Almost every day, there is a new tactic or technique discovered that hackers can use to disrupt a company’s systems, obtain critical data and information or steal money. Often attackers look to exploit vulnerabilities in code to carry out their attacks. Ironically, it’s usually a small piece of code that helps a business perform very simple tasks that can become the root of this serious issue (e.g., logging, report service and glue for application). In fact, it only takes one exploitation, vulnerability or human error to cause a data breach that, on average, costs $4.35 million. Some experts projected that by 2025, these breaches could cost a total of $10.5 trillion. Therefore, CEOs and other corporate executives should reflect on these incidents to ask themselves what would happen if someone entered their systems to exploit code and what it could mean for their company.
The Problems That a Business Faces
In traditional development practices, security serves a ‘gating’ function. Security checks are performed prior to releasing an application to production and, if issues are found, security stops rollouts. This can have disastrous ramifications.
The unknown can be frightening, but that’s where DevSecOps can help. DevSecOps incorporates security into every step of the software development life cycle (SDLC) from requirements to architecture and design, coding, testing, release and deployment. By automating and integrating security practices into the software development life cycle, development teams can react to vulnerabilities sooner, automate security checks and proceed into production with a more reliable and secure product.
The benefit is felt when a tactical vulnerability is discovered and the DevSecOps practice is already in place to ensure that it can be remediated with limited impact on the business.
The Business Benefits of DevSecOps and Best Practices
Streamlining the SDLC and including security checks (often automated) in the process early in the development cycle can identify a problem before it can negatively affect the bottom line of the development effort and the business. Having a vulnerability remediated early in the development cycle is an order of magnitude less expensive than one discovered just prior to production.
DevSecOps works best in an organization where Agile practices have been adopted to swiftly enable continuous integration, deployment and scalability. The road to streamlining and automating these practices can be long, but when effectively applied, DevSecOps best practices reduce costs for the company and accelerates time to market.
For DevSecOps to be effective, security must have a seat at the table when requirements are gathered and architectures are planned. This integration of work practices ensures that risks are identified early and can be mitigated well before an application is launched in production.
Using that same connection with operations, security procedures should be established to feed new vulnerability discoveries into the pipeline for remediation. However, implementing DevSecOps isn’t a magic fix and it won’t happen immediately. But why can it be so hard to implement?
Overcoming the Challenges of DevSecOps
There are many difficulties when it comes to implementing DevSecOps. Here are two of them:
1. Cultural Shift:
Leading with a DevSecOps approach requires a huge culture shift within the organization that challenges the way many departments operate today. Many employees might find it difficult to drastically change what they’ve been doing for years. Another roadblock is the belief that better protection slows down processes and restricts innovation. Quick code production is a goal for developers who want to meet the demands of businesses, while on the other hand, security teams are focused on making sure the code is secure.
Thorough training for both security and development experts will help overcome some cultural obstacles but integrating the goals and objectives of both teams will push the adoption of DevSecOps practices. Organizations will begin to see security align to faster time and flexibility of solutions while developers will begin to adopt a security-first mindset.
2. Complex Tool Integrations:
Most DevOps toolchains are produced by different vendors. Teams select source code management, continuous integration/delivery (CI/CD), build tools, binary libraries, code review and problem monitoring solutions based on their unique needs. Adding security tools into that pipeline can create a challenge for ensuring the best results for both teams.
Security analysis in the development pipeline is done with tools that perform software composition analysis (SCA), static application security testing (SAST), and some form of dynamic testing. Integration into the pipeline of these tools is significant and creates difficulties for developers. The developer must know the intent of the scan and what to do with the problems they uncover. It is important that developers have an accurate understanding of where the problem arose and what the issues mean. However, combining and comparing the results and data of many vendors’ resources might be challenging.
The best course of action would be to consolidate your solutions. This will not only make things simpler for the developer and the organization, but it may also reveal threats that the organization wasn’t previously aware of.
Overcoming these obstacles is not an easy task, but it is possible. Once a DevSecOps approach is accepted and fully implemented across your company, you can expect code to be developed with fewer bugs and security risks. The cost of deploying code will also eventually decrease, and at a pace that helps the organization maximize its return on investment. Overall, systems created within this process will be significantly more flexible and capable of adjusting to modern-day threats and change in the midst of a digital transformation.