DevOps is not a new concept, no matter how much it seems to be. The integration of development and operations has been around for some time now. Since the concept first came to light in 2009, it has undergone some serious revolution, and now in its second decade, the concept is still evolving for the better. In fact, research conducted by Global Market Insights reveals the luminous future of DevOps. According to the research, the market size of DevOps exceeded $4 billion in 2019. The research has poised the market size to grow at over 20% CAGR between 2020 and 2026.
Even though the current DevOps development market is massive, it still shows signs of immense future growth because it has proved to be a higher priority and of great essence than ever before. Moreover, the entire DevOps environment is witnessing some extraordinary aspects. For example, according to the Gartner report, over 25% of organizations are poised to adopt cloud computing strategies by 2025. The report further asserts that nearly 95% of new digital workloads will be done in the cloud. And DevOps is set to be the centerpiece of these digital performances.
The Meaning of DevOps
But what is DevOps, and what does it entail?
DevOps is an amalgamation of two concepts- development (Dev) and operations (OPs). The term refers to an organizational approach aimed at enabling faster application development and flawless maintenance of existing deployments. For it to be successful, DevOps must integrate the development and operations teams as a single unit to streamline the entire software development process.
Why DevOps Matters
Now that you understand what DevOps is, it is time to discover the benefits a company will accrue by adopting this methodology. Before highlighting its benefits, it is pertinent that we point out that, according to a trend report published by DevOps.com, there has been an exponential rise in the number of companies adopting the DevOps methodology. The reasons contributing to the massive DevOps adoption include the following.
- Integrating the development and operations teams help to shorten development cycles and promote innovation.
- The union between development and operation teams ensures more collaboration, efficient communication, and hence improved productivity.
- DevOps methodology eliminates deployment failures and enhances recovery speeds.
- Integrating the two teams means efficiency in resource management.
What is DevOps Security
DevOps security is an element of the broader DevOps methodology. It is the convergence of development, operations, and security elements. In other words, DevOps security entails establishing a DevOps system that is fully integrated with effective security protocols. DevOps security is vital since it allows organizations to deliver software at a high velocity without compromising the security of the software development and deployment processes.
By combining several security strategies, tools, cultures, and practices, DevOps security strategies help to strengthen the DevOps environment. And talking of the DevOps environment, we refer to the software delivery pipeline the development teams work in, the source code of the product, and the ultimate operation environment where the product is deployed.
How DevOps Enhances Security
Amalgamating security practices, tools, strategies, and protocols in software development and operations environments brings a plethora of benefits to the organization. It ensures faster delivery times by addressing security, which is a primary concern, right from the word go, rather than dealing with security only during the software testing or launching phases. This is just one of the benefits of DevOps security. Here are more ways through which DevOps enhances security:
- The DevOps model enables immediate security vulnerability resolution
- It enhances communication between development, operations, and security teams. Such collaboration ensures that all security concerns are solved once they are discovered
- DevOps provides room for Continuous Integration (CI)/Continuous Deployment (CD) that allow development teams to adopt new approaches aimed at enhancing security.
- The DevOps model focuses on early security testing, and this eliminates post-deployment surprises
DevOps Security Practices
By paying attention and implementing the following DevOps security practices, your organization will end up enjoying the benefits highlighted above, in addition to delivering secure software products to your customers and safeguarding your software development environment.
- Implement DevSecOps Model
The first step to achieving security in DevOps pipelines is adopting the DevSecOps model. This model brings on board a cross-functional collaboration by incorporating security measures across the entire DevOps pipeline.
In the DevSecOps model, security teams play a significant role in educating developers about secure coding tools and practices. Consequentially, developers have the role of educating the security teams on coding practices, among other details of the technology stack. In other words, the DevSecOps model requires developers to be able to automate security tasks while the security teams to be able to write code. This mode of doing things is vital in breaking down the conventional divide that existed between security professionals and developers.
- Establish Governance Policies
Security policies and governance are among the most vital elements in the management of security risks in the development pipeline. Clear and elaborate governance policies will help achieve better results in your DevOps model. The policies and guidelines could vary depending on the level of security you would love to attain. They include guidelines on access controls, code reviews, mandatory inclusion of SSL certificates, vulnerability testing, and security tools. Developers, security, and operations teams should rally behind these guidelines and implement them through all software development life cycle phases.
- Automate Security Processes through DevOps Security Automation Tools
Automating security processes in the DevSecOps model is vital in scaling and accelerating security operations to keep pace with all development and operation processes. Some of the security aspects that can be automated include configuration management, privileged access management code analysis, vulnerability discovery, and remediation.
