DevOps and Security: 8 Best Practices

DevOps and Security: 8 Best Practices to Prioritize by Hardik Shah

Over the last two decades, the era of IT and software development has changed tremendously. The software development has progressed from the slow and rigid waterfall model to DevOps’ flexible and agile approach. With this shift, cybersecurity professionals also had to adapt to these changes.

DevOps and security refer to the discipline and practice of safeguarding the DevOps environment through strategies, technology, and processes. The security is built into every part of the DevOps lifecycle, including design, build, test, release, support, and maintenance. Together, DevOps and security are often called DevSecOps, aiming to enhance safety through improved collaboration and shared responsibility covering the DevOps workflow. 

In other words, DevSecOps is all about integrating security into the DevOps lifecycle. Moving ahead, let’s quickly and briefly understand DevSecOps, how it works, and the need for DevSecOps.

Let’s get started! 

DevSecOps –  Definition

DevSecOps is best defined as a mantra to make everyone accountable for security to implement security decisions and actions at the same speed as development, operations decisions, and actions take place. In short, it is all about development, security, and operations. 

Every company with a DevOps framework must shift towards a DevSecOps mindset and bring individuals across all technology disciplines to a higher security proficiency level. From building business-driven security services to testing for potential security usage, the DevSecOps framework, which uses tools, ensures that security is built into apps instead of being bolted unsystematically afterward. 

How Does DevSecOps Work?

The benefits of DevSecOps are: it enhances automation throughout the software delivery pipeline, eradicates mistakes, and reduces attacks and downtime. If the company is looking to integrate security into its DevOps framework, the process can be completed seamlessly using the right DevSecOps tools and techniques. Now, let’s walk through a typical workflow of DevOps and DevSecOps:

  • A developer can create code within a version control management system.
  • The complete changes are dedicated to the version control management system.
  • The other developer recovers the code from the version control system and carries out the static code analysis to identify security defects or bugs in the code quality.
  • An environment is created by using an infrastructure-as-code tool, such as Chef. 
  • The test automation suite is executed against the newly deployed apps, including back-end, UI integration, security tests, and API.
  • If the apps pass these tests, it is deployed to a production environment. 
  • The new production environment is monitored continuously to identify any active threats to the system. 

Thus, organizations can work quickly and seamlessly towards a shared goal of increased code quality and enhanced security with a test-driven development environment in place and automated testing. 

What is the need for DevSecOps? 

Undeniably, IT infrastructure has gone through exponential changes over the past decade. The major shift to agile cloud computing platforms, dynamic apps, shared storage, and data has brought considerable benefits to organizations looking to grow and flourish via advanced apps and services. 

While apps developed using DevOps methodology have already advanced in terms of speed, scale, and functionality, they are often lacking in providing robust security and compliance. That’s why DevSecOps was introduced into the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to bring development, operations, and security together under one roof. 

In actuality, hackers have always been looking for the best ways to deploy malware and other exploits. Suppose, if they were able to insert malware into an app during the build process, this malware might not be discovered until the app has been distributed to thousands of customers. Thus, the damage is for both the customer and company reputation, especially when bad news goes viral within moments. 

Security consideration is equally important as development and operations for any organization involved in app development and distribution. Integrating Security and DevOps will help every developer and network administrator have security at the front of their mind while developing and deploying apps.  

DevSecOps: Here are 8 Best Practices that need to be Prioritized

For companies who want to combine their IT operations, the security teams and app developers need to integrate security into their DevOps pipelines. The main goal is to make security a vital component of the software development workflow instead of providing it later during the cycle. 

Check out some of the best practices that will make the DevSecOps process run seamlessly:

  1. Embrace Automation as a critical element

DevOps is meant to speed up the delivery. Automation plays a vital role in achieving DevSecOps implementation. By inserting automated security controls and tests early in the development cycle, you can ensure your application’s fast delivery.

Embracing automation also lessens the risks arising from human errors, associated downtime, or vulnerabilities. Automated tools help to identify potential threats, vulnerable codes, and issues with the process and infrastructure. Thus, the closer you can match the security to the DevOps process, the less likely you will face cultural resistance to embedding security practices. 

  1. Conduct Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability must be scanned, assessed, and remediated across development and integration environments before deploying to production, depending upon penetration testing and other attack mechanisms to identify weaknesses in the pre-production code to indicate improvement areas. DevOps security runs tests and tools to identify and patch exploits and issues when the products launch into an operational environment. 

  1. Opting for the right tools is essential

Deciding on the right security tools is essential for the success of the DevSecOps process. The security tools should be integrated into the fast-moving CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) cycles and stand in a position to build gaps between development and security teams instead of creating problems. 

  • Security tools should help developers to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities while writing the program. 
  • The tools must allow developers to focus on their core workflow.
  • They should be good at speed and generate accurate and actionable results, the key to DevOps workflow.
  • The tools identify vulnerabilities, but they should be able to track new issues from anywhere, such as open-source software components.
  1. Accomplish Threat Modeling

Threat modeling is the practice of helping discover the vulnerabilities and gaps in security controls. It helps protect confidential data or intellectual property. It helps identify the riskiest events occurring across infrastructure and build necessary protection into DevSecOps workflow.  

  1. Make Use of DevSecOps for Efficiency

Using tools that can scan code when you write, you can easily find security issues early. 

  1. Identify adequate security for APIs and Microservices

The security solutions within the DevSecOps method should work consistently. It requires addressing the security risks and vulnerabilities involved in APIs, microservices, and serverless solutions. All these areas need the most consistent and dependable security focus. 

  1. Network Segmentation

An increasingly common practice, Network segmentation is responsible for reducing an attacker’s “line of sight” success. DevOps security enables a productive DevOps ecosystem while identifying and remediating code vulnerabilities and operational weaknesses long before it becomes a problem.

Introducing DevOps Security in the product lifecycle ensures that security underpins every part of the application and system development. Thus, it enhances availability, lessens the possibility of data breaches, and ensures the development and provisioning of powerful technology to meet business requirements. 

  1. Perform extensive research

All you need to do is make sure that all approved and unapproved devices, tools, and accounts are continuously discovered, validated, and brought to security management per the company’s policy.

Challenges of DevSecOps 

DevSecOps emphasizes the requirement for better collaboration between development, operations, and security. The main goal of using DevSecOps is to move into the automated and synchronized world and make most of the tasks obsolete. 

According to a Threat Stack survey, 52% of companies admit to cutting back on security measures to meet a business’s deadline or goals. However, DevOps teams can’t do anything to slow this down. In reality, this is one of the biggest challenges of DevOps. 

Final Thoughts

DevSecOps is a partnership between developers and cybersecurity professionals. A company that implements DevOps must accept that it will need continuous and dynamic security in place. Any compromised app can easily be replaced by spinning up a new instance, but compromised data is where the problem lies. Moreover, the development and operation staff must focus on data flows between first and third-party services across a modern hybrid technology platform. 

Want to share your thoughts on DevOps and security? You can leave your comment below.

About the Author:

Hardik Shah works as a Tech Consultant at Simform – a dedicated team of software development companies in Dallas. He leads large scale mobility programs that cover platforms, solutions, governance, standardization, and best practices. Connect with him to discuss the best practices of software methodologies @hsshah_.