DevSecOps Best Practices

5 DevSecOps Best Practices You Must Implement to Succeed

What is DevSecOps?

Traditional software development pipelines postpone security to the very end of the cycle. This was never efficient, because it meant security issues are much harder to discover and remediate. But with the modern, rapid development cycle, it is becoming infeasible. Postponing security to the final stage of the cycle can create a bottleneck that lasts days or even weeks.

Today’s software development pipelines are agile and collaborative. DevOps integrates development and operations into one process, but in a traditional DevOps model, security is still pushed to the end and is often compromised to meet quick deadlines. DevSecOps is changing that.

A DevSecOps framework turns security into a responsibility shared by all teams, during all stages of development. The name DevSecOps reflects the unification of all components—security, development, and operations.

A DevSecOps mindset requires checking for and addressing security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC). To avoid hurting development velocity, teams automate security tasks throughout the DevOps workflow. To ensure efficiency and productivity, teams employ tools that can help continuously integrate security, preferably tools that integrate security tasks sooner in the cycle—a paradigm known as “shift left.”


Related content: Read our guide to shift left security


Adopting DevSecOps is not easy—it requires organizational, cultural, and technological changes. We’ll present best practices that can help you implement DevSecOps in your organization in a seamless and effective manner.


In this article, you will learn about the following DevSecOps best practices:


1. Leverage Automation Whenever Possible

DevOps teams are required to meet fast delivery times. This is why most continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) are designed for speed. To ensure security does not slow down the process, DevSecOps teams need to employ automation.

DevSecOps teams should introduce security tests and controls across the entire development cycle. The majority of these tools should be automated, to prevent security from creating bottlenecks. There is a great variety of test automation tools, each providing unique functionality, such as post-deployment monitoring and source code analysis. At critical steps of the process, teams can add manual approval gates for quick sign-off.


2. Automate Thoughtfully

Automation is used for a reason—to keep pipelines fast and productive. This often means carefully planning automation processes. Here are several best practices to consider:

  • Be selective – Static application security testing (SAST) is not meant for scanning the entire application source code on a daily basis. This will provide too much information and will quickly turn into a time-consuming effort. Instead, scan only for certain changes in the code committed during each day.
  • Be dynamic – Dynamic application security testing (DAST) can help you find vulnerabilities during runtime. This type of automated testing should be used continuously, because it is designed to provide real-time results.
  • Be careful – Use your automated DAST scans to check vulnerabilities lists created by Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) and other databases. Check for common vulnerabilities like SQL injection issues that might have been missed by SAST scans.
  • Be effective – Use smart features that prioritize alerts and prevent alert fatigue. Ideally, the teams should get notified only when a true issue is discovered. Otherwise, productivity might be impacted.


3. Red Teams, Blue Teams, and Bug Bounties

DevSecOps teams should employ proactive approaches that enable a quick and timely discovery of vulnerabilities and security weaknesses. Here are several options:

  • Red teams – Typically an external ad-hoc team of ethical hackers employed to find ways to exploit IT environments and attempt to breach their defenses. The goal is to find security vulnerabilities and potential attack vectors so that the company can mitigate before a real breach occurs.
  • Blue teams – Typically an internal team responsible for incident response or security in general. The blue team needs to defend against the red team and prevent them (and any real threat) from breaching the network.
  • Bug bounty program – Offer rewards to individuals who report bugs or security vulnerabilities in various software products. DevSecOps teams can leverage this information to ensure their systems do not contain high-risk vulnerabilities.


4. Educate Your Developers

Everyone makes mistakes, including developers. Human error is one of the biggest contributors to coding errors. And coding errors are responsible for a large percentage of vulnerabilities in code. Therefore, training developers on secure coding must be a priority for DevSecOps teams.

Many developers are unaware of common software weaknesses. A good place to start learning about security mistakes is the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) list and other lists of common vulnerabilities, like the OWASP Top Ten.

Using coding standards can also educate developers on secure coding best practices. They’ll learn from their mistakes, and by checking their code against a standard, they’ll learn how to avoid security vulnerabilities in the first place.


5. Leverage DevSecOps Tools

DevSecOps teams need to be as quick and efficient as DevOps teams. To ensure security does not slow down the pipeline, DevSecOps teams require the assistance of application security tools. Ideally, these tools should help the team automate as many processes as possible.

Before the team can work on fixing issues, they need to correlate and de-duplicated the information provided by SAST, DAST, and AppSec tools. They need to figure out which issues require immediate attention and which can be deprioritized.

To be efficient, the team needs to create a single set of results that includes actionable insights. Ideally, a DevSecOps team should use tools that prioritize alerts and reduce the amount of false positives.


Learn more in our detailed guide to DevSecOps tools


Enhancing DevSecOps with Calico

With Calico, security and observability are treated as code. This means that security and observability are wired into the application and travel with the application through all stages of the development lifecycle. Integrating this approach into your CI/CD pipeline empowers developers and software engineers to make and implement security decisions, rather than pushing those decisions out to a separate team downstream.

Calico enhances DevSecOps in the following ways:

  • Deployment of new microservices along with the creation of necessary security policies is fully-automated, adding speed and predictability to the process.
  • No central manager or control point is required to create, review, or approve new policies, eliminating a choke point when microservice deployments scale.
  • Using policy tiers, Calico enables site reliability engineers (SREs) and developer teams to easily make self-service security policy changes to a cluster without the risk of overriding an existing policy.


Learn more about Calico Enterprise


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