Posted on: 11 06 2024.

What is Secure DevOps?

When you’re building an application, security is a top priority. That’s why so many companies use secure DevOps, also known as DevSecOps, to integrate security practices within the DevOps workflow. That can help emphasize the importance of safeguarding applications from the outset. Read on to learn more about what secure DevOps is, some challenges to overcome, and steps to creating one.

What Is Secure DevOps?

Secure DevOps is the practice of integrating security measures into every phase of the DevOps lifecycle. Traditionally, security was considered a separate stage that occurred after development and operations. It was almost an after-thought to the development process. However, with the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats, it has become crucial to embed security within the development pipeline itself to make security a high priority from the start.

In secure DevOps, security practices are automated and continuously applied throughout the entire software development process. This includes incorporating security checks in the code, performing automated security testing, and monitoring for vulnerabilities in real-time. By doing so, you can identify and address security issues early in the development cycle, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities in the final product.

This approach ensures that security is not an afterthought but a fundamental component of the development and deployment process. It becomes a priority for your team. The goal is to deliver secure, high-quality software quickly and efficiently, without compromising on security standards.

What Are Some Challenges With DevOps Security?

Implementing secure DevOps practices comes with its own set of challenges. These issues can arise at any point and need to be addressed to help the software development and deployment processes remain secure and efficient:

Security Vulnerabilities

One of the primary challenges in DevOps security is the persistent threat of security cyber attacks that can find their way through security vulnerabilities. As development cycles shorten and the speed of delivery increases, there is a higher risk that vulnerabilities can be overlooked.

Attackers often exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access, steal sensitive data, or disrupt services. Ensuring that you use comprehensive security testing and continuous monitoring is essential to mitigate these risks and protect your applications from potential threats. Don’t forget to apply patches and updates later on to help maintain a strong front against vulnerabilities at every stage.

Proper Credentials to Access Development and Production

Managing access credentials for both development and production environments is another significant challenge. When many team members require different levels of access, maintaining secure and appropriate credential management becomes complex. Inadequate control over access can lead to unauthorized access, accidental exposure of sensitive information, or malicious activities.

Implementing access controls, using tools like multi-factor authentication (MFA), and regularly auditing access permissions are critical steps to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive areas of your pipeline.

Legacy Systems

Legacy systems pose a unique challenge in a DevOps environment. These older systems may not have been designed with modern security practices in mind, making them more vulnerable to attacks. Integrating legacy systems with new DevOps tools and practices can be difficult, as they might lack the necessary interfaces or compatibility.

Upgrading or securing these systems without disrupting ongoing operations requires careful planning and execution. Organizations must often balance the need for modernization with the risks and costs associated with updating or replacing legacy infrastructure.

What Is DevOps vs. DevSecOps Security?

DevOps is a methodology that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) to improve collaboration and productivity by automating and integrating processes. In traditional DevOps, security practices are often integrated towards the end of the development cycle. This can lead to potential security vulnerabilities being discovered too late in the process, which can be costly and time-consuming to fix.

DevSecOps, on the other hand, is an alternate name for secure DevOps and extends the DevOps philosophy by embedding security practices and tools into every phase of the software development lifecycle. The key difference between DevOps and DevSecOps is the integration of security from the very beginning. In DevSecOps, security is treated as a shared responsibility among all team members, including developers, IT operations, and security professionals. This approach ensures that security considerations are an integral part of the development process, rather than an afterthought.

In DevSecOps, automated security testing, continuous monitoring, and proactive vulnerability management are standard practices. This includes integrating tools for static and dynamic analysis, dependency scanning, and compliance checks into the CI/CD pipeline. The goal is to identify and mitigate security issues as early as possible, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities in the production environment.

By embedding security into the DevOps workflow, DevSecOps aims to deliver secure software faster and more efficiently. It ensures that security is not compromised for speed and that security measures are continually updated to address emerging threats.

Steps for Secure DevOps

Implementing secure DevOps into your organization requires a comprehensive approach to ensure that security is present at every stage of the development lifecycle. Here are important steps to build a robust DevOps pipeline with a focus on security:

Choose a CI/CD Tool

Select a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tool that supports your security needs. Choose a tool that integrates well with your existing infrastructure and provides security features such as vulnerability scanning and compliance checks.

Choose a Source Control Management Tool

Implement a source control management tool to manage your code repositories. These tools help maintain version control, facilitate collaboration, and ensure that only authorized changes are merged into the main branch. Utilize branch protections and pull requests to enforce code reviews and ensure that all changes are scrutinized before integration.

Set Up a Continuous Integration (CI) Server

A CI server automates the integration of code changes, running builds and tests to validate each change. This early detection of issues helps maintain code quality and security. Configure your CI server to automatically run security tests, such as static code analysis, to identify vulnerabilities early in the development process.

Automated Testing

Incorporate automated testing into your DevOps pipeline to ensure that your code is secure and functioning as intended. Include different types of tests such as:

  • Unit Tests: Test individual components for functionality.
  • Functional Tests: Test the complete functionality against the requirements for the project.
  • Integration Tests: Check different modules work together correctly.
  • Regression Tests: Check that new changes don’t break existing functionality.

Monitor and Feedback Loops

Continuous monitoring and feedback loops are important for maintaining security in a DevOps environment. Implement monitoring tools to track system performance, detect anomalies, and identify potential security threats in real-time. Use feedback loops to ensure that any detected issues are promptly addressed and incorporated into future development practices.

Continuous Operations

Continuous operations is a relatively new concept in DevOps, focusing on the ongoing management and maintenance of applications post-deployment. This includes automated updates, scaling, and self-healing capabilities. By ensuring that security measures are in place during operations, you can maintain a secure environment even as your applications evolve and scale.

Why You Should Automate Your DevOps Pipeline

Automating your DevOps pipeline is crucial for ensuring consistency, reducing errors, and accelerating the software delivery process. It’s somehow faster and more accurate. That means faster and more reliable releases. It also ensures that security checks are consistently applied, reducing the risk of human error.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, secure DevOps is a great way to build applications and make security a priority from the start. The key to a great DevSecOps pipeline is to find the right partner for your development process. Comtrade provides DevOps consulting that can help you create a great secure DevOps pipeline. Contact us today to get started!