DevOps Security Best Practices

DevOps Security Best Practices

DevOps Security is an essential aspect of modern software development practices, aiming to integrate security measures into the DevOps pipeline. By implementing security best practices throughout the development lifecycle, organisations can build more secure and resilient applications.


Implement Security as Code: Treat security infrastructure and policies as code by using version control, code review, and automated deployment. This approach ensures consistency and scalability across environments.

Shift Left: Incorporate security early in the software development lifecycle. Identify and address security vulnerabilities during the design and development phases rather than waiting until deployment or post-production.

Continuous Security Testing: Integrate security testing throughout the development pipeline. Automated security scans, static application security testing (SAST), dynamic application security testing (DAST), and interactive application security testing (IAST) can help identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

Vulnerability Management: Establish a process to manage and track vulnerabilities. Regularly scan applications and infrastructure for known vulnerabilities and apply security patches promptly. Utilize vulnerability management tools to automate this process.

Secrets Management: Safely store and manage sensitive information, such as credentials and API keys, using secure vaults or secrets management tools. Avoid hardcoding secrets in source code or configuration files.

Immutable Infrastructure: Employ immutable infrastructure practices by using versioned, immutable images for deployment. This approach ensures consistency and reduces the risk of configuration drift and unauthorised changes.

Least Privilege: Apply the principle of least privilege by providing users and systems with only the necessary permissions to perform their tasks. Limit access to sensitive resources and implement role-based access control (RBAC) to enforce security policies.

Continuous Monitoring and Logging: Implement robust monitoring and logging solutions to detect and respond to security events promptly. Use log aggregation and analysis tools to identify potential security breaches or anomalous behaviour.

Automated Compliance and Auditing: Implement automated compliance checks and audits to ensure adherence to security standards and regulations. Regularly assess and validate security controls to maintain a secure posture.

Education and Collaboration: Foster a culture of security awareness and collaboration among development, operations, and security teams. Provide training to developers and operations personnel on secure coding practices and emerging security threats.

Incident Response Planning: Develop an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a security incident. Regularly test and update the plan to ensure its effectiveness.

Third-Party Risk Management: Evaluate the security posture of third-party vendors and suppliers. Perform due diligence to ensure they follow security best practices and comply with relevant standards. continuous improvement and adaptation to evolving threats. Implementing these DevOps security best practices will help enhance your organization’s security posture and enable the development of more secure and resilient applications.

What Is Zero Trust Security?

Zero Trust Security is an approach to cybersecurity that challenges the traditional perimeter-based security model. In a Zero Trust framework, trust is never automatically granted based on a user’s location or network access. Instead, every user, device, and network resource is treated as untrusted until verified and authorized

  • This model assumes that threats can exist both inside and outside the network perimeter.

  • Zero Trust Security relies on continuous verification and authentication, strict access controls, and fine-grained authorization policies to ensure that only authenticated and authorised entities can access resources.

  • It emphasises the principle of least privilege, granting users access only to the resources they need to perform their tasks.

  • By adopting a Zero Trust Security approach, organisations can enhance their overall security posture by minimising the attack surface, detecting and mitigating potential threats quickly, and protecting critical data and resources more effectively.

Why Security in SDLC?

Security in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is crucial because it allows organisations to build and deliver secure software products and services. By integrating security practices throughout the SDLC, potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses can be identified and addressed early on, reducing the risk of security breaches and protecting sensitive data. Including security from the outset helps in designing and developing software with security in mind, rather than treating it as an afterthought. This proactive approach ensures that security controls, such as access controls, authentication mechanisms, and encryption, are implemented properly. Incorporating security into the SDLC also enables organisations to comply with industry regulations and standards, build trust with customers, and safeguard their reputation. Ultimately, security in the SDLC helps organisations create resilient and robust software solutions that are less susceptible to cyber threats and provide a secure experience for end-users.

Challenges of Implementing DevSecOps

There are many challenges to implementing security into the DevOps workflows. Here are a few of the main ones:

DevOps is a fast-paced game: As DevOps focuses mainly on fast development, deployment, and releases, it becomes challenging for security to get in line with this pace of the fast-moving race.

Siloed team approach: Security teams usually use different toolsets and processes, and they often lack complete SDLC visibility. This consideration of dev and sec as two separate teams becomes challenging.

Scalability and integration: With the invention of containerization and creating virtual VMs, DevOps gives away many new attack surfaces to attackers. Various tools and technologies such as Jenkins, Docker, etc., add different security challenges while scaling and can create layers (literally) of complexity.

