The ultimate IT paradox for modern global enterprises is to innovate while staying secure. But how can secure software be developed at speed and scale but securely? The answer is DevSecOps practices.
The best way for businesses to include security in their DevOps pipelines is to use tools and procedures that bring together the teams responsible for application development, IT operations, QA testing, and security under a single DevSecOps umbrella.
This change has challenged formerly compartmentalized organizations to develop ways to cooperate and make frequent yet secure code releases. It also challenges conventional ideas about how, when, and where security measures should be included in the software.
Recently, DevSecOps has witnessed a steady rise in popularity. The trend has heightened the need for security to be integrated into processes to release faster codes while managing vulnerabilities.
In present-day organizations, CISOs (Chief information security officers) are strategizing to implement state-of-the-art DevSecOps methodologies in business processes. It is the responsibility of the CISO to design a strategy that addresses the ever-increasing regulatory complexity, along with the policies, security architecture, procedures, and technologies that assist in reducing cyber threats and securing data. Compliance is essential to the profession, as is knowledge of risk management.
Here are some of the key DevSecOps practices that CISO's are seeking to strengthen their cybersecurity.
It's typical to wonder, "How soon should I add a SAST tool to the process?" while assessing the DevSecOps pipeline. The answer is the earlier, the better. SAST, or "Static Application Security Testing," is the best tool for finding exploitable programming flaws, whether they are deliberate or not. Every step of the DevSecOps process, from development through check-in and release, should include it.
SAST is typically introduced early in development because it can be used even before the system is operational. Because development is a chaotic, creative activity and because people are fallible, good developers know that bugs are an inevitable part of existence.
SAST happens relatively early in the software development life cycle (SDLC) since it may be done without a functioning application and does not involve running any code. It enables developers to swiftly address problems without halting builds or introducing vulnerabilities into the application's final release. Vulnerabilities can be found early in the development process.
SAST tools provide developers with real-time feedback while they code, assisting them in resolving problems before moving on to the next stage of the SDLC. By doing this, security-related concerns aren't treated as an afterthought. Additionally, SAST tools offer graphical depictions of the faults discovered, from source to sink. These make it simpler to navigate the code. Some technologies show the dangerous code and pinpoint the precise position of vulnerabilities.
Without requiring in-depth knowledge of the security domain, tools can also offer detailed advice on how to address problems and the appropriate place in the code to fix them.
While developing software or applications, even the best developers might make mistakes. The secret is to accept reality and be ruthlessly effective at locating and getting rid of bugs, errors, or data breaches. During routine vulnerability checks, large firms have discovered an average of 779,935 flaws in software in just six months.
SAST is an objective technique to identify these problems in the DevSecOps pipeline that CISOs employ before things get out of control.
Several high-profile security lapses occurred in 2021, including those involving Codecov, Kaseya, and, most recently, Apache Log4j. President Biden issued a cybersecurity executive order (EO) outlining recommendations for how federal departments, agencies, and contractors doing business with the government must safeguard their software in response to these kinds of supply chain attacks.
A requirement for SBOMs to guarantee the integrity and safety of software used by the federal government was one of the recommendations.
Software composition analysis (SCA) thoroughly examines the open-source software packages a given application uses. For risk and compliance evaluations, SCA reveals vulnerabilities and licenses in dependencies. It can provide a software bill of materials (SBOM) of all resources to share with internal stakeholders and external clients.
A technique for establishing and administering security rules, criteria, and conditions through code is called "policy-as-code." It is a technique for programmatically enforcing security and risk controls in continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. It codifies policy evaluation, response, and notification guidelines in application security testing, allowing security teams to automate testing workflows.
A programmed, readable file or "policy-as-code" offers prerequisites for evaluating a specific application. These documents are written in a programming language supported by the organization's technologies (like YAML or Python). Security testing can be performed without disrupting ongoing builds thanks to the policies being applied via an API call to a CI pipeline.
Policy-as-code has several benefits, including version control and improved visibility, increased efficiency, faster security testing, and enabling validation.
DAST, commonly referred to as "black box testing," is a methodology that examines a running application's exposed interfaces for faults and vulnerabilities. Black box testing is a term used to describe testing conducted from the outside in. Most people in the application security industry are familiar with the technology and tools since they have been used in the development process for a while.
By supplying the URL, DAST makes it simple to verify flaws and vulnerabilities that are externally available. However, DAST's high reliance on skilled testers and coders makes it challenging to scale, which is a drawback.
Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) methods combine static and dynamic methodologies to test better software or applications. IAST is a cutting-edge tool that is rapidly revolutionizing application security testing. It is superior to DAST and penetration testing for identifying vulnerabilities earlier in the SDLC when fixing them is simpler, faster, and less expensive. But it’s not a complete replacement for DAST.
Identical to DAST, IAST testing occurs in real-time when the application is running in the staging environment. IAST agents are typically placed on application servers, and when a DAST scanner reports a vulnerability, the deployed IAST agent will now deliver the line number of the issue in the source code.
Teams working in security yearn for automation tools. The security solutions Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR), Identity and Access Management (IAM), Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Extended Detection and Response (XDR), and Cloud Detection and Response (CDR) have improved their options in recent years by providing automation in a limited capacity.
If teams are to succeed, given the variety of options available, they must be aware of how SOAR and DevSecOps differ and complement one another. "Technologies that enable businesses to collect inputs monitored by the security operations team" is how Gartner® describes SOAR. To define incident analysis and response processes in a digital workflow format, SOAR tools consume data from SIEM systems.
Even though SOAR includes some workflow automation components, DevSecOps differs from SOAR in that it emphasizes collaboration between the development, security, and operations teams and relies heavily on open-source software. It also employs an agile methodology and can be both proactive and reactive.
Threat modeling is a structured approach. Its goals are to identify security needs, security threats, and potential vulnerabilities, assess the criticality of those threats and rank remedial options.
Threat modeling functions by categorizing the different threat agents that can affect a computer system or application. It assumes the viewpoint of malicious hackers to determine the potential extent of their damage. Organizations thoroughly examine the software architecture, business context, and other artifacts with threat modeling (e.g., functional specifications and user documentation). It offers a deeper comprehension and the identification of critical system components.
STRIDE is the pinnacle of the shift left approach in threat modelling. Koren Kohnfelder and Praerit Garg, two engineers of Microsoft, created STRIDE in the late 1990s. With STRIDE, before any code is developed, it can be used to find and remove potential vulnerabilities.
Building networks, systems, and applications that are safe by design should start with the adoption of threat modeling approaches. In order to ensure a secure application design, a framework for risks called STRIDE can be employed.
There is still limited agreement on the concept of DevSecOps, and many DevSecOps practices and tools are still in the early stages of development. However, you can no longer disregard application security in a world of continuous integration and quick release cycles. If you want to learn more about DevSecOp tools and methodologies, you can check out AppSecEngineer for courses in DevSecOps!
Vishnu Prasad is a DevSecOps Lead at we45. A DevSecOps and Security Automation wizard, he has implemented security in DevOps for numerous Fortune 500 companies. Vishnu has experience in Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery across various verticals, using tools like Jenkins, Selenium, Docker, and other DevOps tools. His role sees him automating SAST, DAST, and SCA security tools at every phase of the build pipeline. He commands knowledge of every major security tool out there, including ZAP, Burp, Findsecbugs, and npm audit, among many others. He's a tireless innovator, having Dockerized his entire security automation process for cross-platform support to build pipelines seamlessly. When AFK, he is either pouring over Investment journals or in the swimming pool.