Unless one has been living under the rock, it is not possible to not have come across the term ‘digital transformation.’ Industries are on the move to transform their businesses and services leveraging technology. The global pandemic has further accelerated the need to transform legacy systems and replace them with newer digital technologies. With the need to accelerate development and time to market increasing more than ever, businesses have to embrace security to be successful in the longer run.
Data security breaches are an important cause of concern in the IT industry, and almost 61% of organizations have experienced an IoT security breach. Cyber-attacks have adverse effects on businesses and result in reputational damage, operational disruptions, and financial losses. While these breaches affect all types of organizations, often, it is the SMEs that are on its receiving end. However, this does not mean that large organizations are safe, and some of the big players like Facebook, LinkedIn and Uber have also fallen victim to data breaches. The recent Whatsapp vs Signal vs Telegram debate points towards the users’ growing concern over security breaches and data exploitation.
With a prediction suggesting that almost 33 billion records are to be stolen in 2023, preventing these breaches and enhancing security has become more relevant than ever. This brings us to our topic of discussion, DevSecOps. DevSecOps is an extension of the concept of DevOps that ensures code quality and reliability assurance. This whitepaper attempts to answer the questions surrounding DevSecOps while consequently providing a clear idea about the concept.
DevSecOps is a transformational shift that incorporates secure culture, practices, and tools to drive visibility, collaboration, and agility of security into each phase of the DevOps pipeline. The previous approach of assigning security to a specific team and reserving it for the final stage of development is an outdated concept, especially during the present time when DevOps ensures continuous and frequent development cycles. DevSecOps enables us to strive for “Security by default” by integrating security using tools, creating security as Code Culture, and promoting Cross Skilling. This is illustrated in the diagram below.
The next topic for discussion is the ‘Four Pillars of DevSecOps Transformation.’ These are the four key areas that we deem to be important for effective DevSecOps transformation.
They are as follows:
1. Governance: It is extremely important to establish security guidelines and monitor results. A consistent governance model can be established by enabling security services that are business-aligned, agile, and risk-based. This can be done by defining DevSecOps roles and responsibilities, defining best practices and processes, automated security tests and audits, and metrics to evaluate the progress/continuous feedback.
2. People: The next most important pillar of DevSecOps transformation is the people involved in it. Ensure to build teams based on business priorities and offer them training on the security know-how. It is also important to focus on solutions while working together to ensure effective collaboration.
3. Technology: Leverage technology to strengthen your security and incorporate security into DevOps. Also, ensure to automate the recurring security tasks and harden the development pipeline.
4. Process: During the process, it is important to involve security from the initial stage with automated security controls wherever possible. Fix issues based on priority and also smoothen the DevSecOps feedback process.
The DevSecOps Manifesto lists down a set of values/ideas by which security practitioners intend to implement DevSecOps and contribute value with as little friction as possible. Compiled by DevSecOps.org, the manifesto aims at faster innovation and ensures that data security is not compromised. As stated on their website, instead of waiting for a data breach to occur, the security teams look for anomalies that are
yet to be detected.
The manifesto comprises nine statements, and they are as follows:
While the above-given manifesto provides a basic framework, businesses can modify it to suit their security needs.
As mentioned earlier, DevSecOps aids in enhancing security and minimizing risks during the DevOps process. Let us move on to discuss further the reasons why we need to incorporate DevSecOps.
– Continuous Security: DevSecOps ensures continuous and enhanced security by implementing the ‘secure by design’ principle using automated security review of code and automated application security testing.
– Accelerated Delivery and Recovery: By embedding security into the early stages of DevOps workflow, we can increase the speed, quality, and efficiency of the secure code delivery. As security testing is part of the release pipeline, when there is a security incident, it allows faster detection and remediation.
– Reduced Costs: By introducing secure coding best practices and security testing at the early stages of SDLC, we can reduce the complexities and the cost. By failing fast with security testing, we can reduce the risk of security issues and thus reduce the cost of recovery and rework.
– Increased Efficiency and Product Quality: As a continuation of the first point, by ensuring continuous security, security issues are detected and remediated during development phases. This, in turn, results in increased speed of delivery and enhanced quality.
– Enhanced Compliance: In DevSecOps, security auditing, monitoring, and notification systems are automated and continuously monitored, and this ensures enhanced compliance.
– Effective Collaboration: By integrating development, security, and operations, DevSecOps fosters a culture of openness and transparency from the earliest stages of development. This improves collaboration between the people involved and yields better results.
– Improved Business Value: The above-mentioned benefits of DevSecOps ultimately culminate in this point. DevSecOps, with its improved security, ensures that a better product reaches the market at an accelerated speed. A better product thus equates to happier customers, improved user experience, and strengthens one’s ability to compete in the market. This improves business performance and value considerably.
Now that we have discussed why we need DevSecOps let us shed some light on integrating security into DevOps. Let us begin by answering the question as to ‘Why it is important to integrate security into DevOps?’
While the ability to deploy applications has improved in both scale and speed in favor of meeting business demands quickly, security considerations are often being overlooked. However, this is a matter of serious concern because, given the reliance on applications to keep operations running, security in the development process cannot be considered as an afterthought. Application security must speed up in
accordance with the pace of operations. Also, it has to be kept in mind that feedback in the early stages of the cycle reduces considerable cost and time.
