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From Planning to Production: DevSecOps Best Practices for Completely Secure Solutions

DevSecOps Best Practices

According to the SANS survey, the velocity of IT delivery has increased by 14% during the past five years. New features and changes are delivered to production faster and more cost-effectively due to the advantages of the cloud and DevOps practices. But what about the level of security for the SDLC pipeline? Is it keeping up with the speed of delivery? Regrettably, it’s more like “continuously lagging security testing” than “continuous security testing.” In fact, only 29% of companies have automated the majority of their security testing tasks.

Meanwhile, in 2021, global cybercrime costs reached $6 trillion, which is more than the GDP of a highly developed country like Japan. By 2025 this amount is expected to reach $10.5 trillion. However, your company’s financial losses in case of a hacker attack or data leakage are not the only thing you should worry about. The possibility of data breaches resulting in reputational risks is just as mind-blowing. Using industry-standard DevSecOps techniques is one way to help prevent this dreadful scenario from happening.

Why isn’t DevOps state of mind enough?

Although security is supposed to be part of both Dev and Ops domains, the label “DevOps” is often taken literally and the relationship between security function and the design part of software development remains distant. Meanwhile, DevSecOps serves as an explicit call to action to start including security from the very beginning of a SDLC.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and other privacy laws require companies to integrate security into applications by default. So if your system processes sensitive data, related to finances or health, you should be aware of possible threats and implement relevant responses to each accident. Having a backup plan in case of a mishap is also crucial to protecting your system from bad damage.

You know what they say: it’s better to prepare than to repair. One of the ways to make sure that your system is secure is to implement the best DevSecOps practices that provide your organization with powerful benefits:

  1. Easier risk mitigation and flaw prevention. Look for potential security issues on the pre-production stages to fix bugs earlier and, thus, reduce their cost.
  2. Decreasing time to remediate critical vulnerabilities. Take advantage of automated security testing.
  3. Accelerating deployment frequency. In the long term, compliance with DevSecOps requirements results in faster patching of critical defects and, therefore, quicker software delivery.

Even if getting an international security certification, such as ISO27001, isn’t at the top of your agenda, you can follow DevSecOps best practices to encourage a proactive, rather than reactive, attitude to information security risks, which makes security requirements work and have result-oriented outcomes whether you have a certification or not.

Pave the way to successful implementation of DevSecOps techniques

DevSecOps Best Practices

A key point for customer-focused security that is one step ahead of hackers and anticipates cyberattacks is a review of security issues from three sides: people, process, and technology.

People practices: make words about collaborative culture come true

The human factor is always the weakest link in any technology implementation. Therefore, to succeed in securing your systems, you should pay particular attention to the people involved in the DevSecOps best practices implementation. Your developers and engineers won’t become cybersecurity experts at the very moment when you provide them with security tools. The same works for security specialists: they may not be aware of the operational concerns associated with specific security settings. Therefore, the first and foremost condition is that security should be inclusive, not exclusive. As it is stated in Gartner’s 12 Things to Get Right for Successful DevSecOps, “adopt your security testing tools and processes to developers, not the other way around.”

So put yourself in the developers’ shoes and first train them to code securely. It’s the highest priority for any organization, according to the already mentioned SANS survey. Training can be instructor-led, computer-based, or a combination of both. More importantly, studies should be based on the organization’s standards for software security to train your developers and engineers on near-real cases.

DevSecOps Best Practices

As far as security in DevOps is about a highly consistent process, its implementation also positively impacts the governance for cybersecurity. Using compliance-as-code makes it possible to gradually automate testing processes, complete several-day tasks in minutes, and free up developer resources. For example, if you receive a request to onboard and scan 30 microservices two days before production, having DevSecOps best practices in place, you’ll be able to complete this request in two hours. Sounds too good to let this opportunity slip by, doesn’t it?

