How to Integrate Security Into a DevOps Cycle

Today, DevOps is being integrated into organizations thanks to the many benefits that this structured approach can bring.

However, DevOps processes aren't restricted to development and operations and need to take in the security operations role to provide a genuinely holistic approach.

Companies are adopting DevOps but missing out on the most critical aspect - security. This is where DevSecOps comes into the picture. It has proven to be a game changer for many organizations.

DevSecOps is a transition every organization with a DevOps framework must look towards, for it can bring tremendous benefits to the organization. DevSecOps is a mindset that brings a combination of several disciplines, individuals, and operational processes that helps to create a higher level of security.

This post will help you understand the various security aspects that are covered by the adoption of DevSecOps and how it can enable organizations to create data security and privacy mechanisms that help consistently deploy secured applications:

What is DevSecOps?

In the traditional DevOps framework, security has not always been an integral part of the entire software development lifecycle. However, with DevSecOps, security gets built-in to the software, into the process, into the servers/containers/whatever, and into the configurations, rather than being a function that acts as a perimeter around the app or the data.

This ensures that security remains ingrained in each aspect of the development pipeline, creating a well-functioning solution that is highly secure and reliable.

DevSecOps is nothing but a collaborative framework of DevOps, where security is a shared responsibility that is integrated from start to finish. This mindset is vital, as it emphasizes that security is not just the security team’s domain but something that each member of the organization needs to think about. DevSecOps is short for development, security, and operations, and makes everyone accountable for security.

Ways to Integrate Security Into DevOps - DevSecOps

Organizations today have to release updates, security features, fixes, and other upgrades to their products, which are happening at a faster frequency as compared to the way it was done traditionally.

This change in software development and deployment has led to the adoption of DevOps, which, in essence, is a framework that uses a principle called CAMS.

CAMS is:

  • Culture: defines the protocols to facilitate mindset, communication, and collaboration to increase agility.
  • Automation: defines the processes that are automated to eliminate error-prone manual activity and enable consistency and efficiency.
  • Measurement: Continuous improvement is the benchmark for all DevOps processes, so the critical metric needs to be tracked and measured at every interval.
  • Sharing: defines the sharing of tools, discoveries and lessons learned to create a more efficient process.

In DevSecOps, this same culture of shared responsibility to enable faster and more agile decision making is leveraged. However, unlike DevOps, where security gets pushed out to a later stage, DevSecOps focuses on integrating proper security thinking and processes into each stage, enabling rapid development as soon as the security flaws are detected.

For organizations that have integrated DevOps, incorporating DevSecOps can happen in a few simple steps:

1. Change the Security Mindset

Often, there is a mindset that permeates within developers, security teams, and operations about disinterest in the other’s role. With DecSecOps, this mindset is eliminated as every member has to think along the same lines, incorporating security as a core concept rather than a standalone responsibility of the security team.

Developers primarily focus on building features that enhance user experience and improve overall performance, which makes them believe that the other functions are not as essential. However, without making security a priority, the well-functioning product may still never see the light of day!

Start by eliminating traditional mindsets to create an integrated security approach to make DevSecOps happen.

2. Improve Security Awareness with Training

According to a study, only 1 in 36 undergraduate computer science programs have made passing the cybersecurity course a graduation requirement.

Under such circumstances, developers and other teams’ disdain and lack of motivation to work on security best practices are likely. However, to steer them in the right direction takes hands-on training and creating an environment in which security is considered a priority.

Nurture a culture of learning and ensure your teams are provided with the required training to help them get on board to implement security thinking and awareness in design, development, coding, and testing.

3. Redefine Centralized Security

Like the DevOps framework, eliminating teams with their core responsibilities and expecting each member to focus on all aspects like development, operations, and security is farfetched.

While security will still be the core function of the security team, the operations and development teams will also need to help manage a few aspects of security.

Having a centralized team to monitor the process while redefining centralized security to establish risk tolerance and security controls help each team get on board with their accountability for implementing security best practices. If any, vulnerabilities can thus be easily identified and mitigated efficiently, rather than waiting until the very end, creating roadblocks for the overall release of the product.

4. Establish a Governance Structure for Cloud Services

The cloud is often misunderstood to mean a lack of security and controls compared to an on-premise framework where the teams can monitor and control every aspect of the system.

However, recent cloud security developments have created a framework where cloud security and development are just as secure and effective. At the same time, organizations get to embrace several benefits of adopting the cloud environment.

To establish a governance structure for your cloud, start by making small investments in aligning your business strategies to define a governing structure that:

  • Develops business scenarios that illustrate the acceptable use and allotment of cloud resources
  • Describes the architecture and framework within the cloud to help you effectively use it
  • Limits the subscription and installs user controls to ensure every user has only the access required without unintentionally introducing errors in the whole system

5. Maintain DevOps Accountability for Security

Finally, getting DevOps teams to be accountable for security may take some time and patience and initially run into its course of problems. But if you are focused on the ultimate goal of embracing the DevSecOps framework to effectively and efficiently tackle each approach holistically, maintaining DevOps accountability for security is necessary.

In several organizations where DevSecOps is being implemented, the workflow is quite similar to the traditional approach. Developers create the code and then expect the security teams to take it up from there and start the testing.

However, this framework in unworkable in the DevSecOps framework, as:

  • Security and testing teams queue up on issues to be addressed while developers are focused on building features and performance.
  • Application developers are confused with security operations and often write code without correctly estimating their security impact.

Thus, shifting accountability to DevOps is the only way forward. DevOps need to get their hands dirty with trying to solve security issues on their own, while the entire processes is managed by security teams who create a shared framework incorporating:

  • DevOps best practices: which provides the scripts and coding framework that the organization should abide by and follow to validate security controls at the right level easily
  • Security scorecards: to highlight and encourage each member to improve and collaborate on the security aspects of the product
  • Penetration testing: Having teams that can perform a penetration test of an application inspires teams to take security more seriously

Takeaways

Are you considering embracing the DevSecOps framework for your organization? Know that each organization is different and can have other goals or mechanisms to deal with security.

However, in the modern world, integrating security in each aspect of the organization helps deliver highly secure products that have security built into every aspect of its creation, from designing, development, testing, release, and implementation.

At Cypress Data Defense, we focus on bridging the gap between DevOps and security teams by helping them adopt DevSecOps into their software development process. Our security experts have helped clients globally to integrate security in their DevOps process and hence, make more secure, efficient, and powerful applications.

If you have any questions or feedback for us, please feel free to contact us and we’ll solve your queries as soon as possible.

About

Cypress Data Defense was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado with offices across the United States. Our goal is to help organizations secure their IT development and operations using a pragmatic, risk-based approach. The diverse background of our founders allows us to apply security controls to governance, networks, and applications across the enterprise.

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