DevOps is popular among developers for its cross-functional collaboration across the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Since its conception, DevOps has witnessed rapid transformation as it fuels the compelling need to ship software as quickly as possible. Newer variants, including AIOps, MLOps, and NetOps, have emerged following the principle of DevOps. In 2023, DevOps is expected to reach newer heights with the help of AI and ML.
While DevOps helps automate processes for quicker delivery, there are still issues with the importance given to DevOps security. According to industry experts, there are various reasons for security concerns in DevOps – cultural resistance, complexity from containerization, collaboration challenges, and issues with cloud security. Cisco’s Cybersecurity Report states that more than 62% of organizations affected by security incidents had problems with their business operations after.
This blog post discusses the importance of security in DevOps environment and the best practices businesses must adopt to build a robust and resilient cloud-based environment.
Security Challenges in the DevOps Environment
DevOps Security or DevSecOps is all about the seamless collaboration of development, security, and operations teams by breaking down the traditional boundaries that before existed between Security, IT operations, and software development teams. It integrates security tools and processes throughout the DevOps pipeline to achieve continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) of high-quality products to your customers. Cybersecurity is important in a DevOps environment for several reasons:
- Speed over security: Teams focus on deploying software and infrastructure changes without implementing proper security measures, increasing the risk of cyber threats.
- Pipeline automation: Not many organizations check for security vulnerabilities while automating software delivery pipelines using DevOps, which can lead to cyberattacks.
- Infrastructure loopholes: Using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) to automate infrastructure management involves defining infrastructure as code and then automatically deploying it. Although this can make it easier to manage infrastructure, it can also create new vulnerabilities that cyber attackers can exploit.
- New security challenges: While cloud-based infrastructure is becoming popular, it also creates new security challenges, such as protecting sensitive data stored in the cloud.
- Regulatory requirements: DevOps environments often have compliance requirements that must be met, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR. Ensuring that these requirements are met requires a strong focus on cybersecurity.
Eight best practices for Creating a Safe DevOps Environment
The recent GitLab 2022 Global DevSecOps Survey stated that 43% of security professionals surveyed feel unprepared for sophisticated attacks. A safe DevOps environment starts with creating a DevOps security culture.
Building an air-tight cloud-based DevOps environment resilient to cyber-attacks requires a combination of strategies, tools, and best practices. Here are some steps to build such an environment:
- Security posture – Strong security posture involves conducting regular security assessments, identifying vulnerabilities, and implementing appropriate risk mitigation measures.
- Secure cloud infrastructure provider – This is crucial when building a cloud-based DevOps environment. Ensure the provider has robust security features like encryption, access controls, and monitoring.
- DevOps pipeline – The DevOps pipeline should be secured at every process stage. Start with implementing security controls for source code management. Once that is covered, build tools for testing and deployment.
- Advanced workflows – Take a proactive approach to security by integrating advanced workflow scheduling and management tools into CI/CD process to model flows, accelerate development and eliminate inefficiencies.
- Security testing – Conduct periodic security testing to identify and remediate vulnerabilities in your DevOps environment. This includes penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and code reviews.
- Security tools – Incorporate automated security tools into your DevOps pipeline. This can help to identify security issues in real-time and enable prompt remediation.
- Access controls – Apply access controls to limit access to sensitive data and systems. This includes implementing role-based access controls, two-factor authentication, and least privilege access.
- User logs – Monitor and analyze logs from your DevOps environment to detect and respond to security incidents. This includes monitoring for unusual activity, unauthorized access attempts, and other suspicious behavior.
- Incident response plan – Develop an incident response plan to guide your response to security incidents. The plan must include clearly defined employee roles and responsibilities established through proper communication channels. The plan must also contain containment, eradication, and recovery procedures.
Tools to manage DevOps security
Various tools available for DevOps security can help teams identify and remediate security vulnerabilities throughout the software development lifecycle. These tools can help DevOps teams to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities throughout the software development lifecycle, enabling them to deliver secure and reliable applications.
- Security testing tools – Implementing tools such as static application security testing (SAST), dynamic application security testing (DAST), and software composition analysis (SCA) can help to identify security vulnerabilities in code, libraries, and application dependencies.
- Container Security tools – These tools focus on securing container images and runtime environments. Examples of container security tools include Aqua Security, Sysdig Secure, and Twistlock.
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Security tools – IaC tools focus on securing the IaC templates and scripts to create infrastructure. Some IaC security tools include Terraform, CloudFormation, and Chef InSpec.
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools – There are various SIEM tools, including Splunk, ELK Stack, and Graylog, that help monitor and analyze security events across the environment.
- Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) tools – These tools provide automated testing and deployment of code, including security checks. Examples of CI/CD tools include Jenkins, GitLab CI/CD, and CircleCI.
- Configuration management tools – Ansible and Puppet are configuration management tools that help configure software applications and IT infrastructure to meet your security standards.
The future of DevOps security will involve a greater emphasis on security testing and checks throughout the software development lifecycle, the use of AI and ML to automate security testing, continuous security monitoring, cloud security, and the use of security-as-code practices. DevSecOps will soon become the standard, making security testing and checks an integral part of the software development lifecycle.