DevSecOps (short for Development, Security, and IT Operations) extends the principles of DevOps to include secure development practices.
DevOps is a development method designed to create, test, and release software quickly, with high quality, and with the ability to rapidly respond to customer needs. This is achieved through task automation and management tools that streamline development workflows, breaking down silos between development and operations teams.
DevSecOps tools can help an organization take this one step further, improving a DevOps environment by integrating security practices as part of the DevOps pipeline, automating security checks, and enabling faster and easier remediation of security flaws.
Why Are DevSecOps Tools Important?
DevSecOps shifts security processes left, so they start at the very beginning of the development cycle. Security issues are addressed as soon as they arise. As a result, potential cybersecurity threats are addressed before additional dependencies occur. Tools are used to monitor and audit code and software artifacts as they transition through the pipeline, identifying and fixing vulnerabilities faster.
Engineers can proactively address issues before a new version launches to production. This allows organizations to hopefully prevent security incidents and respond faster when they occur. DevSecOps processes also promote compliance, leading to safer applications and improved customer trust.
Many DevSecOps processes rely on standardization to increase efficiency. Standardization lends itself well to automation and can significantly reduce the workload of the test team. Automated tools enable organizations to create triggers in the pipeline that run security assessments, often without the need for human intervention.
4 Essential Tools for DevSecOps Teams
Scanning code for vulnerabilities is the first step in software security. Integrating vulnerability scanning into the CI/CD process is typically where organizations start implementing DevSecOps.
It is important to scan code for vulnerabilities at every major stage of the delivery pipeline, from early development to production deployment. This requires that the people responsible for each stage of the pipeline have the training and tools necessary to detect vulnerabilities in the code.
The three main technologies developers use to identify security vulnerabilities prior to software release are:
- Static Application Security Testing (SAST) – helps find common bugs before compiling a build. Development teams can use multiple SAST tools to support different languages and development platforms.
- Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) – enables developers and testers to inspect running software and identify issues related to configuration, error handling, and vulnerabilities related to application inputs and outputs.
- Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) – combines SAST and DAST technologies to enable both white box and black box testing of a new software version.
Software Composition Analysis (SCA)
Software Configuration Analysis (SCA) involves managing and monitoring the license compliance and security vulnerabilities of open-source components. Knowing which open-source components are used and their dependencies is a primary concern. After identifying the open-source component, the SCA tool provides information about the license and whether the component has any known security vulnerabilities.
Advanced SCA tools provide policy enforcement to prevent download of insecure binaries, integrate with build systems to fail builds when open-source components have issues, and send notifications and alerts.
eXtended Detection and Response (XDR)
Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is a security technology that integrates multiple security systems into one. Organizations are moving from legacy technologies such as endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security and information event management (SIEM) to XDR.
XDR automatically collects and combines information from the entire IT environment (endpoints, servers, email systems, cloud, and application workloads) to detect threats faster and automate investigations. It gives security analysts the full context of a security incident, helping them respond more effectively.
XDR is a new security paradigm that empowers security teams to focus on threats, even if they span multiple silos in the IT environment, rather than monitor specific IT systems. This is related to the broader movement to shift security left. XDR can help developers, security, and operations work together to address all aspects of a complex security threat.
Runtime protection refers to protecting software from threats that can arise when an application is executed. Traditionally runtime security only focused on protecting software in production, but today it is understood that threats can exist even earlier in the pipeline, for example in testing and staging environments. Runtime protection can mitigate threats at deployment time, in cases where the security flaw could not be detected earlier in the delivery process.
At a minimum, teams should ensure they monitor your application for anomalous behavior that could indicate a security incident. Additionally, there must be a runtime process that monitors environment variables or configuration settings that could cause security vulnerabilities and identifies any changes to them. Beyond this, security tools such as runtime application self-protection (RASP) are available, which provide comprehensive protection for applications against a range of threat vectors.
In this article, I explained the importance of DevSecOps tools and introduced four categories of tools that can help your organization make the transition to a secure development lifecycle:
- Vulnerability scanning – automatically checking for and prioritizing security vulnerabilities in devices across the network
- Software Composition Analysis (SCA) – identifying security vulnerabilities and license issues in open-source components
- eXtended Detection and Response (XDR) – detecting threats by automatically combining and analyzing data from multiple layers of the IT environment
- Runtime protection – monitoring and preventing threats affecting running applications
I hope this will help you understand and evaluate the tools needed for your future security initiatives.