Since the primary goal of DevOps is to eliminate bottlenecks to increase a company’s speed and efficiency, organizations tend to embrace new strategies that make DevOps even more efficient. However, when it comes to integrating security into DevOps, there is some debate whether such integrations help to improve the success rate of the DevOps process.
The Security Dilemma
Some arguments against integrating security into DevOps include:
- Security and DevOps function better separately,
- There is no need for security in DevOps, or
- Security will somehow slow down the creativity driven by DevOps.
Some say security integrated with DevOps stifles the work flow and innovation due to its restrictions. In other words, security can viewed as getting in the way of development, or being overbearing to the process, because it is not geared toward rapid development, but rather toward safety.
Despite the arguments against integrating security with DevOps, security breaches because of neglecting safety during development can be a nightmare. For example, software or a website attacked via an overlooked vulnerability point, or a major bug to the code, costs the company in terms of time, money and competitive edge.
Not only can it crash the product, but it also can halt sales or seriously damage the reputation of the product or site. If security is not integrated with the fast-paced DevOps team, security problems often are not solved or even detected until well after the product is released. This can make it very difficult for the security team to limit the negative effects of any security problem.
The Benefits of Integration
Security integrated with DevOps creates an opportunity for the security team to fix and identify problems or vulnerabilities before the product is launched—and before the stakes are suddenly much higher and much more costly.
Integrating security into DevOps allows the security team to protect the code and the products from within, while they are being created.
It can be compared to safety inspectors being part of a team that builds a railroad: Wouldn’t it be easier for them to identify any problems with the railroad while it is being built, rather than trying to fix them after a train crashes?
Security from the Beginning
It is true that DevOps and agile development involve being very adaptable to change and making rapid prototypes and new products that account for errors, flaws or even security risks. However, just because a DevOps team can move fast doesn’t mean the business won’t be more profitable if it can prevent security risks in the first place.
Developers don’t possess the same knowledge and skills security professionals have. For that reason security professionals should be included in the development process to increase the chance of releasing a stronger and more effective product.
The database specifically is an area that can spell disaster. Security and regulatory compliance should be a central component of DevOps for database to prevent unauthorized and undocumented changes to the database and a potentially disastrous security breach.
It’s important to protect a developer’s creativity and workflow, but most companies have room to integrate more security into their DevOps team. Doing so might just save them from huge problems down the line.
Here are a few key steps to enable secure DevOps:
- Configure the dev, test and deployment environments identically.
- Make proactive changes to all environments automatically, significantly reducing the opportunity for engineers to make security mistakes.
- Create a secure process and determine roles and responsibilities as early as possible in development stage.
- Perform all vital secure connectivity reviews during the development process.
- Implement separation of duties across your entire release process.
- Fully automate your deployments to reduce the need for manual access and attended processes.
- Ensure your database does not become a compliance and security risk.
About the Author/Yaniv Yehuda
Yaniv Yehuda is the co-founder and CTO of DBmaestro, an enterprise software development company focusing on database development and deployment technologies. Yaniv is also the co-founder and the head of development for Extreme Technology, an IT service provider for the Israeli market. Yaniv was a captain in Mamram, the Israel Defense Forces computer centers, where he served as a software engineering manager.