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Lead Image © pandavector, 123RF.com

Automated compliance with Chef InSpec


Article from ADMIN 60/2020
Chef InSpec is a practical tool for automated compliance monitoring with an intuitive, declarative scripting language.

IT compliance is indispensable in both small and large businesses and should be monitored wherever possible. The Chef InSpec open source framework helps admins apply rules on servers in a fully automated process by checking system status against a list of policies and alerting the admin if a system violates them. In this article, I look at setting up and using the software in a practical application.

Chef InSpec comes from a company that feels very much at home in the areas of automation and compliance: Chef, the provider behind the automation platform of the same name. The software is based on its own declarative script language (DSL), a kind of pseudo-programming language. In this language, the administrator describes the rules in a fixed syntax, which InSpec checks later.

InSpec offers the user a few simplifications. For example, it makes available ready-to-use functions for checking certain configuration files or their content (Figure 1), which helps avoid a great deal of manual work. Everyone is familiar with configuration files. They have certain basic formats (e.g., .ini) in which they can be written. The administrator would need to retype the keywords the developers of a program use for their configurations for each service. For this reason, the InSpec developers provide the user with parsers to match a large number of common Unix services out of the box.

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