Five Tips for DevOps Application Security
In a recent blog, we took a closer look at DevOps and how this agile process has led to modern software “factories” to develop customer applications in a fast-paced, iterative environment. All of this is great, yet we also discussed how current DevOps processes may come up a step short when it comes to security.
More specifically, most DevOps approaches don’t include security early enough in the application development, and as a result, lead to application and data security becoming an afterthought. How is application security configured through DevOps now?
We’ve talked about this DevOps application security challenge before, and how companies need to change their thinking from “DevOps” to “SecDevOps.” As a follow-up, this blog offers new recommendations and specific best practices companies should consider to make current DevOps methodologies more secure.
Interested in more information why SecDevOps is so important? Download our new how-to guide, “Successfully Complying with Data Privacy Regulations,” now.
Tip #1: Assess risk early in the process
In planning to improve DevOps application security, the security team should work side-by-side with developers and business managers as early as possible—ideally during the design step—to review corporate goals and balance them with an agreed-upon level of risk.
It’s important to note that there is always some amount of risk, so it’s valuable to have security professionals “in the room” to identify it and begin to plan to address it.
Tip #2: Give developers the right tools
As the next step—and probably the most important—application developers must have simple-to-implement tools so that security features can be added to applications during the development phase.
Not only does this enable developers to remain agile by letting them keep their preferred coding approach, but it promotes faster, iterative development and continual testing models as opposed to adding them to the QA step at the end of the development process. It also leads to new benefits: faster development speeds, increased efficiency, and even more collaboration—including the possible transference of skills—between software developers and security professionals.
Tip #3: Automate the approach to DevOps application security (whenever possible)
Another important consideration for lowering DevOps security risks is to take the human element out of the equation. How? By automating the processes related to working security into the application development process.
DevOps automation alleviates many concerns and can overcome possible obstacles along the way. For example, a newly deployed application can automatically detect and activate relevant security policies and/or advanced security techniques such as encryption to protect the application as well as data produced and held in storage.
Even after applications are deployed, automated configuration settings can be adjusted based on deployment scenarios. Automation allows the DevOps application security team to apply updates through agents and have them be deployed programmatically. With this approach, changes can still be made, even if development has already moved on to other projects.
Tip #4: Let security teams do what they do best
On the operations side, the security team can help optimize how and where encryption is performed, which data paths should be used or prohibited, and where data should be stored. The security team can decide if and how single sign-on might be incorporated, and what other kind of authorization and access controls should be put in place. The team can also make sure that the application functions well with existing security infrastructure by adding acceleration-offload capabilities as required.
Tip #5: Have a plan to protect critical data - no matter where it is
Proper data treatment is especially important if open-source software or code from libraries and community portals might be incorporated. Having the data secured and inaccessible during the inevitable data breach means that security will stay ahead of possible issues when subsequent threats and vulnerabilities might surface.
The clock is ticking. History has shown that it can take months, if not years, for vulnerabilities to be detected, never mind the time delays incurred during patch development and testing prior to implementation. With the data properly secured, the security team can take the time to properly test and patch or fix a particular configuration without the development teams involvement.
Move to SecDevOps
Infusing security throughout the entire DevOps cycle is the next logical step for a modern software factory approach to in-house applications. Enterprises will quickly see that such a move will not only solve security issues, but also will result in a better development and deployment process. Following these five tips will give any organization a valuable head start in achieving all that the concept of SecDevOps has to offer.
For more information about CSPi security solutions and our approach to DevOps application security, please visit our security solutions web page now. Or, download our whitepaper to learn how to secure DevOps across any environment.