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You need DevSecOps automation for a secure Software Development Life cycle

devsecops automation

Security needs to evolve to keep up with the rest of their organizations. DevOps and SecOps took the companies one step forward. A DevSecOps automation can take them even further.

Developers cannot build a product and “throw it over the wall” to operations anymore. You need to think the security through the whole development process. Concerns about safety at core is growing among organizations, as shown in the graph below.

DevSecOps

Already, to fasten the development of applications and ease maintenance of existing deployments, DevOps (amalgaming development and operations) promotes shorter, more controllable iterations by adopting best practices, automation, and new tools.

DevOps doesn’t involve a technology per se. It’s a way to integrate testing all along the development pipeline, to ‘shift left.’ In DevOps, Developers aim to continuously integrate and deploy (CI/CD) code to the cloud to make sure apps are flawlessly updated.

In the same way, SecOps (Security and Operations) is the seamless collaboration between Security and Operations to mitigate risk effectively. SecOps teams assume joint responsibility and ownership for any security concerns, incorporating security into the entire operations cycle.

Now, DevSecOps (Development, Security, and Operations) is the new trend. Indeed, more and more people realize that there’s no bridge between development and security. Everyone, including developers and operations, has to understand that security is not an external concern but of their responsibility. To that extent, adopting DevSecOps means:

  • Infusing security directly in your code;
  • Evolving your SOC;
  • Getting Started with DevSecOps;
  • DevSecOps automation is key.

Modern companies need to infuse security directly in their code

Security needs to shift left

As we said, you cannot think about security after the delivery of your product. Today, security has to be a central part of any Software development life cycle (SDLC).

Even if the adoption of a DevOps model shortened the SDLC, organizations are constantly facing increased demand for faster and more secure deliveries. However, still siloed from development teams, security is having more and more trouble keeping up with the pace. More, products tend to complexify. Security reviews cannot come on the final stage of development or once the product is deployed. An attacker should discover vulnerabilities deep in your code and your teams then would have to find them and patch them directly in your code, which is laborious and time-consuming, as shown below, according to the Ponemon Institute study

DevSecOps secure code

Security assessment as it is today can result in bottleneck effects. That’s why more and more organizations are starting to adopt a new model to integrate security practices into the already existent DevOps processes. In such models, Development, Operations, and Security are working together. The goals are shared, and silos are broken.

In other words, the goal is to bridge the gap DevOps created between Ops and Dev and Security. The idea is to add security to the benefits of the DevOps model: more agile and faster delivery processes.

We need to move accountability left in the whole pipeline. This shift of mind empowers individuals to address potential vulnerabilities as they appear instead of waiting for the final testing stage.

The Why of DevSecOps

DevSecOps is a model that’s rapidly gaining traction in the world of secure development. According to DevSecOps, you need to replace your older and reactive security model. Usually, developers build a system, then thoroughly test it for vulnerabilities, deploy it, and finally correct it as vulnerabilities surface with third-party programs. 

By being proactive and deploying security practices and tools in the earliest stages of the development life cycle, DevSecOps is changing how security is thought in the SDLC. According to DevSecOps, you’re embedding your code with security throughout all your development phases. Here, you build the software to be as close as possible to theoretically secure.

In other words, DevSecOps’ philosophy is about integrating security practices within the DevOps process. It involves creating a ‘Security as Code’ culture with permanent collaboration between all the teams acting on the pipeline. DevSecOps, like DevOps, is aiming at creating solutions for complex software development processes while being agile.

We could say that DevSecOps is a natural answer to the tendency to bottlenecks on older security models. Pressure for rapid delivery is forcing companies to find ways to stick to the rhythm. In doing so, the goal is to bridge gaps between teams while ensuring fast and safe delivery. You’re breaking silos with increased communication and shared responsibility of security tasks during all phases of the delivery process.

However, a true DevSecOps is more complicated to achieve than DevOps. Why? You need to fulfill two opposing goals at first sight: speeding up the delivery process on the one hand and ensuring the code’s security and vulnerability-free on the other. You have to merge these two goals. In this model, critical security issues are dealt with as they appear, quickly patched on the go by teams. 

Such a proactive approach is fundamentally different from existing ones, mainly relying on reactive and longer strategies. To avoid slowing down delivery, security testings are completed in iterations on code packages. In the end, such incorporation is more or less the same as assembling bubbled packages together, strengthening the overall product while not impeding the speed of the life cycle.

How DevSecOps is changing the Security Operations Center

Security Operations Center (SOC) is still, in many organizations, widely isolated from other fields. A (tautological) usual layout would be like this: Developers create systems, IT operations operate them, and security teams secure them. Here, your security analysts and your development and operations teams all work in separate organizational units. Consequently, communication between them tends to be reduced to the bare minimum.

