Top 4 Best Practices to Apply when Adopting DevSecOps

Tactical tips for seamless security integrations in your DevOps pineline.

DevSecOps is short for development, security, and operations. Across every touchpoint of the software development lifecycle, from initial design to software delivery, DevSecOps revolves around automating the integration of security. DevSecOps empowers greater efficiency and shortens development cycles to weeks or even days. By addressing security issues as they arise, developers can resolve them faster, easier, and for less cost.

Today, DevSecOps continues to gain traction and is being integrated into software development processes from day one. The paradox of building secure software while meeting the speed and scale requirements of the market is a challenge for modern IT companies. Therefore, to effectively integrate good cybersecurity services into their DevSecOps pipelines, organisations should first take a step back, and consider the best practices to apply when adopting DevSecOps.

Practice 1: Integrate Automation

When it comes to balancing speed and scale with security integrations, automation is key. Using automated security tools and processes ensures that DevSecOps best practices are being followed. Through automation, tools and processes are used consistently, repeatedly, and reliably. The first step is to identify which cybersecurity services or activities can be fully automated and which require manual intervention. For example, it is possible to automate the communication of feedback to stakeholders, but the security sign-off needs to be done manually.

Next, it is also important to think about the tools and technology used. Does a tool have enough interfaces to allow integration with other subsystems? For instance, to be able to carry out integrated development environment (IDE) scans, a static application security testing (SAST) tool that has support for common IDE software is useful. Last but not least, consider including automated dynamic application security testing (DAST) in your software development lifecycle to detect vulnerabilities in real-time for better cybersecurity services. A survey revealed that out of nearly 2,300 IT professionals, 40% of them ran automated security tests during the entire development process.

Practice 2: Leverage Threat Modelling

By identifying a system's weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and then defining the countermeasures that should be used to prevent or mitigate the effects of threats, threat modelling helps optimise application, system and business process security. As threat modelling has evolved from application design to include operations, it becomes greatly beneficial for DevSecOps at all phases. A threat model allows you to determine what sort of security measures are required for a system or process - anything that is mission-critical, processing sensitive information, or containing valuable data.

Moreover, it aids IT security consultants and managers in understanding the impact of threats, quantifying their severity and implementing controls. Software development and design is most closely associated with threat modelling in terms of software security. A company's security policies, privacy regulations and regulatory requirements, cannot be met if applications and systems are not evaluated and mitigated.

Practice 3: Understanding Open Source Use and Checking Code Dependencies

Enterprises continue to use more open-source software in applications despite growing concerns about the risks involved. Understanding open-source use is key to wider adoption of DevSecOps practices. As developers rarely have time to review open-source libraries or read documentation, automating the management of open-source and third-party components is a fundamental requirement for DevSecOps. Knowing if open-source usage is causing contextual or other vulnerabilities in your code, and what impact these vulnerabilities might have on dependent codes, is essential.

In DevSecOps, code dependency checks are fundamental, and utilities such as the OWASP Dependency-Check can help ensure that your software does not contain codes that have known vulnerabilities. You can use the OWASP utility to determine whether your code and libraries contain any key OWASP vulnerabilities or perhaps even maximise the use of IT security solutions.

Practice 4: Security Education

Adopting DevSecOps may bring with it its own set of challenges, one of which includes the time and investment needed to train development teams about secure coding. Most developers do not realise that they may be coding in an insecure manner. This is because it is rarely taught, and tends not to be a priority for the development team. Ultimately, preventing vulnerabilities is best achieved when it is never coded in to begin with. Therefore, the importance in training developers on security is actually extremely important when it comes to adopting DevSecOps.

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