How To Integrate Security Into the DevOps Toolchain
As the trend is only starting to gain momentum, DevOps organizations must act swiftly to explore DevSecOps opportunities and steer through the cyber world effectively.
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Traditional Security Conundrum in DevOps
DevOps tactics and tools are significantly transforming the way businesses innovate. However, amidst this transformation, IT decision-makers are cognizing that traditional ‘siloed’ security approaches are hampering organizations from realizing the full potential of DevOps. In fact, the conventional security methods and controls are perceived as inhibitors to speed, agility, and scalability offered by DevOps.
Baking Security into DevOps
In response, forward-thinking and fortune 500 companies have started integrating security practices and controls into each phase of the DevOps software development lifecycle, a methodology popularly known as DevSecOps. It integrates security practices and procedures into DevOps tools and underlying policies, making security an integral part of software development. As DevSecOps gathers steam, IT firms are more likely to blend vulnerability assessment, risk modeling, and security automation into DevOps processes and toolchains. As a result, it improves security and compliance maturity levels of the DevOps pipeline and toolchain, while enhancing product quality and delivery. How? DevSecOps enables seamless flow of application changes through DevOps pipelines, bestowing on the developers the authority and autonomy, without axing security or increasing risk.
The foremost value proposition of a DevOps toolchain is speed-to-market. Organizations that fail to embed security into their DevOps toolchain are at the risk of leaving much of its potential on the table. Every software product you develop should be tested, secure, and reliable. Your DevOps team should not be wasting time scuffling with cyber risks, nor should your customers. It's high time to stop the patch management game with security.
As the trend is only starting to gain momentum, DevOps organizations must act swiftly to explore DevSecOps opportunities and steer through the cyber world effectively.
Securing the DevOps Toolchain
DevSecOps is not a security trend by itself. Instead, it is an aspect of the ongoing DevOps revolution. DevSecOps is more of a cultural transformation than a cluster of tools and processes. It enables enterprises leveraging DevOps to think about security differently. Let’s dive deep into the characteristics of DevSecOps and understand how it is different from the way you are approaching security in your DevOps pipeline so far:
The DevSecOps Mindset and Salient Features
Shared Objectives - DevSecOps sets common goals and standards for determining success. It collaborates with security architects and prioritizes tasks on par with the business objectives.
Prioritizing Security - With its consumable, self-service security capabilities, DevSecOps can erect a robust security fence, enabling teams to monitor the DevOps pipeline and provide precise feedback. This makes it possible for teams to identify security vulnerabilities in the software development cycle, significantly axing the need for rework before or after deployment.
Automation - By automating, manual, error-prone, repetitive processes, DevSecOps can orchestrate an integrated process flow, without compromising security and elevating risks. It can integrate preventive operational controls and ongoing audit trails.
Operational Insights and Threat Intelligence - Businesses embedding security into their DevOps toolchain can elicit operational insights and threat intelligence, which enable the teams to drive application development process flow while prioritizing security recommendations. The teams no longer have to depend solely on code scanning, they can now take a more risk-based approach to testing.
Holistic Security - DevSecOps helps in creating an integrated framework for securing both the pipeline and application. This, in turn, helps organizations in building holistic, end-to-end security throughout the production environment.
Proactive Threat Monitoring - DevSecOps promotes automated, continuous testing, which helps teams to identify vulnerabilities before they become business risks.
Security-as-a-Code - As there will be only limited visibility into some aspects of operations security, CIOs handling security audits often assume that security teams have accomplished their tasks accurately. Security-as-a-Code (SaaC) can offer a more effective approach. It is one of the two key elements of DevSecOps. SaaC is referred to as embedding security into DevOps tools and practices, making it an essential component of the toolchains and workflows.
It increases collaboration between development and security teams, eliminating the need for manual security activities, decreasing defect costs, and maintaining consistent quality throughout the pipeline.
Infrastructure-as-a-Code - When security operations comprise human intervention, the process of threat detection and response can take hours or even days. This can be averted by Infrastructure-as-a-Code (IaaC), which is the second key element of DevSecOps. The engineered response capabilities in the IaaC environments can swiftly redirect traffic, alert the security team, and dole out fresh instances, all automatically.
