DevSecOps Best Practices

Yash Mestry
Engineering Team
Read Time
11 min read
Published On
August 24, 2022

Integrating security into a pipeline for continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment is known as DevSecOps. Software security can be made more active and incorporated into the development process by embracing DevOps values. This blog post will cover some of the best practices of DevSecOps and their benefits to the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle).

Introduction

The three pillars of DevOps are speed, agility, and collaboration. However, security presents special difficulties for DevOps teams. DevOps and DevSecOps teams need to be aware of several potential security concerns, from securing application development processes to securing production environments. This document will cover the basics of DevOps and DevSecOps and List the challenges and best practices for DevSecOps. This document will cover the topics of DevOps, DevSecOps, and their best practices.

What is DevOps?

The combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools known as DevOps improves an organization's capacity to deliver applications and services at high intensity. Products evolve and improve more quickly than they would in organizations using conventional software development and infrastructure management processes. Organizations can provide better customer service and engage in more profitable market competition thanks to this speed.

Phases of DevOps
source: https://orangematter.solarwinds.com/2022/03/21/what-is-devops

Development and operations teams are no longer "dynamic" under a DevOps approach. There are instances when these two teams are combined into one, where the engineers work across the whole application lifecycle—from development and test to deployment and operations—and acquire a variety of skills that are not specific to any one function.

Quality assurance and security teams may also interact more closely with development and operations throughout the lifecycle of an application under various DevOps models. These teams employ procedures to automate slow and manual tasks from the past. They employ a technological stack and tooling that facilitate the speedy and dependable operation and evolution of applications. The use of these tools also enables engineers to autonomously complete tasks (such as provisioning infrastructure or delivering code) that previously required assistance from other teams, which further boosts a team's pace.

Here are the best practices for DevOps as they will help in improving the model:

What is DevSecOps?

Similar to DevOps, DevSecOps is a technical and organizational paradigm that blends automated IT technologies with project management workflows. Agile development and DevOps workflows are integrated with active security audits and testing by DevSecOps, ensuring that security is embedded into the product rather than added after it has been created.

Phases of DevSecOps
source: https://www.atlassian.com/devops/devops-tools/devsecops-tools

To put DevSecOps into practice, teams should:

  • To reduce vulnerabilities in software code, incorporate security throughout the software development lifecycle.
  • Assure that the developers and operations teams on the DevOps team share responsibility for adhering to security best practices.
  • By incorporating security policies, tools, and processes into the DevOps workflow, automatic security checks can be enabled at every level of software delivery.
  • Every stage of the standard DevOps pipeline, including plan, code, build, test, release, and deploy, should be secured using DevSecOps.

A distinct feature of a DevOps pipeline is continuous. This covers continuous operations, continuous feedback, and continuous delivery/deployment (CI/CD). Each function runs continuously as opposed to being subjected to one-off tests or planned deployments.

Phases of DevSecOps

Plan

  • The planning step of DevSecOps involves cooperation, discussion, evaluation, and a strategy for security analysis and is the least automated phase. Teams should do a security analysis and develop a plan that specifies the locations, procedures, and timing for conducting security testing. IriusRisk, a collaborative tool for threat modeling, is a well-liked planning tool for DevSecOps. Additional technologies include communication and chat platforms like Slack and issue tracking and management solutions like Jira Software.

Code

  • Developers can build better secure code with the aid of code DevSecOps tools. Static code analysis, Code reviews, and pre-commit hooks are crucial code-phase security procedures.
  • Every commit and merge automatically starts a security test or review when security technologies are integrated directly into the developer's existing Git workflow. These technologies support different programming languages and integrated development environments. The more well-known security code tools are Find Security Bugs, GerritPhabricatorSpotBugsPMD, and CheckStyle

Build

  • Once developers contribute code to the source repository, the build step starts. The automated security analysis against the build output artifact is the main emphasis of DevSecOps build tools. Software component analysisstatic application software testing (SAST), and Unit testing are crucial security procedures. Tools can be introduced into an existing CI/CD pipeline to automate these tests.
  • Installing and expanding upon third-party code dependencies, which may come from an unidentified or suspect source, is a common practice for developers. Vulnerabilities and exploits may be contained in external code dependencies unintentionally or maliciously. It is crucial to review and check these dependencies for potential security flaws during the development phase.
  • To perform build phase analysis, some well-known tools to consider using are OWASP Dependency-CheckSonarQubeSourceClearRetire.jsCheckmarx, and Snyk.

