/sep 2, 2015

The Scalability Challenge, Part Four: Security Regulations, Scaling and Automation

By Evan Wade

The Scalability Challenge, Part Four: Security Regulations, Scaling and AutomationIf you've read the existing pieces in Veracode's "Addressing the Scalability Challenge" series (a collection of blog posts spurred by a whitepaper of the same title), then you know that scaling your security efforts can be a challenge. The threatscape businesses face is larger than ever, and it only grows (read: scales) as organizations find new and exciting ways to implement technology into their operations.

It's this idea that makes the topic of this post — namely the intersection of scalability and security regulations — so potentially hairy for the CISOs, CTOs and other technical staff reading it. Compliance in a vacuum is hard enough. Keeping the same focus when the business is growing? To quote a hundred different Martin Scorsese characters: fuhgeddaboudit.

Fortunately, good old-fashioned technological delegation makes the process a lot easier to swallow. Here are a few ways automation can help you reach your compliance goals, using Veracode's whitepaper as a framework.

Everyone Secure

It doesn't matter whether the regulations you follow were built to cover the whole industry or specifically address its technical side — if your industry is remotely technologically connected, as the whitepaper states, then there's a good chance the rules tell you what needs to be done to keep users and their info, along with you and yours, safe.

Process credit card payments? There are security regulations for that. Access healthcare information as a matter of course? That, too. Serve as a financial institution? You get the point.

More importantly, the number of organizations under some sort of government- or industry-mandated regulation will only grow as businesses continue to lean on technology. There's too much at stake not to have clear-cut rules regarding the way you handle, store and disseminate data.

The Scalability Challenge

As stated above, it's when you throw the regular challenges of a growing businesses into the compliance mix that things get truly hairy.

At a basic level, it's easier for a two-man garage act to keep a thumb on niche products' compliance status than it is for larger ones to do the same. The complexity businesses need to thrive makes it incredibly hard to monitor everything that's going on. When your organization can be broken down into 100 different teams, squads, groups, etc., making sure every little thing you do is regulation-friendly becomes a real bear.

Whether you're talking robot vacuums or high-tech car factories, automation makes our lives easier by taking rote, repetitive, often minutely detailed tasks out of human hands and putting them in the hands of a platform. The same idea applies to software, scaling and security regulations: When you have a solution that can "simplify compliance," as the whitepaper says, by examining and tracking compliance down to the individual business unit — and especially when you do it on a continual basis — then security regulations become much easier to scale.

Outside Code

No matter what you do, no matter what you build, no matter who you have to comply with, code from third-party vendors is a crucial part of the software-building process. Whether or not that code was specifically designed with your industry's needs in mind, you must ensure it's up to snuff like you would with in-house content.

While the high-level idea of automation works very well here, take a look at binary static analysis (SAST). Designed to look at preproduction software without requiring direct access to source code, this solution (part of Veracode's comprehensive compliance platform) allows you to apply the same scruples and standards to every line of code making up your overall digital footprint.

For companies putting increased reliance on vendor contributions to stay technologically competitive, this is huge. Suddenly, scaling up doesn't have to mean relinquishing control, and the job of scanning for the sorts of errors that cause audit flags — and worse, potentially nightmarish breaches and data thefts — goes to the most tireless, detail-oriented employee any software-producing company could hope to have: One that's been built by security experts to provide top-notch security scanning whether the code comes from your business or a third party.

Scale Security Regulations Securely

Say that one five times fast. Believe it or not, that advice is a lot more difficult to speak than it is to follow — assuming you have the right automated tools in place, of course. That aforementioned technical delegation, combined with existing human oversight, can help any organization in any industry achieve, simplify and maintain compliance no matter what size it grows to‚ and as recent history has shown time and time again, the companies that make the best use of technology in all its various aspects are the ones that flourish and grow to a truly scaled-up size.

To learn more about how cloud-based security can help you scale your application security, check out Veracode's whitepaper in its entirety.

Photo Source: Flickr

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By Evan Wade

Evan Wade is a professional freelance writer, author, and editor from Indianapolis. His time as a sales consultant with AT&T, combined with his current work as a tech reporter, give him unique insight into the world of mobile/Web security and the steps needed to properly secure software products. Follow him on Twitter.