7 Best DevOps Security Practices: DevSecOps and Its Meritsby@dmitry.leijko
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7 Best DevOps Security Practices: DevSecOps and Its Merits

by Dmitry LeikoSeptember 14th, 2020
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7 Best DevOps Security Practices: DevSecOps and Its Merits. This article discusses a more elaborate meaning of the two primary methodologies applied in the development cycles by software developers and operational engineers. The DevOps model has remodeled the system of product and application production. This is aimed at deterring and mitigating security risks as they appear in the cycle of development. The security team in software development companies is meant to check configurations, assess vulnerabilities, perform code analysis, and perform many other tasks. To achieve this, the entire DevOps environment must be safeguarded.

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DevOps has transformed the way operational engineers and software developers reason. Gone are the days when a code was written, implemented, and managed by operations. The DevOps model has remodeled the system of product and application production. As a result, faster results have become the pinnacle of delivering at the speed which the market demands.

However, as this system changes, the matters of security have become another issue, one which the security teams are daily trying to stay at par with. The development cycles have become so vigilant, forcing the security teams to turn to alternatives that can integrate security protocols across the DevOps process. This is aimed at deterring and mitigating security risks as they appear in the cycle of development.

This article discusses a more elaborate meaning of the two primary methodologies applied in the development cycles by software developers and operational engineers. By understanding what DevOps and DevSecOps are, we can then figure out and appreciate the significance of securing them. That way, the article can provide some of the applied security best practices.

What is DevOps?

In the software market, developers are daily faced with a massive demand for developing and delivering new and improved applications and services. In the recent past, these companies would use a traditional process to build software and manage software infrastructure. 

Packed within a trying loop of delivery and feed, developers and managers have to build, test, release, monitor the feedback, and plan. To achieve this effectively, companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Etsy, NASA, and so many others, have to put in place a combination of tools, practices, and philosophies that are meant to improve the company’s capability of delivering services and applications focusing on the speed and reliability of creation and evolution of the products and services.

To complement the tooling, companies have coupled two traditionally separate teams, the information technology operations, and the software developers, to create a culture that promotes the functionality and efficiency of the DevOps model. On one side, the developers can release new features and products and fix bugs within a timely period. On the other hand, the operations team ensures the high availability and smooth movement of everything. 

As a result of the nature of their practices, these two groups have traditionally conflicted, trying to couple agility and stability into the same system. The DevOps methodology is designed to bring both teams at a level and equally satisfying point.

This loop pipeline of the DevOps methodology will enable the development team to release several products within a day, week, or even a month, depending on the company’s preferences. To match this agility, the DevOps method enables the operations team to test and review the products at each building stage. This way, defective builds do not get to the production station.

To make the entire process possible, DevOps uses infrastructure-as-code to provide automated provisioning and testing to reduce the number of worries the operations have to deal with. At each stage, metrics and logs are collected to allow equal visibility of both teams.

What is DevSecOps?

As stated earlier in the introduction, the development cycles have become so vigilant, forcing the security teams to turn to alternatives that can integrate security protocols across the DevOps process. This way, security risks are reduced and stopped as they arise in the cycle of development. To achieve this, the entire DevOps environment must be safeguarded through a series of processes, policies, strategies, and technology. 

Security should be built into every cycle of the DevOps environment. These include the inception, design, build, test, release, supposer, maintenance, and ahead. This form of security that is incorporated into the DevOps method is referred to as DevSecOps. The DevSecOps enhances security by improving collaboration and shared liability that overlays the whole workflow of DevOps. 

The security team in software development companies is meant to check configurations, assess vulnerabilities, perform code analysis, and perform many other tasks. If they fail at their tasks, the released products could have hardcoded issues, misconfiguration, and, to make it worse, these issues could affect the DevOps cycle's velocity. As bad as these issues sound, as DevOps increased developers' agility to meet the market need for products and services, the security teams have also been struggling to keep up with this pace. 

Traditionally, security teams were isolated at the end of the line of the development process. With the improved DevOps cycle of development and operations, the security teams also have adjusted to a more collaborative framework. DevSecOps is a shared liability that is integrated from the beginning of the cycle to the end. With this approach to security, several security gates are automated so that the DevOps operations can continuously flow.

Looking at DevSecOps from a technical point, DevSecOps uses code to deal with security. Security companies have developed tools such as SonarQube, Acunetic, Contrast Security, Aqua Security, and so many more to monitor security issues within the operation process using less friction. A function once executed by scanners and reports will now be substituted by outsider products that learn the loopholes, unearth the weaknesses, and suggest corrective actions that will help solve and defend the product.

DevSecOps was developed to deliver specific goals that the traditional manual security system could not accomplish in DevOps' age. The automated DevOps security supposed to:

  • Maintain a frequent and short cycle of development.
  • Incorporate security stratagems with little disturbance to operations.
  • Stay at par with innovative technologies, microservices, and containers.
  • Develop closer collaboration between typically separated teams, the development team, the operations team, and the security team.

What are the Merits of Developing With DevOps Security (DevSecOps)?

DevSecOps operates by protecting the system of developing and operating from any risks. The DevOps framework incorporates an end to end security paradigm that does not interrupt and slow down the functionalities and the workflow of the DevOps cycle. This in-built security system can cover automated security controls, post-deployment monitoring, code analysis, and several other security checks. That way, no security issues or bugs are left unremoved while the product is launched. 

