As far as the definition is concerned, DevOps is a set of practices, tools, and a cultural philosophy that automates and integrates the processes between software development and IT teams. It emphasizes team empowerment, cross-team communication and collaboration, and technology automation.
Despite its many benefits, DevOps presents new risks and cultural changes that create security challenges that cannot typically be addressed by conventional security management solutions and practices.
These traditional approaches are often too slow, costly, or complex to support automated software delivery and deployment into the cloud or as a container. However, to cut on such issues, most tech development companies are constantly working to enrol DevOps testing services into the perspective.
And having all the expertise handling DevOps projects, in this blog, our team of experts from Bugraptors would aim at underlining the several challenges surrounding DevOps security while talking about the importance of application security in DevOps.
DevOps Security Challenges Include:
Privileged Credentials Used in DevOps Are Targeted by Cyber Attackers
One of the biggest security challenges in DevOps environments is privileged access management. DevOps processes require using human and machine privileged credentials that are very powerful and highly susceptible to cyber-attacks.
Human access: With high-velocity processes, DevOps practitioners require privileged access across development and production environments.
Machine access: With automated processes, machines and tools require elevated privileges (or permissions) to access resources with no human involvement. Examples include:
- Automation tools: Ansible, Puppet and Chef
- CI/CD tools: Jenkins, Azure DevOps and Bamboo
- Container management tools: Docker and Linux Containers (LXC)
- Container orchestration tools: Kubernetes, Red Hat OpenShift, Pivotal, Cloud Foundry
Tier Zero assets, such as Ansible and Jenkins, have access to credentials used by many other tools.
Once attackers obtain privileged credentials, they can gain full access to DevOps pipelines, sensitive databases—or even to an organization’s entire cloud. Attackers recognize this and increasingly seek out privileged credentials including passwords, access keys, SSH keys and tokens, as well as other types of secrets such as certificates, encryption keys and API keys. Attackers can exploit unsecured credentials in DevOps environments, resulting in crypto-jacking, data breaches and destruction of intellectual property.
Developers Are Focused on Velocity—Not Security
Focused on producing code faster, DevOps teams often adopt insecure practices outside of the purview of security teams. Such practices can include leaving embedded secrets and credentials in applications and configuration files, reusing third-party code without sufficient scrutiny, adopting new tools without evaluating them for potential security issues and insufficiently protecting DevOps tools and infrastructure.
Tool-centric Approaches to Secrets Management Create Security Gaps
DevOps tools often have some built-in features for protecting secrets. However, these features don’t facilitate interoperability or securely sharing of secrets across tools, clouds and platforms. Often, DevOps teams the built-in features of their individual tools to manage secrets. This approach can make it difficult to adequately protect the secrets since they cannot be monitored and managed in a consistent manner.
Interested to know tore about the Agile, DevOps, & Digital Transformation
Why Security in DevOps Environment Is More Critical Than Ever
Security was obviously always important in DevOps environments, but the need for a high level of security testing is getting stronger and stronger daily. Here are a few reasons why you really need to focus on app security in order to be safe going forward.
An Emphasis on Speed
These days, it’s often the case that you have to go through DevOps a lot faster than before. The standard 18-month cycle can sometimes be condensed down into just a few weeks in order to keep up when getting the product out by a certain point is critical enough.
This is why application security is of particular importance because making your security team goes in-depth enough to imagine all possible lines of attack and test them needs to happen within such a small window.
Additionally, all of this also means that traditional approaches to security aren’t going to work as well because you have many small teams working together to get the coding done. Automation will be key to managing it all and ensuring that the security is being managed evenly throughout all of the different teams.
Keeping an eye on the app's security and focusing on it, not taking it for granted, is the only way to ensure that this doesn’t become a serious problem.
Continual New Threats
DevOps teams are focused on what they need to do today to get their project done. The result of this is that they are often not going to be able to add a lot of extra time into checking to see whether there are new security threats that could affect their application in specific. These threats really are a constantly shifting thing.
They also come in a variety of forms. They could be security holes that were just found in major operating systems or other software, services, or tools that the DevOps team is currently using or planning to use in their app, for example. Threats like these require constant vigilance in checking everywhere because they often involve issues at companies that you do business with and not anything you really did wrong yourself.
Plus, there are also the usual virus threats. While these may not affect say, a mobile app, as much as other programs, they could still affect systems more prone to these issues that the app under development needs to use as part of its operation.
DevOps Relationship to Security
It’s especially important to make sure you cover security in a DevOps environment because it’s often more complicated than in other situations. If you have a separate department for security, there’s often some tension between these teams and the ones for DevOps. And this is still the case even if there’s not a dedicated department for that, because someone has to be thinking about security all the time, or it will fall through the cracks.
And you really don’t want the security of your app to fall through the cracks because this could lead to catastrophic problems down the line. Getting the two to work together properly can be managed partially with tools, but the main point is to keep up the effort. If there’s too much contention between the two parts of the operation, you could miss things.
This conflict could take forms such as a security team or an individual saying that the DevOps team has to start over completely in order to cover some error that they noticed which could put the app security at risk. At this point, the problem becomes severe because the security perspective might want DevOps to scrap everything they’ve done and start over in order to cover the flaw. Or, they might want DevOps to at least scrap a particular component.
Compromise will be key as both parties figure out just how bad it is and what can be done in terms of accommodation.
But, a far worse outcome is to have no one checking in the first place, or else a DevOps team that decides the security team is out of line and needs to ignore minor flaws that don’t matter. Making application security a priority can be difficult, but the worst possible outcomes always occur when someone hasn’t done this.
Suggested Read: Continuous Testing and DevOps
Confidence in the Product
Another reason why security is so important in a DevOps environment is because of the confidence issue. If any consumer or journalist gets wind of a security issue that is not being covered, then the app could make front-page news even before it gets released, and then it will be of risk to the entire project at large.
It’s actually a common occurrence for users to be concerned about a project, no matter how useful, ambitious, or exciting it is if there’s the slightest potential for a flaw in the application security. Entire projects have been killed before, despite how promising they were, because of something as simple as this.
Plus, these days consumers and users are highly security-minded because of the increasing concern about digital security throughout the world at large. It’s not just that you have to make sure all potential holes are filled, it’s often important to avoid even the appearance of some kind of security flaw. Any negative buzz against a project, no matter what sphere it operates in whether it be B2B or general consumer-focused only, has the potential to make it all come crashing down on you.
Plus, those who get wind of the issue inside of the DevOps team or elsewhere within the project or in any team connected to the project will have the potential of losing morale. It could hurt their confidence in the project, and that confidence is often key in something like DevOps.
All The Best!