Transition from DevOps to DevSecOps

Integrating ‘Security as Code’ Culture within DevOps

 
DevSecOpsIn recent times, the DevOps adoption has led to a major transformation in enterprise computing. DevOps practices are instrumental for organizations in deriving several value-added benefits such as increased agility, speed and reduced costs in addition to features such as serverless-computing, dynamic provisioning and pay-as-you-go cost models.

Despite its enormous popularity, DevOps has been found wanting in cases requiring a secure delivery of code. This has led to the development of a new approach that facilitates the co-existence of information security with DevOps that is commonly referred to as ‘DevSecOps’.

An end-to-end look at DevSecOps covering various aspects such as:

The Need for DevSecOps

Need for DevSecOpsAlignment of development and operations teams through DevOps has made it possible to build customized software and business applications in far quicker time. However, in most cases security has not been accorded a high priority in DevOps implementation and is often viewed as a roadblock to rapid development.

Though organizations are increasingly focused on breaking down the traditional silos between the development, testing and operations teams, they are not integrating security into their development process, which makes them susceptible to the risk of threats and vulnerabilities.

Here is where DevSecOps comes in. The DevSecOps approach includes incorporating security as a major component of the DevOps practices. Through continuous monitoring, assessment and analysis, DevSecOps ensures that any loopholes and weaknesses are identified early in the development process and remediated immediately.

Difference between DevOps and DevSecOps

While DevOps refers to the collaborative environment between the development, testing and operations teams in order to achieve continuous delivery, DevSecOps involves the integration of the security component into the DevOps process.

DevSecOps majorly focuses on tackling DevOps Automation security issues, such as configuration management, composition analysis and others.

What Exactly is DevSecOps?

DevSecOpsThe concept of DevOps is commonly understood as a combination of processes and tools that facilitate an ongoing collaboration between the software engineering and infrastructure teams. These, in turn, automate the rapid and reliable delivery of applications and services across organizations.

DevOps includes several areas of focus such as automated provisioning, continuous integration, continuous monitoring and test-driven development, among others.

As an extension of the DevOps mindset, DevSecOps embeds security controls and processes into the DevOps workflow and automates the core security tasks. These security principles are introduced early in the development process and are implemented throughout the development life cycle.

In addition to providing DevOps teams with security knowledge and practices, DevSecOps incorporates application development knowledge and processes into security teams for efficient collaboration between both the teams.

DevSecOps or SecDevOps, Confusion in the Naming Convention

DevSecOps or SecDevOpsThere is no unanimity in the IT field with regard to the usage of the word DevSecOps, which is sometimes referred to as DevOpsSec, SecDevOps or rugged DevOps. This has led to a great confusion on whether each of the terms mean the same or are different from one another.

  • DevOpsSec vaguely implies that security comes into the picture at the end of the DevOps process. This means the security team would be involved in the review only after the completion of the development, deployment and operation phases. This is not the ideal approach as security has to be integrated into all stages of the DevOps cycle.
  • The term SecDevOps seems to suggest that security activities take preference even before development or operations, which is also not fully practical.
  • The rugged DevOps approach is also focused on ensuring code security during all phases of the software development lifecycle. Rugged DevOps involves penetration testing or pen testing for detecting vulnerabilities and enforcing security.
  • DevSecOps integrates the DevOps approach uniformly with security operations and is the most commonly used terminology.

Major Components of the DevSecOps Approach

Organizations need to incorporate a cultural and technical shift in their approach to DevSecOps to address real-time security threats more efficiently.

An effective DevSecOps approach requires a consideration of six major components. These include:

  • Analysis of code – This enables the quick identification of vulnerabilities through the delivery of code in small chunks.
  • Change management – This allows users to not only submit changes which can increase the speed and efficiency, but also determine if the impact of the changes is positive or negative.
  • Monitoring compliance – Organizations should be compliant with regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Card Industry Digital Security Standard (PCI DSS) and be prepared for audits any time by the regulators.
  • Investigating threats – Each code update is accompanied by potential emerging threats. It is very important to identify these threats at the earliest and respond immediately.
  • Vulnerability assessment – This involves the analysis of new vulnerabilities and the response to them.
  • Training – Organizations need to involve their software and IT engineers in security-related training and equip them with the guidelines for set routines.

Adopting a DevSecOps Strategy

Making a move from DevOps to DevSecOps is not a simple proposition, but can be achieved successfully in phases with proper planning.

There are three key steps that organizations need to consider while adopting DevSecOps.

  • Assessment of Current Security Measures – Security teams perform threat modeling and conduct risk assessments, which help them to analyze the sensitivity levels of an organization’s assets and their likely threats. Additionally, they can understand the current security controls and prioritize those requiring modification.
  • Merging Security into DevOps – Integrating the security measures into the development process involves the examination of the development workflow and ensuring minimal disruptions because of the incorporation of security practices and automation.
  • Integrating DevSecOps with Security Operations – A DevSecOps implementation can be considered successful only if the development, security and operations teams are committed to working in coordination and embedding security processes and controls into the entire DevOps workflow. Continuous monitoring of any security concerns during development and ensuring a quick response are key for integrating security operations with the DevSecOps approach.