By doing this, software development companies can maintain a consistent experience in the development process and a more efficient customer experience. The end-users can get updates faster, secure their data, and provide a swift technological solution with minimal to no lagging.    

The philosophy of DevSecOps is to make everyone involved in the team responsible for the security. Due to its design, the benefits of DevSecOps are pretty much straightforward. Thank you to the great collaboration between the security and development teams, the cycle of operation yields so many significant fruits in the long run. On the overall, all the DevSecOps benefits can be crumpled up into two significant advantages. First is a better Return On Investment (ROI) in the existing security infrastructure, secondly, enhanced operational effectiveness across security and the rest if information technology.

From a broader sense, DevOps security has the following merits:

Less time is spent configuring security consoles
Traditionally security consoles were configured manually; this used to take a lot of time. With DevOps security, several security functions have been automated throughout the entire DevOps methodology cycle. These include identity management, vulnerability scanning, firewalling, and access control. This automation cuts down the configuration process sparing time for policies and assigning more time to high-value strategic tasks.

Developer teams have a changed view of security teams
With a split of teams, the process used to be run by three independent teams; developers, operations, and security. While some prioritized a swift process of creation, others preferred a regular and close check before releasing a product. DevOps and DevSecOps have ensured that these teams are integrated into the same cake of production. This way, the security team's philosophy does not affect the pace of the developers’ mission and workflow.

Early identification of vulnerabilities
Software application products are in constant threat from hackers. They seek to gain footholds into the application to introduce malware, exploit the unidentified gaps, and penetrate the systems. Production is the best period to do this. While we can not rule out with certainty that hackers do not maneuver the set detection systems, the introduction goes DevSecOps has helped the testing of vulnerabilities to be carried out so continuously to detect these gaps early on and mitigate the impending risk.

DevSecOps has so many advantages in the line of software development and operations engineering. These could include:

  • Higher speed and agility for security teams
  • An ability to respond to needs and change quickly
  • Assets of the team members are freed to work on highly valued tasks
  • DevSecOps is secure by design, and it is simple to measure
  • Recovery can be made quickly if a security issue arises
  • Transparency and openness are supported from the very beginning of the project

7 DevSecOps Best Practices To Achieve Security And Balance Agility

To be successful and secure in DevOps and DevOps security, organizations are encouraged to adopt safe practices and incorporate them into the DevOps cycle of operations from the very beginning of the process to the maintenance stage. 

To implement this methodology of development and production, organizations are often faced with several obstacles such as shortage of staff and clashes between the collaborating teams. To ensure a smooth transition from the traditional ways of operations to the enhanced DevOps systems, companies install an array of practices to address several emerging considerations. In the following section, we shall be looking at the key best practices for companies seeking to implement DevSecOps.

1. Implement a DevOps Security model

The first step is to adopt the DevSecOps model that will kickstart your project to secure the operations. A DevSecOps model will incorporate identity and access management (IAM) and other cybersecurity functions, configuration, code review, vulnerability management, and governance throughout the DevOps cycle of work. By doing so. Security will be aligned to the stages of the DevOps workflow. This alignment allows secure products to be released hence reducing the probability of there being recalls and fixes after the product has been released.

2. Update and enforce governance policies

Governance policies and IT protocols are always updated. With the changing mode of operations, it means that the roles and responsibilities of the board, the officers, and the committees shift or be affected in some manner. Making the necessary updates and enforcing them will see the codes of conduct followed throughout the pipeline, thus protecting data and preventing it from leakage. Transparency and openness within the government will provide a secure environment for all stakeholders to share their concerns about suspicious internal threat behavior.

3. Execute vulnerability management

System vulnerabilities can be detected through constant scanning and monitoring of the systems to ensure the development and integration levels of the process adhere to the security requirements. Penetration testing and other vulnerability assessments help inform potential weaknesses or fail to the developers so that they can rectify them before release.

4. Automate the security

As a result of the increased speed in the development stage of the DevOps cycle, the security teams can not keep up with the pace by manually processing the security tasks at hand. To help cut the time spent, the security processing tasks such as vulnerability testing and privilege management need to be automated to reduce human errors. Saved time resources can be dedicated to later security test stages. Work and work hours get reduced, hence cutting costs.

5. Do not forget to test the hardware

With such a model that focuses a lot on the software, hardware can often be overlooked. Failure to check for its efficiency and security can result in incorrect test data and even dire consequences such as security gaps. The machines that the software works should always be checked and validated to ensure their functionality is optimal. This validation should always follow security policies.

6. Apply network segmentation

The segmentation strategy is once another method to implement the DevSecOps in a manner that throws off attackers and renders them vulnerable. The segmentation strategy employs the technique of dividing and conquering. First, ensure that access to your application resource server is limited. This will help address the problems that originate from a continuous workflow. Dividing the network into several segments makes it difficult for attackers to access all the data at once. This limits the threats from attackers and helps keep the errors within the environment at a minimum.

7. Minimized administrative privileges

This practice is specifically to reduce internal threats and mistakes. Minimizing privileges reduces the amount of data controlled by a single party. To further ensure this, local machines can store critical data to control their access.

Key Takeaways 

Securing DevOps lays down the foundation for its implementation, including embedded security practices. With security practices carefully addressed, DevOps will be omnipotent and a game-changer technology solution for the faster growth of your business. However, your business goals should not exceed your organizational talent, resources, or capabilities because these are the reasons why many projects on DevSecOps fail.

Special thanks to Alpacked for the free consultation and information support about DevOps best practices and DevSecOps benefits.

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