Process practices: create your agreed ways of working

After channeling your employees’ frame of mind in the right direction, it’s high time to establish processes that comply with the ideas to realize them fully and gain more. Remember to implement these five points to make your development process even more secure:

  1. Determine what needs to be secured and find the right placement of your unique security checkpoints. The statement that security must be implemented at the earliest stages of the DevSecOps pipeline is a kind of folk wisdom. But which early stage of development is the best suit for security checks at your company? In most cases, it’s the requirement definition stage, but to effectively invest in the DevSecOps techniques, you’d better take advantage of expert advice. Thus, you’ll be able to find the middle ground between your customers’ expectations about the security of their private information, deployment frequency, and the size of a budget on DevSecOps best practices implementation.
  2. Codify your compliance requirements. It may seem unexpected, but 62% of Sonatype DevSecOps Survey respondents don’t have meaningful controls over open-setting source and third-party components used in their applications. And having your compliance requirements codified, you can automatically roll them out across your assets and continuously refresh them.
  3. Check all coding standards against new security recommendations and create responses to incidents in advance. To start, developers can check actual OWASP Top 10 web application security risks and create consistent, repeatable, and measurable responses to those cases. Therefore, you minimize the number of major incidents and increase the number of ways to mitigate their effects if they happen.
  4. Implement security tools in CI/CD pipeline. But consider if a tool requires verification of scan findings, it’s good-for-nothing in terms of the time-is-of-the-essence attitude in DevOps culture. Security tools should help your developers identify and eliminate risks in the open-source software components and prioritize vulnerabilities at the stage of code writing.
  5. Do threat modeling in the early stages of software development. The fact that only 25% of organizations implement threat modeling at the beginning of the SDLC means that with solid DevSecOps practices you have a head start and an excellent opportunity to outperform your competitors. Threat modeling helps to uncover breaches omitted during the code reviews and audits. Weak authentication or failing to validate input may sound like last-century mistakes, but they are still widespread.

Technology practices: provide your employees with up-to-date automated tools for security checks

While the speed of deployment and release is one of the core values of DevOps, the SANS survey indicates that half of the organizations still rely on manual testing instead of automated. Leverage automation whenever possible to have better outcomes but don’t get it wrong: automation doesn’t make you good at DevSecOps by default. It also doesn’t solve issues with legacy applications and an outdated pipeline or problems with complicated integration of security tools with other tools. Instead, suitable automation helps accelerate as many zero-velocity transitions as possible and enables better performance of the teams and a whole system. But to succeed and surpass your competitors, complete automation thoughtfully because it offers speed and easy repeatability in the DevSecOps flow, not necessarily quality.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Bill Gates

Thus, take into account that not all security checks can be fully automated. Review the security tests you plan to run and rate the maximum degree of automation they can reach now.

What are the benefits of DevSecOps techniques and their implementation, and how can you get them for your business?

  • Detect risks in near real-time and minimize the downtime impact implementing patching at the CI/CD level. With such an approach, feeds from vulnerability management and results of thread modeling are compared to find matches in the templates in turn queued for deployment.
  • Remediate vulnerabilities earlier in the SDLC, and reduce application risk and exposure. Static application scanning tools (SAST) will be helpful for scanning source code and finding issues even earlier.
  • See how your application handles the bombardment of malformed data within your CI pipeline using dynamic application scanning tools (DAST).
  • Correlate active threats against identified vulnerabilities in real-time thanks to vulnerability management scanning.
  • Ensure you achieved the needed level of security, and it’s applicable and validate in reality with the aid of pre-deployment and post-deployment auditing for a smoother process.
  • Cut compliance costs through the use of automated compliance. This goal can also be achieved by increasing the visibility and the possibility to track historical data.
  • Minimize the risk of human error in handling personal information by taking advantage of specific authentication mechanisms to access private information. Developers should at least ensure that data mustn’t be available in the public domain, and usage of pirate libraries is forbidden. Closure of the database from the external Internet isn’t the only way to ensure DevOps security but make sure to meet at least this condition.

Don’t bite off more than others can chew

Let’s be honest — it’s unrealistic to include all the DevSecOps best practices into your pipeline because, in that case, security checks will become never-ending and will only put stumbling blocks for developers. To begin with, work on building the DevSecOps collaborative culture and come up with your security priorities to establish a clear DevSecOps flow. Next, choose a couple of security checks that are essential for your business. It’s like implementing security rules into developers’ workflow by small iterations so that they can get used to them little by little. That way you won’t have to deal with a furious DevOps team, annoyed because of 48-hour security checks, when even just 20 minutes are sufficient to maintain an appropriate speed of deployment. If you have enough time to build the DevSecOps pipeline from scratch or to handle the legacy architecture, you need to build trust in the tool before you set more and more rules.

Don’t want to deal with the security issues that keep popping up during the entire SDLC process? Schedule a consultation with our experts to outline the DevSecOps solutions for your business.

Originally published on instinctools.com

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