DevOps is a set of tools and best practices used by businesses to deliver software application projects faster than traditional software development methods. This enables companies to improve customer service and increase their competitive advantages in the market.
In short, DevOps is about breaking the boundaries between different teams involved in a software development project, namely the development and operations team, and letting them work together throughout the development lifecycle, starting with development and ending with deployment. This collaboration means that no time is wasted waiting for the development team to start the testing and deployment phase.
This article sheds light on the main components of the DevOps model and shows how security fits into each phase. Before we start, however, it is useful to distinguish DevOps from DevSecOps.
DevOps Security versus DevSecOps
DevOps security (commonly known as DevSecOps) is the practice of securing the entire DevOps development lifecycle through processes, tools, technologies, and best practices. DevSecOps ensures that security is built into every phase of the DevOps lifecycle from inception through testing and deployment.
Traditional software development lifecycle methods work to identify and fix security flaws in a system once it has been designed and tested. However, even with the DevOps model, security testing is done too late. This approach is not suitable for quickly designing modern IT systems. This is how DevSecOps was introduced.
In DevSecOps security is implemented in all development phases. Security engineers work closely with the various DevOps teams to identify security gaps and resolve them quickly. Security tests are carried out for each iteration without affecting the agreed delivery dates. In this way, DevSecOps helps minimize security breaches before they pose a threat and cause a data breach.
According to StackRox, the premise of DevOps is based on five core components:
- An agile framework
- Unique development that can be done anywhere
- Everything as code
- Communication and collaboration
An agile framework
Agile is a well-known approach to project management and software projects. It was originally designed to speed up the development process by breaking IT projects into small parts or steps. The project requirements are reviewed throughout the project life cycle in order to react quickly to changes.
While DevSecOps uses many of the same development principles as Agile, e.g. B. the continuous integration and provision of software systems (CI / CD) in iterations, but they differ in the way they deal with security. The heart of DevSecOps, for example, is the integration of security into all project iterations. The only goal of the agile model is to deploy software projects quickly and add security later after the product is complete.
Unique development that can be done anywhere
DevOps uses the container technology that has radically changed SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) methods. There is a semi-mutual agreement in the DevOps community to avoid wasting time developing test environments for specific platforms. For example, DevOps developers use containerized technology to write, build, run, and test code without worrying about operational resources (e.g. operating system, shared libraries, and frameworks). This leaves enough time for the operations team to focus more on testing and security.
Everything as code
Bringing security into code is a major advancement in software project development. To build secure applications, security should be built into DevOps tools and workflows. This could be achieved by implementing security policies and adding reviews and tests to the code without incurring additional costs or delays during the actual code writing process.
According to a BSIMM report, automation plays an essential role in successfully integrating security into the DevOps model. By automating manual processes and creating tools (e.g. GitLab, Jenkins for CI and Docker for container integration in toolchains) in (CI / CD) pipelines, the development and operations team can work closely together and work as a single team . This increases their ability to respond to requests from the security team.
Automation can enhance the task of implementing security during project development by speeding up the feedback loop. Automation speeds up the design process as any identified security issues – including compliance issues – are quickly identified and resolved as the project progresses.
Communication and collaboration
A clear and direct communication channel during the development process is required for the successful completion of projects.
In DevSecOps, three teams are responsible for delivering the end product: the development, operations, and security teams. Each team can consider their work to outperform the rest. The development and operations teams always focus on delivering the project iteration on time, while the work of the security team slows down their work.
The responsibility of top management is to fill the communication and collaboration gap. You can do this by encouraging all teams – especially those who make up the DevOps teams – to understand the importance of security team work in delivering secure products that do not create security issues once released.
DevOps changed the way development and operations are done today. DevOps tools and practices can be used to incorporate security into the DevOps philosophy without sacrificing speed or increasing development costs. With DevOps and DevSecOps, companies can create scalable systems that incorporate security into their development lifecycle, comply with various compliance regulations and deliver the best possible secure product.
Nihad A. Hassan
Nihad A. Hassan is an independent information security consultant, digital forensics and cybersecurity expert, online blogger, and book author. He has been actively researching various areas of information security for more than a decade and has developed numerous courses and technical guides on cybersecurity. He has completed several technical security consulting assignments that include security architectures, penetration testing, cybercrime investigations and OSINT (Cyber Open Source Intelligence). Nihad has authored six books and numerous articles on information security for various global publications. He also enjoys safety training, education and motivation. His current work focuses on digital forensics, anti-forensic techniques, digital privacy and cyber-OSINT. He covers a variety of information security and related topics on his security blog at www.DarknessGate.com and recently launched a dedicated website for open source intelligence resources at www.OSINT.link. Nihad holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Computer Science from the University of Greenwich in the UK. Nihad can be followed on Twitter (@DarknessGate) and you can connect to him through LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/darknessgate.
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