DevOps methodologies are significantly reimagining the way IT businesses operate and deliver projects. Built on an agile, collaborative software development approach, it enables organizations to realize high speed to market. However, amid this transformation, many businesses are failing to realize the true potential of DevOps initiatives. In fact, according to Gartner, 75% of DevOps initiatives fail to meet the expectations through 2022. The reason? Security!
Yes, the traditional approaches to integrating security into new products are not keeping pace with the high software development speed offered by DevOps. Indeed, many businesses perceive the legacy security practices as impediments to the speed, scale, and agility of DevOps. And this is where DevSecOps precisely fits in. Let’s get into the details:
DevSecOps (Development, Security, and Operations) is simply an evolution of the DevOps approach. It is the process of embedding security tools and processes into each phase of the DevOps lifecycle. DevSecOps integrates application development, security, infrastructure as code, and operations into a continuous, end-to-end, highly automated software development lifecycle. It addresses security issues as they emerge within the Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) pipelines. This enables businesses to deliver better, more-secure software in a fast and economical manner.
Read: I get DevOps, but what is DevSecOps
While DevSecOps offers many benefits, some of the most prominent ones include:
Understanding key differences between DevOps and DevSecOps is imperative for IT businesses. Though you may be using both the terms interchangeable, understanding the concepts will help you leverage the best of both worlds. Below are the major differences between DevOps and DevSecOps:
Though businesses can tailor their own strategies to incorporate security culture across their DevOps pipeline, DevSecOps strategy typically lies on four foundational pillars:
1. People: Remember that human resources are the greatest efficiency asset in any initiative, either DevOps or DevSecOps. As you move to the DevSecOps world, the development, security, and operations teams, that used to function in a siloed fashion, may continue to work separately for a while. So, breaking down this cultural inertia can be the most pertinent aspect of your DevSecOps journey. Quickly identify and address those silos and drive seamless communication within the teams. Drive a culture of collaboration that imparts openness, transparency, ownership, and accountability.
"The other challenge is that developers are creating solutions that may seem secure architecturally, but aren’t operationally. Maybe there’s never been a sysadmin before or a network engineer before, so they’re writing code with security issues because of the interplay between layers of the stack, or the way clouds interoperate, or the way the monitoring software works, and so on. So you really need to embed security review and execution into that toolchain or you run the risk of getting out in front of your skis, security-wise"
- Ralph Loura, CIO at Lumentum
2. Process: Simplify and automate manual processes to the extent possible, while putting security, speed, and quality at the forefront. With DevOps in place, the development and delivery processes are now much faster than before, ensuring that the security processes are on par with that speed. The new DevSecOps operating model must articulate how teams work together, including clear interaction models and enabling mechanisms that define participation in each role and maximize collaboration. Every control and function needs to work cohesively such that the business attains unimaginable agility.
3. Technology: The DevOps initiatives are augmented by a host of cloud-based technologies that enable development teams to realize speed delivery. With the introduction of DevSecOps, many cloud-based security solutions are becoming mainstream. For instance, security-as-code, testing-as-code, infrastructure-as-code, and compliance-as-code, erase the need for some manual security processes. When these tools and services are implemented rightly, quality becomes consistent across the DevOps pipeline. It's best to follow an incremental approach to deploy these new security tools.
4. Governance: DevSecOps, when implemented rightly, enhances governance efficiency. DevSecOps leverages a uniform set of tools and automated controls, which eases the process of monitoring and testing required tools. Moreover, DevSecOps can cater to the requirements of compliance and control teams and relieve developer resources by gradually automating testing processes. For instance, by leveraging compliance-as-code, the teams can accomplish the process of pulling tickets, selecting samples, and identifying audit trails from multiple systems in minutes.
