DevOps Security: Advantages, Disadvantages,  Implementation, and Measurement

Iterative security testing has been the missing puzzle piece in the development life cycle. Traditionally, security tests took place at the end of development, but due to quicker cycles, waiting till the end caused bottlenecks and expensive security flaws.

A DevOps security, aka DevSecOps, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, the  "Shift Left" strategy, meant that teams no longer needed to test security, then hope for the best. Security checks became integral during the development process and involved everyone. Weaving security into the process allowed developers and security teams to harness the power of agile methodologies together.

A solid DevSecOps process can massively improve your software security and provide a better user experience post-release. And in this article from Instatus, we’ll discuss DevSecOps in depth, including its advantages and disadvantages, before finishing up on how to implement it in your business. Let’s get into it!

What is DevOps Security?

DevOps security or DevSecOps are the advanced operations, cultural approaches, and tech used to combine development, security, and IT operations (Dev-Sec-Ops). It automates security integration at each stage of the software development life cycle, and remains an ongoing effort spread amongst the teams.

With a DevOps strategy, your organization can increase its ability to consistently deliver high-quality, secure, and resilient products faster through automated delivery.

Why is DevOps Security Important?

The importance of integrating DevOps with security testing is founded on weaving cybersecurity checks into all phases of development so that security holes can be found and addressed as early as possible.

DevSevOps focuses on ensuring that security is a priority throughout the development process. The increased communication and shared responsibility between IT, security, and development help to prevent bottleneck issues caused by the traditional silo approach. That means you’ll be able to make smarter decisions during development, as data is shared between departments with greater transparency.

In addition, tighter security is essential in a DevOps setup since the various tools and processes involved can cause system vulnerabilities that are liable to system attacks. For this reason, several industries, including the financial tech and health sectors, are required to follow laws and regulations to protect their software.

System attacks are a common cause of network outages, and if your company is caught off guard, Instatus's modern system status pages can serve your business in many ways. For example, they offer early monitoring tools for DevOps and help alleviate downtime frustration by letting your clients know your system's real-time status. Because why should your user experience suffer during downtime?

Advantages of DevOps Security

  • It offers improved and proactive security. Security threats can be fixed as soon they’re found and as early as possible. It helps prevent the introduction of additional problems caused by long-standing security issues.

  • Quick and cost-effective software delivery. Security issues take time to fix and can cause massive delays. In addition, security problems in the live environment are more expensive to fix. DevSecOps saves time and money by fixing security code vulnerabilities early when they're the easiest to find and cheapest to fix.

  • It utilizes automation for tighter security. A higher level of system security is achieved through security tests, and checks are automated and included across all development stages. Iterative testing ensures the system code moves to the next development phase with adequate security.

Disadvantages of DevOps Security

  • Lack of resources and DevSecOps knowledge. Teams' lack of understanding of DevSecOps practices and broader security and compliance is a common barrier to DevSecOps implementation. Recent stats highlight that 38% report insufficient education around DevSecOps as an obstacle.
  • Some business logic vulnerabilities can be missed. Business logic vulnerabilities are design and implementation flaws that enable attackers to achieve a malicious goal. And with speedier development, system vulnerabilities can be overlooked. These flaws require more time to find and can't be seen by automated tools.
  • Tool integration. The toolkit necessary for DevSecOps security analysis can make deciding on the best tools challenging. That means it’s also difficult for developers to set up tool integration and gather security testing results from multiple tools.

How to Implement DevSecOps

1. Planning and Development

2. Design and Coding

Your design documentation should provide thorough details about security. Concrete steps detailing security testing are significant in an agile DevSecOps environment due to fast iterations of the initial code.

Design docs should include specific use cases that pose possible security risks. For example, authentication and APIs should be managed to minimize an attack. The document should contain enumerated protection details like encryption and credential expiry.

In addition, coding methods should follow best practices to avoid security flaws in code. For example, sanitization of all input and other secure design patterns can minimize the chance of loopholes in your code. The earlier rigorous coding methods are followed, the better, and the need to recheck code for security gaps is removed.