Improved Collaboration - Like DevOps, DevSecOps methodology also promotes seamless communication and collaboration for improved speed to market. Robust feedback loops that offer regular and reliable reports play a crucial role in successful security implementation.
Developers as Security Proponents - The DevSecOps methodology prompts developers to take ownership of security for the code they build. Security teams, who draft security policies and strategies for the entire organization, often train software programmers and architects and equip them with the right tools. A cultural shift to make security as a responsibility of the whole organization is required.
Continuous Monitoring and Auditing - Auditing code is fully automated through scripts, composition analysis, and static and dynamic analysis, among others. In contrast, security codes are reviewed staunchly through manual and automated processes. While alerts and dashboards drive continuous monitoring, automation enables real-time remediation.
Defined Incident Response - DevSecOps clearly defines the security practices and responsibilities that the organization's employees must follow before, during, and after a security incident. This allows the teams to act swiftly, identify the root cause, and implement appropriate response mechanisms and preventive measures.
These DevSecOps features can help organizations enhance overall security posture, reduce compliance issues, and improve productivity. Importantly, they can do away with the impediments the traditional security brings along in high-velocity development environments, thus unleashing DevOps' full potential.
Best Practices for Implementing a Secure DevOps Toolchain
Optimize DevOps performance with the right tools
A good DevOps strategy requires forging a robust pipeline that promotes the culture of security, besides getting buy-in from stakeholders. Automation tools make this possible as they need little-to-no human interference while helping you meet DevOps objectives. These tools also minimize manual errors and ensure that compliance is addressed.
Some of these tools are Team city for continuous delivery, Burp for vulnerability testing, Sonar Qube for static analysis, and Selenium Grid for dynamic analysis, among others. Choose the set of tools that best suits your DevOps needs. However, connecting all these tools together in a secure system is imperative.
Assess manual testing processes
DevOps has outperformed traditional development and deployment pipelines, facilitating frequent features releases and faster iteration times. However, organizations that are relying on DevOps are ought to consider that as they deliver new features to their users at an unprecedented pace, they need to ensure that they aren’t spawning new security vulnerabilities at the same speed. Automate security checks, like code analysis for your own code and third-party packages and scanning of your systems.
Ensure that architectural changes are reviewed and approved meticulously, which requires manual intervention. Simply put, you need to know when to rope in manual security and testing strategies into the process. It is wise to let the whole team know when to do so.
Implement the concept of shift-left security
Developing and delivering secure, vulnerable-free applications is an effort that demands the involvement of everyone, from development to operations to support. The concept of shifting-left security empowers everyone to include security culture from the early stages of planning, to development, and to the deployment of an application. A strong DevSecOps requires shifting security practices to the left of the product development lifecycle and integrating them into each stage of development.
This makes identifying and addressing security issues easier and more cost-effective than the traditional, more reactive security practices. This shift-left approach involves security at the onset of the development process. It empowers the development team with robust tools to find and fix security issues and ensures that only secure commits are ultimately pushed to the code repository.
Leverage automation to monitor compliance, security processes, and policies
When embedding security into the DevOps toolchain, it's imperative to deploy automated mechanisms that will monitor compliance and security processes and policies that have been implemented.
DevOps teams have huge potential, but studies reveal that teams spend over 50% of their time on repetitive tasks that can be automated, such as best practice configuration, monitoring, and system installation. Automation alleviates these tedious, repetitive tasks and the DevOps team can focus on more valuable tasks like root cause analysis, improving systems and processes, and knowledge sharing.
For instance, after an SAP upgrade, the team may often consider the default password, practically putting the system at risk. Leveraging an automated salutation that will alert the DevOps team in real-time on such cases will ax the risk.
Ax the gap between DevOps and security teams
Security teams often don’t understand how the automated software development pipelines work, and why they are paramount for DevOps success. Traditionally, security is considered as an impediment to software development, but in DevSecOps culture the whole team can be an integral component of the automated process. Development and operation teams aspire to achieve speed to market but lack knowledge about the application and network security. As security shifts left of the product development cycle, it can be initially alarming for the DevOps teams to take responsibility for the security of applications.