The typical DevOps software development lifecycle includes phases like Plan, Code, Build, Test, Release and Deploy. As DevSecOps is all about integrating security into DevOps, specific security controls are applied in each phase of the CI/CD pipeline. The following are the phases of such security procedures:
Threat modeling is the process of identifying security vulnerabilities in code during the architecture phase of the application development. It also helps in mitigating those threats.
Scanning is the process of analyzing code using application security tools such as SAST and DAST to identify potential security vulnerabilities and issues in it. It includes both manual and automated processes. This phase helps developers to bridge the security gaps earlier in the SDLC.
The analyzing phase includes the process of reviewing the data and metrics collected in the previous phases to identify all the security risks. Then, the risks are aligned as per their severity. SAST tools, like Klocwork, are used to automate this process.
The remediation phase includes the process of mitigating the security vulnerabilities identified and organized in the previous phases. SAST tools are used to automatically remediate the identified vulnerabilities, errors, and bugs. This process enables fast security vulnerability patching.
Monitoring is the process of tracking the identified security vulnerabilities, remediation processes, and the overall security posture of the application. It also enables teams to track and manage the variation between the actual and target metric values. Moreover, it helps DevSecOps teams to make data-driven decisions during the SDLC.
In DevOps, security scanning and evaluations are performed at the end of the software development lifecycle. As a result, resolving security vulnerabilities has become complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. And DevSecOps emerged as the right solution to this challenge. To do so, DevSecOps follows the Shift-Left approach.
The Shift-Left approach in DevSecOps encourages the teams to integrate security into the SDLC lifecycle as early as possible. It moves security from the right (end) to the left (beginning) of the DevOps SDLC lifecycle. So, in DevSecOps, the security is baked into the development process from the beginning, allowing the teams to identify security threats early and ensure those threats are addressed immediately.
DevSecOps, indeed, empowers organizations to deliver secure software at a pace. However, it can only be truly successful when cultural change is welcomed. Understating the significance of cultural and mindset change, employees often struggle to understand the DevSecOps way of working. The complex operating models, siloed processes, and insufficient reskilling efforts are hindering businesses to realize transformative speed.
So, to tap the full potential of DevSecOps, businesses must not only make a substantial change to their technology architecture but more so to their people architecture. Here are the steps to build a DevSecOps culture in your organization and unlock true value:
Businesses need the right mindset to implement a continuous security testing culture across the DevSecOps lifecycle. In the DevOps ecosystem, security is the responsibility of the security team. But DevSecOps requires a shift in mindset making everyone responsible for security to build high-quality software. Shift your organization's mindset from a singular focus on development speed to a broader mindset to increase speed and quality with open collaboration on shared objectives.
In a bid to realize the new cultural shift, the organization needs to identify key enabling mechanisms, such as new operating and interaction models and flow metrics. This helps in fostering the shift in mindset and ways of working.
The gap is the prime impediment for organizations adopting DevSecOps. In order to tackle taletalent nt scarcity, businesses must invest in meaningful and impactful skillset building and learning programs. Implement a combined strategy of up-skill, cross-skill, and new-skill to bridge the talent gap.
Implementing DevSecOps is easier said than done. Businesses must embed security into their CI/CD pipeline without impacting agility. A small misstep can prove detrimental to your DevSecOps initiative.
“I’m a fan of platforms. Building a platform and using it across many purposes is more cost-efficient. A cross-organizational platform helps with cost and viability; they’re known to mature and thus have deeper levels of security, which is another aspect you have to consider with the best of breed tools. You’re also reducing time to market.”
- Sheila Jordon, CDTO at Honeywell (Source: Rethinking DevOps for Orchestration, Insights, & Security)
Below are the DevSecOps best practices that help you ensure a fail-proof DevSecOps strategy for your organization:
Clearly define guidelines to drive security throughout the DevOps CI/CD pipeline. This helps establish mutual trust among the development, operations, and security teams. Also, define expectations of high-security standards and mutual accountability. Set shared objectives and metrics for measuring success. Align security architects with business priorities.
