Software organizations are under tremendous pressure to deliver innovative products and ship updates fast. To keep up with the competitive and ever-rapid release schedule, many software teams are adopting the DevOps model for its increased efficiency and agility.
Companies that are required to innovate and stick to tight release timelines are learning that a well-planned DevOps cycle, integrated into the application development process, can help them stay on schedule without compromising quality for slower manual testing and bug fixing that would traditionally come at the end of the process.
Is DevOps’ Need for Speed Leaving Security in the Dust?
While organizations continue to adopt, expand, and perfect their DevOps game, malicious attacks on application layers are on the rise, and it seems like almost every day brings news of yet another data breach in an organization. Enterprises are coming to realize that while DevOps tools and processes are great for staying innovative within tight release timelines, the risks of slack security remain real, immediate, and extremely costly. This puts DevOps outfits under pressure to implement stronger and smarter security measures.
Security: Too Slow to Join the DevOps Squad?
Incorporating security into the DevOps cycle is a relatively new approach, and up until recently not many people thought it was a good fit. Even security experts point out that incorporating security people into the development lifecycle can be challenging.
Security expert Michele Chubirka says in her blog that, “While many security people have a good understanding of how to find application vulnerabilities and exploit them, they often don’t understand how software development teams work, especially in Agile/DevOps organizations. This leads to inefficiencies and a flawed program.”
This led to a situation where the security team was essentially out of the picture, unable to have a real impact on the final product in an efficient manner.
Secure DevOps: Where DevOps and Security Can Play Nice
Over the past few years, more and more enterprises and organizations are making a concerted effort to shift security practices left and incorporate security into the DevOps cycle, ensuring that it doesn’t impede time to market. According to recent DigiCert research, organizations are already invested in incorporating security with DevOps. Research results show that 49% of the organizations surveyed said that they are in the process of integrating security with DevOps, and that another 49% said that they already completed their integration.
Ensuring a Smooth Ride: 3 DevOps Security Barriers & How to Overcome Them
Change is never easy for an organization, and incorporating security into the DevOps cycle is quite a transition on many levels. Teams and experts need to adjust themselves to a new organizational structure, new processes need to be adopted, new skills need to be developed, and new tools need to be integrated. As companies continue to adopt a secure DevOps approach, they should be aware of the common challenges management teams face as they set out on this journey.
Here are a few barriers organizations face on the road to ensuring security throughout an efficient and innovative DevOps cycle:
#1 Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Adopting a secure DevOps approach requires teams and experts that aren’t used to working together to cooperate, creating and maintaining a development lifecycle that delivers quickly and securely.
This requires all players (we’re looking at you developers, operations, and security professionals) to respect the expertise that their counterparts bring to the table, and learn how to work together to ensure the process and end product are up to everyone’s standards.
It’s up to all stakeholders in the organization to ensure this transition succeeds, because when it does, the sum of the DevOps cycle will prove greater than its individual parts.
#2 Security Knowledge is Power
It’s hard to build a strong and secure DevOps outfit without security knowledge.
As organizations are learning that security requires just as much expert manpower as infrastructure and quality, the cyber security skills gap is becoming a real issue. Some experts predict that by 2019, there will be a shortage of 2 million cyber security professionals.
How can you make sure that your DevOps teams are proficient in security?
IBM Security General Manager Marc van Zadelhoff recommends “[Creating security] roles that prioritize skills, knowledge, and willingness to learn over degrees and the career fields that gave people their initial work experience.” Van Zadelhoff says many of IBM’s successful new hires “were curious about security and motivated to learn the skills.”
If organizations innovate their approach to hiring security personnel, they will most probably gain ambitious, motivated professionals that are willing to roll up their sleeves and think out of the box.
#3 Automate Much?
Speaking of thinking outside of the box, the old-school, waterfall security practices typically began very late in the product lifecycle. This approach is at odds with the agile DevOps security process. If organizations really want to embed security throughout their DevOps cycle, application security to ols are required.
Using continuous automation tools throughout integration and deployment will help boost security, quality and even compliance. Organizations need to seriously address the fact that today, most of their code is 3rd party, and insist on good code hygiene from the start of development and throughout the DevOps cycle.
Integrating technologies like Software Composition Analysis tools early into their processes will help DevOps teams to ensure the products that they are delivering are as risk-free as possible.
DevOps Security: Shifting Security Left
Organizations no longer need to choose between security, innovation and speed as the DevOps security approach allows them to have their cake and eat it, too. They just need to remember the basic ingredients of automation, innovation, and cooperation.