As organizations seek to speed up software development and deployment, DevOps has become increasingly popular. According to a 2020 DevOps survey report by Atlassian, 54% of organizations surveyed said they had implemented DevOps practices for the past three years.
Another near-recent report by DORA found that high-performing DevOps teams deploy code on-demand several times more frequently than low performers, with a change failure rate of just 0-15% compared to 46-60%. Going deeper into the analysis of change failure rate, DORA revealed that top performers have a change failure rate that is seven times lower compared to the ones at the bottom.
However, with the speed and agility that DevOps provides come with new risks. It proves to be true in case of security.
According to a 2020 report by WhiteSource 73% of developers said they were pressured to sacrifice security for speed. This is a concerning trend, as cyberattacks are rising, with organizations reporting increased cyber incidents. To help organizations navigate these challenges, it’s essential to implement DevOps security best practices that protect their digital assets from cyber threats.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a software development methodology that emerged in response to the need for faster and more efficient software delivery. Traditionally, software development and deployment were handled by separate teams—development teams focused on creating software, while operations teams focused on deploying and maintaining it.
This siloed approach often led to delays, errors, and inefficiencies, as there was a lack of communication and collaboration between the two teams. DevOps addresses these issues by bringing development and operations teams together and encouraging collaboration, communication, and automation throughout the software development lifecycle.
This way, DevOps enables teams to work together more effectively, resulting in faster and more efficient software delivery. The DevOps approach emphasizes using tools and processes that automate manual tasks, reduce errors, and improve efficiency.
Importance of DevOps
DevOps is important because it enables organizations to achieve faster time-to-market, improved efficiency, and greater agility in responding to changing business needs. By breaking down silos between development and operations teams, DevOps helps organizations achieve better collaboration and communication.
This, in turn, leads to higher-quality software that meets business requirements. DevOps also helps organizations stay competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment, where speed and agility are essential to success.
What is DevOps Security?
DevOps security is the practice of integrating security into the DevOps workflow to ensure that software is secure and resilient. It involves a range of tools and techniques, including security testing, vulnerability management, access control, encryption, and security automation.
These measures are designed to identify and mitigate security risks at every stage of the development process, so organizations can deliver high-quality and secure software. The ultimate goal of DevOps security is to enable organizations to deliver secure software at speed without compromising on quality or security.
How DevOps Improves Security
DevOps improves security in several ways. Here’s a quick summary:
- Automation of security processes: DevOps enables the automation of security processes, such as vulnerability scanning, threat modeling, and security testing. This helps organizations detect and remediate security issues faster and more effectively.
- Shift-left security: DevOps promotes the practice of “shift-left” security. This means integrating security considerations early in the software development lifecycle. By catching security issues early in the development process, organizations can reduce the cost and time required to fix them.
- Continuous security testing: DevOps enables continuous security testing, which means testing software for security vulnerabilities throughout the development and deployment process. This helps organizations identify and remediate security issues before attackers can exploit them.
- Collaboration and communication: DevOps emphasizes collaboration and communication between development and security teams, which helps ensure that security considerations are integrated throughout the software development lifecycle. This improves the organization’s overall security posture and reduces the risk of security breaches.
DevOps Security Best Practices
Now that we understand what DevOps security is and why it’s important let’s dive into the best practices that can help organizations implement DevOps security effectively. These best practices ensure that security is considered throughout the software development lifecycle, from design and development to testing and deployment. Here are the top eight DevOps security best practices that we recommend.
Implement DevSecOps Model
If you want to ensure that security is a top priority in your DevOps processes, implementing the DevSecOps model is a great place to start. The DevSecOps model emphasizes the importance of security in every aspect of the DevOps pipeline.
This runs the gamut from planning and design to testing and deployment. This approach ensures that security is not an afterthought but a key consideration throughout the entire development process.
Review the Code in Smaller Size
Code review is an important feature of software development. They can help identify security vulnerabilities and other issues earlier on and get them all patched up.
To make code reviews more effective, break down the code into smaller, more manageable pieces. This allows developers to review the code more thoroughly and catch issues before they become bigger problems.
Execute a Change Management Process
To ensure that all changes to the software are made in a controlled and secure manner, you will want to implement a change management process. This process helps to document and track all changes made to the software.
It also helps ensure that all changes are approved by the relevant stakeholders before implementation. Doing this can significantly reduce the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities or other issues in your software. A well-designed change management process should also include proper testing and validation procedures, as well as a rollback plan in case any issues are discovered.
Continuously Assess Apps in Deployment
It’s important to remember that just because a software application passed testing doesn’t mean it’s completely secure. Therefore, regular evaluation and testing of applications in production environments are necessary to ensure that they function as intended and that there are no security vulnerabilities or other issues.
Doing so lets you quickly identify and address any potential security gaps that may have gone undetected during development or testing. This DevOps security best practice is crucial to ensure that your software application continues to operate securely and efficiently, minimizing the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches that could be costly to your business.
Teach Security to Development Team
One of the most effective ways to ensure that your development team follows DevOps security best practices is to provide them with training on security. This can include everything from basic security awareness training to more advanced training on specific security topics like secure coding practices or threat modeling.
Through this training, developers can learn how to identify and mitigate security risks during software development, which can help to reduce the overall risk of security breaches. Also, security training can help foster a culture of security awareness and responsibility within the development team, which can help improve the organization’s overall security posture.
Develop Security Processes and Implement
When it comes to DevOps security, developing and implementing security processes is a critical step in protecting your organization’s sensitive data and systems. This includes implementing SSL certificates to encrypt communication between servers and clients.
When you buy SSL certificate and install it on the server, it can help to ensure that communication between servers and clients is secure. Without proper SSL certificate installation, attackers can intercept and exploit sensitive data, compromising the security of your organization’s systems and data. To ensure your DevOps security is up to par, adding developing security processes should be on your DevOps security checklist.
Implement and Uphold Security Policies
To effectively implement DevOps security, you must consider security governance an essential aspect of your strategy. It is important to establish policies, procedures, and guidelines that all stakeholders must follow to ensure security is considered throughout the software development lifecycle.
This includes regular security audits, risk assessments, and incident response plans. Through these security governance policies, you can ensure that your team adheres to a standard set of practices and procedures that protect your organization against potential security breaches.
To help you keep track of your security governance efforts, consider using a DevOps security checklist that covers all the necessary steps for an effective security governance strategy. This checklist will help ensure that all security measures are taken, from creating and implementing policies to reviewing them regularly.
Secure Coding Standards
Secure coding standards refer to guidelines and best practices developers should follow while writing code. The guidelines cover everything from basic programming practices to more advanced techniques for addressing common security vulnerabilities.
For example, some secure coding standards may require developers to validate user input, use prepared statements to avoid SQL injection attacks, and sanitize input to avoid cross-site scripting vulnerabilities. Please note that secure coding standards are not a one-time activity.
They’re an ongoing process requiring regular review and updating to stay updated with the latest security threats. To ensure your code meets the highest security standards, you may also need to incorporate secure coding standards into your DevOps security checklist to maintain a consistent approach to security across your development team and reduce the risk of security breaches.
The Bottom Line
With security threats more prevalent than ever, organizations must proactively protect their applications and data. Implementing DevOps security best practices can help organizations improve the security of their software and reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities. By adopting a DevSecOps approach, organizations can deliver secure software at speed while ensuring that security is considered at every stage of the software development lifecycle.