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  • According to research by Verizon, almost 58% of companies last year were a victim of a data breach, and out of them, 41% happened because of software vulnerabilities. Because of such violations, organizations can lose millions of dollars and even their market reputation.

    But a lot of modernization has happened in application development methodologies. Today organizations follow DevOps principles and tools to develop an application or software. In the DevOps approach, the complete application is not delivered in one go, it is developed and delivered iteratively. And in some cases, releases also happen daily. But to find security issues in the daily releases is not an easy task. And that is why security is one of the most critical factors in the DevOps process.

    Every team working on the application development, such as development, testing, operations, and production, is responsible for taking necessary security measures to ensure the application does not have any vulnerabilities, leading to a security breach. In this article, I will talk about the DevOps Security best practices to develop and deploy applications securely.

    Implement DevSecOps Model

    DevSecOps is another trending term in the DevOps domain. It is the fundamental security practice in divorce which every IT organization has started applying. As the name suggests, it is the combination of development, security, and operations.

    DevSecOps

    DevSecOps is a methodology of using security tools in the DevOps life cycle. So, from the beginning of application development, security has to be a part of it. Integrating the DevOps process with security helps organizations to build secure applications with no vulnerabilities in them. This methodology also helps in removing the silos between the development operations and security teams in an organization.

    Below are few fundamental practices that you must implement in the DevSecOps model:

    • Use security tools like Snyk, Checkmarx in the development integration pipeline.
    • All the automated tests must be evaluated by security experts.
    • Development and security teams must collaborate to create threat models.
    • The security requirements must have high priority in the product backlog.
    • All the security policies of infrastructure must be reviewed before deployment.

    Review the Code in Smaller Size

    You should review the code in a smaller size. Never review huge code, and you do not review the entire application at one go, that would be a mistake. Review the codes in bits and pieces so that you can review them properly.

    Implement Change Management Process

    You should implement a change management process.

    Now, as and when changes occur in the application that is already in the deployment stage, you do not want developers to keep adding code to it or add or remove features. So, therefore, the only thing that can help you at this stage is to implement the change management process.

    So every change that needs to be made to the application should go through the change management process. Once it is approved, then the developer should be allowed to make a change.

    Keep Evaluating Applications in Production

    Often organizations forget security when an application is live in production.

    You should review the application continuously. You should keep reviewing its code and perform periodic security tests to ensure that no new security loopholes have been introduced.

    Security

    You can leverage continuous security software such as Netsparker, Probely, and Intruder.

    Train the Development Team on Security

    On the security guidelines, you should also train the development team on security best practices.

    So, for instance, if a new developer has joined the team and he or she does not know about SQL injection, you have to ensure that the developer is aware of what SQL injection is, what it does, and what kind of harm it can cause to the application. You may not want to go into the technicality of this. Still, however, you need to ensure that the development team is updated with the new security norms guidelines and best practices at the broad level.

    There are plenty of web security courses to learn.

    Develop Security Processes and Implement

    Security itself cannot run without processes, you need to have specific security processes in your organization and then implement them.

    And after the implementation, there would be possibilities that you would have to revise the processes because certain things did not work as anticipated or the process was too complicated. There could be any reason, so you would have to modify these security processes.

    But whatever is done, you have to ensure that after the implementation, security processes are being monitored and audited.

    Implement and Enforce Security Governance

    Implementing and enforcing governance policies in the organization must be very important if you want to implement DevOps best security practices. You must create these governance policies, which have to be followed by all the teams working on the application development, such as development, security, operations, etc.

    Every employee should understand these policies clearly, so these policies have to be very transparent. You need to monitor that the employees of your organization are adhering to the governance policies.

    Secure Coding Standards

    Developers mainly concentrate on building the application’s functionalities and miss out on the security parameters, as this is not their priority. But with growing cyber threats these days, you need to make sure that your development team is aware of the best security practices while coding for the application.

    They should be aware of the security tools that can help them identify the vulnerabilities in their code while developing it so that the developers can immediately modify the code and fix the vulnerabilities.

    Use DevOps Security Automation Tools

    You should start using security automation tools in the DevOps processes to avoid manual work.

    Bring the automation tools into the picture so that you cannot only do the testing with the automation tools but also build repeatable tests against an application. With automated tools for code analysis, secret management, configuration management, vulnerability management, etc., you will develop secure products with ease.

    Implement Vulnerability Assessment

    You should implement a vulnerability assessment to identify the application’s vulnerabilities and remove them before they are deployed in the production environment.

    Netsparker vulnerability management solution  Image: Netsparker  

    This needs to be done frequently, and whatever security loopholes are found, the development team needs to work on their code to fix them. There are multiple vulnerability scanning and management tools available which you can use to identify the weaknesses of the application.

    Implement Configuration Management

    You should also implement configuration management.

    The change management process, which I covered earlier, is also part of configuration management. So, you need to ensure what configuration you are dealing with, what changes are happening in the application, who is authorizing and approving them. All this will fall under configuration management.

    Implement Least Privilege Model

    In the DevOps security best practices, one of the critical thumb rules is using the least privilege model. Never give more privileges to anyone than required.

    For example, if a developer doesn’t require ROOT or Admin access, you can assign normal user access so they can work on necessary application modules.

    Segregate the DevOps Network

    You should apply network segmentation in the organization.

    The organization’s assets such as applications, servers, storage, etc., should not run on the same network, leading to a single point of failure problem. If a hacker can get inside your organization’s network, the hacker will be able to take control of all the organization’s assets. So for every logical unit, you should have a separate network.

    For example, the development environment and the production environment should run on different networks, isolated from each other.

    You could also leverage Zero-Trust network solutions.

    Use Password Manager

    Don’t store credentials in excel. Instead, use a centralized password manager.

    Under no circumstances, individual passwords should be shared among users. It would be best to store the credentials at a safe and centralized location to which only the necessary team with access to it can make API calls and use those credentials.

    Implement Auditing and Review

    You should also implement auditing and review on a continuous basis. There should be regular audits of the application’s code and the environment of the security processes, and the data that it collates.

    Conclusion

    These are some critical DevOps security best practices that an organization must follow to build secure applications and software. Implementing security practices with the DevOps process is going to save millions for an organization. So, start implementing the security practices mentioned in this article for secure and faster releases of the application.