a result, there is a growing demand for DevOps professionals and codified security measures to optimize their processes.

DevOps, a methodology that promotes continuous development and collaboration between development and operations teams, is key to achieving faster and more efficient development. By aligning goals and working together, rather than against each other, DevOps streamlines processes and enhances productivity.

In this dynamic environment, DevOps developers constantly introduce new code into existing systems, simplifying the development lifecycle. However, this raises concerns about security. This is where Security As Code comes into play, ensuring that security is integrated seamlessly into the development process.


What is Security as Code?

Security as Code is a great approach that treats security as a fundamental element of the development process. By integrating security decisions into the same level of consideration as other coding choices, we ensure that security becomes a top priority. The aim of this approach is straightforward – care about security at the same level as any other aspect of coding. By treating security as an integral part of our coding decisions, you ensure that it receives the same consideration as page layouts and new feature implementations.


Why Security as Code is important?

Transitioning from DevOps to DevSecOps necessitates embracing a security-integrated approach known as SaC. This involves defining security requirements right from the beginning of a project, alongside the typical functional and non-functional requirements. To ensure consistency and repeatability, these security requirements should be achieved through automated and coded means. By automating these processes, we can increase the reusability of components, allowing tools, configurations, functions, test scopes, and metrics to be easily utilized in future deployments without much effort.

This automation not only reduces security overhead but also improves release velocity. With less time spent on security tasks, the security team can focus on addressing zero-day vulnerabilities and enhancing existing or future products instead of being tied down by their contribution to the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

Furthermore, implementing consistent policies and processes ensures that all development activities are held to the same security standards by all staff members. This results in a cohesive security posture across all projects reduces security incidents and service outages, and ultimately leads to greater customer satisfaction.


Security as Code and cloud

Enterprises are embracing cloud-native strategies to develop and manage applications within cloud environments. According to Gartner, cloud-native platforms will be the norm for new digital initiatives by 2025.

As the focus on cloud-native functionality grows, enterprises are shifting from manual operations to automation. This enables faster speed and better management of complex and scalable cloud environments.

In fact, 81% of enterprises are already using or planning to adopt multicloud strategies within a year, according to HashiCorp’s State of Cloud Strategy Survey. Of those using multicloud, 90% report positive results.

However, there is a challenge that has persisted in the industry: traditional security workflows are not equipped to support the constant changes in cloud native architectures. With architectures represented as code that can change multiple times a day, security teams are struggling to keep up with the velocity and scope of these changes.

Unlocking success in the cloud requires embracing automation, particularly for security teams. In the realm of cloud-native applications, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) has become the go-to tool for developers to build at scale, even in complex environments. Security as Code (SaC) follows suit, harnessing automation to analyze and address security and compliance gaps as they fluctuate. SaC is the pivotal component that completes the ultimate enterprise cloud environment.

According to HashiCorp’s survey, a staggering 89% of respondents see security as a crucial factor in cloud success. Cloud-service providers have recognized the challenges faced by their customers and are investing in security measures.


SaC and cybersecurity

In an increasingly digital world, cybersecurity is a top concern for businesses worldwide. With the growing prevalence of hybrid and remote work arrangements, the need for robust security measures has become even more significant.

According to the 2022 Mid-Year Trends Report by a cybersecurity platform named Checkpoint, there has been a staggering 42 percent increase in weekly cyberattacks globally compared to the previous year. This alarming statistic highlights the urgent need for organizations to prioritize their cybersecurity efforts.

Ransomware is identified as the number one threat organizations face today, as revealed in the same report. This malicious software can cause significant harm and financial losses if not properly addressed.

To ensure your organization remains protected and to avoid becoming another statistic, it is important to partner with a software development company that places a strong emphasis on security. By choosing a company that follows a Security-as-Code (SaC) approach, you can be confident that security protocols are integrated into every step of the development process.

A SaC plan guarantees that security is prioritized from the very beginning, starting with the design phase and extending throughout the coding process. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of vulnerabilities and ensures that security is not an afterthought but an integral part of the final product.

Transparency is also key when it comes to cybersecurity. Clear and easy-to-understand security policies foster better communication between developers and stakeholders, promoting a shared understanding of potential risks and mitigation strategies.

Furthermore, continuous feedback loops are established to identify and address security vulnerabilities early on, before they can pose a significant threat. This proactive approach helps safeguard your organization and prevents potential security flaws from becoming ingrained in the final product.


