DevSecOps: Shifting Towards a Culture of Security

DevSecOps: Shifting Towards a Culture of Security
August 1, 2019

Technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has brought about plenty of beneficial changes. On the other, it has also given a fresh breeding ground to crime, that too of a far more devastating nature than any other. The Global Risk Report 2019 clearly states that cyber attacks are the 6th most distressing event globally. As cybercrimes continue to spread like wildfire, it is of utmost importance that alongside focusing on innovation, enterprises also shift their focus towards creating a solid DevSecOps strategy.

Where DevOps solutions have helped businesses build best-in-class software and solutions, embedding security with a DevSecOps strategy has also emerged at the forefront.

Security-first with your DevSecOps strategy

Software development houses need to be vigilant and take inbuilt security seriously. By implementing a DevSecOps strategy, companies can imbibe security practices right from the start of a product’s development cycle. Fixing security issues when the product is still in development requires making security part and parcel of every stage. Before DevOps came into the picture, security was left to the last or final stage of the software development life cycle or SDLC. As such, security was given less importance than other stages.

Discovering security threats at the end stage of development meant reworking countless lines of code, which was frustrating, time-consuming, and ridiculously expensive. This approach slowly changed, post organizations shifted to DevOps. With innovations and technology advancements giving rise to sophisticated cybercrime, companies realized they needed to view security as an inherent part of each stage of product development.

Taking the fresh DevSecOps approach and having a DevSecOps strategy in place means ‘everyone is responsible, at each stage,’ to develop world-class products built against security challenges. It means baking security protocols right into the development pipeline.

There are many evident advantages of implementing a security-first culture with DevSecOps. One, it allows companies to harness the power of agile methodologies. Two, it results in better ROI as well as improved operational efficiencies across security and the rest of IT. Three, organizations that run services on AWS cloud reap the benefit of keeping operations up and running and preventing downtime-related costs.

What are the advantages of the DevSecOps strategy?

The following are some more clear-cut advantages that organizations witness when they implement a security-first culture with their DevSecOps strategy:

  •  Increased speed and agility
  • Early error and vulnerability identification
  • Better team collaboration
  • Increased opportunities for quality assurance testing

What’s important to note here is that a solid and complete understanding of security concerns is easy to gain when your developers and IT team proactively understand cybersecurity threats and concerns. However, implementing and creating a culture of DevSecOps with your DevSecOps strategy requires much more than a mere understanding of security practices.

How to successfully create a culture of security with DevSecOps?

DevOps service providers and professionals must be familiar with the intricacies of risk assessment, besides always being up-to-date with their knowledge of cybersecurity threats, modern-day security practices, and best practices of software development. Furthermore, while creating a DevSecOps strategy, they need to take the following steps to be able to build, implement, and sustain a culture of security:

1. Practice Secure Coding: Developing a product or solution that has high resistance against vulnerabilities requires developers to practice secure coding. Don’t leave any scope of system flaw that can be exploited by cybercriminals by implementing a standard set of secure coding practices. As per the US Department of Homeland Security, 90% of security breaches happen because of code vulnerabilities. Write clean code, secure your application/solution by design, practice layered protection, avoid coding with double negatives, and most importantly, practice threat modeling.

2. Bring people, processes, and technology together: Creating a cultural shift with your DevSecOps strategy requires the support of your employees and top management. Unless your people understand DevSecOp and its importance, they will remain skeptical about its implementation. First, educate your team about ‘Why DevSecOps.’

Next, you need to develop a standardized process framework for the organization-wide implementation of DevSecOps. Your DevSecOps strategy should standardize security practices to be adhered to by all departments.

Lastly, you’ll need technology to help you successfully run DevSecOps company-wide. Developers use several DevSecOp tools at the early stages of DevOps and have made this a common practice in the development stage. Some tools or technology enablers for DevSecOps include automation and configuration management, Security as Code, automated compliance scans, etc.

3. Leverage automation: Automation is a key aspect of DevSecOps. It is all the more critical in companies where developers are required to push various versions of code to production multiple times a day; automation becomes all the more crucial. The speed at which iterations happen is maddening. It can be tough to keep up with that kind of speed, and that’s a key reason why 52% of companies forego security for speed. Automation becomes a priority because it enables us to match the pace of security with the pace of code delivery. An important part of your DevSecOps strategy should be to pick the right tools while implementing automation. Commonly and widely, Static Application Security Testing tools are in use today.

4. Take the shift-left approach: We’ve already discussed that the foundation of a security-first approach is moving security right to the beginning of the product development lifecycle. This is the shift-left approach. And, though you might find it challenging to implement this change as it disrupts your current DevOps flow, doing so spells many long-term benefits. For example, the earlier you can detect bugs, the cheaper (and less time-consuming) it is to fix them.

Practical Steps to Implement DevSecOps

In practice, you’ll need to take the following steps while introducing and implementing DevSecOps in your organization:

Clearly define your mandatory security control requirements as the first step of your DevSecOps strategy

  • Be transparent about your security goals from DevSecOps, and understand each team’s challenges during implementation.
  • To ensure the success of your DevSecOps strategy, onboard and place the right talent, as well as empower employees to function together correctly.
  • Start by adding security measures in the application and infrastructure layers.
  • Test controls continuously in with automation to make the process speedier and more accurate.
  • Define clear KPIs and measure results to track the success of your DevSecOps strategy and approach.
  • Not be disheartened or scared by mistakes and initial failures.

Conclusion

Your DevSecOps strategy should bridge developers and security professionals, fostering collaboration to create world-class products that stand firm against cybercrime. And while an increasing number of organizations would want to imbibe DevSecOps in their culture, they have no clue where to begin.

Rapyder, a premium AWS partner with DevOps competency, is there for innovation-driven companies keen on getting started with DevOps and want to embed security right from the initial stages. Be it consultation regarding overcoming implementation challenges or helping companies deploy DevSecOps in their architectural design, you can trust Rapyder, a leading DevOps service provider, for its excellent 24/7 support.


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