Will GitOps Transform Security?

Gilad David Maayan
Published 07/11/2022
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A person's hand pointing to a lit padlock to symbolize software security and gitopsWhat Is GitOps?

GitOps is a software delivery methodology that employs declarative Infrastructure as Code (IaC) to create an automated and efficient continuous reconciliation process. It enables developers to write declarative code that defines the desired state to be automatically maintained. You keep these instructions in a version control system like Git that serves as a single source of truth.

GitOps provides a developer-centric experience that helps power cloud-native applications. Storing the desired state in Git enables you to enforce immutability and ensure that your storage retains a complete version history. The state store provides an audit trail that developers and software agents can use to roll back to previous versions when needed or inform developers.



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GitOps Principles


Declarative Infrastructure

GitOps aim to make infrastructure as efficient and automated as possible. It achieves this objective by using declarative Infrastructure as Code (IaC). IaC enables you to manage and provision infrastructure resources by using machine-readable definition files.

Declarative configuration means that you define the desired end state, and the system automatically adjusts its configuration to match that state. This is much easier and more repeatable than writing a script that specifies the steps to achieving a certain configuration, or manually configuring a system.


Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

GitOps requires knowledge of the relationship between code changes and the source of truth, while CI/CD introduces automation. Continuous integration ensures that each commit tries to validate predefined criteria based on the assumption that it already is the truth. Continuous delivery ensures the truth reflects the actual system state automatically. Understanding the two aspects of the CI/CD approach is critical because they provide the foundation for GitOps.


Version Control

Version control is an efficient way to manage code changes. It allows developers to use a Git repository as the single source of truth for a project, ensuring that all code elements are traceable and enabling simple rollbacks. Development teams can track every code change by initiating a pull request.

Version control functions allow developers to collaborate quickly and efficiently to produce code and minimize outages and disruptions. It enables the team to revert to an earlier code version if a developer makes a mistake or if there’s a system error. These fast rollbacks prevent issues from interrupting the overall workload.


Automated Change Approval

Declarative coding approach methods enable the automation of code change approvals. The system can automatically apply all the necessary changes to match the desired target state declared in Git. This approach eliminates the need for cluster credentials to initiate changes, helping accelerate the deployment cycle.

Automated source control systems allow development teams to manage the entire software development process easily. GitOps offers a suitable environment, enabling easy task delegation throughout the code change management pipeline. It allows developers to manage CI/CD technologies centrally by implementing environment changes based on the desired target state defined in the Git repository.


How GitOps Affects Security

GitOps can have a major contribution to the security of enterprise software projects. It allows organizations to enhance their security posture in the cloud, with DevOps teams leveraging GitOps capabilities to shift security left, achieve audit requirements, accelerate response times, and improve customer satisfaction and confidence.


Shifting Security Left

With GitOps, you treat everything, including security processes, like code. Shifting security lefts means you can identify security-related changes to an application’s state early in the development process. A GitOps setup makes it easier to fix bugs and redeploy applications immediately upon remediation.

GitOps can also help increase the speed of changes made to the development pipeline. For example, GitOps enables rapid response to security and other code-related issues in the event of a developer pipeline breach. The development team can quickly identify and address pipeline vulnerabilities in the IaC repository.


Rapid Response to Incidents

An effective incident response process is critical to minimizing the damage caused by cyber attacks. GitOps allows teams to implement pipeline changes quickly, making security issues easier to address when the pipeline is compromised. If you find a security vulnerability, you can respond immediately and roll back the application to a previous configuration before an attacker can exploit it.

Alternatively, you can apply patches instantly or deploy new versions of software. GitOps allows an organization to quickly recognize the relevant lines of code in the Git repository that are related to a vulnerability or security threat. Teams can assess an attack’s scale and impact for fast recovery while reducing the risk of a breach and minimizing the potential impact.



In this article, I explained the basics of GitOps and showed two ways GitOps is transforming security for enterprise software development projects:

  • Shifting security left—GitOps makes it easier to deploy changes to software and makes it easier to address security flaws and fixes earlier in the development lifecycle.
  • Rapid response—when a security breach inevitably occurs, GitOps makes it possible to roll back to a previous, secure version, or rapidly deploy patches and fixes.

I hope this will be useful as you take your first steps in GitOps adoption.