How do you ensure your DevOps pipeline is secure? Does DevSecOps protect you against serious breaches or is it just a way to allay the concerns of stakeholders about security in DevOps?
A data breach can cost an average of $3.92 million USD, as per IBM’s study Cost of a Data Breach. In this report, health care was found to be the most expensive industry, with breach fines averaging $6.45 million USD.
While DevOps delivers on the promise to increase the rate of delivery, the traditional CI/CD framework does not emphasize security. For the sake of speed, misconfigurations and known vulnerabilities may be allowed to pass through the development pipeline to production.
Security and testing are generally a low-priority activity, which means these vulnerabilities are fixed retroactively. This takes more time, effort and money. With rampant, unverified integration of open source tools, you open up the software to attackers that could compromise the security of your apps, systems and users’ data.
DevSecOps is an upgrade to DevOps, allowing you to deliver security and compliance testing continuously. These checks get integrated within the CI/CD pipeline to enable the delivery of more secure code faster.
From DevOps to DecSecOps: What to Expect
The automated nature of DevOps delivers several benefits that enable teams to realize the true power of DevOps as silos break and delivery rates skyrocket.
As DevOps practices span the entire delivery pipeline, it provides the necessary mechanism to deliver audit, compliance and security requirements along with speed and efficiency.
There are many benefits of upgrading from DevOps to a dedicated DevSecOps practice, and they are important to understand before you embark on that journey.
1. No Restrictive Access Control Policies for Developers
Access to infrastructure assets must be strictly controlled and monitored to enforce requisite security measures. This means approval gates, secure configuration parameters and other security measures.
With DevSecOps built into the pipeline, these access controls can be automatically applied. This enables on demand access to infrastructure resources for the team and reduces their dependence on factors outside the team.
For example, many organizations have started deploying internal DevOps teams that enable automated access to a shared pool of deployment processes, tools, repositories, workflows, etc.
This team is usually separate from the IT team but enforces security mechanisms with the same rigor. It ensures that access to all the infrastructure instances required by development, QA or production is automatically tracked, monitored and controlled as per the guidelines. Additionally, inconsistent processes or misconfigurations are also controlled.
Often called the shadow IT team, the idea of this team is not to circumvent the IT department but to create an additional team that matches the agility of the DevOps team.
2. Seamless Security and Compliance Testing
Traditionally, security and compliance testing happened all at once at the end of the release cycle close to the release date. This typically meant that a large spreadsheet of issues is sent to the development team to be fixed immediately, since maintaining a consistent release velocity is the key to DevOps success.
This requires the development team to have at least one dedicated resource to work on those issues. When metrics are tracked, to no one’s surprise, this method resulted in negative impacts on the velocity of the next release cycle.
DevSecOps applies all the security and compliance checks in batches. So, testing for security and compliance is shifted left and spread out across the pipeline.
This makes the security feedback loops shorter and more frequent compliance, thus aligning security and testing with the DevOps philosophy. As more secure code is committed every time, the possibility of security and compliance errors reported by the QA team is minimized.
A second, more personalized approach is using the integrated development environment (IDE) itself to take security and compliance checks to the developers. With regular and automated security and compliance baked right into the development process, this process is sped up-large and the development team becomes self-reliant.
3. Overcoming the Risks Associated With Open Source Software
The 2019 State of The Software Supply Chain report from Sonatype showed that, on average, 85% of the codebase among modern applications uses open source components. While open source components enable innovation, they also come with significant security risks. As more of these open source tools are added to the software supply chain, it increases the risks on the cybersecurity front.
The same report showed evidence to back up the need for greater open source software security checks and processes. Companies that managed their open source components released 55% less vulnerable components than those who had no verifiable open source management process.
While many of these open source components released frequent patches, it is also important for the DevSecOps team to step in and regulate the open source components. Some of the ways DevSecOps teams can do these are:
- Create a formal component management plan which makes sure that when employees leave, the practice doesn’t go away with them. Having a documented plan lets you look at the bigger picture of your pipeline and find vulnerable components that may be skipped without a formalized process. Incremental improvements to this plan are also possible if it’s well-documented.
- Use scanning tools like Gymnasium and Snyk that help regularly check for vulnerabilities.
- If vulnerabilities are detected or reported in a component, look at either updating or replacing the component.
- Enable quick approval for new open source software. Alternatively, prepare developers to test new components using security and compliance checklists.
4. Overall Cost Reduction and Acceleration of the Delivery Rate
An integrated security and compliance framework in DevOps prevents breaches and guarantees faster recovery when breaches do happen. As developers don’t have to set aside a large chunk of time to work on security and compliance violations, these shortens release cycles and ensures more secure code at the same time.
The fewer breaches you identify and fix, the more money you save on overcoming security disasters.
5. Automated Compliance Reporting
DevSecOps automates your security and compliance tests and it also logs and documents all the tests. DevOps automation platforms collect large amounts of information for the build, test, integration and deployment phases. This data can be used to create an end-to-end audit trail without any manual intervention or extra time spent scouring through various tools to prepare compliance reports.
A fantastic advantage of DevSecOps is the complete traceability from day one and automated compliance reporting. DevSecOps also focuses on the automation of testing, allowing you to deliver a secure development framework on a continuous basis.
DevSecOps is the Future of DevOps
The rapid release velocity DevOps enables is not without its disadvantages. In particular, the unchecked use of open source tools in the pipeline can expose your applications and systems to many known vulnerabilities, increasing the probability of a breach. Combined with a general lack of focus on security, this is a recipe for an expensive security incident.
To counter this, DevSecOps radically transforms the pipeline by shifting security and compliance testing left. Developers check the code before every commit. With fast feedback loops, they fix any reported vulnerabilities along with other errors in the app.
With DevSecOps, compliance and security checks are not done all at once; Instead, developers chip away at vulnerabilities and security flaws with every release.