3. Integrate Security Tools with DevOps Tools

Security in DevSecOps requires automation tools to improve your processes. The security part of being productive is that your security verification tools should work and integrate reliably with your existing tools.

This supports the unified integration of security tests into your current development deployment processes and monitoring solutions to maintain your live environment.

4. Align Your Security Practices with Your Development Workflow

When discussing how security practices are embedded with your development teams, you must be flexible in changing security practices to align with the development workflow without sacrificing security requirements. Be sure not to orient your DevSecOps approach using your previous approach to security, as the speed and sequence of your releases will stall.

In addition, see whether some of your security budget can be used to support other areas in realigning your development workflow. It could stretch to in-demand training skills to help your team succeed in DevSecOps. Ongoing commitment to skills, development, and mastery is essential for a well-oiled DevSecOps strategy. Consider approaching DevSecOps training intentionally to leverage training resources to their best advantage.

5. Invest in Continuous Training for the Development Team

One challenge of implementing DevSecOps is that your development team requires security education. For a streamlined and productive strategy, your developers must know how to fix security-related bugs without external guidance.

Some popular DevSecOps certifications and training include:

  • DevOps Institute DevSecOps Foundation: it teaches the basics of secure software development, how to build solid relationships between security and development teams, how to implement security by design, and more.

  • DevOps Institute DevSecOps Practitioner: this is to advance your technical DevSecOps knowledge and includes advice on security best practices. Completion of the DevSecOps Foundation certificate is recommended before the Practitioner.

6. Embrace Automation

A manual code review for every release is an unreasonable request since releases are much quicker, and security checks must be automated. Embrace automation to reduce technical overheads and assist your teams in finding flaws and correcting issues before they develop into more significant problems.

With advanced policies, procedures, and automated security tests, developers can ensure the product advances through each stage of the development cycle with adequate security.

7. Consider the Red Team/Blue Team Approach

The red and blue teams approach offers a quick way to find security weaknesses throughout development.

The red team is an external group of ethical hackers trying to penetrate the IT system. They'll try at various stages of development to find code vulnerabilities. Their efforts will support your developers (the blue team) in proactively finding and resolving security issues.

8. Set a DevSecOps Policy

Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) is a common DevOps framework:

  • Governance: is the leadership, guidance, and company policies used to achieve goals.
  • Risk: is the unpredictability that may cause issues.
  • Compliance: ensures the guidelines or standards are implemented. All three activities implemented in your DevSecOps policy can help your teams meet business goals reliably and effectively meet GRC standards while maintaining company integrity.

9. Measuring Performance and Progress

Measurement is critical to a DevSecOps implementation to verify how well your strategy is progressing. Once your DevSecOps is in operation, use performance KPIs to identify how successful your implementation is.

Here are some examples of essential metrics you need to be measuring to monitor your strategy's performance:

  • Application deployment frequency: measures how quickly your strategy supports software deployment.
  • Lead time: measures the time between code commit and deployment to indicate your development process's speed. Shorter time taken means greater efficiency.
  • Change failure rate: measures the percentage of hotfixes and code changes post-production. And the percentage of failed production deployments to indicate how efficient your deployment process is.
  • Mean time to recovery: is the average time required to recover from failure. It measures the time between failed deployment and complete restoration. A low MTTR suggests that your team recover quickly from system failure.
  • Customer ticket volume: measures your clients and customers' satisfaction. It highlights the number of bugs and defects reported.
  • Defect escape rate: tracks how often defects end up in production. A high defect rate indicates an issue with testing.
  • Server availability: calculates the time your server remains available.

Use Instatus to Support Your DevSecOps Strategy

DevOps security is a necessary evolution of how IT organizations approach security testing. With a DevSecOps strategy, security checks are no longer left till last and are carried out at all stages of development to prevent security problems from spiraling out of control.

A tight DevSecOps strategy means your services are less likely to be taken down due to ransom attacks and security breaches. However, these cybercriminals are highly sophisticated and prey on smaller businesses. For a piece of mind, consider Instaus for a beautifully branded status page to keep everyone in the loop when your services are up and if they go down.

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