5 Ways Continuous Delivery Mitigates Compliance Issues
Continuous Delivery can help solve compliance issues and make your audited life much easier, so you can focus on developing great software. See how Continuous Delivery can play a critical role in mitigating risk and making audits a breeze.
In a highly regulated world, compliance has become a large concern for many industries. Regulated companies that internally develop software require more controls, gates, resources and tracking that can stifle revenue generating activities. In the US, the financial crisis has added significant oversight and cost to banking, medical, financial and credit and other industries.
What is Continuous Delivery?
To summarize, Continuous Delivery is a process that allows software teams to routinely, build, test and deploy software on a regular basis. This process is accomplished by completely automating each step in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and implementing the agile software methodology. You can get a deeper definition of Continuous Delivery here.
Here is how Continuous Delivery can help solve compliance issues and relieve the audit burden.
A Mature Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
No matter who the regulator is, the first thing they are looking for is a mature SDLC. It adds credibility with the auditors and demonstrates that you have complete control and transparency of your process.
The challenge is to have an effective process without murdering your productivity and costs. Continuous Delivery provides this by adding audit controls that satisfy audit requirements in an automated fashion. This reduces the need to hire positions just to achieve segregation of duties and access controls.
Auditors don’t like manual processes, simply because each touch point is an opportunity for compromise of the system. Full automation of an environment goes a long way to addressing concerns associated with a manual process.
Audit Trails and Controls
In a software environment, regulators want to know things like:
- Who has access to the source code?
- How you prevent malicious code from entering production?
- Who made what changes to the source code and when?
- Is the source code repository protected and backed-up?
A robust version control system, check-in process will address this issue. Since Continuous Delivery is more than just automated tools, the process of peer reviews, quality testing and deployment provide all the controls to address these type of concerns.
Separation of Environments
Auditors don’t like it when developers or other technical positions have access to the production environment. This exposes sensitive configuration data, like passwords to service accounts, security protections or opens up possible malicious changes to the code.
Continuous Delivery allows for easy deployment into any environment with the press of a button by only those with authorization. This means that new environments can be easily created for troubleshooting, for example, which is the main reason software teams demand access to production environments.
This also allows the all necessary segregation of duties insisted upon by regulators to prevent undetected tampering. By providing the deployment ability to a resource that does not have access to the development environment, this risk is resolved.
Protection of passwords and accounts
One common issue for software teams is that the team has access to the production passwords and accounts. Continuous Delivery allows isolation of configuration data that contains this sensitive data. It’s not accessible to the team, and they don’t need it. It all gets merged in during deployment automatically.
Tracking, Logging and Reporting
Auditors love reports. When auditors arrive on the scene the first thing they ask for reports like:
- Who has access and what permissions to which system?
- What changes to your production environment have been made and when?
- Show me the logs for changes made to your software and by who?
Nothing expires confidence more than having the information readily available by providing a standard report with all the answers. It silently says, “no need to dig any deeper here.”
While there are many benefits to Continuous Delivery, the compliance benefits are reason enough alone for regulated entities to implement the strategy. Third Wave Technology are experts in the area of Continuous Delivery and has helped many companies sleep better at night during audit season.
Mr. Barbato brings over 35 years of experience in the software and technology industries to Third Wave. He guides Third Wave’s expert team in applying a sophisticated business approach to crafting its new era of agile software development products and services.