We live in a fast-paced world of rapid changes and uncertainty where every aspect of our daily lives changes often, including the way we work and communicate. Organizations must deliver value to their customers at a much faster pace than ever before to thrive in such an environment. However, the decentralized nature of cloud infrastructure expands the threat landscape and poses several security risks that enterprises should address in light of recent data breaches.
Organizations must combat security threats and address challenges arising from cloud misconfigurations. Several recent tools, strategies, practices and technologies have emerged that can help you handle such security threats. This article discusses how the fusion of DevSecOps and trusted application delivery can extend the GitOps pipeline and add business value.
What is GitOps?
Coined by Weaveworks in 2017, GitOps thrives on a source code management system built on Git and adheres to the belief that Git is the single and definitive source of truth. Since all changes are stored in Git, anyone can see the audit trail if necessary. This enables you to use Git-based version control to manage your application’s code, environment and processes.
Figure 1: CI/CD with Git-based Version Control
GitOps leverages Git repositories as the one and only source of truth and embraces DevOps and infrastructure-as-code (IaC) best practices. Using GitOps, your developers can spend more time developing applications than configuring or maintaining Kubernetes clusters.
GitOps strategies are gaining traction with enterprises for various reasons, including improved productivity, increased deployment frequency and improved security. While it’s true that GitOps continues to be a transformative trend, the increased speed and automation can also lead to misconfigurations that compromise application stability and security.
Figure 2: CI/CD using GitOps
Often, these security vulnerabilities delay development as developers spend significant time and effort investigating them. Since this poses a hindrance to progress, the question that arises is how enterprises can maintain the frequency and speed of deployment while remaining secure and reliable. This is where trusted delivery comes in.
An Extension of DevOps
DevOps is a software engineering practice and culture that blends development and operations to provide a shared and collaborative approach to developing and maintaining software. This can boost productivity, lower costs and increase customer value through increased collaboration.
GitOps extends DevOps to bring the deployment workflow closer to developers. GitOps integrates code and configuration management for cloud-native application deployment and administration, while DevOps fosters shared ownership, transparency, and rapid feedback.
GitOps uses DevOps-proven practices like version control, code review and CI/CD pipelines with any Git-based repository, including GitHub, GitLab or BitBucket. It builds on DevOps and applies DevOps best practices for infrastructure automation.
What is Policy-as-Code?
When deploying and managing cloud-native infrastructures, adhering to security best practices and regulatory standards is critical without hindering development. Policy-as-code is an approach to infrastructure security in which rules are codified and enforced, thereby reducing or eliminating human errors. You can use it to write applications using a high-level language to control, manage and automate policies. With policy-as-code in place, developers may create applications to manage security, compliance and other regulations seamlessly.
Here are the types of policies that you can codify:
- Security Policies: By adhering to these policies, you can protect your software from data breaches caused by misconfigurations.
- Resilience Policies: The use of these policies in your Kubernetes clusters will help you create highly available, fault-tolerant systems as well as maintain business continuity.
- Coding Standards Policies: These policies can enforce coding consistency, i.e., any code that violates these policies will be rejected automatically by the system.
What is Trusted Application Delivery?
Trusted delivery entails codifying security policies within your software delivery pipeline for security and compliance and introducing guardrails at every stage. By ensuring the security, integrity and reliability of your applications deployed in production environments, unauthorized access, tampering or malware introduction is minimized. It establishes and maintains trust in application source code, artifacts and deployment pipelines throughout the SDLC process.
The key objectives of trusted application delivery are:
- Security: It protects the application from security threats and vulnerabilities
- Integrity: It verifies the authenticity and integrity of the source code of your application, together with the dependencies, and any artifacts
- Reliability: It ensures that the applications deployed to the production are stable and are devoid of any security loopholes so that they can perform as desired
Trusted application delivery helps development teams release applications early and secures them with automated protections or guardrails. It extends the GitOps pipeline by integrating security, governance and verification with policy-as-code. These security measures are implemented with policy-as-code. The policy-as-code approach encompasses the entire SDLC, including the design, development, testing and deployment stages.
According to your organization’s security and compliance policies, compliance and security rules are codified and integrated into the system. Throughout the life cycle of your application, you can manage its security, compliance and other regulations using policy-as-code. These code-defined policies prohibit the provisioning of non-compliant resources. You should implement trusted application delivery practices to secure your organization’s application delivery process and reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access.
Here are the key benefits of trusted delivery:
- Faster and more frequent releases
- Enhanced security
- Protect against misconfigurations
- Avoid compliance violations
- Improved collaboration
What is DevSecOps?
DevSecOps is a software development methodology that blends development (Dev), security (Sec) and operations (Ops) at all phases of the SDLC by incorporating mandatory security checks. An organization of any size can benefit by creating a culture of shared responsibility and collaboration by bridging the gap between development, security and operations teams.