It is wise to prove ideas manually before automating them. Conduct an agile security drill with participants from the security and application teams to define and configure the most crucial security requirements or guardrails. Start by defining your guardrails based on your deployment environment. For instance, if your target platform is AWS cloud, it's good to define guardrails for the AWS accounts that fit your business requirements. Then, conduct the drill. The results will help your team gain the knowledge to work in a true DevSecOps fashion.
The automation of security processes and tools helps the security flaws in the CI/CD pipeline that emerge from human error. It also removes the overhead of remembering to run your security tools and processes. Automate the tests and scans to run at check-ins or other key points during deployment to eliminate the risk of skipping a step. There are many DevSecOps tools available in the market that can offer automated ways to scan code, identify anomalies, test, and provide visibility.
Security is constantly evolving with the changing risk environment. So, keep the security guardrails up-to-date as the changes occur with continuous security validation and real-time monitoring or security logs. Consider creating security health assessment reports based on the validation results and send them to the relevant teams regularly. This empowers them to address any critical security vulnerabilities in a timely manner. Continuously integrating and deploying code while getting continuous security assurance is the ultimate goal of DevSecOps.
DevSecOps tools empower you to integrate continuous security throughout your DevOps CI/CD pipeline. The tools ensure that the code is safeguarded against security vulnerabilities at each phase of the software development life cycle. The DevSecOps tools are broadly categorized into the following types:
Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools perform automated scans of the application's code to identify security defects across OSS software, libraries, containers, and other related artifacts that may have open vulnerabilities. These tools automatically provide the highest levels of code coverage. Moreover, these tools don’t require a running system to perform code security checks and won’t hamper the development speed like a manual code review or penetration testing.
In addition, SAST tools provide DevSecOps pipelines with the following benefits:
Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) tools analyze an application dynamically as it runs. It is considered as a black box method as the tools don't know how the application is built.
The DAST tools provide DevSecOps pipelines with the following benefits:
Software Composition Analysis (SCA) tools perform code scanning that exclusively focuses on analyzing the third-party and open-source components you are using to build your application. The tools analyze the software licenses and deprecated dependencies to identify known vulnerabilities and potential exploits in the codebase. Moreover, the SCA tools can analyze the newer architectures including containerized environments to automate the detection of known vulnerabilities within your containers.
All the above-mentioned DevSecOps tools complement each other. So, it is essential to make them part of the comprehensive application security testing process of your DevSecOps pipeline.
DevSecOps Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics are crucial in measuring the success of your DevSecOps initiative. They help business and technology leaders to gain deep insights and visibility into how the DevSecOps team is performing against the strategy.
Here is the set of high-level DevSecOps metrics that every business should track:
1. Deployment frequency: The number of deployments to production in a specific time frame.
2. Change lead time: The time span between a code commit and production.
3. Change volume: The number of new features or user stories deployed in a given time frame.
4. Change failure rate: The percentage of failed production deployments that to deployment abort or restoration to a previous working version.
5. Mean time to recover (MTTR): The time span between a failed deployment and subsequent full restoration of production operations.
6. Availability: The amount of uptime or downtime of an application in a given time frame.
7. Issue volume: The number of issues raised by customers in a given time frame.
8. Issue resolution time: The mean time taken to resolve a reported issue.
9. Time to value: The time span between the point of feature or function request and the point when the business value is realized from that feature.
10. Time to patch: The time taken to deploy a patch once the vulnerability is identified in the application
The DevSecOps maturing model empowers businesses to assess their current maturity level, identify potential areas of improvement, and reach a higher maturity level.
Here are the four stages of a typical DevSecOps maturity model:
At the beginner stage of the DevSecOps maturity model, every task from developing and testing to deploying applications is performed manually. Application security is still at a very ad hoc level. Moreover, the development, operations, and security teams are likely siloed, with little to no collaboration, cross-training, and consistency.
