5 Practical Tips on Keeping Your CD Pipeline Healthy and Secure

5 Practical Tips on Keeping Your CD Pipeline Healthy and Secure


Creating fast and reliable framework for release process requires to implementing quality checks, logging practices and monitoring solutions.

Why Secure the CI/CD Pipeline?


CI/Cd pipelines need many permissions to do their job and to deal with secrets for applications and infrastructure. That infrastructure may contain proprietary code, databases, credentials, secrets, development, and production environments etc. Means whoever can get unauthorized permissions to your CI/CD pipeline gets all unlimited access to offend all your infrastructure.

This means, you should take securing CI/CD pipelines as a high-priority task.

Also, you should take preventive steps to secure CI/CD pipelines.

Here are some best practices for securing CI/CD pipelines

    1. CI/CD Access Permissions

      Verify first you should get access to your CI/CD to be well controlled and organized. It should be very clear who has access to what, when and how. Not everyone in the teams should have access to your CI/CD, and if anyone gets access, they should not get access to all pipelines. Require strong authentication for all users. Developers should only have access to the pipelines they need. There is no point in having access to other teams’ pipelines. Managers or project leads may have access to CI/CD for reporting, but they should not be able to create pipelines. No one user can access more that it needs so the bad user can’t mess with the code or process. Apply zero-trust principles to secure the CI/CD pipeline.

Read More: How to Optimize Continuous Delivery with Continuous Reliability

  1. Do not share your Secrets

    Securely handling of your secrets, tokens, and other credentials, they are essential in CI/CD. There are two main rules here. Firstly, don’t share any secrets in plain text in the pipeline. Now a days modern CI/CD tools come with a secret management solution. By this tool you can securely store your secrets in your CI/CD tool and make them as environment variables to your pipelines. You can use secret managers to store credentials securely, even if it is just for testing. Do not store sensitive data without authentication. Your secrets should not appear in source code or should not exposed during deployment or testing. Also, you can automate data security procedures inside CI/CD.

    You should include security scanning like static code security scanning, registry scanning, runtime scanning. By these scanning you will improve company’s security posture. Using these techniques, you can minimize the risk.

  2. Do not Leave Test Environments Wide Open

    You can deploy application/product to may test environments for testing purpose. But these test environments are also available to developers. Here test environments may be losing the security of stage or production environments. Here are some chances for an attacker to gets access and miss use the infrastructure. Therefore, it’s crucial to secure your test environment.

  3. Clean Up Any Temporary Resources

    While testing, your CI/CD pipeline may create temporary resources, like virtual machines or Kubernetes clusters. These temporary resources are mainly created for a single test purpose and should destroy after the pipeline run. But sometimes, user forget to “destroy.” And over time, there are lots of unused resources, which can pose a security threat.

    Suppose a virtual machine was created long ago and not destroyed. It could run unnecessary old test applications. For an attacker, these forgotten resources are a gold mine. They can easily access the whole infrastructure. The solution is simple, clean up and wrap up the resources which you do not need anymore. If you are creating them from pipeline itself, do not forget the destroy them on stage. If you creating them manually, then create some processes to keep them under control.

    Also, you need to keep CI/CD Tool Up to Date. If you do not update your CI/CD, means you are giving chance to an attacker to simply bypass authentication.

  4. Monitoring and Auditing

    If you are not Monitoring and Auditing pipelines while deploying code there are chances an attacker can delete the pipeline or malicious code? And you will never find out what something unwanted happened.

    In this case Audit logs will help you out. Pipelines can be deleted for various reasons and it is not something that you want to prevent entirely. You can create an audit log and save it completely different from your CI/CD system. Such audit log should give you detail information on who deployed what, when, and from where. Audit log will help you find the back doors afterward so you can quickly delete them.

    These are some CI/CD security best practices. It will help to improve your security posture. Do not forget that you’re never done with security. It’s a constant and continuous process as vulnerabilities and threats evolve continuously.


If you’ve got the security of your CI/CD pipelines in mind, it’s important to recognize that there is no “set-it-and-forget-it” approach. Businesses must integrate security into all pipeline stages to prevent supply chain attacks and other disruptions, and then continually monitor for signs of trouble. With this method, you are taking steps to secure your pipeline, instead of leaving it vulnerable to attack.

Enterprises need a flexible, scalable, and secure pipeline solution. with your evaluation with Cogniwize in minutes. Get started with your evaluation with Cogniwize in minutes.