We have previously written about the importance of scanning for compliance. This has become even more important with the introduction of AI-assisted code generation tools like Github Copilot. The next step is making your scanning effective by integrating with your Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) system.
What is CI/CD?
CI/CD is an abbreviation for "Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery" (or Continuous Deployment). It is a software development approach that focuses on automating the process of building, testing, and deploying software.
The origins of CI/CD came from the realization that compiling and deploying software was a traditional pain point for development teams - it part because it didn't happen very often. By creating systems that could automatically compile, configure, and deploy the software, deployment became less of an event and more of a commonplace, easily-managed occurence.
In CI/CD, developers merge their code changes into a central repository, triggering an automated build and test process. This process helps identify integration issues, conflicts, and bugs early on, allowing teams to address them promptly. Once the code passes the necessary tests, it moves through the delivery or deployment phase, where it is prepared for release and eventually deployed to the production environment.
Most teams today will have some sort of CI/CD process. Common software for CI/CD includes Jenkins, Github Actions, or Gitlab CI/CD.
How does CI/CD relate to scanning?
Scanning is essential to know what source code is included in your software. But one of the persistently tricky questions for many organizations is how to make sure that all the software is being scanned. This can be difficult because modern software brings together components from many different sources in order to create the final executable programs.
The trick to finding all the source code is to re-use the CI/CD system. The CI/CD system already has the capability to bring together all the needed source code - after all, if something was missing, the program wouldn't compile. But instead of compiling the source code, the same system can be used to run a scanning program and report the results.
Scanning with CI/CD integration
When it comes to comprehensive code coverage, integrating compliance scanning into the CI/CD system is unparalleled. This approach ensures that all source code, including dependencies, frameworks, and libraries, is present in the correct versions. By conducting scans at this stage, organizations can avoid risks that might arise when scanning individual components separately. Integrating scanning into the CI/CD system also achieves maximum efficiency while minimizing manual efforts for developers.
Implementing CI/CD Integration for Compliance Scanning
To implement CI/CD integration for compliance scanning, organizations should follow a few key steps:
Select an appropriate compliance scanning tool that supports CI/CD integration and provides comprehensive scanning capabilities encompassing license identification, vulnerability assessment, and policy enforcement.
Configure the CI/CD pipeline to seamlessly integrate the chosen compliance scanning tool. Identify the stage within the pipeline, typically just before software builds, where the compliance scan should be triggered. Automate the process to ensure a consistent and efficient compliance scanning practice.
Set up a regular schedule for scanning - typically at least once a week. This scanning process can run "offline," staying out of the way of developer's day-to-day activities. But by implementing a regular scanning schedule, compliance stays up-to-date and always ready to go.