Companies are focused on understanding and shifting towards DevSecOps. No longer can security be compartmentalized. It needs to be baked in from the get-go by the engineering teams to ensure they enhance security at every point along the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
According to reports, 43% of C-suite industry leaders who found a data breach in 2020 listed human error as the second most common cause for it. Such data breaches cost an average of $3.33 million. Reports further reveal that it takes an average of 239 days to detect and mitigate such breaches.
The focus is on security now; for all the right reasons. DevSecOps sits at the intersection of increased automation and collaboration. This facilitates faster development, enhanced security, and smoother operations. While this indicates the huge impact DevSecOps can have on the release cycles and overall org structure, it also highlights the fact that shifting to DevSecOps could be a bit challenging.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at how security is integrated into the DevOps pipeline, challenges you might face while doing so, what are the essential tools, and provide a simple place to start. We’ll also share examples that can help you in your journey and make it easier and faster to shift to DevSecOps.
DevSecOps is a cultural and engineering practice that breaks down silos and opens collaboration between development, security, and operations teams. The idea is to use automation to focus on rapid, frequent delivery of secure software and infrastructure to production.
Simply put, DevSecOps is an extension of DevOps, where your focus is explicitly on the security role. With this approach, security becomes a shared responsibility between all team members. Typically, vulnerability checks are executed towards the end of the development cycle. This leads to increased back-and-forth between teams, expensive bug fixes, and wastage of resources.
By integrating DevSecOps in your development pipeline, you create a cyclical practice for testing the application throughout the development phase. As a result, you will minimize vulnerabilities in applications, reduce friction between teams, and save costs on compliance and security fixes.
DevSecOps enables “shifting left” security protocols. This means identifying bugs and issues at earlier stages of the development pipeline to make it easier and less expensive to apply security fixes. The goal is a “blanket security” wherein you improve the coverage and effectiveness of security checks, increase software quality, decrease downtime and number of vulnerabilities.
It’s simple. The earlier you find a bug, the faster you can address it. The more automated the process, the more time your security teams can save and focus on more critical, challenging issues. And DevSecOps combines all of this to offer you a streamlined, flexible, and secure application development lifecycle.
While DevOps and DevSecOps sound extremely similar, there are critical differences that set both of them apart and impact IT and business efficiency. Remember, these are key differentiators that will help you make necessary changes to your current application development lifecycle to focus more on speed, agility, and security.
DevOps focuses on collaboration between development and operations teams throughout the application development lifecycle to increase speed. It works on the idea of continuous integration and continuous delivery; leverage automation into the stages of app development. From integration to testing, delivery, and deployment, DevOps enables ongoing automation throughout the lifecycle of apps.
A great deal of attention is given to optimizing the speed of delivery, and so DevOps teams may not always prioritize security protocols along the way. Faster integrations, code checks, releases can build a lot of pressure on the DevOps engineering team. More so, it affects the security teams as checking for vulnerabilities and bugs is put on the back seat while speed takes the wheel in DevOps.
On the other hand, DevSecOps is a more inclusive approach wherein you add a security layer throughout the DevOps pipeline. Application security begins at the outset of the build process and is carried out continuously - instead of at the end of the development lifecycle.
DevSecOps focuses on short, iterative application development pipelines embedded with automated security checks. It offers a more version-controlled CI pipeline so it’s easier and faster for development teams to track and manage their code. With this approach, DevSecOps engineers strive to ensure that apps are secure against bugs and vulnerabilities, uphold the security checks, and are ready to be delivered to users.
Overall, DevSecOps encompasses the practices of DevOps and integrates security as a pillar to the entire app development pipeline. Developers may skip many security checks due to consumer demand pressure and to meet deadlines. With DevSecOps integrated all through the development journey, developers can easily rely on automated security checks and improve the quality of code. Further, DevSecOps also includes threat modeling and incident management which reduces downtime.
Adopting a DevSecOps approach is a goal, not a sprint. Understandably, it takes time, resources, and a strategy to bring this cultural shift. It’s important to involve stakeholders, enter discussions with your development team, identify bottlenecks and common issues in security practices with the security team, and bring in the operations to build your new DevSecOps ecosystem.
It’s worth noting that many organizations fail to implement DevSecOps successfully because they treat it with a traditional security mindset. So, they bring security milestones and practices straight to the development team, expecting them to change their entire internal development phase.
We’ve seen hundreds of companies adopt DevSecOps in recent years, especially during and post COVID-19. One thing these companies do differently is that they set real, achievable milestones for each team - development, operations, and security - and implement frameworks that maintain the speed and cadence of their releases while they implement DevSecOps gradually.
Here is a workflow to implement DevSecOps in your SDLC:
A new approach to working means empowering your engineers with the best knowledge; providing security-specific coding training. Invest in organizing virtual events with industry leaders and seasoned DevSecOps professionals. Incentivize security certifications to make the adoption process faster and efficient.
