DevOps Security: Benefits and Best Practices

 DevOps Security Benefits and Best Practices

The DevOps process has changed the way software is developed. However, security practices often don’t accompany this new agility. This has left many security teams struggling to keep the rapid pace of a DevOps agile environment.

The solution for this challenge was to include security into the DevOps lifecycle. Security practices should be built into every stage of the development process, from inception to release and support. This integration is called DevSecOps and aims to improve security through collaboration and shared accountability across the DevOps workflow. Read on to learn more about what is DevSecOps and best practices to implement it effectively. 

What Is DevOps?

DevOps is an approach to software development based on the Agile project management methodology. It aims to create a dynamic relationship between the development and operations departments with the goal to accelerate the delivery of applications. This approach, which ties the development and operations processes in a continuous loop of deployment and integration quickly became the gold standard for speed and quality in software development.

DevOps security or DevSecOps takes the process a step further, integrating security practices into the development lifecycle. This integration presents its challenges, since security teams tend to take their time to ensure the code is safe while development and operations push to release the product. Organizations implementing DevSecOps should promote ongoing collaboration between release engineers and security teams. 

Benefits of Implementing a DevOps Approach

Reasons for adopting a DevOps workflow include:

  • Adaptability—the agility of the DevOps process allows organizations to adapt to dynamic markets. Developers can release updates faster through practices such as continuous delivery, which allows changes in the code to be released automatically to production.
  • Consistency— by normalizing infrastructure provisioning and the software release process.
  • Reliability—practices such as continuous integration help ensure that each change in the code works properly.
  • Improved Collaboration—now that the entire team is responsible for delivery, there needs to be constant collaboration between departments. This is supported by a shared codebase and automated processes such as testing and deployment.
  • Better Troubleshooting—this approach allows engineers to test the performance of their systems earlier, allowing them to patch problems at the moment.
  • Scalability—since you can incorporate changes automatically to production, using a DevOps model helps you scale up or out your development as needed.
  • Security—the model enables automating compliance policies and testing across the development lifecycle.

DevOps Security Best Practices

To implement a DevOps security approach, an organization should incorporate a “security as code” culture across the departments. That means that security practices should be integrated at every stage of the development lifecycle. Let’s discuss a number of best practices to build security into the DevOps process:

#1. Keep Governance Policies up to Date

The new collaboration approach requires updating the governance policies and IT protocols. Since the pipeline has changed, it is necessary to ensure a transparent governance system that provides clear protocols and permissions. Moreover, having clear guidelines can help employees share concerns when suspecting an internal threat.

#2. Perform Regular Vulnerability Assessments

The security team should continuously scan and monitor the systems, including the hardware for signs of vulnerability at development and integration levels. Assessments such as penetration testing can alert of weaknesses and let the team patch the issues before the code get to production.

#3. Automate Security Tasks

Humans are prone to error, and letting security tasks such as privilege or threat management in their hands increases the risk for mistakes and negligence. Automating security tasks not only reduce time, but also reduces the risk of vulnerabilities.

#4. Implement Security Higyiene

Standard security practices such as keep the code and password separate and saved in a safe when not in use, are usually overlooked. You should disable programming keys and remove embedded credencials inside code. An API can help your organization for example, to set policies for rotating passwords.

#5. Set a System for Patch Management

The DevSecOps process can help find the issues faster and patch your systems quickly by implementing security testing across the lifecycle. This allows organizations to reduce the number of security gaps.

#6. Divide and Conquer the Network

You can segment the network to limit the access to your application resource server. This will help you avoid the problem of a continuous network flow. Moreover, in the event of an attack, a segmented network prevents an attacker access to all the network data.

#7. Apply the Principle of Least Privilege

Limiting users’ access rights to the minimum they need to perform their work is an effective way to minimize the risk of internal threats. The more people have access to sensitive data, the higher the risk of a security leak. If needed, you can install a few on-premise machines to host sensitive data, making it easier to control access. 

Final Considerations

DevOps security helps to create a safe and productive DevOps environment, by reducing vulnerabilities and weaknesses early in the process. Therefore, security permeates the entire systems and applications development, ultimately delivering more secure products. By applying the practices mentioned above, you can effectively reduce the risk of a data breach and develop secure software.

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