To achieve seamless collaboration between DevOps and Security, the security teams must gain knowledge about various methods for deploying apps using Docker and Kubernetes. Likewise, DevOps teams must learn basics about network and application security and know-how to provide how to achieve security within a container pipeline process.
To successfully embed security into the DevOps toolchain, the DevOps teams must ensure that the security practices are automated, beginning from the planning stage of the project. Dynamic application security testing, static application security testing, and any other security test in place must be automated.
This can be achieved without any need for additional security specialists. However, the organization must provide appropriate security training for the development and operation team members. Moreover, the responsibility of security must be shared between them. For instance, the developers should be asked to ensure the code security, while the Ops teams members take care of the infrastructure-as-a-code and endpoint protection.
Strive for cyber resilience
In the present fast-paced digital world, software applications must be developed and delivered at speed, but with minimal security vulnerabilities. This can be achieved by leveraging automated binary security. This approach can be applied to the cloud as well as the container orchestration tools. In the present day’s highly interconnected internet world, it is highly likely that networks will be breached. Thus, organizations must deploy tools that scramble binaries, change the code layout, and randomize each function in the build toolchain that can protect your business from cyberattacks.
- Fusing automation and security is the key in realizing cyber resilience as it:
- Promotes proactive security approach instead of reactive remediation after an incident
- Enables early detection and remediation of security issues earlier in the development process, thereby trimming the expenses
- Integrates security across the entire continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline
- Facilitates fast and efficient deliver
- Enables compliance at scale
For instance, organizations can implement Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP). RASP is a security tech that relies on runtime instrumentation to identify and restrict breaches. This method seals the gap left by application and network security, neither of which have adequate abilities to restrict vulnerabilities from shrouding in the review process or prevent new threats.
Security and coding must go hand in hand
The migration to the cloud makes application development and management quite easy and efficient. However, it also brings new security challenges. Traditionally, developers used to develop applications and push them to AppSec teams for testing and clearance, which slowed the deployment process. But in the speed-driven world, it's no longer viable for organizations to wait for AppSec to speed up testing, while not compromising on security. The serverless technologies have transformed AppDev Practices and it is imperative for security teams to know code in order to stay relevant.
Security teams must engage with the application, not avoid it. They should understand how the application works, so they can secure it from risks. Security teams must know the ramification of designs and the choice of programming language. They are ought to work alongside developers to do security code reviews. Based on this information, they should properly configure security tools, prioritize risks based on their severity and location in code.
Simply put, security must go hand in hand with code. Security must become code-centric to make it more effective.
Empower your developers
The cross-team collaborative environment promoted by DevOps methodology requires developers to have adequate and regular system-level trusted access to the corporate core platforms. But the traditional security practices are incompetent for providing the level of access developers need. The avert this, the privileged access management practices must be scalable, lean, and rapid to deploy.
The organization must ensure that developers are empowered with privileged access to critical resources. Lean, zero-trust access management that provides automated role-based access for privileged users in development and production environments is paramount.
Implement security across the CI/CD pipeline
The frequent release of features in DevOps helps products evolve faster. However, it’s imperative that security is enforced on each and every iteration. Initially, it is fine, to begin with just one microservice with a simple process. But, ensure that the APIs of this service are failproof. The API must be designed to perform tasks that it is intended to do, accept only the defined payloads, and respond as per your users' needs while ensuring proper authentication and authorization. This security must be enforced all along the CI/CD pipeline, from static analysis of the API contract to API implementation to runtime protection with API firewall. Then iterate on the next methods for that microservice. Thus, the DevOps toolchain is successfully integrated with security.
Adopt DevSecOps automation and orchestration
Organizations are ought to automate the manual and time-intensive tasks of integrating security tools into the DevOps toolchains. In addition, they must centralize vulnerabilities that are highly likely to be scattered across various interfaces and platforms. However, in a bid to fuse security tools from multiple vendors into a DevSecOps workflow, it is wise to choose tools that already feature an inbuilt security orchestration engine. This helps in ensuring continuous security promise, from detection to tracking to remediation.
Enterprises are advised to leverage DevSecOps automation platforms that facilitate simple and seamless integration with existing and new security tools. This enables them to replace or remove any tool in the future without losing any historical data which is essential to understand how the security posture has evolved.
