Security-focused automation to make DevSecOps faster

The need for security in DevOps has been felt throughout the past decade, but the scale of problems has skyrocketed post-pandemic. Rapid digitalization has left much data vulnerable to hacks, impinging upon privacy. Read further to discover how DevSecOps can help release the pressure from development.

The sole purpose of DevOps in its early stages was to break silos to fulfill the need for rapid development. While it did manage to achieve its aim, it could not do so holistically. The biggest flaw in the DevOps culture has been the absence of an impetus for security. If left unsecured, the digital ecosystem, being too fragile—could easily crumble. Securing the development process is, therefore, an existential need. It also adds to the overall robustness of the process.

DevSecOps is a collaborative approach to software development that integrates security into every stage of the CI/CD pipeline. It helps organizations dealing with modern payment apps achieve faster software releases while reducing the risk of cyberattacks. For this collaboration to be successful, the security team needs to be woven into the process as soon as possible. This article discusses the speed that comes with plugging security into the DevOps cycle.

Integrating Security at Each Step of the Process

The traditional development models were used to keep security at the end of the tunnel, so the dependencies regarding security were never checked throughout. A fundamental problem with this arrangement is that any vulnerability in development could only be detected after the source code was finalized. This left the process prone to delays in the event of a requirement to make changes in the code. It is also impractical to retrospectively evaluate the entire pipeline for threats due to a lack of an audit trail in some instances and a lack of time in others. This, more often than not, led to incomplete security checks that have triggered massive data breaches in the past.

For a DevOps transformation to be successful, the security team needs to be brought into the process at its very inception. This means that security should be involved in the planning and design of the pipeline, as well as in its deployment and monitoring. The aspect of continuous improvement is key to DevOps, which can only be achieved by shifting security to the left. This naturally incorporates the idea of continuous monitoring through proper documentation that enhances release velocity while decreasing incident response time. Using high-impact technologies has helped developers release code more than 2x faster, leading to exponential improvement.

Source: Scaled Agile Framework

Cross-functional Teams are the Need for DevOps Culture

Security is a collaboration and not a silo. Teams should work in cross-functional units. The idea of security being an afterthought is the first problem that needs to be resolved. It shouldn’t be something you add at the end of your DevOps pipeline because if you do so, you’re only going to discover issues when they’re too late, which could cause more harm than good. Instead, security should be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline as early as possible. This allows new features to undergo the same rigorous testing before being released into production.

The next step is to create cross-functional teams responsible for building these processes together instead of having one person on their team doing all the work. It’s been shown that most organizations apply the Pareto Principle or the 80-20 rule to maintain good overall code quality. Instead, increasing the number of coders and incorporating security checks at every level reduces the need for dedicated time for refactoring. Information silos and communication barriers between departments must be torn down for successful operations.

Threat Modeling Establishes a Common Language

Security is not just a step in the process, but an attitude toward application development. Cultural change requires safety to be viewed from a broader perspective. Threat modeling provides an awareness of what needs protection and why. It helps identify the assets that matter, their value to the business, how these can be protected, and where the most probable threats arise from. The steps involved in modeling threats to the software are designed to keep refining the model subsequently through ongoing analysis.

Understanding the gaps in security or compliance across organizational systems, applications, and networks that are vulnerable to attack is crucial for all users of these systems, internal or external. Identifying these potential risks early in the delivery cycle can mitigate them before they become real problems.

Threat modeling helps define access control policies based on user roles and precise permissions for each part of an application or system. Users only get access to the service they need at any time (and nothing more). This decreases risk by ensuring unauthorized individuals or methods do not access unnecessary data once deployed into production environments.

Collaborative Culture Encourages the Division of Responsibility

A culture that thrives on teamwork also encourages questions or challenges and takes the time to understand each other. This helps move organizations forward and reduces the burden on security teams. Security personnel should be getting the same support as the DevOps professionals, both when it comes to requirements gathering and through the development process. Due to the high cyclomatic complexity in modern software development, an informed decision can be made with better information relayed.

Cross-functional teams are necessary to gain a quick response time when issues arise. This type of collaboration ensures that problems don’t get missed or become more prominent than they need to be because they weren’t detected early enough in the process. Automating the version control mechanism to keep dependencies up to date, shifts the pressure of compliance from the teams. Probing newer threats and the broader security landscape become the focus once defect remediation is automated. As the friction to collaborative efforts diminishes, it incentivizes personnel in all departments to meet deadlines. Work satisfaction is enhanced while reducing attrition. Not to mention, the deployments become quicker and better with a feedback loop.

DevSecOps is a Mindset

Security can only ever be fool-proof through effective collaboration. Protection integrated at each CI/CD pipeline stage helps organizations achieve faster software releases while reducing risk. It’s not just about having all the right tools in place, it’s also about building and maintaining a culture of security throughout the organization via iterative development. With 57% of the surveyed security teams believing that their organizations have made the left shift, the industry has come a long way.

If your organization is looking to foster a culture of security, we will be happy to get you started with DevSecOps.

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