What is Policy?
A policy is a set of rules, guidelines, or instructions for using resources and running operations in IT. A policy can be a set of rules a code must adhere to comply with the organization’s security posture. It could be an authorization policy that defines the scope of access for an asset or resource.
Policy as Code (PAC)
“Everything-as-code philosophy” helps automate the processes, leading to effective time management. “Policy as a code” is one facet of it that enables uniformly defining and enforcing policies throughout cloud-native applications and their infrastructure by programming. High-level languages are used to manage and automate the policies.
PAC not only automates and enhances the security and compliance procedures but also reduces human errors and the time-to-market pressure on developer teams. 84% of cybersecurity incidents in 2021 have happened due to human errors as per the report by Egress. The organizations can maintain uniformity in policies across the entire cloud-native infrastructure. Policies are written and enforced using the same tools and policy language, leading to a better understanding, reporting, and implementation of system-wide and application-level policies.
PAC is implemented using policy engines such as the Open Policy Agent (OPA). Policy as code is written in programming languages, such as Rego, Python, and YAML, depending on enforcement tools.
Automation – As the pare policies are written as source code, it increases overall efficiency by reducing human errors.
Shift Left – Using security policy as code safeguards the build and deployment phases. It ensures that any issues or misconfigurations can be found and fixed at early stages. PAC also enables monitoring and audit policy enforcement that helps to meet compliance requirements.
- Centralized policy management – As the policies are designed and enforced centrally this makes monitoring and compliance easy to implement.
- Version control – As the policies are available in code hence can be maintained in the version control system. This makes switching policies back and forth easier and more manageable.
- Visibility – Policy as code enables policies to be viewed by looking at them rather than relying on others.
How it is different from Iac
Infrastructure as a code takes care of the operations part where all the infrastructure-related settings are automated. Policy as a code on the other hand is a shift left approach, where security and compliance are taken care of.
Tools and allied languages.
Open policy agent, HashiCorp Sentinel (for Hashicorp products only) are tools that work on the PAC concept. The languages like Python, YAML, or Rego are used to write the policies.
Organizations are shifting left when it comes to security, manual checks on the policy are not only slow but also error-prone. Policy as code enables to write the policies that are uniform throughout the organization. This not only saves time but also makes the organization more compliant.