Skillset: The scarcity of security principles, proof of concept, and skillset in the DevOps world make hiring true security professionals challenging. Also, enterprises often tend to neglect security teams and not involve them in major decisions, whether it is selecting a new platform or a tool, updating policies, etc., and hence the holistic vision of keeping security at utmost priority gets diluted easily.

Poor tool selections: Selecting inadequate tools and making poor decisions end up becoming liabilities. This can be done by making the security team a part of the design considerations, tools selection, policymaking, compliance, governance, etc.

Security Best Practices in SDLC

Here are some tips for implementing Zero Trust security in your DevOps pipeline:

  1. Implement DevSecOps as a base of your SDLC and make the shift-left approach a must.

  2. Make Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) mandatory whenever working with third-party tools and vendors.

  3. Have regular security training, instil security awareness and ownership across your developer and operations teams.

  4. Have security checkpoints at each stage of your SDLC and validate that only good code and no confidential data or secrets are exposed to the outside world.

  5. Integrate static code analysis into the build process.

  6. Have a threat modelling plan to identify and mitigate the potential security risks involved in the development process.

  7. Make continuous security a forethought. Utilise security and compliance best practices and adopt continuous improvement strategies.

  8. Use security tools that integrate well with your SDLC and easily automate the security and governance with little or no human intervention.

  9. Ensure your tool suite comprises a robust security vulnerability detector and a universal software composition analysis solution.

  10. Have strong security threat response management policies to address any security threats if they occur.

  11. Have access control policies with clear boundaries on access rights, roles, and responsibilities to clear conflict between the teams.

Notable DevSecOps Strategies

DevSecOps helps to address these concerns by integrating security into the development process. It also helps to secure the development environment, which is an important step in protecting against cyber attacks. We have some DevSecOps strategies listed below to tackle and mitigate security issues.

Automated Testing for Security Vulnerabilities

One of the biggest challenges when implementing DevSecOps is integrating a security test phase into the SDLC. For years, code testing has been something that was left behind until the end of the project. It used to be ignored, or, even if automated, it was often done poorly. With DevSecOps, testing needs to be integrated and automated into the SDLC. Code scanners can help with identifying vulnerabilities but lack accuracy, and manual penetration testing is time-consuming and costly. Automated tools can be used to detect vulnerabilities and enforce security standards along with policies. In addition, security tools can be used to identify vulnerabilities in code.

Some DevSecOps tools and practices include:
  • Code-level testing is done by inspecting the code and looking for dangerous packages, insecure configurations, and risky parameters.

  • Code scanners can help find unsafe functions like strcpy or unsecured calls to system commands Configuration management prevents issues that could allow unauthorized users to access sensitive data.

  • Through dynamic application security testing (DAST), potentially risky parameters are being passed to a function, which could be manipulated to cause malicious actions.

DevSecOps and Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

Another significant concept in DevSecOps is employing CI/CD. CI/CD helps development teams automate code commits, build and test the code, and deploy it to the specified environment. In addition, developers can automate testing to find security issues in their application code by integrating application security as part of their production environment pipeline. Therefore, having a robust CI/CD platform is a must and the prerequisite to do DevSecOps because it integrates continuous monitoring into development cycles.

Development Teams Test Hard and Test Smart

Development teams that adopt a “test hard and test smart” approach to software testing prioritize thoroughness and efficiency in their testing efforts. This strategy involves a combination of extensive testing coverage and intelligent test design, aiming to achieve optimal results within limited timeframes.

“Test hard” implies a commitment to comprehensive testing coverage. Development teams strive to test all critical functionalities and edge cases, leaving no stone unturned. This includes performing unit tests, integration tests, system tests, and acceptance tests, among others. By testing rigorously, they ensure that the software behaves as expected under various scenarios and minimises the chances of undetected bugs or vulnerabilities.

However, “test smart” emphasizes efficiency and effectiveness. Testing smartly involves strategically prioritizing tests based on risk assessment and business impact. By focusing on high-risk areas and critical functionalities, development teams can allocate their resources effectively and maximise the impact of their testing efforts. Additionally, test automation is often employed to accelerate the testing process and improve efficiency.

The “test hard and test smart” approach recognizes the importance of both breadth and depth in software testing. It aims to strike a balance between comprehensive testing coverage and optimise resource utilisation. By adopting this approach, development teams can achieve robust test coverage while efficiently managing their testing efforts, leading to higher quality software releases and improved customer satisfaction.

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