Have you started securing your cloud infrastructure with DevSecOps? This blog will help you understand how you can secure your cloud and software development by adapting DevOps security practices, also known as DevSecOps.
Most smart people are taking a DevOps-driven approach to development to improve their coding practices, product maintenance, and feature implementation.
Effective DevOps facilitates frequent and quick development, testing, and deployment cycles, bringing an idea to market in days rather than months or years. However, this agility has ushered in a new challenge for organizations—security.
Traditionally, security had a small role at the final stage of the software development cycle. With traditional development cycles taking months to complete, this was never an issue, but with the advent of DevOps, a lapse in security or outdated security practices can cause bottlenecks and problems for even the most efficient DevOps implementations. The answer to this problem can be found in a cultural change where DevOps was transformed into DevSecOps – making security a collective responsibility of the entire organization, rather than just keeping the onus on one team.
What is DevSecOps or DevOps Security
DevSecOps is a cultural shift that incorporates application and infrastructure security from the outset. This means that security is an integral part of the entire lifecycle of your product or app.
DevSecOps provides security built into every piece of code published, not as security that is limited to securing apps and data. Putting security on the backfoot can quickly bring a DevOps-driven organization back to longer development cycles, defeating the whole purpose of a continuous-everything approach.
Why implement DevOps Security?
Despite the numerous benefits that DevOps offers to development teams today, security remains a challenge as newer vulnerabilities are detected nearly every day. The most important reason to implement and adopt security in DevOps is that it is a modern alternative to traditional security implementations.
As software development cycles become continuous, security must evolve to adapt to these changes from the outset. DevSecOps also builds security into every piece of code that goes into a product—making security built-in rather than being applied at the final stage.
Additionally, this reduces security expenses and helps in speeding up development delivery rates. As collaborations and workflows become transparent and automated, detecting threats and recovering from them becomes easier.
What are the challenges in implementing DevSecOps?
DevOps brings teams together on one platform and encourages collaboration. It also brings the functions of those teams into the fold of DevOps. So development, testing, deployment, infrastructure management, and integration essentially become a part of one process chain responsible for delivering a finished product rapidly.
This means that shorter development cycles can often outpace security teams that must perform security tasks that include configuration management, code analysis, and assessments for vulnerabilities, amongst many others.
If these tasks are not performed efficiently at every stage of the development process, they can lead to backdoors and security breaches that hackers can easily exploit.
- Cultural resistance is a significant challenge in implementing DevSecOps. The notion that security checks will derail or delay the development process puts security at the back door. Still, businesses do not realize that addressing security at the outset can take less time to fix.
- Containerization is essential for boosting productivity in a DevOps environment. However, as container apps run without dependencies, they can also open up a can of worms if not scanned often and effectively for vulnerabilities.
- Access management in collaborative teams can often leave critical information that includes SSH keys, APIs, and tokens up for grabs. As critical assets may often have unsecured open-source platforms, apps, and containers, they can expose your app to threats.
What is the solution for these DevOps security challenges?
Security concerns are real—and can cause data theft, identity theft, and loss of data. This concern was experienced first-hand by Equifax, which was due to a configuration issue, or in the case of Veeam where unsecured user data was up for grabs or LinkedIn—when millions of users could not log in due to expired certificates.
The solution lies in DevSecOps—and best practices that will help your organization achieve the perfect balance between security and agility.
DevOps security best practices
DevSecOps best practices are important to reduce unwanted security lapses. Although there are no set rules that can define the perfect DevOps implementation that is optimized for security, here’s what your organization can do to ensure DevOps Security with every line of code:
1. Embrace the DevSecOps model
The DevSecOps model irons out team misalignment, incidents of insecure code floating around, misconfiguration, unsecured passwords and certificates, and application security. Implementing and embracing this model means that your entire organization will collectively share the responsibility for security, accountability, and alignment across teams.
2. Policy enforcement
A no-exception approach to policy enforcement is essential to achieve DevOps security. Transparent cybersecurity policies must be easy to understand and implement, helping teams plan tasks according to the security policy requirements.