The transition from this stage to DevOps and DevSecOps might seem impossible. Fret not. We have got you covered. Opsera can help you integrate automation across the software development lifecycle with a continuous orchestration platform. The platform facilitates self-service toolchain automation, drag-and-drop declarative pipelines, and unified insights
At the intermediate stage, the dev team works on standardizing the DevOps toolchain and automation that help implement everything as code, including Infrastructure-as-Code, Security-as-Code, and Compliance-as-Code. However, DevSecOps adoption is at the department or team level. The software development cycle involves lightweight automation.
In the advanced stage, DevSecOps adoption is a corporate or organization-wide strategy. The DevOps teams will be leveraging advanced automation for infrastructure and application deployment. The team looks to enhance the existing software development processes by scaling their existing automation and using technologies like Kubernetes, containers, and cloud. The team is successfully deploying applications at scale in dynamic environments.
In this expert stage of DevSecOps maturity, the organization is cloud-native and API first. The DevSecOps teams are also leveraging emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), microservices, and serverless to fortify their application development and security. These organizations have fully automated CI/CD pipelines, shorter development cycles, and increased deployment frequency.
The DevSecOps maturity model can serve as a roadmap for delivering automation, repeatability, agility, security, and speed across the entire life cycle. To move to the next level of maturity, it’s imperative to hammer out the activities and processes required for that level. It might seem like an arduous task, but the enticing benefits it brings are worth the squeeze.
One of Opsera’s clients is a Fortune 100 company that has been in defense and industry equipment manufacturing for 100+ years. The recent Log4j vulnerability exposed one of any team’s biggest obstacles: a lack of visibility and transparency in their libraries. It would normally have taken an IT team more than a week to secure systems against the Log4j vulnerability manually -- obviously not fast enough with the company’s security on the line. That’s where Opsera’s no-code DevOps orchestration platform came into play. This client was already using Opsera to connect all of its software teams, tools, and information. This sped up the end-to-end deployment of a Log4j fix across hundreds of microservices. Here is a snapshot of how Opsera helped the company tide through the crisis. (Read more here:https://www.opsera.io/case-study/log4j-cybersecurity-vulnerability-solved)
The Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are primarily responsible for defining and enforcing the corporate security governance program. They ensure that the application delivered to the end-users is secure and safe. The CISO also communicates the organization’s security risk posture to the business leaders and the board members, and the steps taken to bridge the security gaps.
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But in the case of DevSecOps, for many CISOs DevSecOps is for other people. Many of the CISOs are often not involved in the software development, except on an unlucky day that involves a security incident. Which is not the DevSecOps ways. Now is the time for CISOs to start working with peers in software development and engineering. Here are some of the tips:
It's the responsibility of CISO to understand the risks the organization faces through business decisions and operations. To get an understanding of the security risks concerning DevOps, the CISO must involve and meet the Dev and Ops teams and know how they work. This understanding helps you gain insights into where security could be constructive.
Armed with the knowledge about the software development processes from DevOps teams, the CISOs need delve deeper into the subject. Gain knowledge about the DevOps methodologies, any new DevSecOps initiatives, the common processes, frameworks, and best practices. You also need to gain knowledge of the tools that could be helpful to the security team.
Once you are educated on the topic, you need to know how you should approach implementing DevSecOps. As any changes that you propose as a CISO will disrupt the R&D teams, it’s imperative to approach it with a team mindset. Before you propose any changes, discuss your ideas with the leads of the engineering and software development teams to gain insights on which changes need to be made first. Then, start with one workflow or one team. Start small, so that you can understand how the change is impacting the current DevOps and project processes and timelines and work out any issues. With those insights, discuss your next change. It’s crucial that your security team and developers collaborate seamlessly and foster a relationship of trust.
Simply put, as a security leader, you need to be flexible, not just in understanding new threats and technologies, but with new services that you can provide to enhance your organization's strategic operations.