Aligning Security with DevOps Strategy

In a survey, more than 90% of the companies admitted that after implementing a DevOps-centric approach in their organization they faced a boost in their revenues. With thousands of companies implementing DevOps as a major strategy in their work culture, it is best that those organizations which are yet to conquer this field, do it quickly. 

By the year 2025, more than 95% of the major companies in the world will have implemented this approach. Why are so many companies shifting towards this? What could be the reason? Well, DevOps has more than one benefit. It removes the silos from the company’s work culture by bringing together the development and operations teams. This not just helps to fasten the product development but also, enables higher customer satisfaction.

But, while implementing any strategy, the major issue is Security. With all the technological advancements, it is easier to implement anything but easier to hack into them. Does DevOps offer good security? Of course! Just by implementing certain tricks and tips, you can yourself out of the clutches of hackers. 

In this blog, we shall discuss how you can move forward with security in your products and database along with DevOps. We shall discuss DevOps Security, the challenges to its achievement, the process to build a secure culture, and some steps to align security with DevOps in your organization.

What is DevOps Security?

DevOps Security is the combination of Development, Operations, and Security which is commonly known as the DevSecOps. This term refers to an organization that follows a DevOps-centric approach along with security measures. This enables the organization to offer products at high speed along with offering good security solutions to the customers at every step of the Software Development Life Cycle.

This strategy breaks down the traditional boundaries between the development, operations, and security teams by integrating them all. It tightly incorporates security tools throughout the product development phase to achieve continuous integration & delivery of superior products to your customers.

Rather than testing the code towards the end of the development cycle, DevSecOps shifts the security testing towards the left. This mitigates the extra efforts needed to rework before product deployment. This improves the code quality along with the developer’s productivity as can focus on more important things rather than wasting time in iterative processes.

What are the Challenges to DevOps Security?

Although DevOps offers great benefits in terms of speed and agility, on the other hand, there are some challenges that you might be facing while implementing the security perspective of DevOps in your company. Here are some common challenges you need to address to optimally secure your DevOps-centric company:

1. Cloud Security

Since the cloud does not have a well-defined perimeter, it comes with a broader attack surface area even though the security risks in on-premises software deployments are very limited. In addition to that, even a small manual error or misconfiguration in the cloud can lead to the potential exposure of necessary resources to risky networks. Hence, the usual approach of safeguarding the network perimeter and depending on entities within that becomes futile.

2. Cultural Resistance

The most common DevOps security issues caused due to the cultural resistance of development and operations teams towards security testing. They see security as a bottleneck that causes delays in the software development procedure. In a general scenario, security & testing teams take a large amount of time to thoroughly test the software development before deploying it or moving to the next phase. This leads to frustration among DevOps teams as it becomes an obstacle in their fast product delivery cycle.

3. Collaboration Challenges

As discussed in the former blogs, DevOps is a collaboration of the development and operations teams, and security in DevOps requires integrating the security team into the DevOps culture. It is challenging for the security team to rapidly move along at an iterative pace with the DevOps team as they are used to working in a siloed environment. Also, the security and engineering teams have always worked in separate circles, which duplicates operational effort between the team.

How to Build a DevOps Security Culture?

With thousands of companies implementing DevOps in their work culture, only a few of them are getting the real essence behind leveraging DevOps security. The main reason for this downfall is understating the potential culture and mindset change, this new strategy requires. The companies often think that no new additions need to be made in the process but, they fail to understand the requirements of the same procedure to be efficient. 

This misunderstanding makes it challenging for the employees to comprehend the objective of DevSecOps. So, to build a DevOps security culture, your organization should make some changes not just in technology but more in the infrastructure and employee hierarchy manner. Here are some steps to imbibe the same:

1. Change in Mindset

As stated earlier, there are generally conflicts between the security and DevOps teams, so building the right mindset to encourage the new change is quite necessary. Even though each team does its work, this does require a shift in thinking. Security should be made a shared responsibility of each team by shifting security towards the left of the software development cycle. A broader mindset accelerates development speed, and product quality, and scales current agile principles.

2. Change in Mechanism

To build the new DevOps security culture, your organization does need some changes in the mechanism like key enabling the DevSecOps roles. The team should work together and help fix the code with each other whenever required. This not just promotes teamwork but also builds interaction models that define participation at each level. 

3. Change in Skillset

How do you build a great DevSecOps organization if your employees still have the traditional skills? Thus, grooming your skillset is one of the foremost requirements for a company to build a successful DevOps-centric organization. Hence, to address this talent gap, organizations must make investments to build new capabilities for the New-skill, Cross-skill, and Upskill employees.

How Can I Start Aligning Security with DevOps in My Organization?

Businesses need to strike the right balance between security and speed if they want to align security in their DevOps-centric organization. Here are some tips you can implement:

1. Define a DevSecOps Approach

Just like before buying anything new, we research about it, the same happens while implementing DevSecOps. This combination of development, security, and operations can only prove to be fulfilled once it is completely understood by the company and its employees. The three teams need to concord with the standards and objectives before working on the project. The key to this is instigating a good strategy that defines shared objectives, mutual accountability, and metrics for success measurement.

2. Comprehend your Toolchain & Workflow

In many organizations, DevOps and security engineers end up creating their operation islands to focus on their objectives. This not only segregates them from the team as a whole but ultimately creates a wall between them. On stretching it further, it gives rise to incomplete visibility across workflow and toolchain. Thus, all the teams should understand the workflow collectively that is involved in the DevOps pipeline.

3. Instigate Safety Barriers

Make security a seamless part of your daily work. Embed security early in the process by shifting it to the left. Introduce penetration testing and automated security testing to fix critical security gaps right on time in the development process itself. This saves time and fortifies the teams to follow best practices. 

4. Automation

Taking benefit of automation is the best thing you can do to ease off your team from taking the burden of everything. Automating security processes and tools to scale security operations with DevOps processes helps reduce security flaws in the pipeline from manual intervention. Processes like code reviews, configuration management, etc can be easily automated. This enables the team to focus more on development and innovative work rather than doing the same iterative work.

5. Incessant Improvisation

Cyberspace is continuously evolving with new attack vendors increasing every single minute. So, to stay ahead of these, you should also be updated with the security issues and solutions. Hence, continuous improvement is the key to that. Assess your security posture regularly and send health reports to all the teams to address any critical issues.

Final Words

After reading today’s blog we are sure you must have understood both – the importance of security and how to maintain it in a DevOps-centric environment. If your organization is not already working to mitigate risks in your products, you should not wait any longer to work on the same, because it needs to be taken care of before any major problems come in. 

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