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How to train your DevOps team on security best practices and potential security risks

DevOps security involves identifying and mitigating security risks throughout the software development life cycle, from design and development to deployment and maintenance. According to InfoSec Institute, 96% of developers think automating security and compliance operations, a core DevSecOps principle, would be advantageous for their firm. DevOps security emphasizes the need for collaboration between development, operations, and security teams. It seeks to integrate best security practices into the DevOps process, such as using secure coding practices, performing vulnerability scans, penetration testing, implementing security monitoring, incident response, and conducting security reviews. In this article, we look at the way to integrate DevOps security best practices into your organization for a more secure SDLC.

DevOps security ensures that security is not just an afterthought or a separate process but an integral part of the entire software development life cycle. This means that security considerations are incorporated into every process stage, from planning and design to testing and deployment. It is a critical aspect of modern software development, especially in light of cyber attacks’ increasing frequency and severity. By integrating security into the DevOps process, teams can build and deploy more secure, resilient, and reliable applications while reducing the time and resources required to manage security.

Barriers To Securing DevOps

While the need for security is apparent to all, integrating security in DevOps comes with several challenges. These could be anything from the complexity of the modern software development life cycle, the need for speed and agility, or the increased attack surface created by integrating different tools and technologies.

However, the primary challenges often arise due to the cultural reluctance of development and operations teams to prioritize testing and security. They believe that security is a bottleneck that slows down development. DevOps teams that strive for rapid development cycles and continuous code delivery are frequently frustrated by the security teams’ customary lengthy testing of environments and applications to ensure they don’t overlook any vulnerabilities. Therefore, best practices emphasize the need for collaboration between development, operations, and security teams.

Fostering A Security Culture

To build a DevOps security culture, organizations must focus on three key areas: mindset, mechanism, and skillset. The first step is to shift the organization’s mindset towards security, making it a shared responsibility across the entire DevOps lifecycle rather than solely the responsibility of security teams. This requires a shift in mindset from solely accelerating development speed to prioritizing both speed and quality.

The next phase involves setting up vital facilitating mechanisms, including fresh DevSecOps positions and accountabilities, operation frameworks for group cooperation, and engagement models that outline the degree of involvement for each role. These mechanisms must be implemented to support and fortify the shift in mindset and working methods.

Lastly, organizations must address the skillset gap by building new capabilities such as up-skilling, cross-skilling, and new skilling. This is necessary to ensure that team members have the necessary skills and knowledge to contribute to the organization’s security efforts. This is especially important considering the shortage of cybersecurity talent in the industry.

DevSecOps: Best Security Practices To Implement

DevSecOps involves integrating security into the DevOps pipeline, thereby ensuring ongoing security throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC). The following steps can help organizations implement a successful DevSecOps strategy:

  1. Define a DevSecOps Strategy: Organizations should define a DevSecOps strategy that clearly articulates the guiding principles to drive security throughout the SDLC. The strategy should specify agreed-upon goals, requirements for mutual accountability, and performance indicators. It should also encompass a set of clear and understandable security policies and governance for access control, code reviews, configuration management, and vulnerability testing.
  2. Understand your Toolchain and Workflow: All the teams, including development, operations, and security personnel, must understand the flow of work and the toolchain involved across the DevOps pipeline. This helps to build a unified security testing strategy and unearth opportunities to improve existing DevOps pipeline workflows.
  3. Implement Security Guardrails: Security processes and procedures should be embedded early and often, and the focus should shift from acceptance and system-level testing to unit testing and integration testing. Pre-approved tools should be leveraged to reduce toolchain complexity, and penetration and automated security testing should be introduced to identify and fix critical security gaps. Hard security guardrails should also be implemented, and CI/CD systems should be fortified with checklists to ensure teams follow best practices.
  4. Automate Everything: It is important to automate the security processes and tools to scale and accelerate security operations on par with the pace of DevOps processes. Security processes like code reviews, configuration management, vulnerability assessment, and access management can all be automated.
  5. Continuously Improve: DevSecOps teams must continuously update or improve their security guardrails with continuous security validation and real-time monitoring of security logs. Regular assessments should be conducted to identify and address critical security vulnerabilities promptly.
  6. DevOps Security Best Practices: Vulnerability assessment and management, risk assessment, threat modeling, security testing, secure coding, and incident response are the top DevOps security best practices that help achieve continuous security across the SDLC.

As technology continues to evolve, we can anticipate that DevSecOps practices will become increasingly automated and seamlessly integrated into the software development process. By adopting DevSecOps today, organizations can stay ahead of the curve and position themselves for success in the long term. With a stronger focus on security throughout the SDLC, companies can ensure that their software remains secure, reliable, and resilient against emerging threats and vulnerabilities.


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