Security awareness basics for your DevOps

Request a quote
10 Jun, 2020

Security awareness basics for your DevOps

Organizational security cannot be considered as the responsibility of a single team. Considering the evolving nature of sophisticated threats in cyberspace, an organization is prone to cyber attacks as a whole. In such a scenario, it becomes vital for all employees to understand that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. However, depending upon the type of data involved along with roles and responsibilities, the exact nature of security practices may vary. In this article, our focus will be on your DevOps team.

DevOps stands for Development and Operations. An organization pushes for DevOps practices to combine it’s software development and IT operations processes for reducing the time to market (TTM) for its applications or software. It is clear that the focus remains on faster development, but it does not mean that security considerations could be ignored.

There are often misconceptions that developers do not need to bother about security as it is user-oriented, or the IT operations team is responsible for the security and not the development team. Our experts have observed that in the pursuit of minimizing TTM, organizations often consider security as an after-development activity or they ignore it altogether. On the one hand, the developers should understand that their application will collect personal and confidential information, and hence, principles like privacy by design and privacy by default must be followed. On the other hand, organizations should strive to adopt DevSecOps (Development, Security, and Operations), so that security gets inherently included in the development process. You can check BreachLock’s DevSecOps offerings here.

Figure 1: DevOps Process

Implementing security practices for developers

For ensuring that incorporating security practices during the development becomes a norm, our experts recommend a multi-level approach. The image given below illustrates this approach.

                                     Figure 2: Implementing security practices for developers

Important security considerations for developers

  1. Minimizing the risk: Every time the developers add a new component to an application, there is a possibility of new potential security gaps being introduced. The development team should closely work in coordination with the security team for ensuring that the attackers do not have a possible window of opportunity waiting to be exploited.
  2. Security must be by default: Right from the phase when the development team undertakes requirement analysis for a proposed application along with other concerned teams, they must give due weightage to security aspects before finalizing. The development team should replicate this process in every phase of the development cycle.
  3. Minimum Access Level: A developer shall not have excessive privileges to the source code. Depending on the roles and responsibilities, the developers should have the minimum access level possible.
  4. Error Messages: When an application or software throws an error, it should not disclose information about its architecture. An attacker may intentionally create an error to gather information for reverse-engineering the application. So, the developers should minimize the information displayed in an error message.
  5. Internal Failsafe: For every development process, there should be a failsafe mechanism so that security testing exercises do not disrupt the development process at large.
  6. Application Features: The developers should not incorporate unnecessary features into an application as this will increase the chances of vulnerabilities. They should invest their resources in fulfilling the business requirements with minimum possible features.
  7. Secure Coding and Bugs: An organization should organize training sessions for its developers to get familiar with secure coding practices. Whenever a developer writes a piece of code, secure coding practices should be incorporated before the code goes for integration and testing.

Conclusion

Believing in the myth that the developers should not worry about security considerations is definitely not a good practice in 2020. With continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD) of applications, security gaps are bound to come. With agility in development and deployment, an organization’s development process should be flexible so that security features are swiftly incorporated. To streamline this process with minimum hurdles and negligible effect on TTM, contact our experts today.