Having discussed the need to integrate security into DevOps, let us discuss how to bring security into DevOps. We have simplified the process into four key points for you.
• Tightly integrating security tools and processes throughout the DevOps pipeline.
• Automating core security tasks by embedding security controls early in the software development lifecycle.
• Enabling continuous monitoring and remediation of security defects across the application lifecycle, including development and maintenance.
• Ensuring better collaboration between Agile Development and Security Teams.
Here is an image that depicts the different phases in the DevOps pipeline.
Let us elaborate on how to integrate security into the existing DevOps pipeline in order of the phases.
• Plan: Security begins from this phase. In this phase, it is important not to just stick to feature descriptions, and one must go into the depth of the requirements – both functional and non-functional. The focus should also be on security, performance, acceptance test criteria, application interface, and threat-defense models.
• Code: In this phase, one must adopt the “How to do it” approach rather than a “what to do” approach. It is important to follow the coding standards and practices to ensure security. Also, perform code reviews and static code analysis during this phase.
• Build: Ensure that you use automated build tools and incorporate static application security testing (SAST) tools. Perform test-driven development during this phase. In addition to it, enforce quality standards and ensure that the best security practices are implemented through static code analysis.
• Test: During this phase, leverage dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools to test your application while in runtime and also automate the tests.
• Release: Run automated scans to verify the compliance with the requirements of various industry standards. Additionally, use detailed compliance information to guide your product security action plans and prioritization.
• Deploy: Before the deployment process, ensure that the configurations are secure across the IT infrastructure. Moreover, automate the deployment process and also ensure that it is consistent.
• Operate: It is probable to witness the occurrence of human errors in this phase. Hence, to prevent that, perform routine maintenance and upgrades.
• Monitor: To integrate security in this phase, implement a continuous monitoring program in real-time to keep track of system performance and identify any exploits.
Post the integration of security into the DevOps cycle, a DevSecOps pipeline design will look something like the image given below.
For every process that exists, there are specific best practices that enable its smooth functioning. Likewise, from our experience of implementing DevSecOps, we have compiled a list of seven key best practices to be kept in mind to ensure proper and effective implementation of DevSecOps.
• Provide Proper Training: It is important to train the developers on secure coding to integrate security from the initial stages. Usually, the organizations pay little attention to the developers’ training and skill enhancement when it comes to delivering the secure code. Training them in the best practices of secure coding will help us to improve the code quality and thus to reduce the security vulnerabilities.
• Shifting Left: Shift left testing is a method that helps detect and prevent defects early in the software development cycle. This method ensures better quality by moving tasks to the left as early in the SDLC as possible. Find out more information about implementing shift left testing in QA here.
• Identifying and Implementing the Right Tools: Security tools will be integrated into the development pipeline to ensure the secure delivery of the code. The speed and accuracy of the tools are very important. Any tools that you choose should protect you not just against known vulnerabilities but also unknown threats and key Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) top 10 risks. The tools should be able to help you to identify and address risks in the open-source software components that you use.
• Automating Processes: Security tests and controls should be integrated early in the development cycle, and it should happen in an automated fashion. This will shorten the feedback loops and decrease the friction. As a result, the engineers can detect and fix the security and compliance issues more faster and efficiently in the development lifecycle.
• Threat Modelling: A threat modeling exercise will help your organization to get an idea of the possible threats and vulnerabilities, the existing controls for protecting the applications and assets, and any gaps in your controls that need to be addressed. This will help us to protect our systems and applications. Also, threat modeling helps teams to gain a better understanding of everyone’s roles, objectives, and pain points. It will help to create a more collaborative work environment.
• Uniform Security Management Process: A uniform security management system should be required in DevSecOps. The advantage of this is that all the team members would be immediately notified in case of any changes/updates. Also, it will help the team to prioritize and manage the tasks from a bunch of allocated work.
• Monitor and Scale: It is very important to monitor the code that’s already running, as well as code that’s actively being developed. Monitoring can track the malicious login attempts, unauthorized access, errors coming from your application, etc. We should employ efficient and powerful continuous monitoring tools for this purpose. In the event of any threats or attacks, we should be able to scale the infrastructure to handle the situation.
There are several common misconceptions surrounding DevSecOps, such as it requires a specific dedicated team for its implementation, it slows down developers and the like. However, these are nothing more than myths, and DevSecOps plays a major role in helping organizations that are looking forward to uniting IT operations, application developers, and security teams by integrating security into their DevOps pipeline. As mentioned in our previous blog on DevOps trends, with developers leaning towards the compliance-as-code service and security becoming the major focus, the future of DevSecOps sure seems bright.
The Analytical Research Cognizance suggests that the DevSecOps market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.7% during the forecast period 2017-2023. This further reiterates the fact that businesses are placing a huge amount of importance on security concerns and are taking possible measures to prevent them. At this point, it is safe to say that DevSecOps would become the norm in a few years down the road and that it would be impossible to imagine a DevOps cycle without it.