From protecting sensitive data to ensuring business continuity, there are myriad reasons why infrastructure security must be a top priority. But when it comes to managing a bare metal cloud, there are a number of critical questions to ask about securing bare metal infrastructure. 

What are the key considerations? Is it enough to have strong passwords and firewalls in place, or is a more comprehensive approach needed? We ask (and answer!) 5 key questions about infrastructure security.

This blog post is based on a video interview we did with TFiR.

1. Are Infrastructure Pipelines the same as CI/CD pipelines?

The Infrastructure Pipeline is an essential tool that encapsulates the workflow of infrastructure management. It is similar to a CI/CD pipeline as it provides a logical and repeatable process for managing infrastructure. In addition, an infrastructure pipeline permits the addition of further steps as the pipeline grows, such as security checks and configuration management. 

While CI/CD pipelines typically revolve around building code artifacts, the Infrastructure Pipeline ensures the smooth provisioning, updating, and scaling of infrastructure to keep pace with the ever-evolving technological landscape.

2. What are security considerations for bare metal infrastructures?

There is added complexity to managing a bare metal infrastructure, especially when it comes to security. We must anticipate that. Even the most modern security protocols can be breached. For example, the UEFI bios boot vulnerabilities have shown us that any infrastructure, no matter how well-constructed, has security risks. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the entire environment and consistently ensure that it’s patched and updated. Automation and good discipline are critical when dealing with bare metal infrastructure.

3. How often after setup do I need to update?

You may not realize that bare metal security is a continuous process if you have only used infrastructures created in the public cloud – they take care of the hard(ware) part for you! 

Regular patching and updating of the bios cannot be overemphasized. This is essential to safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical data. 

Adding to this, it is crucial to leverage out-of-band management, certificates, and additional networking interfaces to increase control and visibility into your systems. Good password hygiene and rotating certificates are also paramount. 

Finally, ensuring regular auditing, validation of bios updates, and inventory management are critical elements of securing bare metal servers. 

Automation is the key to bolstering these efforts, particularly when supporting DevSecOps processes. With effective automation, the process becomes routine.

4. Can regular server (re)imaging be a security best practice?

Maintaining secure infrastructure requires careful consideration of who is accessing the system and ensuring that it is being regularly patched. However, simply patching alone is not enough to achieve compliance validation. What if you could just reimage and reset the environment on a regular basis? 

If you haven’t automated the process then this may seem like a daunting task. Once in place, it provides peace of mind that systems are up-to-date, synced, and free from security vulnerabilities. And this is possible when you run your bare metal infrastructure as code.

Infrastructure as code (IaC) tools such as Ansible and Terraform have become staples in the industry. But admins may copy security plans from other teams or even other organizations, then modify them to meet their needs. These copies won’t receive automatic patching or updating of the original plan. 

This makes simply copying plans into your IaC structure an ineffective way to address security and drift issues. After all, unknown changes in infrastructure can lead to significant risks. Infrastructure Pipelines address this concern by encouraging reuse of workflows and scripts. 

5. Can IaC help improve security posture?

One of the most significant recommendations for security is to be able to restore systems quickly, scan them rapidly, apply patches appropriately, and limit access. 

A good Dev/Test/Prod process and high fidelity between the three environments can prevent individuals from accessing production systems. Additionally, automating development builds can significantly reduce intrusion vectors into environments.

IaC and Infrastructure Pipelines together improve automation portability. These techniques foster control and consistency necessary to support good Ops discipline.

Let’s create more secure bare metal infrastructures!

RackN Digital Rebar helps organizations achieve more secure infrastructure through resilient and robust automation practices, IaC and Infrastructure Pipelines.

By adopting RackN’s forward-thinking automation practices, you can keep your infrastructure safe and secure, allowing you to focus on your core business objectives confidently. Learn more about how to get started with bare metal automation. 

Timestamps and Key Moments

  • 0:05 – Welcome! Today we have with us Rob Hirschfeld, CEO and co-founder of RackN
  • 0:20 – How are infrastructure pipelines similar or different to CICD pipelines?
  • 2:43 – Let’s talk about security for bare metal.
  • 7:27 – When was the last time you checked that you’re secure?
  • 8:18 – What does “secure” mean in an infrastructure-driven, bare-metal world?
  • 10:58 – What are the security risks, if any, if you bring in your own data?
  • 13:26 – General advice to improve security posture.
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