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DevOps Security (DevSecOps): What It Is &What Are Its Best Practices?

DevOps Security (DevSecOps) extends the DevOps philosophy. DevOps security is a set of practices and tools that combines software development, IT operations, and security. DevOps has swiftly become the norm for companies that want to stay competitive in the world of software development. After all, DevOps increases an organization's ability to plan and deploy applications faster. However, with the shift from traditional deployment methods to agile development, security needs to be integrated.

The security flaws in apps deployed by the DevOps process are filled by DevSecOps. DevSecOps has shown a way to enterprises to achieve security by closing the gap between development and security teams. In this article, we are going to understand what DevSecOps is and how it is different from DevOps on top of taking a look at some of the best security practices in DevOps. So, without further ado, let’s dive into it!

What Is DevOps?

DevOps is the process of combining the software development and IT operations teams to create software-related products. Before DevOps, the development and IT teams were isolated. They had different ideas and goals. The operation team took too much time giving feedback on errors and bugs found in the code. All this resulted in delayed projects. The introduction of DevOps has unified the development and operations team in all aspects ranging from planning and designing to building and monitoring.

DevOps follows Agile methodologies and helps teams implement a work breakdown structure (WBS) to divide the task into small manageable chunks. Most importantly, DevOps focuses on continuous integration and delivery to automate the merging and deployment of code. It promotes frequent code versions making it easy to detect code defects and develop software at a faster pace. The end goal is to strengthen a company's ability to offer better products and services.

What Are Some DevOps Security Challenges?

Despite its many benefits, the rapid cultural shift to DevOps presents new risks and creates security challenges. These security challenges cannot be addressed by traditional security solutions and practices. We have to understand that DevOps is a fast pace process that leads to making coding mistakes in programs. This presents an opportunity for hackers who are always trying to find coding mistakes to exploit them and gain unauthorized access.

Another thing to note is that most software programs developed using DevOps methodology are cloud-based, and the cloud is responsible for managing the security of applications hosted on it. The issue is that you cannot tell how secure it is until you deploy your program there. Most importantly, there is always a risk of sensitive data exposure while migrating to a cloud platform. Here are some of the most prominent security challenges associated with DevOps:

1- Organizational Opposition:

Typically, software development teams used to follow the waterfall model. It was a slow-paced process with a major release every few months or even years. In the waterfall model, teams worked independently from each other. Security and testing were done at the last stages, and several changes were made until the product complied with the security team. DevOps requires teams to collaborate across the software development lifecycle.

It is difficult for teams to rapidly adapt to this shift in culture. DevOps teams see security as a nuisance because security teams cannot keep up the pace. Due to this, many conflicts, frustrations, errors, and delays arise. Each team needs to learn to cooperate and how to handle the workflow.

2- Security Vulnerabilities in the Cloud:

In the DevOps era, enterprises can produce multiple deployments in a single day. Utilizing agile environments and cloud-based infrastructure has helped teams to be productive and efficient. Cloud capacity can be scaled up in minutes instead of hours. Today, almost all of the software development via DevOps is done on the cloud, which also increases the vulnerability risk. After all, the cloud has loosely defined and fuzzy networks boundaries. Most importantly, the cloud is more prone to hacks and data leaks in comparison to a closed on-premises network in an organization.

3- Legacy Infrastructure:

Unfortunately, many companies around the world still rely on older obsolete technology. Organizations use not only outdated systems but also programming languages and applications. Legacy systems can no longer support a business's technology needs. An organization's sensitive data can easily be breached by hackers due to outdated security measures and underperforming systems not meeting security standards. Making a shift towards new technology is an obvious choice to make. All in all, organizations should upgrade their infrastructure and methodologies to enjoy the benefits of developing secure programs with DevOps.

4- Recruiting:

Companies are starting to recognize that there is a need for change, and they are opting for DevOps. That’s why companies have started hiring DevOps engineers. In fact, some companies have started training their employees from scratch to work in a DevOps environment. Training employees is great, but it’s too time-consuming. DevOps engineer is one of the most talked-about roles right now. Hiring a skilled DevOps engineer in the early stages of growth is crucial. A skilled DevOps engineer can help build and maintain an enterprise's IT infrastructure. However, recruiting a reliable DevOps engineer itself is a daunting task.

What Is DevSecOps (Secure DevOps)?

