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Application Security with DevOps: The Lifecycle, Best Practices, & More

04-Oct-2022

Application Security with DevOps: The Lifecycle, Best Practices, & More

Application Security with DevOps

The DevOps movement began around 2007 when the software development and IT operations communities raised concerns about the traditional software development model, where developers who wrote code worked apart from operations who deployed and supported the code.  

The term DevOps, a combination of the word’s development and operations, reflects the process of integrating these disciplines into one, continuous process. And since the world is quickly progressing toward digitalization, the rapid adoption of applications and software technology has created a need for security.  

At BugRaptors, we have been actively involved in integrating security testing services as a part of the quality assurance process. And therefore, this blog will highlight the idea of using DevOps for enhanced application security. Besides, we will underline how DevOps works, the lifecycle and DevOps Security best practices. 

Let’s begin! 

How does DevOps work? 

A DevOps team includes developers and IT operations working collaboratively throughout the product lifecycle, in order to increase the speed and quality of software deployment. It’s a new way of working, a cultural shift, that has significant implications for teams and the organizations they work for. 

Under a DevOps model, development and operations teams are no longer “siloed.” Sometimes, these two teams merge into a single team where the engineers work across the entire application lifecycle — from development and test to deployment and operations — and have a range of multidisciplinary skills. 

The DevOps lifecycle 

Because of the continuous nature of DevOps, practitioners use the infinity loop to show how the phases of the DevOps lifecycle relate to each other. Despite appearing to flow sequentially, the loop symbolizes the need for constant collaboration and iterative improvement throughout the entire lifecycle. 

DevOps Security 

DevOps Security or DevSecOps is a set of practices, cultural approaches and tools that bring together software development (Dev), IT operations (Ops) and security (Sec) to increase an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity, securely. 

With DevOps approaches and methodologies, new application functionality can be delivered more rapidly and frequently updated with incremental updates. The entire build and delivery processes for applications are typically highly automated, and applications typically comprise multiple microservices and are often deployed in containerized and cloud environments. 

DevOps together with cloud-based elastic infrastructure accommodate surges in demand through auto-scaling processes that spin up new computing resources (virtual machines or containers) and deploy more instances of an application as required. Enabling organizations to rapidly respond to changes in demand while only paying for the computing resources consumed provides immense business value. 

Need to advance your DevOps security in 2022? 

Read our blog: Redefining DevOps: Security as A Point of View

However, while offering tremendous business benefits, ensuring the security of applications becomes more challenging and often more critical. For example, consider the increased levels of automated processes, building and running applications fragmented into micro-services (or containers) that need to communicate with each other, as well as the use of diverse tool sets, including code repositories. To build the applications. The result is that there are far more services, applications, and tools that need protection in DevOps environments than in traditional development environments. 

DevOps Security Best Practices 

Embrace A DevSecOps Model 

When DevOps and security teams are misaligned, the fallout can include insecure code, vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, unsecured hardcoded passwords, and application security weaknesses that cause operational dysfunction or are easy targets for attackers. When security is built into every fabric of the DevOps lifecycle and culture (from inception, design, build, test, release, support, and maintenance) it is often referred to as DevSecOps. 

DevSecOps entails embedding governance and cybersecurity functions such as identity and access management (IAM), privilege management, firewalling / unified threat management, code review, configuration management, and vulnerability management throughout the DevOps workflow. Embracing a DevSecOps culture means that everyone shares responsibility for security, helping ensure accountability and alignment across teams. 

Policy & Governance 

Create transparent cybersecurity policies and procedures that are easy for developers and other team members to understand and agree to. This will help teams to develop code that meets security requirements. 

Automate Your DevOps Security Processes and Tools 

Without automated security tools for code analysis, configuration management, patching and vulnerability management, etc., you stand no chance of scaling security to DevOps processes. Security automation also minimizes risk arising from human error, and the associated downtime or vulnerabilities. The closer you can match the speed of security to the DevOps process, the less likely you are to face cultural resistance to embedding security practices. 

