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Key Tips to Ensure Speed and Security in the DevOps Age

Author: Ankit Kumar
by Ankit Kumar
Posted: Oct 19, 2019

Because software is now an integral component of any business, irrespective of the size, segment and geography, security and speed both play a very important role in its success story. As the lines of code increase, security is at risk. As project methodologies evolve, security becomes even more important. Gone are those days when security used to be given a though once all the coding and testing is done.

In the evolution of project management practices, earlier, it was the waterfall approach, then came iterative and then came Agile. Today, it is the era of DevOps. With DevOps as a philosophy and today’s face of project execution methodology, security and speed need to work differently. They cannot continue to be treated the way they used to be, in the earlier approaches. Today’s skilled teams require tools and technologies that can empower developers and have a tight security integration into DevOps practices.

What Does DevOps Aim For?

DevOps focusses on rapid delivery of applications, keeping in sync with client feedback, always thinning the gap between the development & operations teams. Quicker delivery cycles permit state-of-the-art solutions by rapidly offering new competences and lessening the time lost in gaining & executing responses. Delivering the maximum level of agility & DevOps practices enhances client satisfaction, the efficacy of the software and in turn, upsurges the ROIs. DevOps is not just about quicker software development and delivery. In fact, it endorses the combined atmosphere where software can be more well-organized, error-free, quicker, and more importantly, user-centric.

Why Do Security and Speed Need to Strike a Balance While Using DevOps?

With the usage of revolutionary technologies like DevOps, it is essential to have a perfect balance between the security and speed aspect of any project. In using modern-day technology, organizations tend to compromise on the security policies and that creates havoc during real-time. Even the speed of the project gets compromised while taking care of other aspects. Here are some of the evident reasons why there is a need to strike a balance in the DevOps environment:

  • Speed often leads to security getting to the side, which can be harmful to the project. In catering to fast delivery, usually, organizations tend to neglect the security aspect and think of it at a later stage, when it is too late
  • Instead of utilizing high-end mechanisms at the end of the project to ensure security, it is better to embed security measures right from start
  • Fast application development may not encourage effective security policies prior to customer interaction
  • In the absence of automation, there could be certain important tasks that may take a backseat or get missed out
  • The faster speed at development could put the software and hardware environment at risk
  • Code keeps getting generated on a regular basis and hence security also needs to maintain the same pace
  • Monitoring security threats and cyberattacks is equally important right from the start of the project
  • Crucial Tips to Ensure Appropriate Security Measures While Implementing DevOps

    Security Must Take an Early Start in the Development Cycle

    DevOps is based on continuous delivery and continuous integration. As in earlier project methodologies, security cannot afford to chip in once the entire design and development are over. It must take an early entry into the entire software development lifecycle. Security must be an integral part of what the development and operations teams are thinking, building and implementing. It must be built incrementally, along with the project phases. It is also essential that it gets easily understood by the developers, testers, designers and operations teams so that it can be integrated into the main system smoothly. DevOps teams should get acquainted to the newest tools and technologies that can help them solve basic security issues all through the project.

    DevOps Teams Need to Have A Security-First Attitude

    Something of prime significance is to encourage the teams to have a security-first mindset. Resources need to understand why security needs to be given importance right from the beginning of the project. In case of having separate security teams, they need to indulge in close association with the developers and operations teams to seamlessly embed security policies in the code itself. Security teams need to be thoroughly updated with the latest technologies ensuring proper synchronization with other lines of code. They also need to be more agile, as the technology-driven world is progressing at a rapid pace and it is a challenge to keep up to it. The entire line of thinking of all – developers, operational groups and security teams should be in sync with the project objective. Only then can there be a speedy as well as secure implementation.

    Involve Automation at an Early Stage

    In balancing between speed and security, at most times, speed takes a higher priority, compromising the security aspect. Developers look to completing their assigned tasks on a superficial level, neglecting security processes. If there is the automation of security policies, projects need not bother about looking at it separately and thereby, both the speed and security can be maintained. Automating security on a continuous scale is required in a DevOps environment since it majorly reduces the risks involved and motivated developers to focus on their work to the finest.

    Build Security Right Within the Project Framework

    As major conglomerates follow, security should be built-in right within the main framework, so that it just cannot be missed. It is a tough task, but worth the trouble. There must be a very close association between the software teams and security stakeholders. It needs a staunch proficiency about security know-how, design aspects and coding standards to build security measures right within the framework. There must be a close collaboration between teams to enable this level of association within the organization.

