DevOps has changed the way enterprises operate, allowing for quick and efficient product development. In order for companies to keep up with market competition, many companies that are not structurally prepared to implement DevOps will still put together a team just to meet demand, which in turn creates vulnerabilities and gaps within their security posture.
Today, only 46% of IT professionals are confronting security risks during the initial phases of development. With security as an afterthought, DevOps teams may overlook even the most basic security practices. What’s more, in an environment that relies heavily on code, we’ve seen time and time again careless developers leaking confidential information through APIs or cryptographic keys on sites such as GitHub. As a mecca for code, it’s the primary place cybercriminals turn to gain access to the credentials developers have stored in its platform and forgotten to remove before production.
While GitHub breaches continue to put a spotlight on DevOps security, most organizations are still missing the big picture. The reality is security hygiene remains critical, and DevOps can put their organizations at risk by neglecting basic security practices such as monitoring access and embedded secrets, such as passwords, keys and APIs.
Where Should DevOps Teams Begin?
The solution is simple: separate highly valuable secrets from the developer. Luckily, the key to streamlining secrets doesn’t have to be time-consuming or costly. In fact, secrets management is, at its core, an extension of privileged access management (PAM), which many enterprises already have in place.
As an essential approach to safeguarding an organization against bad actors, one of the fastest ways to mitigate the risk of DevOps-related data is to remediate weak security practices related to PAM.
The following are some of the most important security protocols DevOps team should apply to their delivery pipelines:
Inventorying Privileged Accounts and Access
Large enterprises running networks with thousands of servers and network devices often lack an accurate inventory of assets. Most organizations create a security gap by not understanding the credentials within their systems due to inadequate deprovisioning processes. A DevOps environment’s use of automation and scripts makes it even more complicated to manage privileged accounts and access.
To ensure DevOps practices are secure beyond the initial provisioning phase, security professionals must understand where automation is stored and what embedded credentials are stored within that automation. By understanding the entire embedded privileged credential process, adamantly keeping track of each DevOps team member’s access and leveraging automation, enterprises can instantly update a user’s access when their role changes to ensure they have the right access to do their job and nothing more.
Secrets Management Integration
A significant challenge for DevOps teams in managing privileged credentials is finding a solution that can be seamlessly integrated into existing development toolsets.
Many DevOps teams rely on several different tools for different phases of the development process, and simply can’t afford to use secrets management solutions and processes that don’t integrate with and address all of them. For example, if an enterprise has invested in AWS and has an Azure-specific secrets management solution, tedious steps could be added to the process. In an environment that’s focused on rapid development, developers are likely to find ways to work around these inconveniences which can put the enterprise at risk.
To ensure an effective secrets management strategy is put in place, enterprises need to understand that it must work with every tool in the DevOps workflow. By integrating security systems with tools developers know and use, enterprises can ensure no shortcuts are putting its sensitive information at risk.
Understanding the DevOps Pipeline
Traditionally, enterprises think the only way to obtain a secret is to log into a server, but in DevOps that’s not the case. In DevOps, when a user with privilege inputs a piece of code, it goes through a pipeline and many enterprises are oblivious to what happens within that pipeline. This blind spot could pose serious cyber risk to the organization. For example, if three developers are working on a project and they check in code that requires privileged access, such as copying credit card information, a developer could inadvertently interject dangerous code into that project and the security team is none the wiser.
For an environment that’s focused on individualized actions, applying secrets management and thinking twice about who has access to build within this pipeline environment is critical. By not understanding how the pipeline functions and not knowing who has access to specific data, enterprises increase their risk of an internal breach or data leak.
The reality is managing DevOps security has nothing to do with the actual DevOps process. By integrating basic privileged management protocols, enterprises can ensure security is at the forefront–and not the backend–of the development process.