In Hashicorp’s 2022 State of Cloud Strategy Survey, 89% of respondents saw security as a key driver of cloud success. Security is important, but in many cases it is still considered as an afterthought. To keep up with the pace of development required to be competitive while also maintaining security standards, security can no longer be secondary. If security is not integrated, organizations will inevitably have to choose between meeting a deadline and ensuring an application is secure. In today’s fast paced world, adopting a DevSecOps model can help organizations maintain the balance between speed and security.
DevSecOps Overview: What It Is & Why It’s Important
DevSecOps is an approach used to integrate security practices into the software development lifecycle. This practice is known as “shifting left”, as it includes security from the beginning, or left side, of the development process. The focus on automation and continuous security integration provides a smooth, quick, and secure path to production. More information about DevSecOps as a practice can be found here.
DevSecOps Best Practices
According to Gitlab’s 2023 Global DevSecOps Report, 74% of security professionals said they have either shifted left or plan to in the next three years. Here are five DevSecOps best practices that can be implemented now to join the DevSecOps revolution.
In DevSecOps, speed is of the essence. Most companies deploy code many times each day. The ability to include security controls and tests during a normal pipeline run saves time and resources. If implemented properly, adding automated security checks throughout the development process can hardly be noticed by developers. Instead of needing to wait for a manual approval, developers have the freedom to create quickly while staying secure.
DevSecOps is not only a technological shift, but a cultural change. It’s important to foster a mindset that instills security awareness and accountability across all teams. Security should be a priority for all. Building a culture where security is always at the forefront and is thought of before, during, and at the time of decision making will make your DevSecOps adoption successful.
Due to the culture shift required, it’s likely that not all associates will immediately have the security “know-how” to fully integrate security into their decision making and development practices. All associates should have robust security training tailored to their specific roles. For example, everyone should have a solid understanding of basic security concepts. However, developers should also know and implement secure coding practices. This knowledge empowers teams to make security informed decisions and proactively address any issues that they see in their day to day work.
In addition to security training, time and resources should be provided to learn about any new tools or technologies that are expected to be used. Adding automation will save time in the long run, but only if it’s implemented properly and with care. Having a team that knows the tools they use inside and out will pay off.
Infrastructure as Code
Utilizing Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the process of provisioning resources through code instead of manually. Teams can create and manage infrastructure resources in a faster, more secure, and reproducible way. This automates away the possibility of many configuration errors, missing ad-hoc changes, and provides better collaboration and visibility amongst teams. IaC is modular and can assist in separating your development, test, and production environments. Additionally, using modular code in a reproducible way can be beneficial when planning for disaster recovery and business continuity planning. If something happens to an application, it’s much easier to get it running again using IaC.
Monitoring resources to ensure they are following all requirements is great, but in the spirit of DevSecOps we can “shift-left” even further and create guardrails that prevent misconfigured items from ever being created. These guardrails can be created with the use of IaC and provide the ability to apply security controls, require secure defaults, and prevent any non-compliant resources from being launched. Guardrails are custom and can be created to lock down environments as much as desired. These are particularly helpful when compliance requirements come into play.
Admittedly, DevSecOps is more involved than these five best practices show. However, getting started with the basic principles will lay the groundwork for many iterations of improvement. If you find yourself looking for more guidance on DevSecOps strategy or implementation, reach out! ScaleSec has helped many organizations improve their security posture by adopting the DevSecOps approach.