DevOps Security Tools Category Breakdown
As DevSecOps is just only beginning to gather steam, it does not yet have an established toolset. So, we have compiled some of the increasingly used DevSecOps tools that Fortune 500 companies are using to build security into their development, testing, and deployment processes.
Here are the top categories of DevSecOps tools:
Open-source Vulnerability Scanning Tools
Typically, software projects rely on oodles of external dependencies, many of which are open-source components. These components often contain security vulnerabilities. The identified open-source artifacts are categorized by their version, source, distribution, Common Platform Enumeration (CPE), and other factors. These are collated with the vulnerability databases like NVD, security advisories, and other security thresholds. This comparison helps gain insights into the vulnerability’s severity, the potential impact it poses, and remediation suggestions.
In DevSecOps methodology, a security risk assessment is performed during the planning stage to determine which components are secure and free from any vulnerabilities. Then, vulnerability scanning is performed at various stages of the development and build processes to make sure that no new vulnerabilities are introduced after the initial planning stage.
Benefits offered by vulnerability scanning at various stages in the DevSecOps are:
- Scanning in development: This automatically alerts developers about the security issues in components. So, the Dev team makes swift and informed decisions on addressing these risks.
- Scanning in security testing: If any component has vulnerabilities that outnumber a predefined threshold value, an alert will be raised. These alerts prompt developers to initiate remediation activities or security teams to review and prioritize the vulnerabilities.
- Scanning in production and pre-production: This helps detect and address any new vulnerabilities that enter the application after a security review. They include the risks from artifacts that penetrated the project through means other than the SDLC or CI/CD pipeline, such as zero-day vulnerabilities and malware.
Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
Static application security testing tools enable the Dev team to scan their source code to identify lax and insecure coding lines and any other potential security issues. The detected vulnerabilities come with a severity level, thus allowing developers to prioritize remediation.
Integrating SAST into the SDLC or CI/CD pipeline will allow teams to forge quality gates that define the number of issues or the level of severity that should cause the build to fail or stop the component from being pushed to the next stages of the pipeline. Embedding with an integrated development environment (IDE) allows the development team to identify code faults as they write code, helping them build security from the start.
Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)
Dynamic Application Security Testing tools automatically test running applications, scanning for a wide variety of threats without accessing source code. Typically, these tools perform testing on HTTP and HTML interfaces of a web app.
DAST testing is a black-box testing approach that finds application vulnerabilities from a hacker’s viewpoint by simulating common attack vectors recreating how a malicious actor may identify and exploit vulnerabilities. As DAST tools can be integrated easily with other DevOps tools, it is the best way to gauge application security in testing or staging levels.
Image Scanning Tools
Typically, DevOps teams rely on Docker images and containers to deploy containers. As these container images are commonly pulled from public repositories or any other non-trusted sources, identifying vulnerabilities is a challenge in a DevSecOps environment. Moreover, the container deployment can scale easily and can scale the attack surface as well. Likewise, Docker images and the associated base images often contain software components that may be outmoded, unpatched, and have security vulnerabilities.
Container image scanning tools scrutinize these images to ensure that they have trusted, secure code and artifacts, and are on par with secure configuration best practices. Organizations must ensure that DevSecOps processes involving containers have image scanning and remediation at every stage of the CI/CD pipeline.
Monitoring tools enable DevOps teams to have a holistic view of their applications, deployments, infrastructure, and users. This allows them to gather the required information quickly. Moreover, the auto-scaling feature of these tools enables the organization to scale the application as per the business demands.
Infrastructure Automation Tools
Automation is the soul of DevSecOps, and the modern approaches involve automating infrastructure configuration and security. Infrastructure automation tools automatically identify and ax security vulnerabilities and configuration faults. Some of these tools include event-based automation tools, infrastructure as code (IaC)tools, and cloud configuration management tools like Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP).
Dashboard and Visualization Tools
DevSecOps teams, comprised of developers, operations, and security teams, require tools that facilitate a single dashboard for viewing and sharing security information among themselves. This can be achieved by using dashboard and visualization tools. Moreover, these tools display trends and KPIs in the most meaningful manner. Custom dashboards can collect and correlate all relevant data pertaining to security, log, and other application monitoring stats.