3. Automation for security processes
Scaling security to DevOps processes requires automated security tools. Automation also minimizes risk from human error, reduces downtime, and facilities a much deeper penetration of security practices.
4. Comprehensive discovery
It is essential to constantly validate and discover all the tools, devices, and accounts in use. This improves visibility and brings your assets and tools in line with your security policy.
5. Vulnerability assessment and management
A strict vulnerability assessment and management regimen will ensure that both development and integration environments—including those within containers are scanned for, assessed, and remediated before being deployed to production. This ensures that DevOps security can efficiently run penetration testing and other types of security testing.
6. Managing configurations
Any oversight or mistakes in configurations can quickly multiply in scale if not detected and fixed in time. Continuous configuration scans across servers and builds will ensure that handling any misconfiguration is in accordance with policy and industry practices.
7. Access management
Often, DevOps secrets such as privileged account credentials, SSH Keys, API tokens, etc., are used by developers or applications, containers, microservices, and cloud instances. If the management of these secrets is improper, they can quickly provide attackers access to your applications or your cloud infrastructure. This can result in disrupted operations, information theft, and in extreme cases—the loss of control over your infrastructure.
All credentials must be removed or secured at a centralized location. Using privileged password management solutions which use API calls to give apps and scripts access control is a better approach. It can easily be automated to be in line with your security policy.
8. Monitor, control and audit
Entire teams can often have privileged access to the root or admin. These credentials can easily be shared, eliminating the possibility of an audit trail in case of a breach or a major incident.
The principle of least privilege and enforcing this principle by a policy will ensure that internal or external attackers do not have the credentials to exploit these privileged user rights.
Additionally, a simple workflow that does not demand such high-level access will reduce the possibilities of attacks. Teams should only have access to build, deploy, configure and address production issues.
9. Segmenting networks
Segmenting or categorizing networks and assets can reduce exploitable resources in the “line of sight” for intruders. Grouping assets, application servers, and resource servers into untrusted logical units reduce the chances of an infrastructure-wide attack. If your application must cross trust zones, provide access via a secured jump server fortified with multi-factor authentication and adaptive access authorization. Additionally, using session monitoring for oversight and segment-access-based control for requested data, role and apps provide an additional level of control.
What are the various tools used in DevOps security?
Engineers managing DevSecOps or DevOps security at Volumetree rely on enterprise-grade cloud security tools to ensure compliance and test implementations for vulnerabilities. Some of these tools include:
1. Rapid7 Nexpose
Our DevOps security engineers use Nexpose as an end-to-end vulnerability lifecycle detection and management tool. Data from Nexpose is analyzed to highlight issues with out-of-date packages and other security problems.
Suricata is a fantastic open-source container and cloud network threat detection tool. Suricata facilitates real-time network traffic, cloud security, and threat inspection using rules, a signature language, and scripting tools.
DevSecOps engineers at Volumetree use this CoreOS project to scan for vulnerabilities in Docker containers. Claire showcases container vulnerability by comparing the vulnerability data from multiple sources to the contents of your container.
Sync enforces code hygiene at Volumetree. Used to scan open-source libraries that our developers integrate into their solutions, this fantastic tool can integrate with GitHub and request patches to automatically fix issues so that engineers can integrate libraries in production with confidence.
Stethoscope provides visibility into hardware security. Netflix developed this open-source tool that helps security teams to better manage end-user security for DevOps teams. This tool tracks and makes disc encryption recommendations, update management and screen locks so users can self-manage device security.
DevSecOps puts application and infrastructure security first. DevSecOps attempts to accomplish this by automating some security gates to keep the DevOps workflow from slowing down.
DevOps teams can continue to be highly agile by selecting the right tools to integrate security continuously. However, DevOps security is not just a collection of new tools. It is a cultural change throughout the organization that will positively impact the release of highly secure products. DevSecOps builds end-to-end security into app development, helping to attain the goal of continuous everything without compromise.
Secure your valuable apps and cloud infrastructure with DevSecOps. Get started by scheduling a call with our DevSecOps experts today!