10 Steps to Optimizing DevOps and Security

Failure to implement sufficient information security measures in today’s world could lead to severe consequences. Information security needs to be an inseparable part of the continuous delivery pipeline, which is why the concept of DevSecOps has become more and more popular.

DevOps may offer a way to remain agile and operate at immense efficiency, but that heightened efficiency should never come at the cost of security. To optimize DevOps and security as an integrated part of the pipeline, here are the 10 steps you can take.

1. Code Securely

The first component of successfully optimizing DevOps and security is implementing secure coding practices. The software itself needs to be resistant to security threats in order for the rest of the pipeline – and the deployment cluster – to be absolutely secure.

There are ways to adopt secure coding as the norm, but the best one is establishing coding standards for all developers in the organization to follow. More importantly, those coding standards need to be enforced as part of the pipeline.

2. Automate Code Reviews

When new lines of codes are pushed to the repository, they need to be reviewed before further processing is done. Doing this step manually could result in bottlenecks and slowdowns, which is why automation is the answer.

Code reviews can be fully automated thanks to the available code analysis tools. The codes will be checked against known vulnerabilities before further action can be taken. This prevents bad code from being committed to the latest build.

3. Get Full Team Buy-In

The two previous steps require one important ingredient: the involvement of everyone in the team. For the code standards and automated code review to remain effective, everyone involved in the development and deployment process must be aware of security.

This is best done by eliminating silos between developers, DevOps specialists, and the security team. Security must no longer be seen as a nuisance, but rather as an essential part of the development process. It may sound simple, but issues have risen from failure to get everyone involved.

4. Manage the Pipeline

Security as code may be a relatively new concept, but the integration of automation tools and best practices make the approach very suitable for boosting security and the agility of DevOps. The pipeline gets divided into several stages, including pre-commit and build.

A successful build never occurs unless new updates pass software component analysis. Not only does the code need to follow strict guidelines, but the packages and modules as units also get tested against known vulnerabilities and security standards.

5. Adopt a Compliance Standard

The real challenge is maintaining a consistent security standard to follow, and the best way to overcome this challenge is by adopting a tried and tested security compliance standard to the pipeline. DevOps relies on repeatable flow to remain agile, so make security a repeatable process.

When you take a closer look at deployment tools such as the AWS CodePipeline, you will see that integrating a tested security standard is easier than you think. Tools like CodePipeline will even test your codes against a larger, more comprehensive repository of vulnerabilities.

6. Bridge the Gap

Staging becomes an important part of the process when you are trying to optimize DevOps and security. The entire process can be made more agile until it reaches the staging process, at which point comprehensive testing is still required.

Staging bridges the gap between the need for fast iterations and the demand for better security. Rather than risking an unsecure deployment to the production environment, you can add an extra layer of security by doing a temporary deployment in a staging environment.

7. Reduce Your Attack Surface

Staging and production environments are the next components to focus on. You want to be more active in reducing your attack surface. This means sticking with cloud security best practices such as being meticulous with access management and making sure that the least required privileges are maintained.

The same is true with other elements such as ingress and port management. Kubernetes and its many tools certainly make maintaining a small attack surface easier. For example, you can use a service mesh for pod-to-pod communications without opening the entire cluster to vulnerabilities.

8. Monitor and Scale

Security is an ongoing process; never a one-time thing. You cannot expect to deploy a secure code in a secure environment and then forget about it. Monitoring is still required. Thankfully, you can now make monitoring an intuitive process and scale it up to a whole new level.

Log and server activity monitoring, for instance, are made easier thanks to automation tools and services like CloudWatch. You can define triggers and have alerts sent to you whenever malicious activities are detected. This allows you to react faster and scale security further.

9. Review and Refine

The one thing to keep in mind about integrating and optimizing security and DevOps: you will experience slow-downs in the beginning. You cannot expect to maintain the same level of agility while making changes to the pipeline. This is where constant evaluation and improvement becomes important.

Your agility level will go up. As security becomes an inseparable part of the process and everyone involved in the development cycle are more aware of security requirements, you will see new iterations clearing security checks faster. That brings us to our last step.

10. Maintain Alert Level

Seeing code passing security checks quickly is great, but you should never let your guard down. Once again, security in DevOps is an ongoing thing. You will find new ways to boost security, streamline the process, and integrate the two better as you go along.

That’s it! implement these steps correctly and you will have a DevOps approach that is entirely secure, all without letting security become a bottleneck in the first place.

Caylent provides a critical DevOps-as-a-Service function to high growth companies looking for expert support with Kubernetes, cloud security, cloud infrastructure, and CI/CD pipelines. Our managed and consulting services are a more cost-effective option than hiring in-house, and we scale as your team and company grow. Check out some of the use cases, learn how we work with clients, and read more about our DevOps-as-a-Service offering.

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