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Mastering Secure DevOps with Six Key Strategies

Mastering Secure DevOps with Six Key Strategies

Blog Article Published: 05/24/2024

Written by the CSA DevSecOps Working Group.

Cloud computing has heightened security challenges, with frequent breaches stemming from insecure applications and poor infrastructure. Similarly, as software development speeds up, the complexity and number of attacks and data breaches also rise.

Secure DevOps (or DevSecOps) addresses these challenges by embedding security into the development and operational processes. Secure DevOps simplifies development, ensures trusted components, empowers teams with integrated security resources, and delivers secure functional software. The CSA DevSecOps Working Group has defined the Six Pillars of DevSecOps:


1. Collective Responsibility: Embrace a Security-First Mindset

One of the biggest challenges in embedding security within DevOps is shifting the organizational mindset regarding software security. Security shouldn't be an afterthought addressed after development. It should be part of clear, measurable business goals.

To overcome this, everyone has security responsibilities. The CSO should guide security efforts, but each team member must understand their role in maintaining security. Developers and edge users are not just security-aware; they are the first defense. By integrating security into every process, organizations can create a proactive security culture.

Learn more in The Six Pillars of DevSecOps: Collective Responsibility.


2. Collaboration and Integration: Foster a Collaborative Culture

We have a significant skill and talent gap in development and operations teams. Without organization-wide collaboration, implementing security effectively is challenging.

A security-aware and collaborative culture is essential for team members to report potential anomalies. The human factor is often the weakest link, with many security incidents caused by simple human error. Encouraging collaboration and fostering a culture where security is a shared responsibility can enhance the security posture.

Learn more in The Six Pillars of DevSecOps: Collaboration and Integration.


3. Pragmatic Implementation: Implement Integrated Tooling

DevSecOps offers many cloud security solutions, giving organizations a wide array of tools to choose from for application security. However, no single set of tools fits every software lifecycle, which varies in structure, processes, and maturity. As a result, organizations procure tools that are hard to deploy and implement.

Organizations need to understand their software lifecycle needs and desired future state to select platform solutions that integrate well. By adopting a framework-agnostic “Digital Security and Privacy Model” focused on application development, organizations can approach security practically. This model connects all stakeholders - development, operations, and security - ensuring security is built into applications and their lifecycle.

Learn more in The Six Pillars of DevSecOps: Pragmatic Implementation.


4. Bridging Compliance and Development: Translating Risk Requirements into Standards

Risk-related requirements are often hard to translate into measurable security requirements. With the rapid evolution of software development practices, compliance and agile development are often misaligned. Regulators focus on process proof, while DevOps and security teams emphasize proof in the code. Bridging this gap requires identifying applicable controls and pinpointing lifecycle inflection points for automation and measurement.

Learn more in The Six Pillars of DevSecOps: Bridging Compliance and Development.


5. Automation: Automate Security Measures

Manual coding, testing, deployment, and patching practices hinder a quick, cost-effective transition from idea to secure deployment. Automated security practices enhance process efficiency by reducing manual tasks, improving software quality through real time testing, and increasing the frequency of feedback. Automations should replace manual processes where possible.

Automated security checks can cause delays, but better workflows or partial automation can fix this. By automating security measures, organizations can maintain efficiency and reduce work, ensuring a secure and streamlined development process.

Learn more in The Six Pillars of DevSecOps: Automation.


6. Measure, Monitor, Report, and Action: Metrics for Effective DevSecOps

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is crucial in DevSecOps. Implementing DevSecOps can take months to years. Without clear metrics, it is impossible to track progress or detect failures. Key metrics to monitor include deployment frequency, vulnerability path time, percentage of code automatically tested, and number of automated tests per application.

Constant measurement and monitoring keeps DevSecOps on track, quickly fixes issues, and helps maintain strong security throughout the software lifecycle.

Learn more in The Six Pillars of DevSecOps: Measure, Monitor, Report, and Action.


Conclusion

These six areas of focus, as outlined by the CSA DevSecOps Working Group, address major weaknesses in security software development within DevOps. These pillars provide a solid foundation for creating a robust, dynamic, and secure DevOps environment.

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