The world of software development needs to be fast-paced and efficient at all times. As technology rapidly evolves, organizations are under constant pressure to create applications that can keep up. To ensure that software development processes are faster, more accurate, and less flawed, DevOps security measures need to be put in place. In this blog article, we look at what a secure DevOps is, the types of DevOps security tools needed, and some main DevOps security best practices. Now, let’s ask the vital first question: what is DevOps security?

What Is DevOps Security?

To fully understand DevOps security, you need to understand the inefficiency of the general DevOps process. Development and Operations – or DevOps when combined – are responsible for the planning, testing, and production of software and applications. The DevOps process relies on automation and smaller updates along the way to speed up development and production. While this creates a more scalable and efficient application delivery system, it also greatly hinders the process of application security – which is typically left right at the end of the development cycle.

When applications don’t have the right security measures in place, applications are sent back to the DevOps team for modifications. With multiple microservices to monitor and security feedback still being processed for previous applications, software development is suddenly slower and more tedious for all parties involved. In today’s digital landscape, efficiency is key to success, and slowing down software development is not an option. This is where the idea of security in DevOps comes into play.

DevOps security is a set of rules, practices, and tools that combine operations, development, and security under one umbrella. DevOps and security protocols join together across every phase of software development to collaborate seamlessly for a more efficient, secure, and effective application delivery process. Rather than scanning for security vulnerabilities at the end of software development, security DevOps ensures that each layer of the development cycle can be properly protected to produce quality code and applications that don’t need to be modified later on. Now, let’s try to understand why DevOps security is so important for companies.

 devops security

Why Do Companies Need Security for DevOps?

In today’s fast-paced world, software and application delivery needs to be almost instantaneous. Companies can suffer great reputational and legal repercussions without a functional application. However, speed of delivery will often not account for security – which is even more important. For banking applications, e-commerce sites, and social media platforms, software security is crucial to creating controlled and protected infrastructure.

Companies need DevOps security to ensure efficient, secure, and ready applications. Security DevOps also allows companies to weed out security issues and improve processes, infrastructure, and features before they can be published – saving money, effort, and reputational damage. While security is an integral part of the software development process, DevOps security does face a fair number of challenges as well.

DevOps Security Challenges

For a secure DevOps methodology to be effective, companies need to focus on collaboration across the development process from all parties. This can result in conflict or friction as teams might have different goals, methods, and metrics of success. Let’s try to understand some of the main challenges of DevOps security integration:

  • Time-Consuming Processing: Modern software development is expected to be a fast process that ensures no delays in releases. Companies will often pressure developers to work quicker to keep up with a dynamic market. Unfortunately, with security as the last, time-consuming step, developers would often skip or miss many security measures to ensure that tight deadlines are met. With effective DevOps security, processes can run faster by including security earlier in the development pipeline.
  • Cloud Vulnerabilities: While cloud environments can be scalable, flexible, and more efficient for many companies, they also present a challenge to DevOps security. The cloud can be an effective Disaster Recovery solution that secures data for an organization, however, cloud infrastructure opens up a wider target surface for cyber-attacks and can be easily breached by a simple misconfiguration or human error. DevOps cloud security measures will ensure that your chosen cloud platform has protocols in place to protect application development processes.
  • Legacy Infrastructure: Many companies are still making use of older and vulnerable infrastructure. While these systems can be integrated with the cloud to form hybrid environments, these are also often complicated and may not meet DevOps security process standards.
  • DevOps Toolsets Vulnerabilities: Most DevOps teams will use a diverse toolset to automate software development – some of which can be open-source and therefore vulnerable. The DevOps security team needs to use tools and technology that are protected and ensure effective visibility and protection.
  • Weak Access Controls: Most DevOps teams will need an amount of access control to ensure that systems and data are safe. Poorly managed access controls can lead to breaches and vulnerabilities that disrupt operations and slow down development. While access controls can be secured, hackers can still infiltrate systems to access privileged information such as passwords, API keys, and more. Privileged Access Management can be used to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to certain areas – reducing the risk of vulnerable access controls.
  • Collaborative Friction: While the DevOps and DevOps security approach both rely on collaboration across teams, friction is an expected challenge in a new environment. Departments suddenly need to work together and methodologies, processes, and goals might clash. It’s important to build a collaborative environment and open-minded culture to avoid conflict and delays.

Security DevOps can be difficult to implement and integrate into existing systems for many organizations. Fortunately, the modern age has come with an array of DevOps security tools that can help organizations. Let’s explore some of these tools next.