Threat Modeling Tools
By using threat modeling tools, the DevSecOps team can predict, identify, and assess threats across the software development lifecycle. These tools empower teams with data-driven and proactive decision-making to prevent vulnerability exposure. There are a wide variety of threat modeling tools available in the market, like visual dashboards that use data to automatically build threat models.
Alerting tools enable DevSecOps teams to swiftly respond to security incidents. The alerting tool analyzes the threat event and determines whether it is worthy of the team’s attention, before alerting the team. This significantly trims the noise in the system and prevents disruptions to the DevSecOps workflow. Once the team is alerted, they can quickly assess the incident and apply remediations.
Best DevOps Security Tools for an Enterprise CI/CD Pipeline
Alerta - This open-source tool offers a quick visualization of vulnerabilities by consolidating and deduplicating alerts from a variety of sources. It can integrate with Riemann, Nagious, Cloudwatch, and other monitoring or management services for development teams. You can customize Alerta on par with your DevOps needs using an alert API.
GitLab - GitLab is one of the most popular DevSecOps tools available in the market. It enforces DevSecOps architecture into the CI/CD pipeline. GitLab test every piece of code upon commitment and allows development teams to address security vulnerabilities while working in code. It also facilitates a dashboard for all vulnerabilities.
WhiteSource - WhiteSource seamlessly integrates into your build process, build tools, and development environments. Leveraging a constantly updated database of open-source repositories, WhiteSource continuously checks the security and licensing of open-source components. It is designed to remediate open-source vulnerabilities.
Contrast Protect - Contrast Protect is a Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP) tool. It uses the same embedded agent as Contrast Assess. The tool scopes out the production environment to identify any exploits and unknown threats in it. Then it reports the issues to a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) console, firewall, or other security tools.
ElastAlert - ElastAlert is an open-source tool that offers a framework for receiving real-time alerts on security loopholes and other patterns from Elasticsearch data. It compares the Elastic search data with a predefined set of rules. When any match occurs, the tool issues alerts with recommended actions.
CodeAI - CodeAI leverages deep learning technology to automatically identify and remediate security vulnerabilities in source code. In addition to providing a list of security issues, this tool facilitates developers with a list of solutions as well.
Aqua Security - Aqua Security manages security across an entire CI/CD pipeline and runtime environment for end-to-end security. It is suitable for cloud-native applications and containers deployed across all platforms and clouds.
Parasoft Tool Suite - Parasoft provides a wide variety of automated tools for software testing and static analysis. The tool scan performs functional testing, security testing, end-to-end testing, and load and performance testing. For instance, Parasoft C/C++test is used for finding defects early in development, Parasoft Insure++ for identifying erratic programming and memory-access errors, Parasoft Jtest for Java software development testing, and Parasoft dotTEST to complement Visual Studio tools.
Contrast Assess - Contract Assess is an Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) tool that can integrate seamlessly with your apps. It monitors code and notifies you when any security issue is identified. The tool also empowers non-security developers to find and fix vulnerabilities on their own.
Red Hat Ansible Automation - This tool comprises three modules, including Ansible Engine, Ansible Tower, and Red Hat Ansible Network Automation. DevOps teams can use these modules individually or together as agentless IT automation technology. Red Hat Ansible Automation enables you to define a set of security rules to secure your software development projects.
StackStorm - StackStrom is an open-source tool that provides event-driven automation that offers scripted remediations and responses when security loopholes are identified. It also offers continuous deployment and Chat Ops optimization.
Veracode Tool Suite - Veracode provides a host of popular set automated security tools in the DevSecOps ecosystem. Some of the Veracode tools are Developer Sandbox, Software Composition Analysis (SCA), Greenlight, and Static Analysis. Developer Sandbox automatically scans code in a sandbox for vulnerabilities while Greenlight automatically scans your code as it’s written. SCA tool detects vulnerable components and Static Analysis tool finds application flaws.
Grafana - Grafana is an analytics platform. It enables the DevSecOps teams to build custom dashboards that collect and correlate all relevant data to visualize and query security data. This is also an open-source tool.
