DevSecOps is defined as the process of establishing critical security principles in the standard DevOps cycle by collaborating with the IT security team, software developers, and operations team. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the DevSecOps pipeline, framework, and best practices for 2022.
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DevSecOps refers to establishing critical security principles in the standard DevOps cycle by collaborating with IT security teams, software developers, and operations teams.
As the name suggests, DevSecOps is a continuation of the DevOps concept. It is based on the fact that every department in an organization is equally responsible for integrating security at every stage of the software development cycle.Â
Executing new code to drive production in the quickest way possible is a common goal of all organizations. However, in this era of growing online security concerns, cyber threats, and other security breaches, specific security protocols need to be followed at every stage, and this is where DevSecOps comes into the picture.Â
One of the leading advantages of DevSecOps is that it minimizes the vulnerability of any product and makes it entirely ready for use by its end users. Since every process and related workflow gets automated with strict security checks, the security requirements get fulfilled with higher accuracy. However, it is pivotal to select the right tools to maintain security in continuous integration (CI). The security team needs to be adequately trained to help achieve this goal.Â
Generally, a DevOps pipeline involves several steps. DevSecOps stands out from conventional methods by ensuring strict security standards at each stage. The main phases of a software development lifecycle (SDLC) process include planning, coding, building, testing, releasing, and deployment.
- Plan: In the planning stage, the primary security analysis is executed. Engineers develop appropriate test strategies used to identify how, where, and when the testing will take place.
- Code: Various types of Git controls and tools are used in the coding step to protect sensitive information such as application programming interface (API) keys and passwords.
- Build: It is crucial to write and execute codes for building the source code. Here, static application security testing (SAST) techniques are widely used to make the codes error-free.Â
- Test: In the testing phase, dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools are mainly used to test the product/application, secure user authentication, and identify any possible issues in SQL injection and API endpoints.
- Release: The release stage refers to security analysis executed during penetration testing and vulnerability scanning.
- Deploy: The deploy phase is where proper security protocols are implemented at production, ready for final deployment.
As discussed earlier, several security measures are put in place during each phase with DevSecOps. The following are the phases of such security procedures:
Phase I: Threat Modeling
Threat modeling summarizes probable attack scenarios, lays out the flow of sensitive data, and highlights vulnerabilities and mitigating alternatives. This phase assists in addressing security issues and improving the team’s security understanding.
Phase II: ScanÂ
The scan phase evaluates the code to guarantee that it is secure and free of security flaws. Manual, as well as automated code reviews are included here. During this step, AppSec tools such as SAST and DAST are employed. As it is early in the software development lifecycle, this phase allows engineers to resolve most security vulnerabilities and defects.
Phase III: Analyze
All of the previously acquired data and metrics are analyzed to identify any security vulnerabilities in this phase. The dangers are then categorized into a list, ranging from the most severe to the least. Some SAST programs such as Klocwork can automate this procedure.
Phase IV: Remediate
The remediation phase deals with security vulnerabilities that have been identified and organized in prior stages. Some DevSecOps technologies such as SAST can suggest fixes for the vulnerabilities, flaws, and defects discovered. This makes dealing with security issues much easier as they emerge.
Phase V: Monitor
In the monitor phase, keeping track of the vulnerabilities found, efforts are taken to mitigate or eradicate them, and the overall security condition evaluation of the application takes place. It’s also good to keep track of and manage the variations between actual and target metric values. During the software development lifecycle, this aids in making informed data-driven decisions. Organizations should implement continuous security first in security unit tests. Security unit test requirements are just as critical as the other unit tests that we write.
DevOps helps accelerate software delivery, which poses a challenge to standard security practices. The term DevSecOps (or SecDevOps) was coined to describe the incorporation of security procedures into DevOps systems due to this problem. It is pivotal to know the way DevSecOps has been adopted across diverse industries to provide an optimum level of security. And for that, you need to have a clear idea of the top features and solutions required to build the DevSecOps framework. Next, we will walk you through the top standard features of application security products to create the DevSecOps framework.
