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What is DevSecOps? Understanding DevOps Security

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05th Sep, 2023
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    What is DevSecOps? Understanding DevOps Security

    Today most the organizations have adopted DevOps practices which help to automate, provide a culture where teams can integrate the process, and should be able to deliver reliable software and updates in a faster mode. With the growing demand for software applications, there comes a demand for growth in scaling as well, which in turn causes security vulnerabilities and threats. Therefore, it has become important for DevOps teams to add security measures into every stage of the Software Development Cycle workflow. Security deserves a higher priority than ever before. provides a culture where teams can integrate the process and should be able to deliver the reliable software and updates in the faster mode. Since with the growing demand for software applications, there comes a demand for the growth in scaling as well, which in return causes security vulnerabilities and threats. Therefore, it has become important for DevOps teams to add security measures into every stage of the Software Development Cycle workflow. Security deserves a higher priority than ever before.

    What is the Security in DevOps (DevSecOps)?

    DevSecOps or Security in DevOps is the set of practices, cultural and functional approaches, and set of DevOps security tools where we bring Development, Operation, and Security together to deliver the application and services at high efficiency and Security. Through DevSecOps, Security is infused into continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, which helps developers to address a security issue. Check out the DevOps Course Content and understand what else you need to learn DevSecOps.

    Earlier, security considerations were introduced at the end of the Software Development Lifecycle, which led to a rise in cyber security attacks and the development team working on more frequent release fixes for applications. The below article shares the basic considerations for applying Security to DevOps environments and provides an overview of DevOps security challenges and the best practices.  

    What Are DevOps Security Challenges?

    Implementing DevOps security comes with several challenges. Right from a large organization to small organizations, everywhere we can see struggles and challenges for security adoption. DevOps security challenges are categorized into technology, people, tools, etc. We will take a look at most challenges that are being faced by teams: 

    The Cultural Shift

    For any person, introducing a new method and having a cultural shift is quite challenging, especially if it requires the right DevOps security methodology and mindset shift for taking Security as the first step to be considered in software development. Also, the security team is concerned mainly with application security so that the environment and code should be safe, whereas the Developer focuses on the development and faster deliveries due to timeliness. The difference in opinion and goals causes operation friction, which becomes quite challenging further on. 

    This can be resolved by getting people from both Security and developer on board with common practices and working together toward a united goal. It is expected code to be delivered faster along with securely. 

    Cloud Complexity

    Many organizations are using multiple clouds to improve management efficiency by taking advantage of the best cloud solution and implementation of multiple automation, which makes Security setup as quite challenging task for team. 

    Lack of Skills and Knowledge

    Professional skills and knowledge also play a key role in implementing DevOps Practices. Lack of Security implementing skills become blocker for team to implement Security in DevOps Pipeline.

     In-house training for employees related to security tool in DevOps and DevOps cyber-Security can help them gain knowledge for DevOps Security Model and raise awareness which result in more experienced DevOps Security Engineer for team and further on become as an opportunity to mentor other team members.

    Inadequate and Complex Tool Integration

    Static Application Security Testing (SAST)and Software Composition Analysis (SCA) which are really helpful in detecting the early state vulnerabilities but does not support faster deployment and takes a long time to run, due to which developer tends to avoid the integration of tool in application. Also, scenarios become more complex when the security tools need to be integrated with different DevOps tools.

    It would be helpful to find a tool that can address security issues or use more cloud DevOps security services to avoid issues from SAST and SCA tools.

    Mismatch between Roles and Responsibilities

    It is incredibly challenging to align the roles and responsibilities of DevOps and Security teams. For one, the prime focus is on faster release and deployment, whereas Security team is focused on ensuring DevOps Security practices, which creates incompatibility between Security and DevOps. There is need of DevOps security practices and system which is secure, maintain the traceability, fault tolerant, and fix issues. But due to cultural shift it has become challenging, which has been discussed above as well.

    One of best way in DevOps Security checklist is shifting left i.e., moving the DevOps security practices earlier in software development lifecycle (SDLC), where developer can identify security issues early.

    Steps for Enabling DevSecOps in Your Organization

    Similar to DevOps, DevSecOps demands a shift in the organization culture and the procedures to upgrade DevOps application security. Below is the sum of methods that can be used to enable DevSecOps in organization:

    1. Including Security as Initial Step

    Here comes an important step i.e., Shift left, which means all the securities related activities should be included in the earlier phase and thereby continued during whole process. Security Experts should be involved not only from development phase, but from planning stage itself. It is always better if errors or bugs can be found at early stage of development rather than fixing the same in Production or in later phase.

    2. Automating Security Test in DevOps Pipeline

    Automated Security testing can help to maintain not only Security with DevOps pace without having any vulnerabilities or issues but also helps to notify in form of alert about any failed test.