Comprehensive Discovery 

The potential proliferation of shadow IT and incomplete visibility hampers an organization’s ability to protect itself. DevOps testing teams often leverage new, open-source or immature tools to manage hundreds of security groups and thousands of server instances. Containers can be spun up and down almost instantly—and run across almost any kind of computer and cloud.  

Often security teams lack visibility into the containers themselves, which is complicated because they share an OS with other containers. And, since DevOps usually relies heavily on cloud deployments, cloud security is a major consideration as well. Therefore, prioritize the continuous discovery and validation of devices, tools, accounts, cloud/virtual instances, containers and credentials, and ensure that they are brought under security management in accordance with your policy. 

Vulnerability Management 

Vulnerabilities should be scanned for, assessed, and remediated across development and integration environments—including within containers—before deployment to production. When products are launched into an operational environment, DevOps security can run tests and tools against the production software and infrastructure to identify and patch exploits and issues. 

Configuration Management 

The speed and scale at which DevOps environments move mean that any configuration mistake could be rapidly copied and multiplied if not rapidly detected and fixed. Scan to identify and remediate misconfigurations and potential errors. Provide continuous configuration and hardening baseline scanning across servers and code/builds for physical, virtual, and cloud assets. 

DevOps Secrets Management 

DevOps teams may use a dozen tools (Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Salt, etc.), which all require secrets management. DevOps secrets may include privileged account credentials, SSH Keys, API tokens, etc., and may be used by humans or non-humans (e.g., applications, containers, micro-services and cloud instances).  

Improperly managed, secrets can provide attackers with easy backdoors to privileged access, and with it, the ability to tamper with security and other controls, disrupt operations, steal information, and basically own an organization’s IT infrastructure. Often, secrets/privileged credentials are embedded in code, scripts, files, and service accounts. Secure management of these credentials requires privileged password management solutions that can remove the embedded credentials from code and securely store and manage them. 

Privileged Access Management (PAM) 

DevOps teams often permit nearly unrestricted access to privileged accounts (root, admin, etc.) to multiple individuals. Often, these individuals share credentials, which virtually eliminates the possibility of a clean audit trail. Orchestration, configuration management, and other DevOps tools may also be granted vast privileges.  

Excessive privileged access represents an increased threat surface. To rein in privileged access risk, implement the principle of least privilege. Enforcing the least privilege access will reduce opportunities for internal or external attackers to escalate privileged user rights or exploit bad code. Enterprise privileged access management (PAM) solutions can automate the control, monitoring, and auditing of privileged access as well as the full lifecycle of secrets/privileged credential management. 

Segment Networks 

Segmenting the network reduces an attacker’s “line of sight” access. Group assets, including application and resource servers, into logical units that do not trust one another. In the case of access that needs to cross the trust zones, deploy a secured jump server with multi-factor authentication, adaptive access authorization, and use session monitoring to provide oversight. Further segment access-based context, including user, role, application, and data being requested. 

Introducing DevOps security early in the product lifecycle ensures that security underpins every part of application and systems development. This, in turn, enhances availability, reduces the possibility of data breaches, and ensures the development and provisioning of powerful technology to meet business needs. 

All in all, working on DevOps security needs you to work on everything right from the governance model to network configuration. However, the only thing that helps you sustain productivity and outcomes is the right approach to security testing.  

And just in case, you need help Integrating Security Testing Services Or planning to enhance your DevOps model, our team of ISTQB-certified expert testers would love to assist you with your security goals.  

Feel free to reach us through info@bugraptors.com  

author

Shaifali Sharma

Shaifali is an ISTQB certified QA engineer, working at BugRaptors. She is a testing professional having diverse exposure in various projects and application testing with comprehensive understanding of all aspects of SDLC. She is well versed with Manual testing, Mobile application testing, performance testing, load testing, Web applications testing and able to create effective documentation related to testing like test case, test report etc.

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