An Overview of IaC Security and Scanning

IaC offers new risks and opportunities for secure cloud infrastructure. Here’s what you need to know.

Aviram Shmueli writer profile image
By Aviram Shmueli

Updated June 18, 2024.

Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) Security: How to Secure Cloud Infrastructure While Coding

Infrastructure as code (IaC) provides an innovative approach to provisioning and managing cloud infrastructure through code, instead of doing it through manual processes.

This foundational shift not only accelerates development cycles but also introduces new dimensions of risk that must be carefully managed. In this article, we'll delve into these challenges and explore strategies to secure IaC environments from potential vulnerabilities and threats.

Advantages of IaC and IaC Security

Beyond automation and version control, IaC can present new opportunities to enhance the security of your cloud infrastructure.

While you probably wouldn't be here if you didn't already know what IaC is, check out the video below to learn a bit about the merits of considering security in your IaC strategy.

Enhanced Automation and Efficiency

IaC allows for the automated deployment of cloud environments, eliminating the need for manual work and increasing the efficiency in managing cloud infrastructure.

The ability to deploy, manage, and dismantle environments rapidly and consistently is a significant advantage, especially in dynamic IT landscapes where quick adaptation is crucial.

Improved Version Control and Documentation

With IaC, infrastructure management benefits from the same principles as code management. This includes out-of-the-box version control, allowing for better tracking and management of changes over time. Additionally, IaC provides an inherent form of documentation for the infrastructure, making it easier to understand, replicate, and distribute configurations.

Adherence to Security Best Practices

IaC introduces opportunities for a more robust approach to security, focusing on the early detection and remediation of cloud configuration issues in the code, rather than in deployed resources. This supports the shift-left security approach by integrating security early in the development process.

» Take control of product security with the best open-source developer-friendly product security tools

Identifying and Mitigating IaC Security Threats

There is a wide variety of IaC security misconfigurations that could expose your system to potential vulnerabilities. Watch the video below for a summary of these security issues:

Hard-Coded Secrets 

Some vulnerabilities arise from secrets, such as API keys, encryption keys, passwords and others, being embedded directly in IaC scripts. 

Mitigation stars with scanning the IaC files and identifying secrets of all kinds. In the next step, users may want to remove those secrets, rotate them etc.

Excessive Privileges

Many times users, roles and other entities are granted more privileges than they actually need. Those excessive privileges will serve potential attackers if they get access to these entities. 

The mitigation involves rigorously reviewing the granted privileges to ensure they follow the principle of least privilege and make the relevant adjustments if they do not.

Unencrypted Data

Storing sensitive data without encryption can lead to potentially dangerous data leakage, emphasizing the need for encryption defined in the infrastructure as code configuration files. 

Integrating IaC scanning solutions early in the development pipeline, especially within IDEs or in the PR, allows for the early detection of such vulnerabilities and enables teams to remediate issues before deployment.

» Looking for automated tooling to help? Take a look at these IaC security tools

Best practices for IaC scanning

SDLC integration

A robust security posture requires embedding security practices throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC), not just as an afterthought.

This includes conducting regular automated security scans to detect and mitigate vulnerabilities early. The scans should take place in the environment where developers live and code, that includes their favorite IDE and inside Pull Requests.

Integrating security into the SDLC ensures that IaC deployments are not just efficient but also secure. This proactive approach involves embedding security practices and tools at every stage, from design through to deployment.

Furthermore,  the continuous evolution of security measures alongside infrastructure developments is crucial. Regular security assessments, code reviews, and automated scans help maintain a robust security posture, while continuous monitoring ensures that security standards are upheld as cloud environments evolve.

The video below goes into additional detail about the benefits of integrating IaC security scanning into the SDLC.

» Need more? Here are the IaC security essentials

Unify cloud runtime scanning and IaC scanning

Ensuring security beyond just infrastructure as code is critical. Despite the foundational security benefits of IaC, it alone is not sufficient to safeguard cloud infrastructure comprehensively.

To address this, Jit supplements IaC with runtime cloud security posture management (CSPM) to detect and rectify misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in the cloud environment in real-time, not just statically. This can account for security issues caused by configuration drift, which IaC scanning cannot find in static files.

The pros and cons for IaC scanning and cloud runtime scanning are articulated in the video below:

Additionally, Jit emphasizes the importance of integrating security practices across the entire SDLC and employing dynamic application security testing (DAST) to identify runtime vulnerabilities in the web app itself, ensuring a holistic security posture that adapts to both static and dynamic aspects of cloud environments.

» Need more info? Learn how Jit works.

a pink and purple web page with a cat on it

Open ASPM Platform

App + cloud security that developers love

Read reviews


SAST, SCA, secrets detection, IaC scanning, DAST, CSPM, and other product security controls

Easy for developers to adopt

Automated scanning within dev environments

Automated prioritization

Automatically surface exploitable vulnerabilities in production

Easy onboarding

Integrate Jit with your Source Code Manager to enable one-click activation for all tools

Jit empowers developers to consistently and independently resolve vulnerabilities before production with automated scanning in their environment.

Rather than requiring developers to scroll through long vulnerability backlogs in different UIs, Jit provides immediate feedback on the security of every code change within GitHub, GitLab, or VsCode.

As a result, Jit makes it exceptionally easy for developers to adopt regular security testing within their environment.

  • Unified SAST, SCA, secrets detection, IaC scanning, CSPM, DAST, and other product security controls
  • Unified execution and UX for all security tools
  • Fast and automated scanning within GitHub, GitLab, or VsCode
  • Jit’s Context Engine determines whether a vulnerability is actually exploitable in production to prevent alert fatigue and long backlogs of irrelevant vulnerabilities
  • Unified monitoring and reporting

Easy for developers to adopt

Unifies all tools

Automated vulnerability prioritization based on runtime context

Fast onboarding across all repos

Not open source

Balancing Security Practices With Developer Velocity

At Jit, balancing robust IaC security practices with maintaining developer velocity is achieved by integrating security seamlessly into the development lifecycle.

Jit embeds security tools, including IaC security, directly into the developer environment, such as in IDEs and during code reviews, enabling developers to identify and address vulnerabilities as they code.

In addition to IaC, Jit unifies SAST for source code scanning, SCA for open source scanning, CSPM for cloud runtime scanning, secrets detection, and much more.

» Ready to begin? Take a look at these IaC security tools