DevSecOps, also known as secure DevOps, represents a mindset in software development that holds everyone accountable for application security. By fostering collaboration between developers and IT operations and directing collective efforts towards better security decision-making, development teams can deliver safer software with greater speed and efficiency.
Despite its merits, implementing DevSecOps can introduce friction into the development process. Traditional tools for testing code and assessing application security risk simply weren’t built for the speed that DevOps testing requires.
To navigate these challenges, development teams need to start with automated testing tools, as relying on manual processes can’t possibly keep pace with accelerated development timelines. Automation is considered key to continuous integration of security analysis and threat mitigation of dynamic workflows. As an extension of DevOps principles, DevSecOps automation helps integrate security testing throughout the entire software development process.
This article discusses the basic principles of DevSecOps and how you can enhance automation with Veracode Dynamic Analysis.
DevSecOps refers to the integration of security controls into the DevOps pipeline since the initial stages of the software development life cycle. The model fosters a collaborative culture among developers, operations, and security teams to ensure the delivery of secure software. DevSecOps encourages a "shift-left" approach, introducing security tests and compliance checks earlier in the application lifecycle.
Automation is at the heart of DevSecOps, with continuous monitoring and testing by security tools allowing DevOps teams and security experts to focus on activities that enhance business value. DevSecOps automation simplifies the integration of security approaches into continuous integration and deployment pipelines, reducing the number of errors associated with manual security analysis.
Key Principles for DevSecOps Automation
Some guiding principles for automation in DevSecOps include:
Utilize Infrastructure as Code Frameworks
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) enables the enforcement of cloud workload security by defining an entire security framework, including tools, protocols, and resources as machine-readable configuration files. The growth of SaaS and PaaS platforms over the public cloud has led to the development of production-ready configuration modules that can be deployed using coded manifests.
Programmable infrastructure through code-based configuration files reduces the skill, expertise, and effort that tech companies are required to invest in securing cloud-native applications. IaC platforms also offer enhanced visibility of various hardware and software components within a CI/CD pipeline, simplifying monitoring and management for cloud security.
Leverage Application Security Testing
Application Security Testing (AST) involves repeatable security checks to automate the review and assessment of code security through continuous scanning. Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a mechanism that helps analyze the software source code for security risks and is performed when the program is not running.
Unlike SAST, Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a black-box security testing approach that does not require access to the binary or source code. DAST is a front-end security analysis where security researchers simulate attacks to uncover potential security issues within the application. Through DAST, security teams can find runtime security issues, such as server configuration and authentication flaws, typically visible in a production environment.
Other application security mechanisms used within a development pipeline include Software Composition Analysis (SCA).
Enable Organization-Wide Training on Secure Coding Practices
An effective way to mitigate potential issues in production is to ensure they don’t exist in the code in the first place. To make security a shared responsibility between developers, security professionals, and the operations team, it is important to train every stakeholder on building secure applications.
The security team should educate developers on secure coding practices that help them embrace a security-first approach to their daily tasks. Training should also include establishing communication channels for seamless collaboration between security professionals and developers. Organization-wide coaching also enforces stakeholders’ accountability towards security, driving the crucial behavioral change needed to automate security controls.
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Implement Threat Modeling
When creating the DevSecOps automation platform, security engineers should consider all the weaknesses in the system and how an attacker could exploit them. Threat modeling involves scanning the application through the eyes of a malicious actor.
Continuous threat modeling helps security experts understand the application’s security posture, which helps deploy the right security tooling for DevSecOps automation. Threat modeling acts as a blueprint for setting up a collaborative DevSecOps culture as it helps each team better understand their roles and objectives in maintaining application and infrastructure security.
Define Security Metrics
Security metrics enable key stakeholders of the application development lifecycle, including the operations team, developers, and security experts, to assess the intricacies of running applications in a safe environment. Optimally defined metrics help security engineers fine-tune remediation practices for accurate measurement and mitigation of cyber threats.
Continuous monitoring tools also rely on metric data to track the performance and security of applications in real-time. Security metrics are also commonly used to define Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Service Level Objectives (SLOs) to help measure the performance of various software components of a tech stack.
Some commonly used metrics in DevSecOps automation include:
- Deployment frequency
- Mean time to repair (MTTR)
- Patch cadence
- Vulnerability density
- Intrusion attempts and responses
- Third-party risk
- Security rating
Benefits of Automation in DevSecOps
Implementing automation in DevSecOps pipelines yields several advantages including:
- Allows for faster remediation of potential security issues
- Integrates security earlier in the development process
- Eliminates manual tasks of monitoring and compliance checks, enhancing developer productivity
- Supports transparency and visibility for the entire DevOps pipeline, allowing for easier monitoring and testing
- Enables the development and deployment of applications at a rapid pace without sacrificing security
- Provides consistent, traceable, repeatable, and scalable infrastructure security measures
- Promotes enhanced collaboration between the operations team, DevOps, and security experts
Implement DevSecOps with Veracode
Veracode Dynamic Analysis (DAST) provides vulnerability scanners that establish a robust security posture for web applications and APIs and helps you enhance automation in various ways. Sign up for our 14-day free trial of DAST Essentials to see for yourself how Veracode can help you can initiate application security testing within minutes or explore comprehensive insights into enhancing automation in your DevSecOps program in Veracode's ebook.