DevOps provides an environment with great potential to enhance security. Practices such as collaboration, continuous testing, automation better feedback loops, provides an opportunity to integrate security as a component of the DevOps processes.

Mostly, a wide range of security flaws and risks exist in the cloud environment, containers, and other resources developers rely on when making applications. This includes the third-party code, tools, networks, and other components of the development systems. Without proper tools, control, and protection, these areas can lead to unstable and insecure applications.

Some factors that increase vulnerabilities include:

  • Wrong configurations and weakness in containers
  • Insecure in-house and third-party code, privilege exposures, etc.
  • Security flaws in the scripts or CI/CD tools
  • Malicious insiders
  • Insecure infrastructure and employee behavior.
DevOps strategies - error

Many common DevOps practices inherently lend themselves to providing a development and delivery pipeline that can improve your overall security posture.

Three biggest risks to IT security are as follows: 

  • Human error
  • Lack of process
  • External threats 

DevOps can positively impact all three of these major risk factors, without negatively impacting the stability or reliability of the core business network.

Best DevOps practices to boost your security

Here, is a list of the top five DevOps practices and tooling that can help boost overall security when incorporated directly into your end-to-end continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Security test automation
  3. Configuration and patch management
  4. Continuous monitoring
  5. Identity management

Collaboration and understanding your security requirements

Many of us are required to adopt a security policy. It may be in the form of a corporate security policy, a customer security policy, or a set of compliance standards (ex. SOX, HIPAA, etc). Even if you are not mandated to use a specific policy or regulating standard, we all still want to ensure we follow the best practices in securing our systems and applications. The key is to identify your sources of security requirements information and, collaborate early so they can be incorporated into the overall solution.

Security test automation

Whether you are building a brand new solution or upgrading an existing solution, there likely are several security considerations to integrate. Due to iterative agile development, handling all security at once in a “big bang” approach likely will result in project delays. To be certain that projects keep moving, a layered approach often can be helpful to ensure you are continuously building additional security layers into your pipeline as you progress from development to a live product. Security test automation can ensure you have quality gates throughout your deployment pipeline giving immediate feedback to stakeholders on a security standpoint and allowing for quick remediation early in the pipeline.

Configuration management

In traditional development, servers/instances are equipped and developers are able to work on the systems. To make sure servers are equipped and managed using consistent, repeatable, and reliable patterns it’s critical to ensure you have a strategy for configuration management. The key is to be certain you can reliably guarantee and manage consistent settings across your environments.

Patch management

Similar to the concerns with configuration management, you need to make sure you have a method to quickly and reliably patch your systems. Missing patches are a common cause of exploited vulnerabilities including malware attacks. Being able to swiftly deliver a patch across a large number of systems can drastically reduce your overall security exposures.

Continuous monitoring

Make certain you have monitoring in place across all environments with transparent feedback is important so it can alert you quickly of potential breaches or security issues. It is important to identify your monitoring needs across the infrastructure and application and then take benefits of some of the tooling that exists to quickly identify, isolate, and remediate potential issues before they become vulnerable. Most of your monitoring strategy also should include the ability to automatically collect and analyze logs. The analysis of running logs can help identify exposures quickly and compliance activities can become extremely expensive if they are not automated early.

Identity management

DevOps strategies allow us to integrate early with security experts which increase the level of security tests and automation to enforce quality gates for security and provide better mechanisms for ongoing security management and compliance activities.

Conclusion

Incorporating security practices into your DevOps processes boosts in creating an effective security layer for the environment and applications. This, in the future, ensures security and compliance in a more proactive and efficient way.

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