Embracing DevOps is essential, but keeping the software delivery and deployment pipeline safe has become more critical than ever. While attackers are keen on getting into your Docker containers or Kubernetes clusters, securing your images, pods and clusters can deter attackers. Securing your artifacts, deployment workloads and production environments remains critical today. While we have many tools to get these jobs done, it is vital to understand DevSecOps and its related factors.
DevSecOps has become a mass movement today. But what makes it so important?
DevSecOps addresses software development security via the mindset that everyone is responsible for security at every stage in the development process.
DevSecOps is a culture and an evolution where security is given the utmost priority in the software development life cycle (SDLC). Security is everyone’s responsibility, and inspection is done at each stage of the development cycle. Basically, implementing a process for inspecting, scanning and reviewing code by developers at predetermined checkpoints to immediately tackle any identified bugs or vulnerabilities. One of the most challenging parts of the transition from DevOps to DevSecOps lies in building more open and communicative teams.
Using DevSecOps, security becomes an integral part of the planning, coding, building, testing, deployment and production stages. DevSecOps makes continuous testing the default for developers and security professionals to deliver more secure features to the market more quickly.
In many organizations, most development, operations or DevOps teams see security or security teams as a roadblock to getting things done faster; delaying features. In traditional DevOps implementations, the security aspect was missing, DevSecOps was introduced to stress the priority of security in DevOps.
Let’s take Uber’s security breach in 2017 as an example. Personal details and information of 57 million customers and over 600,000 drivers was exposed. Uber paid a $100,000 ransom to hackers in an attempt to get them to delete the breached data. This breach happened because engineers failed to secure and update the credentials they were using on GitHub.
Similarly, in 2018, Tesla’s Cloud was hijacked and used to mine cryptocurrency by abusing a vulnerability in the company’s Kubernetes cluster. A significant amount of FedEx data was also exposed in the same way, affecting 119,000 individuals.
Logz.io’s annual DevOps Pulse 2020 survey revealed that, out of 1,000 respondents, only 3% indicated their development methodology as DevSecOps, hinting at the slow pace of DevSecOps adoption in the industry.
Image source: Logz.io
Shifting security left helps organizations secure each stage of the development life cycle. This refers to starting testing earlier in the SDLC. The goal here is to enhance quality, cut down long test cycles and reduce the likelihood of unpleasant security surprises at the end of the development cycle or in production.
It is essential to implement a threat modeling mechanism in DevOps workflows since it helps developers and security professionals to view software from an attacker’s perspective. It makes developers more careful while writing code and encourages them to more closely follow code writing and review best practices. Threat assessment or threat modeling will also help identify potential vulnerabilities in system design and architecture, and acts as a crucial part of successful security integration in the SDLC.
Training developers on the importance of security is a critical best practice. Making sure each developer who writes, tests and deploys code understands that security is part of their job description is a priority. Training developers on security best practices, how to embed security, check for vulnerabilities and use appropriate security tools will improve overall security knowledge and increase its application within the organization.
A vulnerability is considered a flaw in the code, application dependencies, external libraries, licenses used or operating system (OS) packages. There are a number of static and dynamic application security tools that can help the development team to find and address bugs and vulnerabilities as early as possible in the development pipeline. Many are automated to reduce the time it takes for developers to find these flaws.
Bug bounty programs and rewards motivate external and internal security experts to experiment with the platform, analyze, think outside the box and report any major bugs and security flaws found.
Security-as-code is the next evolution in DevOps, where security is fully embedded in the development processes. This practice implements security and secure coding practices in the earliest stage of development. With security-as-code, developers will be able to identify vulnerable code ahead of time and add security checkpoints/measures to tackle such irregularities.
When we talk about DevSecOps, the software development cycle involves multiple checkpoints to identify bugs and any other vulnerabilities and resolve them so that the application works as designed. The aim is to deploy software with quality and confidence, and this is achieved by using various tools at different stages.
Image credits: CatchPoint
Organizations can choose to use the type of security tools that best work for their needs from their preferred vendor. While the security tools themselves are critical for detecting vulnerabilities in the application through the DevSecOps pipeline, monitoring is also considered an integral part of this process. It not only lets developers analyze and evaluate security vulnerabilities from the end user’s viewpoint, but it can help identify breaches and anomalies after an application is in production.
While DevOps focuses on speed and agility, DevSecOps adds a layer of security throughout the software development life cycle. A DevSecOps pipeline adds security activities to every stage of the development process, not simply tacking it on to the end as an afterthought. This is achieved by integrating security checkpoints, controls, policies, tools and techniques from the beginning of the DevOps pipeline until the end. These additions facilitate automated security controls at each stage of the software delivery pipeline.
Image credits: JFrog
In his swampUP conference keynote The Divine and Felonious Nature of Cyber Security, John Willis shared some valuable DevSecOps best practices, including:
Embedding security earlier in your software development life cycle will yield bug-free features and satisfied customers. Have security checkpoints at each stage and make sure developers understand that security is everyone’s responsibility, including theirs. Manage your software and build artifacts, scanning and securing them at every stage of the pipeline using appropriate tools and techniques. Happy DevSecOpsing!
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