IriusRisk - IriusRisk automates risk and requirement analysis for both cloud and on-premises environments. It uses a questionnaire-based interface to design threat models and technical security requirements. IriusRisk enables DevSecOps teams to manage the code-building and security-testing phases.
Threat Modeler - Threat Modeler is an automated threat modeling tool that analyzes application data and identifies potential threats using threat intelligence. This tool is offered in both AppSec and cloud editions.
Kibana - Kibana comes in handy if you are using Elasticsearch. It aggregates oodles of log entries into a unified graphical view of operational data, and app monitoring, among others. Kibana is an open-source tool.
BDD-Security - BDD-Security is an open-source framework offered by Continuum Security. This framework allows Dev teams to test functionality as well as non-functional security environments scripted in Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) language for an agile development process. It is designed such that security features do not rely on application-specific navigation logic. So, the same security requirements can be applied more easily to various applications.
Checkmarx CxSAST - This is a SAST tool from the Check Marx Software Exposure Platform. It is capable of scanning unbuild/uncompiled source code across 25 coding and scripting languages. The tool can seamlessly integrate with all Integrated Development Environments(IDEs) and identifies hundreds of security vulnerabilities early in the SDLC. This SAST tool embeds security into all the DevOps phases as well as the Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) tool for identifying security issues in running applications.
OWASP Threat Dragon - Threat Dragon is an open-source, web-based tool. It provides a system diagramming and rules engine for automatic threat modeling and their mitigation. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, this tool seamlessly integrates with other software development lifecycle tools.
Fortify - Fortify offers end-to-end application security that covers the entire software development lifecycle. Fortify on Demand is application security as a service offering provided by Micro Focus that integrates static, dynamic, and mobile app security testing with continuous monitoring for web applications in production.
Chef InSpec - Chef InSpec is an open-source tool that automates security tests at every development stage. This helps ensure compliance and security policy requirements for the traditional servers, containers, and cloud APIs.
Synopsys Suite - Synopsys provides a host of application security testing tools, including Black Duck, Coverity, and Seeker IAST. Black Duck is an SCA tool that detects and manages the security of open-source and third-party code used in applications and containers. Meanwhile, Coverity is a SAST tool that seamlessly integrates into CI/CD pipelines and automates testing. Whereas Seeker IAST detects runtime security risks and offers a wide variety of managed services for application security testing.
Gauntlt - Gauntlt is a popular open-source testing framework that provides easy security testing and communication between development, operations, and security teams. This tool can be easily integrated into your existing tools and processes.
Dome9 Arc - This tool enables DevSecOps teams to fuse security onto the building, deployment, and running stages of public cloud applications. Dome9 Arc offers automated testing and security implementation.
Red Hat Open Shift - This DevSecOps tool offers built-in security for container-based applications. The tool’s security offerings include role-based access controls, security checks throughout the container build process, and Security-Enhanced Linux (SE Linux)-enabled isolation.
RedLock - RedLock, formerly known as Evident.io, enables developers to swiftly identify and address security threats at the development stage. It is used for detecting threats across network architecture, resource configurations, and user activities, especially on Amazon S3 and EBS volumes.
SD Elements - SD Elements is an automation platform. It collects information pertaining to your software, detects threats in it, and provides remediation measures. The tool also emphasizes relevant security controls to help you achieve security and compliance demands.
White Hat Sentinel Application Security Platform - This platform offers application security across the entire SDLC phase. It enables developers to integrate security into their tools and security teams to perform continuous testing to keep apps secure in production.
Easy Ways To Choose DevOps Security Tools
Though the process of adopting a DevSecOps approach throughout the SDLC seems simple, it can be daunting and challenging. Choosing the right set of DevSecOps tools could be a good head start. Staunchly elicit insights about your organization’s systems, networks, processes, and teams. Then, leverage the tools that will help you the most and are a perfect fit.
However, adopting DevSecOps is not just about integrating automated security tools into the CI/CD pipeline. Security expertise is imperative for using these tools effectively. Thus, it is wise to rope in DevOps expertise to achieve true DevSecOps success.
Published at DZone with permission of Vishnu Vasudevan. See the original article here.
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