Business Benefits of DevSecOps

By shifting from a DevOps to a DevSecOps approach, organizations are able to transform their handling of the development pipeline. Increased collaboration between the development, security and operations teams ensures that vulnerabilities are identified and security threats are minimized in the early stages itself.

DevSecOps provides several other advantages to enterprises including greater agility and speed for the security teams, enhanced communication and collaboration between the teams, and early identification of code vulnerabilities. DevSecOps also enables organizations with an ability to rapidly respond to change, in addition to providing opportunities for quality assurance testing and automated builds.

A number of additional benefits also result from the adoption of DevSecOps, which include:

  • Automatic Securing of Code – DevSecOps reduces the risk of introducing security flaws through human error by automating tests and enables greater coverage, consistency and predictable processes. Additionally, any issues can be tracked and fixed as soon as they occur during the development process.
  • Continuous Security Enablement – By using automation tools, organizations are able to create a closed-loop process for testing and reporting, thereby ensuring that all security concerns are immediately resolved.
  • Leveraging Security Resources – DevOps automates most of the standard security processes and tasks that require lesser hands-on time such as event monitoring, account management, code security and vulnerability assessments. This allows security professionals to focus their attention towards threat remediation and elimination of strategic risk.

Usage of Security & DevOps Tools

Security tools such as Threat Stack blend seamlessly with DevOps workflows and help DevOps professionals by providing a clear visibility into any changes in the infrastructure.

Security teams also utilize DevOps tools such as Chef for automating security testing and Puppet for enforcing security policies and compliance.

On similar lines, Ansible is used for defining and automating best practices such as locking down users and groups, and also for applying custom security policies. Orchestration and automation of security practices are possible with SaltStack.

Implementing DevSecOps Implementing DevSecOps

In order to successfully implement DevSecOps, organizations should make the necessary modifications to their tools, processes and organizational culture.

Security audits can be automated using the tools for scripts, static and dynamic analysis, composition analysis and integration of testing. In addition, proper tools can ensure the detection of security flaws as early as possible. Organizations need to focus on instrumentation and ensure that the entire infrastructure (not just the code) is working and secure.

For changing processes, strong feedback loops should be established and regular code audits performed. Security needs to be transparently and quickly reviewed, assessed and corrected as is required. Problems must be dealt with in an organized and standardized manner with well-documented procedures.

Building a strong DevSecOps culture in an organization requires openness, transparency and rapid delivery of information. Security professionals should function as technology evangelists to reinforce and build security awareness. Security teams should be empowered to make the relevant decisions for consistent improvement.

Essential DevSecOps Tools

Essential DevSecOps ToolsDevSecOps adoption involves assessment of application security risks and code testing for which specialized tools are essential. Usage of automated testing tools in an integrated development environment (IDE) enables developers to integrate security into the DevOps workflow and avoid the need to launch a new environment for testing code every time.

Several tools have been developed to facilitate various aspects of DevSecOps implementation. These include:

  • Visualization Tools: Tools such as Kibana and Grafana help in identifying, evolving and sharing security information with operations.
  • Automation Tools: Tools like StackStorm help in providing scripted remediation whenever security defects are detected.
  • Hunting Tools: These tools help in detecting security anomalies. A few examples include Mirador, OSSEC, MozDef and GRR, among others.
  • Testing Tools: Testing is a critical element of DevSecOps with an extensive range of tools such as GauntIt, Spyk, Chef Inspec, Hakiri, Infer and Lynis being used for the purpose.
  • Alerting Tools: Tools such as Elastalert, Alerta and 411 provide the alerts and notification upon discovery of security defects requiring remediation.
  • Threat Intelligence Tools: These tools capture and collate threat intelligence and include among others OpenTPX, Critical Stack and Passive Total.
  • Attack Modeling Tools: These help in operationalizing attack modeling and security defenses.

DevSecOps, A Top Business Priority

Integrating security with DevOps is not just a technological consideration, but also involves people and processes. Successful DevSecOps implementation requires IT teams to focus on business risks along with security. The global DevSecOps market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.7% during the 2017-23 period.

DevSecOps not only ensures a secure application delivery, but also a much-quicker time to market.

By proactively adopting DevSecOps and redefining their operations, engineering and security to work in cohesion, organizations can achieve unparalleled levels of success.

DevSecOps Consulting Services

Veritis is one of the few major providers of end-to-end DevSecOps Consulting Services. Our consultants specialize in assessment, implementation and support for the DevSecOps initiatives of our clients spanning from simple to complex enterprise-level IT projects.

We develop consultative solutions that enable clients to secure product development with DevSecOps capabilities. We produce tailored DevSecOps platforms integrating security into areas such as build automation, test automation, deployment automation, monitoring, environment management and others.

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