Relying on manual techniques to identify security vulnerabilities could potentially slow down the entire development process. In other words, automation saves time and frees developers, operation, and security teams to focus on other tasks.
You can leverage various DevOps security automation tools to automate the security processes in the DevOps tunnel. They include Checkmarx AppSec Accelerator, OSSEC, OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP), and LogRhythm SIEM.
- Privileged Access Management
One of the most vital elements in DevOps security is the management and control of access. Instigating privileged management is essential to reducing the potential of supply chain attacks.
For instance, you should avoid using “super user” accounts. Additionally, you must be keen to ensure developers, process teams, and product testers have restricted access to elements in the DevSecOps pipeline they have no business with. If need be, you can provide “just-in-time” access to mission-critical systems and revoke the access once the mission is accomplished. Additionally, you must be sure to store your privileged credentials and monitor all your privileged sessions to check for instances of malicious activities.
- Network Segmentation
Throughout the development and operations journey, you must ensure that no room is left for attacks to gain lateral access to your DevOps team’s technology. In other words, deployed software should be on a separate network so as not to provide a backdoor to malicious parties with the ill motive of infiltrating your network.
Segmenting your network into logical units isolates the intruder and helps to limit the impact of a successful breach on the network. If there arises a need to share resources, then it is best to adopt the zero-trust approach, where all requests must be authenticated before access to the resources is granted.
- Train the Development Team on Security
A robust security training and awareness program will help to boost the entire security across all elements of DevOps. Remember, your employees are vulnerable to attacks. They might also be ignorant of the actions that could make them vulnerable to attacks. Training your development team (security personnel, developers, and operation personnel) will equip them with the knowledge and skills required to protect them and your company’s infrastructure against attacks. As a best practice, ensure you undertake the security training program frequently, like once or twice a year.
- Develop Security Processes and Implement
You must develop strict security processes and integrate them in every software development life cycle phase. One crucial aspect to remember with DevOps security is that security is baked into the code right from the first stage rather than addressing the security concerns only after testing results reveal security vulnerabilities. There are several security processes you must implement on your DevOps. Some of the processes have been covered in other sections. A vital one that should never miss is the SSL certificate. The certificate is a perfect encryption protocol that protects all data from unauthorized parties. It is wise to buy an SSL certificate and install the certificate on the server. It will play a very vital role in the security of your application. Other security processes you should implement include the following:
- Creating a secure software development policy
- Implementing security from the start
- Employing a secure software development framework
- Protecting code integrity
- Conducting early and frequent code reviews and testing
- Secure Coding Standards
Coding standards are the set of rules and guidelines used by development teams to minimize security vulnerabilities and errors through the software development life cycle. The standards often vary depending on the industry the product is meant to serve and the level of security the product intents to achieve, among many other things.
Some of the secure coding practices you should implement include the following:
- Security by design
- Implementation of strong and unique passwords alongside two-factor authentication
- Stringent access controls
- Error handling and logging
- Threat modeling
- Cryptographic practices such as implementing SSL certificates
- Implement Vulnerability Assessment through Penetration Testing
Penetration testing refers to the legal attempt to exploit security vulnerabilities in an organization’s infrastructure so as to check the security posture of the infrastructure and point out the vulnerability sources. Organizations implementing the DevSecOps model should run frequent penetration tests of their deployment environment to point out the major security gaps in their products.
I highly recommend the adoption of automated penetration testing rather than manual testing. The reason is that manual penetration testing can slow down the development process. Automated testing makes detecting vulnerabilities, defects, and data breaches easy and flawless.
Take note that penetration tests should be conducted frequently and cover all aspects of the DevOps pipeline. Developers should ensure they address all vulnerabilities detected before they release the products to the ultimate users.
- Use Password Manager
Passwords are so critical in DevOps security. Before trying out other breaching techniques, attackers will first want to try out cracking passwords. Implementing strong and unique password policies across the DevOps tunnel will strengthen the security dimensions.
Password managers are there to help ease your teams’ frustrations of having to remember passwords. Password manager tools such as LastPass and 1Password allow your team to house their passwords in a single secure location where the passwords are also encrypted to prevent thefts.
DevOps will continue to gain traction in the years to come. It is a methodology you should seriously consider implementing. However, it would help if you implemented it with security in mind. This article has covered some pertinent aspects of DevOps and provided ten DevOps security practices you should implement.