Pragmatic Security: When your PoC Goes into Production

Creating a Cloud Security Program

A common anecdote when looking at OpenStack cloud deployments is that when an issue arises - such as with timetables or migrating an application to a cloud-native architecture - that security in one of the first items to slip from the schedule. So when your Proof-of-Concept cloud is ready to be deployed in Production, there are occasional gaps in the overall security and assurance of the environment.

This will be a one size fits all post, considering how each environment will vary on mandatory security requirements. It will be up to the reader to adapt the recommended Security Software Lifcycle Management program to their environment.


Teams will be referenced in these posts with as much clarity as possible, and our assumption is that they are roughly assigned as service teams - which would take care of an individual OpenStack service such as Nova - and development teams - that are in charge of the applications that run on the deployment. In your situation, this may be able to be directly mapped to individual teams, a single team, individuals responsible for a given service, or even a single individual. It will be up to you to determine what team is best to engage for a given issue.

Each team should be responsible to a master architect - a single technical resource that is tasked with overseeing the integration details for each service and application to ensure they are all able to integrate and develop together for future integrations.

Additionally, there should be a dedicated security architect who will work with both the service teams, development teams, and master architect to ensure the security of the OpenStack deployment. The Security architect should not be responsible to the master architect, but rather a peer that is able to influence priority and build features.

The Gate

It is also assumed that you are utilizing some type of version-tracking software such as git or SVN. Both your services, configurations, orchestration, and application teams are utilizing these version-tracking applications for code check-in and to then trigger gate and build jobs.

This article will assume that Git is used for versioning, and Jenkins for check-in jobs like pep8.

The repositories that approved check-ins are merged into can be considered the ‘source of truth’ for code and configuration information in a running environment.

Security Activities

The security team will work to build security and assurance through each step of the software lifecycle. Traditionally, this is encompassed by host hardening, code review, and firewall/network ACLs. In a cloud native environment, there are a few additional recommended steps. Additionally, the Security Team will also interpret, maintain, and enforce the Security Policy.

Secure Architecture

Secure Architecture

The Security team works with each service team to identify the best practice approach for a given service, the threat landscape, and secure methods to any identified threat vectors. These are captured in network diagrams, wiki pages, and configuration management databases for reference by the teams required to implement the devices.

Threat Analysis

Once a secure architecture has been documented, the security team and major stakeholders would be invited to a meeting that critically analyzes each service in context where the security architect who influenced the architecture introduces it to the rest of the security team and stakeholders to get addtional points of view of exposure and possible exploit vectors for review.

Static Analysis

On a per-application basis, the appropriate static code analysis tool can be selected and included in the gate so that “low hanging fruit” can be identified and fixed by a developer on check-in, and not depend on other developers or an offical code review by an external party.

Continuous Assurance

The virtual machines used to host the applications will also need to be hardened, and can be through an orchestration tool such as Chef or Ansible. Once a secure baseline has been determined, the orchestration tools can be used to deploy the proper versions of packages and utilities and bring each host up into a known hardened state.

Regular Review

Regular Review

Additionally, the policies, configurations, and results of the above should be validated on a regular cadence. Scheduling regular reviews for each - such as starting with an annual review of each, and then increasing as needed - will ensure the controls are accurately applied for the current environment.