SaC and securing SDLC

By integrating Security as Code into your SDLC, you not only prioritize security but also create a cultural shift towards a more secure enterprise. This approach opens up opportunities for automating security measures, ensuring maximum protection for your SDLC. To help you achieve this, here are some best practices to follow:


#1 Developing secure software starts with addressing security requirements from the beginning: Security as Code is a process that demands the involvement of both DevOps team leaders and stakeholders. It entails planning security in a methodical way by implementing a standardized set of practical measures. These measures can be automated or manually deployed at various stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC). By prioritizing security and implementing it as code, organizations can ensure a more robust and secure software environment.

#2 Implement user stories and conduct a good security assessment: User stories are a valuable agile technique that prompts developers to consider feature requirements from the user’s point of view. This ensures that no vital features are unintentionally overlooked. Similarly, security aspects must also be taken into account to establish a secure DevOps environment.

#3 Streamline the code for continuous delivery with automated security checks and tests: By integrating security measures into the development process and infrastructure, software projects are always ready to meet continuous delivery requirements.

#4 Streamline your compliance checks with automation: Ensure your development adheres to legal standards and industry best practices by implementing automated security scans and compliance checks.

#5 Enhance security in the test environment: Before the product reaches the testing team, automation efficiently handles most of the security and compliance measures throughout the development process. Development teams further refine and optimize application security and compliance using trusted tools and resources.


The architecture of Security as Code

In application development, adopting a Security as Code (SaC) philosophy can help ensure a safer and smoother software development lifecycle. By including components such as access control and policy management, vulnerability scanning, and security testing, your development team can proactively address security issues as they arise, rather than waiting until the project is complete and encountering significant delays.

By making security everybody’s responsibility and starting collaboration between your development and security teams, a SaC approach places a greater emphasis on security from the very beginning.


Access control and policy management

Improve decision-making and policy compliance with streamlined governance processes. Empower development teams to focus on key functionalities by utilizing external libraries for authorization. Enhance overall organizational efficiency while maintaining essential security and compliance standards through secure access to a central repository. Collaborate directly with developers to effectively monitor and verify authorization.


Vulnerability scanning

Ensure that every aspect of your application and deployment is safeguarded against vulnerabilities throughout its entire life cycle. Get thorough scans of the source code to find any vulnerable libraries, and thoroughly check applications for OWASP vulnerabilities like XSS and SQL injection. Additionally, examine containers to ensure compliance with best practices and identify any vulnerabilities in specific packages. The objective with SaC is to continuously and automatically scan test, staging, and production environments, leaving no room for security gaps. By scanning early and frequently, we can ensure that security measures are implemented and any issues are detected at the earliest stage possible.


Security testing

Analyze code to detect potential threats to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the application. Effective security goes beyond just preventing threats – it also involves detecting configuration errors, data breaches, exposed secrets, and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers.


The principles of Security as Code

Here are the four fundamental principles of Security as Code:


#1 Automation

Automating security policies ensures consistent and scalable enforcement. Security as Code utilizes automation to deploy security controls, detect vulnerabilities, and resolve issues efficiently.


# 2 Version control

Manage your Security as Code like any other code by storing it in a version control system. This approach offers numerous benefits such as a traceable change history, seamless collaboration among teams, and the ability to validate changes in a test environment before the production stage.


#3 Reusability

Enhance security implementation with reusable and modular Security as Code. Share standard security controls and configurations effortlessly, minimizing time and effort.


#4 Open standards

Build Security as Code on open standards for flexibility, reducing vendor lock-in and enabling best-of-breed solutions for diverse use cases.


By adopting these principles, teams can integrate security into their infrastructure and applications, prioritizing it as a fundamental aspect of the development process.


Tools to use with Security as Code is a platform that revolutionizes security automation for developers. With Jit, developers are empowered to express their Minimum Viable Security (MVS) through a user-friendly declarative security plan. By specifying the security tools, including open-source and cloud-native options, and seamlessly integrating workflows across your entire tech stack, Jit simplifies and enhances the process of securing your applications. Experience the future of developer security with



Utilize Static Application Security Testing (SAST) with GitLab to effectively identify vulnerabilities in your source code. SAST analyzers can be run in any GitLab tier, generating convenient JSON-formatted reports as job artifacts.



Experience the power of AI with Cyral’s cutting-edge data security platform. Gain full visibility, take control, and ensure the protection of your valuable data in databases and data lakes.



Detect cloud misconfigurations by scanning your Kubernetes, Terraform, and Cloudformation-managed cloud infrastructure. Checkov’s built-in policies ensure compliance and security best practices for Azure, AWS, Oracle, and Google.


