Learn the importance of adding security practices into DevOps life cycles and how to make security stronger.

July 24, 2023

5 Min Read

By Caroline Wong, Chief Strategy Officer, Cobalt

In today's interconnected digital landscape, cyberattacks have become a constant threat to businesses of all sizes. Companies that neglect cybersecurity measures are at risk of becoming front-page news for all the wrong reasons.

To counter these threats effectively, organizations must integrate security processes directly into their development practices. This is where DevSecOps, the fusion of development, operations, and security, plays a crucial role. However, despite its growing prominence, the disparity between security and engineering teams often hinders the adoption of critical DevSecOps practices.

This article explores the importance of incorporating security practices into DevOps life cycles and highlights proactive measures like penetration (pen) testing that can be seamlessly integrated into developers' workflows. Furthermore, it will delve into the collaborative approach that can bridge the gap between security and engineering teams, enabling them to work together more effectively and achieve the highest quality products.

Understanding the Significance of Security in DevOps Life Cycles

You cannot understate the importance of integrating security practices into DevOps life cycles. By embedding security from the early stages of development, organizations can proactively identify and address vulnerabilities before they become exploited.

Traditional security measures often follow a reactive approach, which can be too late and costly. In remote work environments, poor communication and mismatched priorities can cause delays in software development. DevSecOps embraces a proactive mindset by instilling security as a fundamental aspect of the development process. Shifting left and integrating security from the beginning can alleviate pressure and help teams become more efficient in remediating vulnerabilities.

DevSecOps is a cultural mind shift, and this reset is essential in protecting systems in an evolving threat landscape. When teams are feeling overwhelmed with their workloads, vulnerabilities can start to slip through the cracks. By fostering a culture of sharing and collaboration, teams can remediate weaknesses faster, shortening the window for exploitation and creating a more agile team. Exploitable vulnerabilities that are ignored can lead to breaches and ultimately reputational damage affecting the bottom line.

Integrating Proactive Security Measures

Proactive security measures that can be seamlessly integrated into developers' workflows include advanced open source intelligence (OSINT) and pen testing. Open source intelligence refers to collecting, analyzing, and using information from publicly available sources. Pen testing involves simulating real-world attacks to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a system. By using OSINT and conducting regular pen testing, organizations can uncover security flaws and address them promptly. These proactive approaches reduce the likelihood of successful cyberattacks and improve overall system resilience.

Fostering Security and Engineering Team Collaboration

To achieve the highest level of security and product quality, it is essential to foster collaboration between security and engineering teams. Rather than operating in silos, these teams must work hand-in-hand to test faster, remediate risks smarter, and ultimately strengthen security. Traditionally, security and developer teams are siloed, resulting in communication gaps and introducing persistent security vulnerabilities throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC).

There are ways to make collaboration easier and more seamless. First, establishing open lines of communication and building mutual trust is crucial. By fostering a culture of collaboration and shared responsibility, both teams can leverage their expertise to identify vulnerabilities, develop secure coding practices, and implement robust security controls.

Moreover, automation tools can streamline the collaboration process and enhance efficiency. Automated security testing tools can help identify vulnerabilities early, and discovery systems that integrate with bug-tracking tools can get tickets in front of developers who can fix the code right away. This integration ensures that security concerns are addressed promptly without slowing the development process.

Continuous learning and improvement are also key elements in successful collaboration between security and engineering teams. Regular knowledge-sharing sessions, workshops, and training programs can enhance developers' understanding of security principles and practices. Likewise, security teams can gain insights into the development process, enabling them to provide actionable guidance and support. Understanding the objectives, practices, and day-to-day priorities of partner teams can go a long way toward resolving disconnects and friction.

Prioritizing Security Requires a Proactive Approach

In the era of ever-evolving cyber threats, organizations must prioritize security and embrace a proactive approach to protect their assets and reputation. DevSecOps offers a framework that combines development, operations, and security to integrate security activities seamlessly into the development process. By leveraging proactive measures like pen testing and fostering collaboration between security and engineering teams, companies can test faster, remediate risks smarter, and ultimately achieve stronger security.

The path to secure and high-quality products lies in the collaborative efforts of these teams, as they work together to stay one step ahead of cyber threats and protect their organizations from devastating cyberattacks.

About the Author

Caroline Wong is the Chief Strategy Officer at Cobalt. As CSO, Caroline leads the Security, Community, and Pentest Operations teams at Cobalt. She brings a proven background in communications, cybersecurity, and experience delivering global programs to the role. Caroline's close and practical information security knowledge stems from her broad experience as a Cigital consultant, a Symantec product manager, and day-to-day leadership roles at eBay and Zynga. Caroline also hosts the Humans of InfoSec podcast, teaches cybersecurity courses on LinkedIn Learning, and has authored the popular textbook Security Metrics, A Beginner's Guide. In 2022, she released The PtaaS Book, which covers everything you need to know about a modern approach to pen testing. Caroline holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences from UC Berkeley and a certificate in finance and accounting from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

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