Test

  • A build artifact is built and successfully distributed to staging or testing environments before the test phase is initiated. The execution of a thorough test suite requires a lot of time. This phase should fail quickly so that the more expensive test jobs are saved for the end.
  • Dynamic application security testing (DAST) technologies are used throughout the testing process to identify real application flows including user authentication, authorization, SQL injection, and endpoints connected to APIs. The security-focused DAST assesses a program against a list of known, serious problems, such as the OWASP Top 10.
  • Many free and paid testing solutions are available which provide a range of capabilities and support for language ecosystems, such as BDD Automated Security TestsJBroFuzzBoofuzzOWASP ZAPArachi, etc.

Release

  • The application code and executable should have already undergone extensive testing by the time the DevSecOps cycle reaches the release phase. By reviewing environment configuration values, including user access controlnetwork firewall access, and secret data management, the phase focuses on safeguarding the runtime environment architecture.
  • One of the main issues of the release phase is the principle of least privilege (PoLP). PoLP signifies that each user, program, and process only needs the bare minimum of access to carry out its task. To ensure that only the owners have access entails auditing API keys and access tokens. Without this audit, a hacker might discover a key that gives them access to parts of the system they were not supposed to.
  • Since they give insight into the static configuration of dynamic infrastructure, configuration management solutions are a crucial component of security throughout the release phase. Auditing and reviewing the system configuration is then possible. As a result, only commits to a configuration management repository may be used to alter the configuration, which becomes immutable. AnsiblePuppetChefHashiCorp TerraformDocker, and some more well-liked configuration management tools are Ansible and Puppet.
  • The Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks and NIST configuration checklists are only two examples of the security community's best practices for securing your infrastructure.

Deploy

  • It's time to deploy the build artifact to production if the earlier processes go smoothly. The security issues that only affect the live production system should be addressed during the deployment phase. For instance, it is important to carefully examine any configuration variations between the current production environment and the preceding staging and development settings. Validation and review of production TLS and DRM certificates for forthcoming renewal are necessary.
  • Runtime verification technologies like OsqueryFalco, and Tripwire, which pull data from a running system to ascertain whether it operates as predicted, are best used during the deployment process. Organizations can also apply chaos engineering ideas by testing a system to increase their confidence in the system's resilience to turbulence. It is possible to replicate real-world occurrences like hard disk crashes, network connection loss, and server crashes. The Chaos Monkey tool, which applies chaos engineering principles, is well-known for Netflix. Additionally, Netflix makes use of the Security Monkey program, which scans servers for violations or weaknesses in incorrectly configured infrastructure security groups and shuts down any susceptible ones.

Ongoing Security

  • Additional security precautions are necessary when a program has been installed and stabilized in a real-world production environment. Businesses must keep an eye out for assaults and data leaks via automated security checks and security monitoring loops.
  • Inbound security threats are automatically detected and blocked in real-time via runtime application self-protection (RASP). As a reverse proxy, RASP monitors incoming assaults and enables the program to autonomously rearrange itself without user input in response to specified conditions.
  • To uncover exploits or vulnerabilities, a specialized internal or external team can deliberately compromise a system. Offering a bug bounty program that rewards third parties for reporting security exploits and vulnerabilities is another security measure.
  • Analytics is used in security monitoring to instrument and track crucial metrics for security. These technologies, for instance, alert users when requests are made to vulnerable public endpoints like database endpoints or user account access forms. Popular runtime defensive tools include HaloAlert Logic, and Imperva RASP, to name a few

DevSecOps Best Practice

Secure the development of your application.

Having a safe application development process is the first step in securing your DevOps pipeline. This entails making sure that your code repositories are only accessible to authorized developers and that any code modifications are approved by a qualified reviewer before being merged into the main branch. Having developers you can rely on to complete the task correctly and adhere to cybersecurity best practices is also beneficial.

Defend your working environment

Your application will eventually be deployed to and utilized by clients in your production environment. It's crucial to make sure that this environment is as secure as possible as a result. Creating distinct layers in your production environment, each with a different level of access and security constraints is one method to achieve this. In this manner, the other tiers will continue to be secure even if one is hacked.

Use the least-privileged approach.

When allowing access to your DevOps resources, it is generally advisable to adhere to the principle of least privilege. This entails granting users only the rights necessary for them to carry out their tasks and nothing more. Your biggest cybersecurity threat comes from your staff, which is why it is so crucial to follow this advice. This is frequently due to a lack of information or expertise on their part rather than malicious intent, making your company's digital security a constant concern.

