Learn how DevSecOps combines agile processes with IT security

Tino Jose
Oct 12 15 min read

Many companies benefit from DevOps: The quality of IT applications improves, the development steps follow each other quickly, and two teams work together effectively. However, one important factor sometimes lapses behind: IT security. For this reason, the DevSecOps approach is currently establishing itself. This approach expands the DevOps idea and thinks it further. How can companies optimally integrate security audits into the process? The following article shows which strategies and automated tools can be used to check software for errors and vulnerabilities so that companies can drive their IT projects efficiently, quickly, and securely.

The agile application development DevOps is a continuous process. The goal is to provide continually improved software releases in quick succession. The method: to work together agilely across departments. These aspects have a decisive impact on security requirements.

Agile technologies combined with DevSecOps

To keep up with the speed of DevOps processes, various technologies support security departments: Automated processes, for example, automatic real-time monitoring, detect suspicious activity, or unwanted data queries. These systematic scans uncover security problems already during programming.

Many companies work with the container technology Docker. This supports the ever faster development cycles sustainably. For the management of the numerous containers, the so-called orchestration, the open-source software Kubernetes has established itself. However, what opens up new possibilities for developers is critically observed by compliance or security officers in many companies. Container technology accelerates workflows, testing, test operation, rollout, and productive operation. They require a fundamental understanding of the technology to avoid failures in IT security. Kubernetes security features such as Role-Based Access Control or a PodSecurityPolicy. Another helpful tool is CIS Kubernetes Benchmark which is similar to CIS Docker Benchmark that provides a useful list of hints to secure a Kubernetes cluster.

Working with microservices is also very important for DevOps processes. The advantage of these link architectures is that the individual modules can be quickly replaced, extended, or adapted to suit changing requirements. However, the responsibility for the security of IT environments shifts significantly when companies introduce DevOps processes and microservices. This is also the conclusion of the study “Application Security in the Microservices Era” by the software company Radware. According to Radware, this shift can lead to new security gaps and higher risks if the role of Development Security Operations (DevSecOps) is not clearly defined.

In short, companies should establish a “DevSecOps culture” to take advantage of all the benefits of the agile process without compromising security.

7 tips on how companies establish a DevSecOps culture

To consistently incorporate the extension from DevOps to DevSecOps in all teams, all employees should not only understand the technological aspects of the process but also be able to understand the management view.

Tip 1: Communicate openly and transparently!

Start with cross-team discussions to align all managers in the development, operations, and security departments towards a common goal. Involve managers from other business units such as sales and marketing to achieve a deep understanding of DevSecOps among all employees.

Tip 2: Create a basis for knowledge and experience exchange!

Train all teams on the topic of IT security in DevOps processes and create opportunities to exchange experiences and regularly present best practice examples.

Tip 3: Appoint a security expert for each team!

Create a supportive environment for this person to provide information on security issues to everyone on the team. Security logs and security policy audits can support security experts.

Tip 4: Perform a risk-benefit analysis!

Identify potential risks, obtain information about the probability of their occurrence, estimate the damage effect and extent, and from this, derive the risk tolerance of your company or project! The implementation of risk-benefit analyses is an essential part of a security strategy.

Tip 5: Use analysis tools for quality assurance!

Inadequate quality assurance can lead to considerable additional costs of IT projects. The main cost drivers are incorrect and incomplete requirement specifications and inadequate analysis tools. The integration of security scanners for containers as well as automated security checks, updates, and patches can help.

Tip 6: Measure the right metrics!

Only when you know that you are measuring the right things and managing your DevOps operation with a clear view of all key performance indicators (KPIs) can determine whether your DevOps approach is successful and able to integrate sufficient security criteria into the process.

Tip 7: Conduct regular code reviews!

Code reviews with scanning tools allow you to continuously improve the code base and prevent vulnerabilities early on.

DevSecOps in action

To fully integrate security (SEC) into the DevOps approach, use developer tools, create process descriptions, and implement tools for releasing new roles. Automation plays an essential role in the DevOps approach. A permanent monitoring of relevant components and automated security scans inform the experts about attacks, error messages, and malfunctions during operation.

For all internal IT projects, especially for IT systems with sensitive information use guidelines based on a Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG). They can be adapted to customer projects if required. This collection of commands and measures facilitates the design of a server or an application: individual command modules can be removed as required and a corresponding timetable can be designed.

Collaborative DevOps approach shifts responsibility for IT security

Security measures must be integrated into the process from the first phase. The artificial word “DevSecOps” was created to make it clear that security must be an integral part of all DevOps initiatives. This means that application and infrastructure security should be considered from the concept phase onwards. To withstand the high speed of a DevOps workflow, the automation of security features is essential. The choice of the right tools plays an important role in the successful integration of DevOps security. To make processes both efficient and secure at the same time, companies must initiate changes in corporate culture and redesign the structure of security teams.

Heyooo Inc. is working with a lot of clients helping and consulting them to integrate the DevSecOps approach into their DevOps processes. This will reduce the management cost, efficient productivity, faster time-to-market, and the customers will get quality assured end product.

Written by

Tino Jose
Oct 12 15 min read

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