We saw in previous articles that the future SOC has to evolve. The ‘darkroom’ isolated from the rest of the company has to go. We learned that the threat landscape is growing too rapidly and too qualitatively to be tackled by isolated teams. Collaboration, both external and internal, is critical. In the graphs above, we showed that hacks directly in the apps are feared because of the tedious task required to remediate them. One way to answer this fear is to, as we said, shift left. 

That’s why we believe that a future SOC needs to favor collaboration between development and security teams. More, strengthening the SOC ranks with Devs could help deal face the shortage of security professionals, besides bringing a Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) touch that will be developed in a future article on this website.

Eventually, a next-generation SOC has to take on DevOps practices and adapt them to their field of work. Automation and machine learning need to come and enrich their tasks. Why? Thanks to these techniques, a SOC will be able to allocate their resources better and enhance their decision-making via Artificial Intelligence (AI) that uses machine learning models, with much less need and supervision from human analysts. These people will concentrate on threat hunting, root cause analysis, and mitigation of advanced attacks.

To that end, you have to rethink how the SOC works and the tools and processes they use. Help yourself with appropriate tools to favor collaboration. We’ve learned that in DevSecOps, cohesion and sharing are essential. To that end, you need a tool to enable these communications back-and-forth between your different teams. At Mindflow, we think that a Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) is essential in this regard. Real-time data sharing and streamlined processes around a unified no code language are the one solution to implement and achieve your transition to DevSecOps. 

Getting started with DevSecOps

To adopt a DevSecOps approach, your company needs to make a cultural and technical shift. It is critical to view security teams as an asset rather than a liability. It helps prevent slowdowns rather than hampering agility. Below, let’s have a look at the SDLC phases engineered with DevSecOps.

  • Planning

In the first phase, developers and security experts are gathered together to consider which common risks might require attention during the development life cycle and prepare for it.

  • Analysis and Requirements

In the second phase, DevSecOps have to make decisions regarding the technology, frameworks, and languages used. Here, experts consider which vulnerabilities can threaten the security of the chosen development tools to make appropriate security choices throughout design and development.

  • Design and Architecture

At this stage of development, teams should follow the design guidelines to address the risks considered and analyzed during the first two stages. When tackling vulnerabilities early, you can avoid the most predictable ones in the development stage, thus gaining speed. Threat modeling and architecture risk analysis are processes that will make the development more straightforward and more secure.

  • Development

During this phase, teams need to make sure they use secure coding standards. While performing their code review, to make sure the project has the planned features and functions, automated tools can intervene to check for any security vulnerabilities in the code. Doing this as it is done in DevOps models enables faster testings and smoother cycles.

  • Testing

Once all the previous stages are completed, teams will test the full product. In the same way as they were carried out in early phases, tests have to use automated tools developed by DevSecOps to fasten the processes and avoid as much as possible human errors. 

Here, keep in mind that the DevSecOps equals continuous testing throughout the life cycle. The best way to ensure the safety of your products goes by testing them early and often. As such, your products will show the best native security on their release. It means that teams should start testing in the earliest stages of development, chunks by chunks, and piece together already tested parts as the product is built. This way, final testings will gain time and efficacy.

  • Monitoring

Of course, actual deployment always brings real-time operating particularities that cannot be deciphered during the development life cycle, even though your teams might have been thorough during this SDLC. Still, thanks to the collaboration established between Operations, Development, and Security, your teams have better and in-depth knowledge of the product. As communication was enabled during the development cycle, your teams will be more prone to ask for help or advice. 

In any case, after deployment and implementation, security practices need to be followed throughout software maintenance. Products need to be continuously updated according to the DevSecOps model to ensure it is secure from new vulnerabilities.DevSecOps automation, security at core

Let’s say it again, DevSecOps automation is fundamental for a proper adoption

For an integrated DevSecOps process to prosper, you have to incorporate security at all stages. In a proper DevSecOps environment, you perform testing throughout the development cycle. Doing so by using a manual approach risks dramatically slowing down the whole process. That’s why teams have to increase their efficiencies thanks to automation and streamlined analysis.

Indeed, one of the most time-consuming aspects of old-dated delivery models was testing and correcting code before shifting it to the final deployment phase via processes like code analysis. To save time, DevSecOps leverages tools to automate most of this process all along the pipeline, performing repetitive tests, reporting outcomes, and giving feedback almost instantaneously. 

Ultimately, shifting left in security is about finding ways to ease the infusion of security all along the pipeline. For this to succeed, you need to deploy automated phases of testing during the SDLC. You choose automation because it allows you to test at machine-time speed portions of code without slowing down the whole process. 

Paul-Arthur Jonville

CEO of Mindflow. I share our thoughts and vision about cybersecurity and how Mindflow can answer current issues on this blog.

About Mindflow

Mindflow is an agnostic and no-code SOAR making cybersecurity more accessible to face current challenges. It aims to break silos between technologies and teams, following Fusion center and Cybersecurity Mesh concepts.

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