In a fast-paced environment like DevOps, your security strategy needs to be even more agile. While moving fast is great for delivering application features and functionality, speed shouldn’t come at the cost of security.
DevOps security incorporates security strategies directly into your DevOps pipeline, creating a culture of pre-secured software deployments that work seamlessly for the end user. However, this requires a complete shift in your operational policies and security mindset. You need to start viewing security as an integral part of your DevOps lifecycle instead of a separate department.
Here’s a checklist of DevOps security strategies for your development teams to deliver secure and reliable applications faster:
Your Complete DevOps Security Checklist
1. Analyze your development process for security hazards.
The first step in implementing a DevOps security strategy is finding and fixing loopholes in your existing development process.
For instance, continuous delivery and development are key in a DevOps environment. However, if each change doesn’t go through a code review, it has the potential to break your application.
Deploying changes without passing them through a security checkpoint is like driving at high speed on a road with many curves. Each curve (change) is a potential hazard, and the danger increases when the driver does not know a car is coming from the other side (bug).
Therefore, you must turn the spotlight on your development process and find those curves.
2. Create a common goal between development and security teams.
Traditional roles of developers and security teams might look like they are at crossroads — Developers write code, and security teams find fault with their code. However, in a collaborative environment such as DevOps, security and development must work hand-in-hand to deliver a secure and seamless experience to end users.
Your organization should have a common goal of integrating security directly into the development process. Therefore, encourage open and regular communication between development and security teams. Further, establish joint milestones and review them to ensure there are no silos between both teams.
Once these teams get used to this collaborative approach, your deployments will become faster because fewer things will break.
3. Integrate security procedures in the development phase.
Automation is the lifeblood of DevOps security. Integrating scanning tools into development workflows is critical to your entire process.
For example, automated tools can scan the code, network and infrastructure to identify security vulnerabilities and provide recommendations for remediation. With this, development teams can fix a few security concerns themselves before passing them on to the security team for a final check.
4. Add observability to your pipeline.
One of the biggest challenges of the distributed nature of DevOps operations is visibility. How do you efficiently monitor a large number of operation nodes spread across several different locations?
Observability helps you do this by using logs, metrics and traces—i.e., the outputs of your application to determine internal application health. With observability tools, you can see much deeper into the operations of your systems and identify the exact details of any security concerns. You can also easily identify potential bugs and fix them before they cause problems.
5. Make changes in small, incremental units.
It is infinitely easier to test code in small units and deploy them as minor but incremental changes than handling large, unwieldy blocks of monolithic code. Deploying gradual changes means you can resolve vulnerabilities faster.
6. Scan and secure your entire DevOps pipeline.
A large part of the security hazards in your DevOps process comes from unsecured containers and operations nodes. According to a study from ThreatStack, 94% of organizations say containers represent a security risk.
However, the risk is not limited to containers.
Other services like APIs, third-party tools like Docker and imported code pose a potential security risk to your processes. This makes it necessary to scan all your operations nodes periodically for vulnerabilities. And once you’ve cleared them, remember to lock the door behind you by requiring strict credentials for access to your administrative dashboards.
Ticking Items Off Your DevOps Security Checklist
If you implement most of the security guidelines on this checklist, your organization will have a solid security foundation. However, DevOps security is not a one-time process.
You will need to continuously integrate security protocols into each part of your DevOps life cycle. Furthermore, you will need to re-train your employees and invest in new technology that makes your security pipeline smoother, such as observability.
However, since this entire process makes your applications more secure and compliant while shipping them to market faster, investing in DevOps security is well worth it!