DevOps Security Tools

An effective DevOps security tool will help to speed up efficiency while ensuring that security protocols are followed precisely. These are some of the main license-based and open-source DevOps security tools on the market today:

  1. Aqua Security – This is a cloud-native application security platform that monitors containerized environments to ensure effective protection throughout the development lifecycle. With a focus on container-specific threats, the platform seamlessly integrates vulnerability scanning, cloud security configuration scanning, and Kubernetes security posture management while providing pre-prod malware detection and dynamic threat analysis for full end-to-end defense.
  2. SonarQube – This platform enhances code quality by judging it against thousands of Static Code Analysis (STA) rules. The DevOps security service covers 29 programming languages and provides support to multi-language projects as well. The platform scans code for bugs, security vulnerabilities, and code smells while providing integration with popular IDEs and detailed code analysis reports.
  3. Spectral – This is a code-scanning platform that integrates with GitHub and can seamlessly identify and rectify vulnerabilities. Using customizable and automated security policies, Spectral elevates code to a better standard while still having developer-friendly Command Line Input (CLI)
  4. Sysdig – This is a container-native monitoring platform that uses anomaly detection, real-time visibility, and runtime security to ensure that containerized applications are protected and run efficiently.
  5. Prisma Cloud – As a sentinel for cloud-native security, Prisma Cloud is multi-cloud compatible and provides quality container security while easily integrating with CI/CD pipelines for guaranteed safety and compliance.
  6. Brakeman – This is an open-source static analysis tool that was designed specifically for Ruby on Rails applications. The platform scans an application’s source code to identify potential security vulnerabilities and then creates a security report based on the findings.
  7. Jira – This platform is a project management tool used to detect bugs while planning and tracking the release and support software throughout the development phase. The platform used to be open source entirely, however, now it is mainly closed with lower pricing options available.
  8. StackStrom – This is an open-source platform that automates DevOps security processes and workflows. The event-driven service is easily integrated into existing infrastructure and works to make development more efficient and secure.

Now that we have an idea of the type of security DevOps tools available, we can explore the ways DevOps and security policies can be integrated more effectively through DevOps security best practices.

DevOps Security Best Practices

Securing DevOps can only be achieved by fully committing to a proven secure DevOps methodology. A major part of this includes the implementation of DevOps security best practices:

  1. Ensuring Automated and Continuous Processes: A core aspect of DevOps security is automation. While security cannot be forfeited for the sake of speed, automating security processes will help to hit two birds with one stone. Organizations can look at implementing SIEM or other automated security measures to ensure that vulnerabilities are detected quickly and automated testing is done regularly. Automated and continuous testing will ensure that code is always being improved or enhanced throughout the process.
  2. Enhancing Access Control: Elevated access control will ensure that only authorized personnel have permissions and access to critical assets. This can be implemented using Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) to ensure that individuals can only gain access based on their role within the organization. Privileged Access Management (PAM) can also be used to verify credentials upon access using a zero-trust policy. This minimizes security risks and improves overall management. Sangfor’s Internet Access Gateway provides full control over user access and can identify and analyze internet access behavior in real time to provide comprehensive protection.
  3. Elevating Cloud Security: The cloud can be very useful in offering flexible and scalable infrastructure, yet it can also be a challenge for DevOps security teams as a simple misconfiguration in the cloud could lead to a data breach. Companies need to conduct regular audits and testing to ensure that their cloud platform is adequately secured from all angles.
  4. Secrets Management: DevOps security relies on prudent data handling. This means that sensitive information needs to be securely dealt with. This includes API keys, database credentials, and other company secrets. Any breach or mismanagement of this secret data could threaten the security of the entire organization.
  5. Embracing a DevSecOps Model: This is a model based on communication and collaboration between teams. When using the DevSecOps model, your organization will become more aligned on goals and strategies while increasing accountability.

devops security best practice

DevOps security best practices involve many other steps and are constantly evolving as threats emerge. Moving off the last point we mentioned, we should now probably delve further into what exactly DevSecOps is.

What Is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps can be defined as a methodology that shifts ‘security’ left – literally and figuratively - into the concept of DevOps to ensure that security is an integral, central component of software development. While traditionally, developers wouldn’t have to worry about security measures, DevSecOps gives both software developers and IT administrators the responsibility.

The DevSecOps model requires a continuous culture of attention to detail, precautionary measures, and effort from every team. It is an important part of collaborating effectively and being united in responsibility and effort. Now, the model of DevSecOps obviously veers away from the typical DevOps structure used before but it is also mostly the same in many ways – let’s explore the similarities between the two concepts.

DevSecOps and DevOps

While both approaches value the development of effective software and applications, we can see other similarities between the DevSecOps and DevOps approaches:

  • Automated Processes: Within both models, automation is a major step in creating effective and efficient software. This means that both models are used to complete tasks faster and better. DevOps security automation will simply provide an extra layer of constant protection to development.
  • Communications and Collaboration: Teamwork is essential in both approaches to software development. While DevSecOps will incorporate security teams as well, DevOps also needs an agile and diverse team to collaborate with and communicate ideas.
  • Continuous Processes: Within both approaches, the stages of development are always continuous. This helps to constantly improve and detect vulnerabilities or flaws.

While DevOps does involve the main aspects of DevSecOps, the traditional approach simply cannot be as comprehensive as the security-centered model. Organizations have a responsibility to encourage DevOps teams to collaborate with security teams and create a DevSecOps culture that embraces security protocols as an essential part of software development. We have covered the importance, challenges, best practices, and tools of DevOps cyber security in the modern digital landscape and now it is up to each company to implement these steps for a more effective, efficient, and secure software development cycle. For information on cloud infrastructure and advanced cybersecurity solutions, please contact Sangfor Technologies today to see how we can change your business for the better.


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