Integrating DevSecOps with Your App Development Lifecycle

Guest Contributor: Rilind Elezaj, Director of Digital Marketing, Creative27,

Today, software is at the heart of all essential business processes, hence the need for organizations to build and enhance security into their respective information technology and application development process to avoid compliance violations, data breaches and also to protect the digital transformation initiative.

This concept is particularly important to companies that create and deploy various applications quickly and continuously using DevOps. Most app development teams have adopted DevOps to do away with the lengthy software lifecycles, insecure and buggy code and limited communication.

However, the speed and flexibility that DevOps adds to IT and the app development process and delivery can easily backfire if security becomes an afterthought or when it is not considered at all. Therefore, the security pros, development processes, and tools must be integrated seamlessly into DevOps to come up with DevSecOps.

DevSecOps refers to the process of securing the supply chain and reaching out to the software whether it is being developed internally, by contracted third parties, or in the cloud. The primary objective of DevSecOps is to ensure that you are building secure software infrastructure since almost every business process depends on it.

Integrating DevSecOps ensures that security is seamlessly integrated into the IT fabric and it isn’t looked at as an afterthought during the software development process.

CISO Challenges of Adapting to the Changing Environment

Typically, the CISOs are responsible for application and software security from governance, compliance, and risk perspectives. With the changing environment and the adoption of agile methods of development over the traditional waterfall method, most CISOs are left at an awkward position.

Most of the traditional business functions such as Information Technology (IT) of which CISOs are often aligned have changed over time to keep up with the ever-changing client needs and demands.

Therefore, the big question is; where do the traditional CISO management and long-term software security fit into this complex agile world of constant development, testing, and deployment of software?

Today, the traditional CISO face the enormous challenge of adapting to the ever-changing development environment or risk being rendered jobless since they are unable to assess the security and compliance of the organization’s software.

A CISO can decide to achieve software security measures through people, processes, or technology. Failure to focus on all the three aspects can leave the entire business vulnerable, and that is why any CISO must strive to maintain constant communication with the development team to ensure that all the three elements are at the heart of development.

Some of the ways in which a CISO can enhance effective communication, interaction and drive the culture of DevSecOps in the organization include:

  • Embrace continuous integration and delivery
  • Enable DevOps access and use cloud services
  • Ensure that all the product backlogs are managed by the development team
  • Get involved in the development process to get real-time insight into what is taking place and also offer your suggestion on what you think might be missing from the software security and compliance point of view.

Practices to be Considered for Integrating Security to DevSecOps

If you are already using DevOps, it means that you have already done the hard work of integrating operations into your development process. This provides you with the perfect place to weave security awareness and practices into your development process from the beginning to the end. Here are some of the best practices to be considered while integrating security to DevSecOps:

The DevSecOps culture should start at the top of the organization. The top management within the organization should be willing to dedicate time, money, and other resources to cultivating security awareness in every action that the development team takes.

Every employee should be aware of the catastrophic damage a security breach can inflict on the entire business. The first and most critical practice is to get the organization’s executives on board.

Make sure that you keep all your security processes clear and minimal for smooth implementation. You should work out with your development team on how they will implement minimum levels of ciphers, encryption keys, and password complexity.

The organization should also have a written information security policy and a data incident response plan. All these documents must be kept simple and concise. Always keep in mind that you don’t know anything until you test.

This means that you should conduct penetration testing and thorough code review before you release your software. You can have several members of the development team roll out pen testing and even reward your employees for any legitimate issue that they identify during testing.

Keep your practices simple and always remember the fact that complexity is the number one enemy of security, predictability, reliability, and operational efficiency. Deploy the simplest tools that you can as long as they don’t interfere with the security of your software.

Securing Tips for DevSecOps and the Outcomes

Most of us can agree to the fact that integrating DevSecOps offers an incredible opportunity for better software security. DevOps automation spans the entire software development process, and when done right, DevOps brings a wide range of outcomes to the organization. Here are some securing tips for DevOps and what you should expect as the outcome:

  • Secure from the start. As mentioned earlier, you can only implement DevSecOps if you consider security as an integral component of the development process and not an afterthought. So, make sure that you integrate security from the early stages of DevOps processes and not just as at the very last stage of your development.
  • You should also strive to secure automatically since more and more of your tests and development process are automated. Automating the process also means that you have less risk of introducing flaws to your software due to human errors. Your software tests will become more efficient while your process becomes more consistent and predictable.
  • Get everyone on the same page, and everything will be easy on your part. Integrating software security tools and tests as part of the development process will make information security a vital component of the final product of development and of course, an enabler of the entire process.
  • Lastly, you need to learn how to fix things quickly since the longer you’ll take to fix a security breach, the more losses the organization will incur. Act swiftly whenever a security breach comes up so that you can restore normalcy within the shortest period. This will also allow you to develop, test, and deploy your patch or updates more quickly.