Security as Code, DevSecOps, and DevOps

Security as Code plays a great role in fostering collaboration, autonomy, and shared responsibility among development and security teams. It is the foundation for adopting the desired DevOps and DevSecOps cultures within organizations.

According to ESG Research, 62% of organizations have a DevSecOps plan or are evaluating use cases, and 84% believe that providing developers with the necessary data and tools is essential for successful DevSecOps implementation. In the evolving landscape of application development, SaC serves as the accelerator to ensure security keeps up with other aspects of the process.


Security as Code threats

There are two common code-level threats that you must understand to effectively implement countermeasures: buffer overflow and code injection.


Buffer overflow

The use of variables is common when you write a program. These variables are stored in a temporary memory called a buffer. However, it is important to be aware of buffer overflow. The buffer overflow occurs when data is accessed beyond the boundaries of the buffer. This vulnerability can lead to system crashes, data theft, or data corruption. There are two types of buffer overflow: stack buffer overflow and heap buffer overflow.


  • Stack buffer overflow: A stack is a streamlined data structure that allows for easy addition and removal of elements from the top. In programming, static variables are stored in the stack. However, if a program writes to a memory address beyond the allocated space in the call stack, it results in a stack buffer overflow.
  • Heap buffer overflow: A heap is a data structure consisting of a complete binary tree. It is commonly used to store dynamic variables in a program. However, a heap buffer overflow can occur if the bounds of the allocated memory are not properly checked before writing data into it.


Code injection

Code injection is a dangerous technique used by hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in a system by injecting malicious code. These vulnerabilities are ranked high on the OWASP Top Ten list and require the utmost attention. There are three distinct types of code injection attacks to be aware of: SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and shell injection.


  • SQL injections: SQL injection attacks pose a significant threat to any software that utilizes an SQL database. By injecting a malicious SQL query, hackers can gain access to sensitive data, alter your database, or even render it useless.
  • Cross-site scripting: Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a prevalent method used by hackers to compromise web applications. By injecting harmful HTML or PHP code into the application, they can exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access. The primary objectives of XSS attacks are to acquire sensitive data and manipulate the website’s content.
  • Shell injection: Shell injection occurs when a hacker puts malicious code into the shell or terminal of a system. This can lead to the execution of the hacker’s code with the code that was originally written, potentially resulting in a system crash.


Advantages of Security as Code

Transitioning to a Security as Code model is a strategic move that offers many benefits. This modern approach is driven by two major factors: promoting collaboration and enabling agility between Dev and Security teams, and enhancing visibility for various teams across the entire organization. By codifying both security and policy, the management process is streamlined, and the amount of hard work is significantly reduced.


#1 Greater collaboration

As agile workflows became increasingly popular among development teams, security teams were often left behind, still operating using the traditional waterfall methodology. As a result, security processes were either ignored or subverted, which emphasized the need for security teams to embrace agile methodologies to keep up with their development counterparts. The benefits of agile methods soon became apparent, prompting security teams to work directly with development teams. This crucial collaboration allowed security teams to meet the developers at the same level, working together. Through close collaboration, both teams could work on shared problems, thus abandoning their different approaches to resolve issues for the entire code base.


#2 Increased visibility

Security as Code has emerged as a significant revolution in simplifying and centralizing user and data access management. By integrating security practices into DevOps processes, Security as Code not only eliminates repetitive manual tasks but also enhances visibility, transparency, and accountability in access and policy changes. Terraform is one such tool that allows you to manage IAM resources for cloud providers. Terraform enables tracking of IAM changes through source code, enabling anyone to see all permissions and make a pull request directly to the Terraform repository to request changes.


#3 Shorter release cycle

Integrating security requirements during the design and development phases of an application can result in a substantial increase in velocity. By doing so, issues that would have arisen after a new feature or functionality has been implemented can be easily addressed, saving time and resources. Previously, the Development and Security teams would be compelled to address problems after a project’s code had been completed.


#4 Improved compliance

The Security as Code model is an increasingly popular approach to ensuring compliance with industry-specific and global software development standards. One sector that places a particularly high emphasis on such standards is Medical Technology, which has strict coding guidelines in place. These guidelines apply to all aspects of software development for medical devices, from ensuring user safety to maintaining patient confidentiality and addressing general security considerations. Specifically, developers must take into account numerous factors when designing and testing medical software, including data encryption, vulnerability management, and access controls.


