The DevOps approach uses tools, best practices, and collaboration between development and IT operations to shorten development life cycles and deliver frequent fixes and updates to applications. However, this collaborative effort has neglected application security teams, who still work independently.
There’s a conflict in the aims of DevOps and security because DevOps cares about development speed and deployment efficiency while security teams care about thoroughly testing code for vulnerabilities.
Read on to find out about one possible solution to bridge the security gap—shifting to a SecOps culture. You’ll find out what SecOps is and five benefits to organizations that adopt it.
What is SecOps?
SecOps aims to connect and improve collaboration between security and IT operations teams using tools, automation, goals, and practices in a similar way to how DevOps connects development and operations teams. By unifying security and operations and preventing security from being a siloed department, organizations can improve their defenses against growing levels of application security risks.
SecOps was born from a need to identify and respond to threats faster and properly handle increasing volumes of security issues in applications. Security teams cannot achieve their aims alone in modern DevOps environments, and by working closely with other teams, securing software becomes a collaborative process for which many people take responsibility.
SecOps teams work together to get security up to speed with the pace of modern IT operations. Ops teams focus on shipping code efficiently and swiftly. SecOps is a way of thinking about security as a dynamic, central part of software development and deployment rather than something that is only thought about just before deployment.
At the heart of SecOps is automated security tests and processes across the development lifecycle, increased accountability, more security visibility, and appropriate remediation at every stage.
SecOps Best Practices and Goals
This resource reviews some SecOps best practices in depth. Briefly, some tips and best practices for implementing SecOps include:
- Dedicated SecOps training using either in-house training programs, established security frameworks and resources, or third-party training courses.
- Preventing isolation of application security from any other department by embedding it into the organization’s culture.
- Using the right tools to maintain speed and productivity while also strengthening code security.
The main goal of SecOps is to improve a software development organization’s security posture by reframing application security as a shared responsibility. There are smaller objectives that help achieve the main SecOps goal, and they include:
- Establishing cross-team collaboration to overcome the traditional siloed approach to software security.
- Getting management buy-in, particularly in organizations that still use older development philosophies like the waterfall model.
- Raising awareness and accountability with every employee at every level about the importance of software security considerations and how it’s imperative to consider it at all stages of development.
- Choosing the right security tools that integrate with DevOps tools, that have a high level of automation, and that don’t slow down DevOps development or interfere with productivity.
- Making sure that the extended perimeter of modern IT infrastructure is properly secured by introducing policies and guidelines around open source use and cloud computing services.
- Properly auditing and defining the organization’s application security risk profile so that steps can be taken to mitigate those risks, including open source policies, multi-factor authentication, and other protective measures.
Some of the main types of tools that facilitate a SecOps approach are:
- Security monitoring tools that provide visibility over IT systems and endpoints to help identify external intrusions and internal threats.
- Automated incident response tools that help security teams respond to threats and intrusions swiftly and effectively through automatically quarantining or containing threats.
- Security automation tools that verify the security of code in DevOps environments without the need to run time-consuming manual checks.
Some benefits of implementing a SecOps approach are:
- Reduced security risks—by increasing security accountability and integrating security into operations workflows, organizations are less likely to fall victim to data breaches and other attacks on their software.
- Increased productivity—SecOps increases responsibility for everyone, however, its proper implementation improves productivity through greater collaboration, increased automation, and smoother information flow.
- Higher ROI—the market shortage in cybersecurity skills is becoming increasingly troublesome, and expenses are prohibitive to find the right talent. SecOps reduces the need for an ever-expanding security team by emphasizing automation and shared responsibility.
- Improved incident management and response—with much better communication between different teams, there’ll be less confusion over alerts generated by security tools and systems. The resulting benefit is improved incident management and faster response times to the alerts that matter.
- Fewer compliance issues—Misconfigurations in infrastructure or applications can lead to compliance issues, particularly for organizations in the payment card and healthcare industries. SecOps helps to increase accountability and visibility for compliance violations through the use of policies and tools that can implement policy-based compliance rules.
The Future of SecOps
As cyber attacks continue to target vulnerable applications, organizations know that deploying secure applications into production environments without the bottleneck of traditional security tests and processes is a big dilemma.
SecOps is a philosophy and practice that is achievable at all organizations and it can solve the dilemma of shipping applications and adding new features consistently, securely, and at speed. SecOps breaks down the walls between security and IT operations teams such that security concerns are “baked in” to workflows without reducing productivity.
In most cases, implementing a SecOps approach evolves over time into a DevSecOps umbrella term.