DevOps Security Best Practices: 5 Security Tools To Use In 2019

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 18:17

Understanding Security Challenges in 2019

In 2018, the Internet Security Threat Report highlighted the challenges enterprises face with cyberattacks and hackers. The report showed that approximately 4,800 websites were compromised per month, the use of PowerShell scripts increased by a thousand percent, and the cloud was not left out. Cloud-based services, applications or solutions were alarmingly compromised that approximately 70 million records were stolen from poorly configured S3 buckets. 

In terms of finance, breaches can be costly for a companies reputation and bottom line. For example, Capital One, infamously breached over 100 Million customers’ information earlier this year. In manufacturing cycles, attacks on Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications are also growing. According to the Internet Security Threat Report, vulnerabilities have been spotted and exploited in voice assistant apps and other interconnected networks. These challenges highlight the immediate need for integrating best practices that ensure security is maintained during the DevOps processes.

DevOps is generally complemented by agile software development processes which ensure cross-team alignment between the development and operations team. The team works around the clock to ensure development, integration, testing, and deployment occurs within a set time frame. In most cases, these time frames are rather steep and the teams rush through the entire development process to ensure deadlines are met. This also raises its own security challenges or issues such as the speedy creation of iterative codes or solutions at paces security teams struggle to keep up with when reviewing code.

Other challenges the DevOps process creates include inheriting the security challenges cloud deployments bring. In situations where DevOps teams leverage new open-source tools to manage security considerations, the developed solution inherits the challenges these tools face. Also, misconfigurations and other errors may occur which will lead to widespread security challenges and compliance issues.

Containers also carry their own risks. These risks are associated with the tools used to manage containers and the use of a shared operating system. Without the proper controls in place, these container management tools create security challenges for DevOps teams. It is also important to consider the security risks containers themselves pose. The use of shared containers may lead to security challenges when deployed on an operating system with other containers. This is because of the inability to see inside the container to determine its exact content.

DevOps Security Best Practices for DevOps Teams

The need for integrating security consideration into the development process is why security teams have become a part of the DevOps community. The integration of security teams has led to what is now known as DevSecOps. DevSecOps can ensure security becomes a priority by integrating the following best practices:

1.  Embracing DevSecOps Models – In a traditional development process, security is typically one of the last tasks prioritized in the pipeline.This typically results in security issues being reported right before launch that either cause delays or result in launches with known vulnerabilities to be remediated in the next release.  As a result, security can be seen as a halt to progress without the right consideration applied to a DevOps process. With DevSecOps best practices, practitioners “shift left” and move the security processes earlier in the development pipeline so that issues are discovered early, allowing sufficient time to remediate issues prior to launch.  Security shouldn’t be a bottleneck at the end of the development pipeline slowing down developers. Rather, security should enhance application performances and be considered an integral part of the DevOps process that reflects everyone’s responsibility.

2.  Automating Security Processes – In order to build a viable and sustainable DevSecOps process built to achieve desired agility, it is imperative that as much of the security process is as automated as possible.  If launching security scans is a manual process, the additional steps will slow down the development process, and security will likely be bypassed or deprioritized. Automating your security tools suite for code analysis, configuration management, and vulnerability management by incorporating it into your build pipeline helps scale and accelerate your security practice during the DevOps or DevSecOps processes. These tools will do the hard work of discovering vulnerabilities that were introduced during development to fix sooner, rather than days before launch.

3.  Managing Infrastructure as Code – The ability to detect changes in security components in real-time determines the success of most security initiatives in DevOps. To achieve this, Puppet Enterprise or Ansible can be used to manage infrastructure as code by automating the infrastructure management process. The tool provides real-time reports and enables the automation of node management and access controls during DevOps processes.

The 5 Security Tools DevOps Teams Should Use to Integrate Best DevSecOps Practices

1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST) -  Cloud computing service providers such as Stratus10 make use of SAST  tools such as Fortify or Veracode to scan codes for vulnerabilities and loopholes created by human error. This tool can be used to scan the code created by developers working for an enterprise company or to scan open-source libraries.

2.  RASP - Runtime Application Self-Protection blocks computer attacks using runtime instrumentation that assess information from the internal software to detect security vulnerabilities before launch.
3.  IAST - Interactive Application Security Testing tools such as Contrast Security can be used to identify security challenges in real-time. Contrast Security can also take things further by preventing the security issues from affecting the DevOps process in real-time.
4.  Composition tools such as Black Duc or IQ Service share component intelligence with your teams so they make better decisions and build better software.
5.  Monitoring DevOps Processes with SIEM and Log aggregation tools allow DevOps practitioners to monitor infrastructure as a way to discover and mitigate challenges. SIEM / Log aggregation and alert tools such as Splunk and Nagios can be used to achieve this and store records of events such as failure rates and other outages. Nagios also does the job of predicting errors and security threats with the aim of mitigating them before they can be exploited.

Choosing the Perfect Fit
Choosing the best DevOps tools starts with having a policy and governance model in place applied with a DevSecOps philosophy. It is also recommended that DevOps teams experiment and test different tools to discover the best solutions that meet their particular security needs and challenges.


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