A DevSecOps pipeline adds practices such as scanning, policy enforcement, static code analysis, threat intelligence and compliance validation to the SDLC process. Contrary to traditional software development processes that treat security as an afterthought leading to security vulnerabilities and breaches, DevSecOps is a paradigm shift that fosters a culture of proactive and continuous security approach to help address security concerns and vulnerabilities.
DevSecOps and GitOps help organizations adapt quickly to changing emerging trends and requirements. DevSecOps is an offshoot of DevOps that focuses primarily on security throughout the development process. It helps detect and resolve security issues and vulnerabilities easily and quickly while fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
Here are the benefits of DevSecOps at a glance:
- At the outset, determine which points in the SDLC process are susceptible to security flaws and vulnerabilities in the SDLC process
- Streamlined compliance
- Secure supply chain
- Reduced risk of the attack surface
- Complete visibility of potential threats
DevSecOps is a proven way to secure your CI/CD pipelines, deliver secure, trusted, high-quality software and foster an environment where security is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. By shifting security left—i.e., introducing security into the CI/CD pipeline earlier—organizations can be much more productive and the teams can be more cooperative and collaborative.
Given the threats to the security of the software supply chain, DevOps practices have given way to DevSecOps practices, where safety is paramount and a fundamental and ongoing component of software development. At the outset of the SDLC, you should ensure that software components and dependencies are secure to avoid potential software supply chain hazards.
Additionally, it would help if you had built-in security gates in each step of the SDLC to ensure consistent, repeatable and automated processes from the software build phase to deployment. Remember, DevSecOps isn’t an option; instead, it is a necessity.
Trusted Delivery With GitOps
Automated software delivery pipelines are based on Git as the only source of truth. Policy-as-code is a great way to ensure that misconfigurations and errors are detected, alerted, and deployments halted automatically. Next, we’ll cover how a typical GitOps workflow determines where multiple checkpoints can be implemented for trusted delivery.
In a typical workflow based on GitOps, a developer commits the source code to a Git repository. The CI tool then builds the container images. These container images are then tested and then uploaded to an image repository. At the end of this process, these container images will be deployed to a Kubernetes cluster. GitOps agents compare the current cluster state with the desired state on a continuous basis.
Hence, you should implement security guardrails at the following points:
- Git repository
- CI stage
- Configuration repository
- Kubernetes cluster
Creating a Trusted Software Supply Chain With DevSecOps
You can build a trusted software supply chain by incorporating security practices throughout the SDLC to ensure the integrity and security of the software delivered by DevSecOps. Here is a step-by-step guide to building a trusted software supply chain by leveraging DevSecOps principles:
- Security by Design: You should integrate security right from the outset of the SDLC and identify the key threats to the security of the pipeline.
- Application Dependency Scanning: When building applications, we often use third-party dependencies to accelerate the development process. You should monitor security vulnerabilities and patches as they become available for these dependencies. You can leverage OWASP Dependency Check, Firewall from Sonatype, etc.
- Secure Coding Practices: You should adhere to and enforce these practices among your development teams. You can integrate static code analysis tools into your DevSecOps pipeline, conduct regular code reviews and identify and fix security issues.
- Container Security: You should scan container images regularly for security vulnerabilities, implement strategies to secure your containers and use container registries with access controls.
- Continuous Compliance: You should ensure the software supply chain adheres to the relevant standards and guidelines for compliance requirements. In this regard, you should conduct audits regularly to check if compliance requirements have been satisfied.
- Collaboration and Communication: You should be able to foster a culture in your organization that facilitates collaboration and communication across the development, operations and security teams.
DevOps, DevSecOps and GitOps: The Future
As organizations strive to optimize the efficiency of their software supply chain, DevOps, DevSecOps and GitOps are approaches that can improve collaboration, efficiency and security, to help software developers and IT operations succeed. These practices would become more critical and widely used in the future. GitOps provides teams with better tools for managing configurations so they can focus on more strategic activities.
While GitOps is an approach that advocates Git-based version control systems as the single source of truth, DevOps is concerned about a cross-functional team that can work together. DevSecOps goes a step further by blending security into all stages of the SDLC process.
The future of DevOps, DevSecOps and GitOps will see increased automation, tighter security integration and a sustained emphasis on efficiency and collaboration. Your organization should adopt these approaches to provide reliable software and services to its customers.
Trusted application delivery is essential for securing applications, protecting user data, meeting compliance requirements and preserving market credibility and trust. It helps enterprises and end consumers by ensuring that software is distributed securely and reliably. Organizations can ship high-quality applications with guaranteed security and performance by adopting trusted delivery practices.