1. Security scanning
Security scanning is one of the prime features of application security products. It is basically of two types â€“ agent-based and agentless. While both scanning models are popular, the agentless scanning model works in quite a different way. Here, the application security service collects the project and relevant data from the security administrators and then it executes the security scanning in the agentless scanning architecture.
The security administrator can use the web dashboard to enter project information or write a script to transmit data to the application security service’s exposed API. The agentless security scanning is based on two prime components â€“ scanning agent and application security service. The main role of the scanning agent is to run a thorough security scan and submit the output to the application security service for a further scan and analysis.
The security agent’s scanning results are useless without the application security service. For instance, for an SCA product, the signature of the scanned libraries can be in the result while the vulnerability detail is expected. On the other hand, for a SAST product, the result contains a vulnerability code. As a result, the scanning findings can only be used with the application security service’s database.
2. Obtaining the source code
An application security product generally receives the source code through two main methods â€“ the version control system method and the file upload method. In this process, the relevant security administrator uploads the source code to the application security product by compressing it as required. The upload process takes place via an already published API or a web management interface.
The security administrator configures repository information for the project through the approach of the version control system. Some examples are â€“ repository uniform resource locator, repository access credentials, and others.Â
The application security service uses a specific set of data to obtain the source code from the version control system. As obtaining the complete source code can be more time-consuming and complex, it retrieves the updated code to ensure better results.
Also, there are other advantages of using the version control system, such as incremental scanning, stricter authentication process, streamlined actions relevant to the project, and others. And this is one of the top factors that makes it unique and effective to obtain source code at many levels.
3. Project organization
Each project is produced and managed by a different team in terms of organizational hierarchy. Users and groups are used to organize tasks in application security products.
Each user is a member of one or more groups, each of which can access one or more projects. Also, the employees often need to work on multiple software projects concurrently. Such projects are often associated with a single unit of a company.
As such, mapping directly from the organizational structure is not practicable. As a result, each project is allocated to a group that includes all of the project’s users with application security products.
There are two main parts in a DevSecOps architecture, especially in a high-level one. Here the agent refers to an easy-to-use script that extracts and gathers the source code and sends it to the relevant engine. This is a crucial part of the CI (Continuous Integration) process.
Here, monolithic and microservice architectures are the two types of architectures. Because of these reasons, the framework’s engine is built utilizing a microservice architecture:
- Maintenance is easier: The engine supports different security procedures (such as security scanning, reporting retrieval, and credential management). Each characteristic can be defined as a separate microservice in the architecture, which can be created and maintained independently. If a monolithic design is chosen, changing or adding one security feature will necessitate changing or adding another element.
- Greater dependability & availability: When one security component (e.g., security reporting) fails, it has no impact on other security features. If one adopted a monolithic architecture for this framework, a single security feature failure could result in the entire framework failing.
- Easier to scale: Each service can be scaled separately to provide more resources if necessary. When using a monolithic architecture, one must scale up the entire engine to meet the resource demands of a single feature.
See More: Top 10 DevOps Automation Tools in 2021
The administration microservice is in charge of the framework’s administrative activities, such as:Â
Dashboard & application user interfaceÂ
The dashboard and application user interface both play a vital role in a management microservice. Such microservice is also equipped with an API endpoint and the microservices focused on interacting with varied project data.
Project onboarding is the starting point before the scanning begins. First, you need to add the project to the application security service. The microservices dashboard plays a significant role here by streamlining the process of project onboarding to various application security services.
The central reporting module handles most of the tasks associated with the scanning, reporting, and security checks. But some issues may arise in this case, like, time-consuming scanning, longer waiting time in the blocked CI pipeline, and others. To resolve these problems, it is important to monitor and track the security scanning process thoroughly. This will also give you a clear idea of the relevant scanning status. This ensures easy and fast uploading of the scanning report in the main reporting dashboard.