    3. Have Developers to write secure code

    Since discussed in above point, we need to implement Security from the beginning of development or planning phase. Therefore, it become important to train developer via internal, external training courses so as to implement security right from the beginning in code and focus more on Security rather than only on the speed of delivery.

    Along with that Conducting security awareness training for the teams, knowledge about security risks, secure coding requirements, security testing in DevOps and tools to create secure code can also be very beneficial. Educate the organization about security culture can always help in better way.

    4. Infrastructure Security

    When the application is deployed, try to deploy it on some secure tool such as OSSEC so that it helps to protect all the application hosts.

    5. Continuous Integration and Build

    While creating the image or package for application, make sure that build tool or system should have the proper Security in place. Some of the tools that are available in market for Continuous Integration and Build are Jenkins, Circle CI, AWS CodeBuild, Google Cloud Functions, docker etc.

    Strategies for Mitigating Threats

    DevOps practices provide many ways to secure and auditing in the application along with features such as the faster feedback, automation, regular release etc.

    1. Monitoring and Alerting

    One of the methods that DevSecOps provide team to track the pipeline and release is through the logging and monitoring system which helps the faults and issues in CI/CD pipeline much quicker to track through continuous feedback.

    Not only this, but it also helps to track the software development lifecycle and understand better what is being deployed in the runtime environment and keep track of the same.

    2. Maintain Auditing and Compliance

    For any industry to work seamlessly, auditing and compliance plays an important role in mitigating threats and vulnerabilities. Adopting DevSecOps practices, helps the teams to ensure that the application software adheres to the essential practices of all required compliance.

    3. Cloud Usage

    The usage of cloud also becomes helpful for mitigating threats when adopted during DevSecOps services and practices. When software is developed and deployed in any cloud provider, it helps in the analysis of code, monitors compliance, investigates threats and much more. Take DevOps Certification Training to delve deeper into DevOps security mitigation.

    DevSecOps Best Practices

    When we talk about DevSecOps, it is not only about speed or agility there comes few more challenges. One of the Objective behind DevSecOps practices is to make Security as Core component of software development Cycle. Below are the few best practices DevOps security that will make application process run smoothly:

    1. Automation

    By introducing Security, there should not be much compromise with speed of delivery, which is one of important aspect of DevOps Process. We can have automated security controls and test in Software Development Lifecycle to ensure Security along with speed is maintained for Software Delivery.

    2. Training and Up-skilling Employees

    For DevSecOps team to be successful, it is important to have good training and professional courses for staff by having the security specialist and training staff to increase the skills and awareness of team. Other way for up skilling can be using the coding standard to educate developers on secure coding practices, which can provide better learning in itself. 

    3. Culture Shift

    To achieve DevSecOps goals in organization will require more efforts along with up gradation in the technology. One of the ways can be used here is Shift left Culture where DevOps team as part of an organizational pattern moves Security at the earliest stages in the software development lifecycle.

    4. Compliance

    This can be used by security policy for tagging so that Security in architecture can be implemented.

    5. Secure Coding Practices

    All coding standards must be reviewed against the latest security practices, and this should be set as event driven so that issues can be caught much earlier stage instead of developer working on fix after code is live in production.

    All the modifications should be checked, since no change is too small, and this method can be proven advantageous.

    6. Red Teams, Blue Teams, and Bug Bounties

    The use of red teams, blue teams and bug bounties help in timely discovery of the vulnerabilities and the security breaches. Below are the details of these:

    • Red Team: This is team of the ethical hackers with the purpose to test the effectiveness of the security programs and find potential attack in the spaces so that it can be mitigated before actual breach occur. Basically, through this, team tries to take over the system using different methods.
    • Blue Team- Blue team is responsible for the timely incident response and the Security. This team provide defense by taking necessary action on the attacks performed by red team.
    • Bug Bounty: Under this program, organization offer rewards to the individual who reports bug or security issue with the software application, which can be used further to ensure system should be risk free and does not have vulnerabilities. 

    7. Auditing Pre and Post Deployment

    To ensure Security is maintained across application, auditing pre and post deployment becomes important for Software development life cycle. Pre-Deployment checks are targeted on code modification, whereas Post Deployment checks include both policy and code modification. 

    The Goal behind pre and post deployment auditing is to make sure that certified security checks are same for pre and post deployment, which certify that deployment has not introduced any security vulnerabilities. Master auditing in DevSecOps with a DevOps Foundation Certification Course.

    8. Logging and Monitoring

    We can use Logging and monitoring tools to collect data, auditing the system, logging the activities of user etc which can help further for debugging and investigating the security incidents. Some of the different logging and monitoring tools available in market are such as Splunk, Grafana, Kibana, Nagios etc.

    9. Incident Management

    We should make sure consistent workflow and measurable action plan are in place for the incident response. In DevSecOps, there should be continuous detection and response to the vulnerabilities for smoother process.

