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January 23, 2023

How GitOps Will Impact Your Incident Response Process

What Is GitOps?

GitOps is an architectural design pattern that can be applied to many infrastructure and cloud-native applications. It involves using Git as the primary and sole source of information for coding infrastructure, and using it as a basis for implementing continuous delivery systems.

Since its inception, GitOps has become one of the primary ways software development teams large and small manage and deliver code. The concept of having a single source of information for your code and configuration makes software development processes easier, and improves the development environment provisioning process.

Before GitOps, it was very frustrating for developers to configure, configure, and manage environments and servers according to their needs. Previously, it was possible to do this by writing shell scripts. The amount of infrastructure that could be configured on demand was severely limited. GitOps is changing all that.

What Is Incident Response?

Incident response refers to the processes and technologies organizations use to detect and respond to cyber threats, security breaches, or cyber attacks. The objective of an incident response strategy is to stop cyberattacks as they occur and minimize the damage and business disruption they cause.

Ideally, organizations define incident response technologies and processes in an official incident response plan—this is a document specifying exactly how teams should identify, contain, and address different types of attacks. A well-formulated incident response plan helps the security team detect and block cyber threats, recover affected systems quickly, and avoid revenue losses, fines, and other regulatory penalties and costs associated with these threats.

How GitOps Affects DevOps and Incident Response

GitOps enables organizations to boost their security posture in the cloud. It can help DevOps teams meet auditing requirements, shift security left, improve response times, and build customer trust.

Shifting Security Left

GitOps lets you treat everything as code, including security. All configurations (including security policies) can be handled as code, keeping everything within a unified version control system. Any change can be integrated with CI/CD tools that validate, deploy, and monitor those changes.

GitOps isn't just an efficient means of managing your infrastructure. It also provides strategies for shifting security efforts to the left, so that security issues, bugs, vulnerabilities, and other changes to the system’s desired state can be caught early in the development cycle. GitOps settings make it easy to fix bugs and redeploy affected applications or environments on the fly.

Faster Response and Recovery

GitOps allows you to quickly update your CI/CD pipeline. If the pipeline is compromised, the GitOps setup provides a quick response and helps resolve security issues. If exploitable vulnerabilities are discovered, you can respond immediately by rolling back to your previous, more secure configuration, adding patches or fixes, and deploying new versions immediately.

Storing all your infrastructure as code allows you to quickly identify the affected code segments in a specific repository. It can help assess the scale of an attack, speed up recovery, and mitigate any damage caused by the cyberattack.

Best Practices for GitOps and Incident Response

Provide Actionable Feedback

If you follow the GitOps practices, you will value speed and agility. However, to take full advantage of these benefits, you must be well prepared to react quickly when security issues are discovered.

Blocking builds or deployments creates friction when teams try to push updates to production as quickly as possible. In an environment where security feedback is tedious and counter-intuitive, developers often find a way to avoid it altogether.

Therefore, it is essential to consider the end user (the developer) when implementing security guardrails. Make sure your security findings include prioritization and remediation instructions for the item in question, to make it easier for developers to comply.

Avoid Cloud Drift

All changes to your cloud environment must be in IaC templates hosted and versioned in the repository. As a source of truth and a key component of GitOps, these templates must be implemented through an orchestration loop and immutable infrastructure, such as containers.

Ideally, such a loop would constantly check the desired state specified in the IaC template against the resource’s actual state in the production environment. Any infrastructure updates, such as operating system updates, wipe out the old instance and start a new one.

In reality, teams will often make manual changes to running resources, breaking the GitOps process and causing drift. Make sure you have adequate visibility and monitoring to keep your team accountable for cloud drift.

Once identified, revert these changes and push it to the pipeline, to ensure the runtime environment matches the template. Developers viewing IaC templates should have a clear understanding of the deployed infrastructure, and realize that even small differences can create future security risks.

Track Your GitOps Progress

The purpose of verifying infrastructure against policy and applying feedback is to incrementally improve the security of the codebase and deployed infrastructure.

You should also have a baseline (or preferably an SLA) stating how long it will take to patch an identified misconfiguration. Exposure to security feedback as part of the GitOps process builds “muscle memory” to help developers prevent, detect, and fix bugs.

Having a baseline to monitor for abnormalities can also build muscle memory. For example, suppose there is a spike in misconfigurations—developers can track whether new deployments are responsible, or if existing infrastructure is violating new policies or security best practices.


In this article, I explained the basics of GitOps and how it will impact your incident response process:

  • Shifting Security Left—GitOps lets you treat everything as code, including security.
  • Faster Incident Response—If the pipeline is compromised, GitOps provides a quick response and helps resolve security issues.

I hope this will be useful as you adopt GitOps practices in your organization.

Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung (News - Alert) NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.

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