DevSecOps is all about DevOps, with a lens on security. Basically, DevOps Security (DevSecOps) adds a security team into the traditional DevOps environment to ensure security practices are followed, and security objectives are met throughout the entire project lifecycle. DevSecOps provide many benefits to enterprises, including traceability, observability, and confidence. Secure DevOps methodology allows businesses to have a trustful relationship with the security organization.

DevOps Security Best Practices:

With DevOps tools, techniques, and methodology, new applications can be delivered more rapidly. Here are some of the most prominent security practices you should consider to ensure the safety of the programs developed in a DevOps environment:

1- Embrace a DevSecOps Model:

If DevOps and security teams are not combined, it may lead to severe consequences, including misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, insecure code, and security weaknesses. These consequences cause dysfunctionality and make the program an easy target for attackers. Therefore, you need to embrace the DevSecOps model and involve security professionals in the DevOps environment right from the beginning to ensure efficient product releases while avoiding costly fixes for released products.

2- Policy and Governance:

As the organization evolves, IT protocols and policies should be updated to ensure that the code of conduct is followed through pipelines and data leaks are avoided. It also helps organizations improve their security practices over time. Transparent policies and procedures provide a safe environment for employees which encourages them to work together. It also allows employees to share concerns if there is any suspicious behavior found internally. All this helps teams to collaborate in a better way and develop code that meets security requirements.

3- Automate Your DevOps Security Processes and Tools:

Organizations cannot scale up their business without using automated DevOps security tools. Therefore, automation security tools need to be brought into the picture. You can use automated tools for code analysis, patching, vulnerability management, etc. DevOps embraces automation of processes so that teams can work more seamlessly. By applying automated security controls early in the lifecycle, human errors and vulnerabilities can be minimized. Automation also reduces work hours and overall costs.

4- Comprehensive Discovery:

The incomplete visibility of resources used to build and deploy threatens an enterprises' ability to protect itself. The DevOps teams rely on open-source tools to manage server instances and security groups. The containers can be run on any cloud platform or system. Lack of visibility into the containers can cause complications and vulnerability. As the DevOps team count on cloud deployment, cloud security should be measured. Azure DevOps is one of the better options for cloud services.

5- Vulnerability Management:

Continuous scanning and monitoring can ensure security on different levels of the development lifecycle. Scanning for vulnerabilities is common practice in DevOps. It heavily relies on testing tools and attack mechanisms to identify areas of improvement in the code. The results of testing tools inform teams on how they can address security risks. The teams can then patch exploits and issues. All this helps to interrogate processes more efficiently to ensure maximum security in the end product.

6- Configuration Management:

DevOps environment moves at a fast pace, which means that configuration mistakes are bound to happen. Configuration management is an automated process for maintaining a consistent state of systems and software. DevOps companies need to use the right tools for configuration management. For instance, the integration of IaaC and CAAC can help companies to be more agile. Configuration management includes network, server, software, and storage. The major benefit of configuration is the reliability of systems and software.

7- DevOps Secrets Management:

Secrets are authentication credentials used in web services and applications. These include username, password, encryption keys, API, SSH key, and so on. For users to access sensitive systems and information, password and keys are important tools. Enterprises use secret management tools for authenticating users to allow them access. If secrets are handled casually, it can open doors to a serious data breach. Therefore, you need to implement a solid secret management technique to ensure safety.

8- Privileged Access Management (PAM):

A privileged user has back-end administrative access to all cloud-based systems. Several individuals have some degree of privileged access. However, they might not be able to alter system settings or user accounts. DevOps configuration and orchestration systems use privileges to install software and make changes. Since DevOps teams work together, they frequently share passwords and credentials. It increases the risk of malicious or accidental threats. To avoid this, you can connect systems via API credential vaulting instead of typing credentials and keys.

9- Segment Networks:

A cybersecurity DevOps mindset is essential to prevent the attacker from gaining access to information systems. A unified segmentation strategy allows DevOps teams to use networking or any other access controls to reduce the chances of getting attacked. DevOps teams require more visibility when it comes to network and development. The network admins can give DevOps team network access to monitoring and performance tools allowing them to have the visibility they need. It also helps DevOps teams to ensure that applications will perform the same way on test networks.

Final Thoughts:

DevOps and Agile development methodologies have replaced the legacy development models with their enhanced speed and efficiency. However, the quick development time also means more errors and less security. That’s where DevSecOps comes it. It addresses the security concern, and it's becoming essential to give your business an edge over your competitors. If you want to get the benefits of DevOps and Automation while making sure of the safety of your developed programs, get in touch with us today, and let us help you implement DevSecOps.