    10. Security Testing

    As discussed above, DevSecOps require cultural shift in organization to be successful. These are below security testing ways to incorporate that promote the culture changes:

    1. Mandated change from top down, where the executive will communicate the required changes across the organization. 
    2. Organic change from bottom up, where the cross-team security collaboration starts from small and expands to other teams gradually. 

    Both the approaches are not easy to implement but are quite effective at creating the culture change that focus on resolving security issues before goes live in the production and user reporting the issue. Some organizations tend to follow one of the two approaches whereas some tends to follow the mixture of both.  

    11. Automating the ticket Creation

    Every detected vulnerability or threat should be linked to Jira automatically for the better performance and the efficiency of team with the help of right tooling. Thereby, once the issue is fixed, similar way ticket can be updated and closed.

    12. Automating Security Scans

    The application using DevOps security practices can be created and automated by carefully examining and listing down all steps in the application.

    Conclusion

    There are quite a lot of threats for DevOps and DevSecOps but also there are a wide range of the best practices that can be used to improve DevSecOps, which is growing trend among organizations. By implementing above mentioned best practices, organisation can help to protect your system from attack.

    DevSecOps is vast topic and if you want to learn more about DevOps and up skill yourself, feel free to check about certification trainings and in case you would like to see what a hands-on DevSecOps approach looks like in practice, take a look at the KnowledgeHut DevOps Course Content to make an informed decision.

    DevSecOps FAQs:

    1Why is security important in DevOps?

    Security is now has become the essential, not optional for any software. Earlier Security was too often an after though in SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). Since due to multiple hacker attacks, data breached, have turned Security to be an important issue. In digital age, Security has taken as important place as efficiency. It is basically economical approach for safeguarding software from reckless cyber-attack.: Security is now has become the essential, not optional for any software. Earlier security was too often an after though in SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). Since due to multiple hacker attacks, data breached, have turned security to be an important issue. In digital age, security has taken as important place as efficiency. It is basically economical approach for safeguarding software from reckless cyber attack. 

    2How do you ensure Security in DevOps?

    Good securities strategies are crucial for every part of the organization. For companies that have adopted DevOps model, Security is even more critical to protect both organization and customer who use their products. Few best practices that can be followed are: -Setting governance policies, automate as much it is possible for DevOps security, conduct vulnerability management and regular time to time security audits. For code saving and working prefer version control. Passwords are crucial and often a weak point of Security. To protect in better way strong and frequent changes is always preferred, which become very annoying and complicated for employees to keep it remember. Therefore, password manager came into picture and allow team to store information in one central location to prevent theft. Just as company conduct security audit annually or semi-annual basis, it should be something to be implemented to identify area in DevOps team as well.very annoying and complicated for employees to keep it remember. Therefore, password manager came into picture and allow team to store information in one central location to prevent theft. Just as company conduct security audit annually or semi-annual basis, it should be something to be implemented to identify area in DevOps team as well.

    3When Should security testing be done in DevOps?

    When we integrate Security within the DevOps it becomes DevSecOps. Instead of providing a layer of Security as a final step in the Software Development Life Cycle, it is more important to consider the Security in all-over the process. In Secure Software Development Life Cycle, it allows for the adoption of security monitoring and tooling by the development team in a close way to how tools like monitoring and operational can be used. : When we integrate security within the DevOps it becomes DevSecOps. Instead of providing a layer of security as a final step in the Software Development Life Cycle, it's more important to consider the security in all-over the process. In Secure Software Development Life Cycle, it allows for the adoption of security monitoring and tooling by the development team in a close way to how tools like monitoring and operational can be used. 

    Security should always play a major part in DevOps, therefore concept of 'Shift left' came into picture. In this both testing, quality and Security needs to move left/early in the SDLC towards developers which will make security testing faster and will also increase the efficiency 

    4How do you implement Security in Azure DevOps?

    Security has become essential nowadays, some practices that should be followed in Azure DevOps are: - 

    1. Using dedicated workstations: Azure has Privileged Access Workstations to protect from cyber-attacks that could allow hackers to access and the business details. 
    2. Using multiple factor authentication: Authentication plays important role in verification of the identity of a user or service id. Whereas Multiple authentications is a method which is add-on along with the password protection and provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource. Basically, it adds more Security by not only asking username and password, but also add multiple other method like phone call, SMS, mobile app notification etc. 
    3. Restricting the User access: The Azure DevTest Labs service uses Azure Role-Based Access Control which grant only the level of access necessary for users to perform their tasks and provide predefine role which can help to assign role to teams and its members
    Profile

    Kanav Preet

    Author

    Kanav is working as SRE in leading fintech firm having experience in CICD Pipeline, Cloud, Automation, Build Release  and Deployment. She is passionate about leveraging technology to build innovative and effective software solutions. Her insight, passion and energy results in her engaging a strong clientele who move ahead with her ideas. She has done various certifications in  Continuous delivery & DevOps (University of Virginia), tableau , Linux (Linux foundation) and many more.

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