IDE scanning offers focused, real-time security feedback to developers as they code. Given that these tools generate results within a few seconds, developers can instantly remediate security issues faster. More sophisticated IDE scanning tools offer command-line variants as well, which means the security functionality of an application directs that command-line, even without direct support in the IDE.
In today’s fast-moving software development landscape, developers are relying on a large set of open-source integrations such as libraries, source code, components, plugins, frameworks, and more to reduce development time and release faster. It’s critical to test open-source code from early on in the development phase, and this is where source code scanning comes in.
Source code scanning is a code analysis framework that helps developers create secure applications and software by analyzing security bottlenecks or potential bugs quickly. It identifies a range of security issues against industry test cases for your application to detect open source code issues.
Static code analysis or static application security testing (SAST) is the process of analyzing the source code for common security issues and vulnerabilities while it’s not running. Since SAST doesn’t require your application to be running, it’s a highly effective method of identifying security vulnerabilities in just about every stage of the development pipeline.
SAST is a white box testing process that allows the code to be tested before execution. SAST tools evaluate the code line-by-line, offer remediation advice on the discovery of issues, and also ensure that developers conform to the development standards.
Dynamic code analysis or dynamic application security testing (DAST) is a security method to identify security issues and vulnerabilities in a running application. This is often known as black-box testing.
DAST takes a more holistic approach and checks the running application from outside to discover flaws or threats by attacking it. So, it doesn’t require access to source code or binaries to analyze the application.
Another security practice that you need to embed in your software development lifecycle is container security. It’s the process of using security tools and policies to assure that all your containers are working as intended, including infrastructure, system tools, software supply chain, system libraries, and runtime against cyber security threats.
Container security management helps you ensure that the environment’s configuration is secure. Since containers heavily use third-party components, they need to be evaluated for any potential weaknesses or threats. Vulnerability assessment in container security management helps ensure that software teams are not deploying insecure code with known security exploits integrated into the DevOps pipeline.
These tools are specifically used to securely store and manage secrets like API keys, database credentials, encryption keys, sensitive configuration settings ( usernames, email addresses, debug flags, etc), and passwords. Choose a secret management tool or a vault that helps you maintain tight access control and provides comprehensive audit logs.
For instance, AWS Secrets Manager helps you quickly rotate, manage, and retrieve secrets needed to access the AWS cloud capabilities, on both on-premise and third-party services.
No matter how many technologies or tools you implement to foster the DevSecOps culture, you need to focus equally on the human factor as well. It’s important to raise awareness across all teams of the organization and requires a top-down approach, especially when you’re adopting DevSecOps.
We have created a guide for best practices in DevSecOps to help you in your journey. Here’s a quick summary of all the best practices we mentioned there.
There are plenty of DevOps security tools available out there. The challenge is to figure out your requirements and to select the right tool for your DevSecOps tech stack.
In this section, I’ll help you understand the types of tools you’ll need to successfully integrate security into your DevSecOps pipeline. I’ll also share a comprehensive list that consists of the most recognized and efficient tools that can help your development teams create secure code and bake in security at a continuous pace.
SAST tools rely on automation to assess code for security issues or bugs. So there’s less human intervention, and it doesn’t become a mundane, time-consuming process for your developers to execute the testing by themselves.
Real-time feedback from SAST tools enables developers to know the exact location of a security vulnerability and its cause. This allows teams to save money and time - that they’d otherwise invest in fixing bugs at a later stage when they become expensive and impact the application.
DAST tools analyze execution logic and live data in running applications. It can check the application for SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and other common security vulnerabilities. DAST tools can also help validate permissions to ensure that only authorized users have specific permissions. DAST can also identify hard application failures and record application execution for test failure analysis.
Both SAST and DAST tools are essentials for a secure development pipeline. These tools are the backbone of your DevSecOps pipeline, more so because they help in improving efficiency, reduce the risk of errors and threats, and save cost on otherwise expensive mitigation processes.
Container scanning provides manual and automated vulnerability scanning for containers. This security testing method continuously scans your containers to ensure they are performing as expected.
In the context of SAST and DAST, container scanning is a continuous security testing method spanning across the SDLC. Typically, a container scan should confirm that your container infrastructure is correctly configured and protected and the software supply chain is operational.
Get the complete list of tools at DevSecOps Tools and Integrating Security in DevOps Toolchain here.
Adopting DevSecOps can be a long journey and it’s often a complex topic that can cause friction in the team and slow down your development pipeline if done wrong. Thus, it’s important to break down the adoption into smaller, achievable segments, giving your team and all stakeholders time to not just adopt the new DevSecOps tools, but bring in a cultural mind shift.
At Opsera, we’ve helped numerous organizations set up a solid DevSecOps strategy. With speed and productivity at the core, Opsera helps companies use automation and DevOps principles to bring security into the development pipeline.
Whether you’re in the planning phase or are stuck with choosing the right tools, we can help you streamline your DevSecOps adoption; and help you manage your new pipeline.