The scanning microservice, like the central reporting microservice, the scanning microservice is made up of several modules. Each module is responsible for one application security service’s central reporting. Here a strong connection is established and maintained between the main framework and the on-premise services.Â
There can be difficulties with connecting the engine with application security services in a cloud-based infrastructure. This is because the data center firewall restricts the connection. Most of the cloud services consist of highly dynamic IP addresses. And so it’s tiresome and error-prone to allow a large number of IP addresses through manual processes. Also, it puts additional pressure on firewall management like Kubernetes.
As a result, whenever the framework’s IP addresses change, it’s necessary to allow new IP addresses. The connection-handler microservice comes into play here. It resolves such issues by implementing a proper virtual private network (VPN) to the VPN gateway associated with the data center. This allows framework microservices to access on-premise services through the VPN tunnel.
To unleash the potential of DevSecOps, you must adhere to set best practices. And here, we have listed the top best practices for DevSecOps to ensure a high level of security, reduced risks, and better operational efficiency. The objective should be to ensure high standards of security.
Here are the top five DevSecOps best practices for 2022:
1. Use secure coding techniques
Secure coding techniques are an integral part of DevSecOps to ensure that the software is fully protected from any threat with low vulnerability levels. Unless the code is highly secure, there will be risks such as data breaches, cyber security attacks, and other security threats. It is recommended to invest the required time and resources in secure coding techniques to avoid critical security attacks in the future. Always go for experienced developers and adhere to the proper coding standards.
2. Integrate the right tools
Integrating the right tools is one of the basics for effective DevSecOps implementation. Most companies utilize top appsec techniques such as SAST, DAST, interactive application security testing (IAST), and source composition analysis (SCA), to name a few, to ensure the usage and optimization of the right tools.
Some of the common yet highly sought-after features from DevSecOps tools are image assurance, intrusion detection, runtime protection, and other security features for microservices. With containerization and microservices being the foundation of modern application infrastructure, it is mandatory to integrate the proper DevSecOps tools into enterprise SOPs. That’s where well-developed and easy-to-use APIs also come into play as they help in extending and integrating tools across diverse platforms and application areas.
3. Employ automation
Manual processes are more prone to errors and often inconvenient to scale up. Such techniques also increase the risk of misconfigurations, which is one of the most impactful, serious security threats businesses face.Â
Strict security protocols and measures need to be applied and validated throughout the CI/CD pipeline, and automation is what simplifies the whole process. This is why it is one of the most effective best practices for DevSecOps. Enterprises must automate as much as possibleâ€“from code writing in an IDE to IAM roles in productionâ€“to prevent, detect, and fix issues by avoiding misconfigurations.
4. Adopt security as a code
Security as a code refers to the coding, scanning, and validation of security policies. The main advantage of security as a code is that it ensures proper security rules. Protocols are uniformly implemented across the entire infrastructure. It also helps expedite deployments and use version control and automation of pipelines.
Security as a code, like automation and other DevSecOps best practices, provides the benefit of strengthening security as well as helps improve operations. Besides, it simplifies iterating and scaling security methods once they are documented.
5. Shift security left
Security scanning and evaluations were traditionally performed after software production. As a result, resolving security vulnerabilities was complicated, expensive, and susceptible to time constraints. To address these difficulties, shift left security stresses integrating security into the software development lifecycle (SDLC) as early as practicable.
Shift left is more than just code. It also entails prioritizing security within the SDLC’s planning, analysis, and design phases. Enterprises can uncover security concerns and misconfigurations early on, increasing product quality and security while reducing the time and effort required to remediate vulnerabilities.
Traditional security approaches simply do not function well in today’s fast-paced world. Because of the nature of modern security assaults in the recent past, a secure product requires an integrated and holistic solution, and DevSecOps is the perfect solution.
DevSecOps has the potential to revolutionize how corporations manage security. Many businesses are yet to get aware of it or are hesitant due to various constraints. Although the transition may be challenging at first, DevSecOps can be highly beneficial to a company in the long term.