Put role-based access restriction to use (RBAC)

According to the roles of users, access to DevOps resources can be restricted using a type of access control called role-based access control (RBAC). A "developer" job, for instance, could have access to your code repositories, and a "testing" role, in your staging environment. You can lessen the harm that an insider threat may do by utilizing RBAC.

Secure sensitive information

Any information that could be used to identify or hurt a person should be encrypted both in storage and transmission. Information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and medical records are included in this. Using pretty good privacy (PGP) encryption is one method for encrypting data. To secure your data, PGP combines symmetric and public key cryptography.

Put two-factor authentication to use.

An extra layer of security that can be utilized to safeguard access to DevOps resources is two-factor authentication (2FA). With 2FA, a user must present two different forms of identification to prove their identity. The first component is something they are aware of, like a password, and the second component is something they possess, like a phone. Even if a user's password is hacked, implementing 2FA can help to prevent unauthorized access to resources and systems.

Utilize techniques for managing secrets

Any sensitive information that needs to be kept private, such as a password or an API key, is considered a secret. The technique of safely preserving and managing secrets is known as secrets management. There are numerous solutions for managing secrets, like Hashicorp's Vault and AWS Secrets Manager. These technologies offer access control and auditing features as well as the ability to handle secrets centrally.

Educate your staff about security issues

Educating your staff about security is one of the best methods to enhance DevOps security. This can assist them in seeing the value of the security as well as in identifying and reducing threats. A variety of security awareness training courses are offered, including the SANS Security Awareness Program. As an alternative, you might design your own application that is suited to the particular requirements of your company.

Opt for a web application firewall (WAF)

To defend web applications from attack, a web application firewall (WAF) is a sort of firewall. When a request contains harmful payloads, WAFs evaluate the incoming traffic and reject it. Different WAFs, both open source and for-profit, are readily available. NGINX Plus, F5's BIG-IP ASM, and Apache's mod_security are a few examples of WAFs.

Conduct routine security audits

DevOps security includes regular security audits, which are crucial. They may assist you in finding systemic flaws and ensuring that your security controls are working properly. Security audits come in a variety of forms, including code reviews and penetration testing. It's crucial to select the appropriate audit type for your requirements. You can speak with a security specialist if you're unsure.

Utilize systems for intrusion detection and prevention (IDPS)

Systems for intrusion detection and prevention (IDPS) are created to find and stop hostile activities. Resources that are both physical and virtual can be protected with IDPSes. Both open source and for-profit IDPSes come in a variety of varieties. IDPS’ include things like Snort, Suricata, and Bro. A security information and event management (SIEM) system frequently deploy them.

Put a disaster recovery plan into action.

An outline of the actions to be performed in the event of a disaster, security breach, or other occurrence is contained in a disaster recovery plan (DRP). Information like key personnel's contact information and instructions for restoring systems should be included in the DRP. A DRP can help to lessen the effects of a disaster and guarantee that your company can recover quickly.

Utilize logging and monitoring software

Tools for logging and monitoring activity on your system can be used to gather information. The detection and investigation of security incidents can be done using this data. Numerous logging and monitoring solutions, both free source and paid for, are readily available. Tools for logging and monitoring include Splunk, ELK Stack, and Nagios, to name a few.

Carry out periodic penetration tests

A form of security test called penetration testing (also known as pentesting) imitates an attack on your system. Finding weaknesses that an attacker could exploit is the aim of pentesting. Testing for penetration might be done inside or outside. External penetration tests are frequently carried out by independent security companies. You can use a tool like Metasploit or your team to carry out internal penetration tests.

Implement access control lists

One form of security mechanism that can be used to limit access to DevOps resources is access control lists (ACLs). ACLs function by defining a set of guidelines that specify who is permitted access to what.

The implementation of a least-privilege policy using ACLs can aid in limiting unwanted access to sensitive data.

As more development teams improve their procedures and use new tools, security must be taken seriously. Every time new code is deployed, DevSecOps should be continuously applied. It is a constant procedure. Modern software teams must evolve over time because attacks and exploits are both changing all the time.

When it comes to DevOps and DevSecOps, there are a lot of hazards, but there are also a lot of best practices that may be applied to enhance DevSecOps. You can aid in defending your system from assault by putting these recommended shown above practices into effect.