Terraform Best Practices For Secure Infrastructure Deployments

Terraform Best Practices For Secure Infrastructure Deployments. Infrastructure is managed by using a code. The security of the code is crucial. So how can we keep our IAC secure? This article looks at Terraform best practices.

Security is an essential and primary step towards a successful Infrastructure deployment. Without high level of security the company is not able to protect and defend its information from cyber attacks. Terraform is known for serving the best secure environments to its users. That’s why most of the companies are moving towards Terraform.

What is Terraform

Terraform is a non proprietary software, a popular, multi cloud IaC framework. It uses a declarative approach, meaning you define how you want infrastructure to look rather than the steps to reach that outcome.  It enables the establishment of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and uses it in organizing, updating and provisioning the series of infrastructures. It is based on Hashicorp Configuration Language (HCL), which is understandable to JavaScript. Furthermore, it uses the configured infrastructure components to manage, adjust and alter infrastructure in different cloud providers.


Infrastructure as Code tools (IaC) has the ability to manage, provision and update computer data centers through comprehensible virtual files. It is used for contouring and transferring configurations when it ensures the state of the infrastructure. Consequently, IaC has eliminated the manual mechanism of working reduced the chances of manual errors and efforts.

Terraform features

Terraform is a tool for building, changing and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently and some of the features are:

  • Infrastructure as Code=speed and reliability. 
  • CI/CD tool.
  • Terraform CLI.
  • Terraform Language (HCL).
  • Terraform Provisioners, which are multiple plugins (like Chef, Puppet).
  • Multi Cloud.
  • Work with PaaS tools such as scheduling of resources, caching and routing.
  • Execution Plans which show what Terraform will do when you pick apply.
  • Resource Graph in which Terraform builds a graph of all your resources and  any modification of any non dependent resources.
  • Change Automation where complex changes can be applied with execution plan and resource graph. 

Now, let’s take a look at Terraform Best Practices For Secure Infrastructure Deployments.

Best Practices For Secure Infrastructure Deployment

Terraform has provided us with a platform to create easy to deploy reusable code infrastructure. Security is vital for the project. So we explaining best practices for secure infrastructure deployments that will help you maintain and protect your information, infrastructure and state.

1. Avoid using the.TFSTATE file

By executing Terraform Apply command, the .TFSTATE file retains the information mapping from the resource names developed by you and the basic infrastructure. The state file is used in doing fundamental changes in the state. In addition, terraform requires updated files in order to work. Consequently using this command is more like disclosing your covert information, for instance, password, configurations and database.

That’s why avoid using the .TFSTATE file because it is not safe and interrupts the state’s security. However, by using another feature called a Terraform Backend you can apply .TFSTATE file.

2. Backend setup

Terraform Backend is an alternative way of implementing the State file. The Terraform Backend shows the procedure and place where the terraform state is kept or stored in a remote location. The backend setup is based on the cloud provider or backend type required as per your configurations. But through S3 you are able to configure a backend.

The backend consists of two main features:

  • State locking: it halts two executions co occur.
  • Remote state storage: it is used for storing your files remotely in an accessible location.

Therefore, for the execution of the TFSTATE file, the Terraform uses the Local backend type; through the configured backend, the state file is directly sent to the remote location.

3. Apply Variables

Variables are the key point to make your coding manageable by storing shared or repeated configuration values. It makes the code concise, easy to read and easy to change. Each and every coding platform contains variables so as Terraform does. You can declare variables between your configurations and then recall them in your resource configurations. It also enables you to submit values for your variables or submit values from the Terraform CLI. Furthermore, you can alleviate the repetitiveness of values by declaring a variable for them.

4. Commit Modules

Terraform modules are used for the disintegration of infrastructure configurations. The modules define infrastructures (as an input) and generate an output. You can wholly distribute the mutual infrastructure patterns to your code and business using modules. In order to organize your modules without causing a headache because sometimes keeping track of every module is quite tricky, so try to use modules wherever it is required or use them more harmoniously.

5. CLI commands

Your infrastructures are represented by state files. If ever you want to change your state or rename it. For that, you have to reallocate your current terraform state to the novice resource name. But sometimes, during the process of renaming, moving, or changing state files means they can stop working or take more time. But we have an alternative way to contour the state files by using CLI commands.

Terraform state rm: the terraform state rm is used to remove a state file.

Terraform state mv: the terraform state mv is used to move a state file.

The CLI commands have minimized the risk of time loss and errors. You can easily remove and move your state files using these commands without reassigning your terraform state to the new resource name.

6. Run via Automated Build

To make your infrastructure secure and organizable, always execute code in an automated build tool. Running code via an automated build tool has the pros of keeping track of repetitive processes and records of changes. In addition, it will assist you in easily keeping a log while auditing, debugging, etc.

7. Reserve the state files

The state file has the ability to navigate the backup location of your configurations. It backups the states and assist you in redeeming to the previous state in case any error or mistake takes place. In order to utilize the backup feature, you have to enable your versioning. You can configure the versioning by ensuring that the versioning of the S3 bucket is activated. Hence, the versioning makes it easier to jump back to a former state by simply doing a bare minimum work.

8. Specific backend

With time your infrastructure configurations increase, and if all your configurations are stored in one place, that might be an issue. In addition, keeping all the configurations in a single location can accumulate the probability of undesired changes to another infrastructure while making changes in your infrastructure.

To prevent the risk, you have to break infrastructure configurations into fragments. You can disintegrate the infrastructure by creating a new terraform project; that’s how a new state will be formed. In addition, you can use Terraform import command to travel the state between your configurations and Terraform remote state block to obtain values from the further remote state.

9. Confined states per environment

The use of one state per environment should be more implemented because the environment checks the alteration you made before they are placed or installed in your current environment. So you can just break down your state files like how you fragmentized infrastructure configurations because the division of states can alleviate the risk when any modification takes place.

10. Backend state locking

The state locking is one of the components of terraform states. Its role is to lock and secure your states by preventing written operations. This command protects your state from others trying to hack or obtain the lock and from manipulating your state. State locking is applied automatically to all the comprehensible or writable operations. Furthermore, you can easily unlock your states through the Force-unlock command.

Great effort! You have learned about Terraform Best Practices For Secure Infrastructure Deployments.

Terraform Best Practices For Secure Infrastructure Deployments Conclusion

The IT infrastructure need a secure setup that is easily manageable and fast to execute. Without Terraform best practices all these fundamental components the information is exposed to others who can easily manipulate it.

Terraform is a secure tool for infrastructure development that has provided us with the best practices for fast infrastructure deployment. And for advanced security, you have to purchase the Terraform Enterprise Plan. However, we have discussed the efficient ways to protect your project without buying any plan, but it can be obtained just by following some basic steps.

I hope this article helped you learn the best practices for secure infrastructure deployments that will assist you in enhancing the security, speed, validity, configuration of your Infrastructure. 

Avatar for Emad Bin Abid
Emad Bin Abid

I'm a software engineer who has a bright vision and a strong interest in designing and engineering software solutions. I readily understand that in today's agile world the development process has to be rapid, reusable, and scalable; hence it is extremely important to develop solutions that are well-designed and embody a well-thought-of architecture as the baseline. Apart from designing and developing business solutions, I'm a content writer who loves to document technical learnings and experiences so that peers in the same industry can also benefit from them.

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