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How security with DevOps can deliver more secure software?

Experienced software developers have seen many trends come and go, but DevOps has totally changed the game. DevOps is like an entire technology ecosystem which has increased the speed of the development process. And can also be described as a process to build software at a fast pace and secure.

The word DevOps is kind of a connection between development and operations. DevOps actually binds both of these terminologies together in an elegant way.

With DevOps, we no longer wait for builds to be forwarded to production and hoping that they work. Instead, now development and operations are bonded together as one in DevOps. DevOps actually increases the pace of the deployment process, hence the product is delivered to the customer more quickly. And in this fast-paced workflow security and QA must also be facilitated at a more rapid pace than ever before.

People spend months trying to understand how security fits into the world of DevOps, but they hardly find it. Because most the experts out there just simply explain why it is good to have DevOps with security. And nobody explains the actual implementation of DevOps with security. One might need to research extensively and get some DevOps training to completely understand how DevOps and security go hand in hand.

Here we will discuss the actual tools and strategies needed to implement security with DevOps and how they can deliver more secure software.

With the implementation of Agile development process, things in software development are moving quite rapidly. In an Agile development process, the workflow is measured in weeks and even days sometimes, but still at this pace security can be implemented. By facing the fact that DevOps is essential in the software development process we can focus on "Security Automation", which is one of the main goals when implementing DevOps with security.

DevOps actually enhances the workflow in the agile development process and requires fewer people since we focus on security automation. Pipelines are set in DevOps through which the code cycles before any deployment. These pipelines can be broken down into different phases and tools which cater to your individual requirements.

The phases include making builds, testing, and deployment, and the build automation includes the tools through which code is compiled. Tests which are previously written make sure that the build passes all the required functionality without breaking. And finally, if everything passes, the build is moved to destination through deployment. The human part, actually just overlooks this process and point out wherever there are failures in the process.

Continuity in the process

Through Continuous Integration (CI) every single code change is checked with the source code in the main repository, these code changes are divided into small parts. Each small part (also called a 'commit' in GIT) is checked whether it breaks the build or not and only after it passes all the automated tests only then it is possible to merge it with the main source code. Otherwise, you get failure in build and the developer can track down the root cause of failure, fix it and then try the build again.

With continuous integration, the delivery and deployment processes are run continuously and as mentioned before upon each delivery the test cases are run. The deployment is actually dependent on the results of these tests. If all the test cases pass only then automatic deployment occurs otherwise you get the build failed error and no deployment occurs in this case.

This continuous deployment is similar to delivery except that the whole process including testing is automated, and human effort is not really required unless a build fails. So, in a workspace where all these things are automated through DevOps, security should be as well, that's where security in DevOps comes to play and how security with DevOps can deliver more secure software.

Security in DevOps through the code

The two basic approaches that are taken to ensure security in DevOps are;

⦁              Security as code

⦁             Infrastructure as code (IaC)

In Security as the code you provide security through the tools which are implemented in your pipeline, and when the code goes through these pipelines automation occurs, and only the changed part of the code is analyzed by your security methods through these tools rather than the whole code. This helps in pinpointing the actual buggy code which is breaking security.

In IaC the different DevOps tools are used to set up the structure like (Chef, Puppet, etc.) these tools help the system to retain integration and no human effort is needed to identify and fix problems in the system.

Security with and without DevOps

In any system out there initially, there are vulnerabilities or loopholes. Which might be easier to identify with DevOps in place. If your workflow follows DevOps then most of the difficulties that one might have in manually finding these vulnerabilities can be minimized.

If your organization follows the DevOps process than it is essential to embed security in your DevOps process as early as possible. So that the whole development cycle remains intact from the initial stage, and gradually you can add more and more secure methods.

Security in DevOps is called with multiple names like DevSecOps, SecDevOps, and DevOpsSec. Just looking at these different names you understand instantly that there is some confusion going on here. That is because currently there is no standard for security in DevOps.

As different organizations use different security processes and methods in their development cycle, there can never really be one standard that fits all.

DevSecOps is usually the most common phrase heard on social media platforms, when talking about security in DevOps. And although there might be different ways to implement security in DevOps but still, in the end, it depends on your personal preferences and requirements.

The security in DevOps is a process different from the traditional security processes and might have a learning curve, but its good different. And it is way faster than the traditional security processes for waterfall or agile. It is more than just a trend now and slowly becoming a norm in any software development cycle.

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