Other benefits of having SaC

Using security as code refers to integrating security practices and controls directly into the software development lifecycle. It involves treating security measures, such as authentication, authorization, and encryption, as code artifacts that are version controlled, tested, and deployed along with the application code.

There are more reasons why using security as code is beneficial:


Automation: By embedding security controls into code, they can be automatically applied throughout the development process. This reduces the reliance on manual configuration and increases consistency across deployments.

Consistency: Security measures implemented as code can be standardized across different environments, ensuring consistent security configurations. This helps prevent misconfigurations and vulnerabilities resulting from manual errors.

Scalability: As code-based security controls can be easily replicated and deployed, they are highly scalable. They can be applied consistently across multiple instances, containers, or microservices, making it easier to secure complex and dynamic environments.

Agility: Treating security as code enables organizations to adopt DevSecOps practices, integrating security seamlessly into the development and deployment pipelines. Security controls can be continuously tested, validated, and updated alongside the application code, allowing for faster and more agile development cycles.

Reproducibility: Security as code ensures that security measures are well-documented, version-controlled, and can be easily reproduced. This is particularly valuable for compliance and auditing purposes, as it provides a clear record of security configurations and changes.

Collaboration: Developers, operations teams, and security professionals can collaborate more effectively when security is treated as code. They can work together on defining and implementing security controls, using familiar tools and workflows.

Visibility: Code-based security practices provide better visibility into the security posture of an application. Security configurations are more transparent and auditable, allowing for easier identification of vulnerabilities or deviations from security standards.


Overall, treating security as code helps organizations implement security best practices in a consistent, automated, and scalable manner, ultimately enhancing the security of software systems and reducing the risk of security breaches.


Implementing Security as Code

Security as Code offers three main components: security testing, vulnerability scanning,, and access policies. This approach empowers your Engineering teams to address security issues during development, avoiding delays and obstacles at the project’s completion. By integrating security collaboration directly into the development process, Security as Code unifies Development and Security teams, allowing them to concentrate on their strengths.

In addition to traditional functional and integration testing, security testing takes your coding practices to the next level. By implementing static analysis for security vulnerabilities on every commit or pull request, you can ensure the utmost protection for your application. Security testing also includes checking permission boundaries to prevent unauthorized access and testing APIs to ensure they meet authentication and authorization requirements.

Improve the security of your application and deployment by conducting vulnerability scanning at every stage of your architecture. From source code to containers, scan for vulnerabilities such as XSS and SQL injection. With a continuous and automated scanning approach, you can rest assured that test, staging, and production environments are regularly examined.

User and data access policies serve as a formalized framework for governance decisions. These policies can be easily accessed and reviewed by any member of your organization. By standardizing these policies, the need for constant monitoring and maintenance of individual requests is minimized. This efficient collaboration empowers Security teams to centrally monitor and review authorization with developers, enabling the entire company to accelerate operations while still adhering to vital security and compliance requirements.


Security as Code best practices during implementation

To effectively integrate security measures into the software development process, implementing Security as Code (SaC) requires a structured approach that follows best practices.

  • Identify specific security requirements that are relevant to the organization, software application, and its users. This requires a careful assessment of security risks and vulnerabilities, regulatory requirements, and compliance standards.
  • To identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities, it’s critical to embed security measures early in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Developers should have the ability to build secure applications throughout the design, development, and deployment process. By incorporating security measures early on, developers can ensure that the software application is secure from the outset and mitigate potential security risks.
  • To search for security vulnerabilities, scan code for potential threats, and automate testing and deployment processes, you should employ automation tools.
  • Developers should be trained in secure coding practices, such as input validation, error handling, and encryption, to ensure that the code is secure from the outset.
  • Continuous improvement is essential to SaC. Regular reviews and evaluations of implemented security measures ensure that security remains up-to-date and effective.


Why should you choose SaC?

Security as code is a vital component of the DevSecOps approach. By defining security measures at the early stages of a project and encapsulating them into code, developers have a convenient tool to ensure their code remains secure.

Implementing predefined security policies not only enhances efficiency but also enables automated checks to prevent any potential mishaps during deployment. This prevents incidents such as accidentally disrupting the entire infrastructure due to unidentified issues in a staging environment.

While security as code is a key element of DevSecOps, it should not be the ultimate goal. Its purpose is to encourage more people to prioritize and integrate security throughout the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Developers who are familiar with infrastructure as code will find this concept relatable. It also offers an opportunity for security professionals to gain a better understanding of software development and contribute to designing policies that can be effectively coded and implemented.

Angelika Agapow
Angelika Agapow
Content Marketing Specialist
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