    Self-service Security Should Be Made Available

    In the DevOps era, there is the automation of several activities – automated CI servers, cloud platforms, container virtualization, etc. In a similar fashion, security should also be made self-serviced, effective and simplistic. It should be available to the teams as and when required, in whatever format they need to. This requires a lot of prior thinking and management, well in advance. There must be automatic involvement of security measures at all points of the software development life cycle.

    Data Encryption Is A Must

    Data encryption is required for accurate security measures. While you encrypt your data, there is a proper usage of computers and algorithms that converts plain text into a muddled code. It needs the help of an encryption key to understand what that muddled up code is. It is almost mandatory that organizations encrypt their respective business data so that in case of any malicious attacks, there is hardly any information that can be made use of.

    Utilizing Infrastructure as a Code

    With the help of latest tools like Chef, Puppet, Ansible etc., infrastructure configuration can be managed with Infrastructure as a code. There are several benefits to it like safeguarding constancy between systems, regulating configurations, lessening configuration drift etc. To make configuration variations repeatable, safe and secure, organizations need to encourage methods like CI / CD, version control, automated testing, code reviews etc.

    Make Small, Incremental Changes to Software

    Now that the entire mode of operation is based on continuous integration and continuous delivery, there is a need to have small chunks of modifications. These smaller chunks help in maintaining and ensuring security features in the changes that are made. Also, checking for security lapses and errors, rectifying it and reloading it becomes far easier than doing it for the entire huge portion.

    Let Speed Be Advantageous to Security Implementation

    DevOps operates at a fast pace. It is a challenge for stakeholders to move at that pace and yet ensure security. Wisdom lies in ensuring security procedures embedded within the software right from the start so that these security policies can act fast whenever any need arises, in the fast-moving development era.

    Relevant Design and Documentation for Security in DevOps

    Documentation is needed, that focusses on all the security related measures that are being taken up by the project. Be it internal, external or third-party, these security policies are tough to master without any documented information. Hence, preparing relevant documents and giving them to the developers right in advance surely helps in the incorporation of accurate security measures. Routine security components should be readily available to developers, with enough knowledge of each one of them.

    Availability of Flexible Infrastructure

    In contrast to static ones, the flexible infrastructure offers many benefits. Of course, there are many guidelines that need to be followed, but for better security implementation. Once the infrastructure is flexible, security measures can easily be matched up to the speed of executing the project and there would be compromised either.

    DevSecOps – Taking DevOps to the Next Level

    Taking DevOps, a level further and treating security as an indispensable ingredient, here comes the cutting-edge DevSecOps – an early introduction of security in the software application life cycle. As the name suggests, security would now be integrated seamlessly into the phases of the lifecycle, right from initiation till the implementation.

    The major focus of DevSecOps is to emphasize that everyone is responsible for security. The way quality has now strengthened its position in the software cycle, right from the start; in a similar way, security, with DevSecOps is inevitable. With the advent of modern-day technologies like the cloud, IoT, AI, AR and many more, gone are the days for the traditional way of operating security. The latest measures look at it from a different perspective.

    With DevSecOps, the developers, testers, security teams, operations teams can together face risks, come up with mitigation strategies, ensure full-proof security with relevant speed of development and execution. They now have a totally broad and changed mindset where security plays a pivotal role.

    Certain key benefits of DevSecOps are:

  • Reduction in misadministration and errors
  • Lesser stoppages or outbreaks
  • Moderates the need for security architects to physically configure security consoles
  • Builds the product by quality, backed by security
  • Helps achieve a common objective with effective planning, design, and release
  • Early identification of potential hazards, design errors, weak coding spots, etc.
  • Assists organizations maintain a competitive edge and dependability in the market
  • Summing It Up

    There is much to be witnessed as DevSecOps takes the DevOps methodology to a totally new level, by integrating the security aspect vividly into the entire process, right from the beginning, to attain the best of results. DevOps have a lot in store and we await the positive consequences of the way DevSecOps becomes the face of the future.

    About the Author

    Ankit is Tech enthusiast and holding a Key position as the Business Development Manager for Spec India. He is well-traveled person, an avid reader and a very good listener.

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    Author: Ankit Kumar

    Ankit Kumar

    Member since: Jul 13, 2018
    Published articles: 3

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