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In the past few years, DevOps teams have been shifting left or pushing security earlier in the development process. As a result, organizations see an overall reduction in vulnerabilities, faster deployment, and improved security integration. While shifting left highlights the importance of considering security earlier in your DevOps workflow, it’s actually part of a larger practice called DevSecOps (short for development, security, operations). As organizations and enterprises incorporate more and more cloud-based tools and services into their growing, complex architectures, integrating security into your DevOps workflow from production to deployment and beyond is crucial for building a secure, efficient production pipeline.
With all the benefits of adopting DevSecOps, you’d assume that every DevOps team has made the switch. However, one of the biggest barriers to adopting DevSecOps as a practice in an organization’s DevOps workflow is the lack of proper technology. Looking to secure your DevOps workflow by shifting to a DevSecOps mindset? Let’s take a closer look at the methodology and the tools you’ll need.
During each phase, your team should be scanning, testing, and validating the code being created. Moreover, after launching your product, it’s essential to monitor. According to AT&T’s cybersecurity division, monitoring “reduces the risk of failure by providing awareness and visibility into the behavior and health of applications and the overall system.” These additional scanning, testing, validating, and monitoring components add the critical security component that makes DevSecOps so effective.
Your DevOps team is already working with various tools to deploy code quickly and efficiently. Each of these items helps to streamline and automate the development process, from build tools like Maven to configuration management tools. Similarly, introducing security into your DevOps pipeline also requires the proper tools. The best DevSecOps tools should integrate seamlessly into your DevOps workflow, offer comprehensive testing and monitoring, tight feedback loops, and support your team’s unique DevSecOps objectives.
Snyk recently surveyed developers and security teams working with open source packages and found that 87% of respondents were impacted by one or more supply chain security issues, often involving transitive depenedencies. Transitive dependencies, or open source code packages, are not selected by developers but are indirectly pulled into development projects via open source components. They often come with their own lifecycle, licenses, copyrights, bugs, and vulnerabilities. Enter Software composition analysis —- a practice that gives developers crucial visibility into the open source components used during the development process.
Without SCA, developers wouldn’t be aware of the potential vulnerabilities in their open source components. As open source components grow in popularity, SCA tools are considered necessary for protecting your DevOps workflow. DevSecOps teams rely on them to manage and automate the analysis process — detecting software licenses, deprecated dependencies, vulnerabilities, and potential exploits.
SAST analyzes your application’s source code, byte code, and binaries. Effectively looking at your application from the “inside out,” it searches for vulnerabilities in the coding and design conditions. SAST works early in your code, usually before your code is deployed, supporting the DevSecOps “shift left” mindset.
Adding a SAST tool to your DevOps workflow can help your team catch issues in your code early in the development cycle, saving considerable time and money. According to the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), SAST tools identify well-known vulnerabilities like buffer overflows and SQL injection flaws. The tools also offer a specificity in their reporting that’s especially useful — identifying problematic code by filename, location, line number, and affected snippet.
While SAST is a white-box testing method that scans your code from the “inside out” in a non-running state, DAST scans your application’s code while the software runs. A black-box testing method, DAST approaches your application’s code from the outside, as an attacker would. The result is a scan that detects a wide range of vulnerabilities in your code, like cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, SQL injection, and authentication and encryption issues. While there may be crossover in the types of vulnerabilities that SAST and DAST tools find in applications, having both solutions in your DevSecOps toolkit is essential.
Where SAST tests your code near the beginning of your software development lifecycle (SDLC), DAST tests it near the end of your DevOps workflow when the software is nearly complete. This provides a necessary security check on components like API endpoints and web services and insight into how your application behaves in production environments, helping your team fix weaknesses that could lead to data breaches.
Container usage is growing. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) found that 92% of companies use containers, a more than 300% rise since 2016. While containers are crucial to CI/CD pipelines, they’re also very vulnerable at nearly every stage of the development process. This is due to insecure libraries or other dependencies imported into a container image. Container scanning tools evaluate the dependencies and report on vulnerable supporting components. The automated process allows developers to run scans on containers at any point after they're created.
IaC is a critical component of many DevOps workflows, creating configuration files that house infrastructure specifications. This helps DevOps teams edit and distribute configurations, avoiding undocumented changes that can ultimately create configuration drift and create errors in the infrastructure.
IaC, however, is not invulnerable. For example, IaC templates may contain information from untrusted sources that threat actors can exploit. Additionally, if your IaC template has misconfigurations or unsecure default configurations, it could expose an application’s sensitive data. An automated IaC scanning tool helps developers identify security flaws and apply rules to flag suspicious, malicious, or dangerous behavior.
Currently, over 94% of companies use cloud services. The widespread adoption of cloud computing across every industry has allowed organizations unprecedented flexibility and the ability to scale and deploy quickly. Cloud environments, however, are not without vulnerabilities. For example, the interconnectedness of cloud environments creates multiple potential entry points for malicious threat actors. While struggling to secure multiple entry points, many DevSecOps teams also lack visibility into their cloud environments. These issues, and similar concerns, make cloud security a necessity in your DevOps workflow.
There are several aspects of cloud security: data, identity and access management, governance and compliance, and data and business continuity. Ideally, your team should look for tools that help create effective pipeline security controls, find and fix misconfigurations, and automate checks and reports for compliance.
The United States Department of Defense’s handbook on DevSecOps fundamentals has much to say about security testing in DevSecOps. Essentially, testing has changed with the automated processes of DevSecOps. The “shift left” mindset of DevSecOps encourages developers to “test the code that implements the system” instead of testing the system as implemented. The DOD recommends automated testing throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to accomplish this. Here are two examples of tests that your team can automate in its DevOps workflow:
Regression tests: a quality assurance test that evaluates whether changes to an application or other related software components introduce defects. Running regression tests after adding new functionality to your application, refactoring, or altering the host environment can help you find and fix issues before deployment.
Integration tests: a software test that assesses your application's individual units, components, and modules as a combined entity. Integration testing can catch defects in the interfaces between modules and expose potential issues that may surface when the components interact.
Automated testing tools can help your DevOps team save time, standardize your organization’s testing practices, and boost the overall quality of your deployed software/applications. When evaluating testing tools, look for flexible solutions, support cross-team collaboration, and offer the customer support you need to resolve any implementation issues that arise.
With a cyber threat landscape that is constantly growing and evolving, adopting a DevSecOps mindset is one of the best ways that an organization can protect itself against costly cyber attacks. Making the shift can be challenging, but choosing the right tools can help your team quickly and efficiently secure your DevOps workflow. Snyk’s developer security tools allow developers to incorporate security from the first lines of code. Snyk includes open source dependency scanners, container security, and infrastructure security as part of its platform. The platform helps connect your code to cloud and back to code to find and fix vulns, errors, or misconfigurations throughout the SDLC.
Infrastructure as code (IAC): Snyk IaC gives you a tool to test for compliance with security and architecture policies and standards whenever changes are made to code. It works for AWS, Azure, GCP infrastructure, Kubernetes, and Terraform IaC tools. The resource data engine continuously snapshots cloud environments to capture cloud configurations and relationships, making it easy for you to stay aware and secure.
Container Security: Snyk Container helps developers secure applications and containers simultaneously. - SC allows you to resolve vulnerabilities quickly and automatically uncovers and remediates vulnerabilities in containers within the IDE environment and the running environment.
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How to implement DevSecOps in 4 steps
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