DevSecOps Scanning Challenges & Tips

May 30, 2023

DevSecOps is an organizational pattern that emphasizes security practices from the start of the software development life cycle (SDLC) until its conclusion. It involves embedding security into every stage of the pipeline, from code review and check-in to build, test, deploy and monitor.

Before, security was added to applications later in the software development life cycle (SDLC), after development had been completed. This made it difficult to detect and resolve security issues before they reached production.

1. Time & Resource

DevSecOps requires security tools that facilitate agile development and allow security teams to scan applications as they are written. Modern solutions should prioritize vulnerabilities and reduce false positives, so teams won’t be overwhelmed with alerts they cannot handle or don’t want to respond promptly.

For instance, the OWASP Dependency-Check utility scans open-source components and libraries to detect any key vulnerabilities from an ever-updated OWASP Top Ten vulnerability database. This helps developers avoid using code with known flaws, thus decreasing their exposure to application breaches.

Security teams must not only scan for vulnerabilities, but they must also manage access to sensitive data and systems. Vault provides a solution that enables them to create secrets on-demand for specific systems and automatically remove them once the requesting service no longer requires access.

Vault eliminates the need for manual encryption of data, allowing security teams to focus on other aspects of security operations. Furthermore, Vault can encrypt or decrypt secrets without storing them, allowing security personnel to use them without fear of data leakage risks.

Security and DevOps teams must collaborate in order to create processes for quickly detecting threats, vulnerabilities, and compliance violations throughout the application life cycle. Automating these workflows will accelerate and enhance the efficiency of this security process.

2. Scalability

DevSecOps may seem like a utopia, but it’s essential to remember that transitioning to a security-first development process comes with its own challenges. Security teams have often been held back by an unwillingness to embrace change within their organization. Changing this culture could prove particularly challenging in the long run.

Implementing a dev-first security strategy that integrates with DevOps and agile software development processes can yield impressive results. Comcast, for instance, implemented DevSecOps and experienced 85% fewer production incidents than their legacy teams did.

DevSecOps teams often face challenges that can be easily mitigated with an automated cloud security platform. These platforms continuously scan cloud environments, detect misconfigurations and automatically correct them according to security best practices.

This approach can also assist developers in detecting vulnerabilities and practicing secure coding practices. For instance, integrating IDE plugins for registry image scanning and digital signing into their development environment will enable them to identify vulnerable dependencies and prevent issues from reaching production before they reach production.

Furthermore, developers must make sure a security tool integrates seamlessly into their workflow to maximize adoption. If they must go through too many hoops to start scanning or get results, they’re likely to give up on the tool entirely.

Additionally, development teams are frequently dispersed across multiple time zones. To accommodate these varying schedules, security tools must be able to monitor code at various hours of day or night.

3. Security & Compliance

DevSecOps is a development approach that integrates security with traditional software development processes. It helps improve quality and speed up time-to-market. Furthermore, DevSecOps provides greater automation by eliminating vulnerabilities, increasing code coverage, and minimizing human intervention.

DevOps has been a fantastic tool for improving software delivery, but not without its challenges. Security Compass reports that lack of education/awareness about security and compliance are two of the most frequent obstacles encountered during DevSecOps implementation.

This can be addressed by delegating security and compliance responsibilities to the developer and operations teams, moving security earlier in the SDLC, and using specialized professionals instead of 200:5:1. Furthermore, automated vulnerability scanning should be integrated into CI/CD pipelines along with continuous checks for identifying and fixing security holes.

Likewise, it’s essential to enforce guardrails during the DevSecOps cycle by making all changes auditable and preventing anyone from making production changes alone. Doing this will guarantee that all processes and protocols are followed precisely, improving overall system security posture.

DevSecOps will assist your organization in meeting industry standards and regulatory requirements for healthcare and finance systems, including by implementing best practices to secure sensitive data such as patient PII.

4. Scalability & Reliability

DevSecOps is becoming a more prevalent trend among IT pros as they continue to face an uptick in cyber attacks. While IT pros continue to focus on “shifting security left” into the software development stage of DevOps, site reliability engineers are placing greater emphasis on “shifting right” – automating security monitoring during production and providing feedback based on this data back to developers.

Organizations increasingly turn to DevOps in an effort to deliver applications more rapidly, making security a crucial aspect of the pipeline. According to Chris Romeo – CEO, principal consultant and co-founder of Security Journey – automated security needs to be built-in from day one due to the speed and scale of CI/CD environments.

In addition to integrating security into the pipeline early, teams must consider how their application infrastructure functions and any vulnerable components. For instance, many cloud-native services rely on open source libraries or application components as foundations.

However, while open source components tend to be more secure than commercial alternatives, they’re not always easier to manage or maintain as part of a DevSecOps culture. To effectively manage them, teams will need to invest in various tools that allow them to track and identify open source dependencies across all projects.

Organizations transitioning to DevSecOps will face continuing challenges with security implementation. But there are steps that can be taken to overcome them. The first is making sure the tools introduced are user-friendly and seamlessly integrate into developers’ workflow.

5. Scalability & Flexibility

DevSecOps is an approach to software development that incorporates security into the design phase from the beginning. Studies have demonstrated that this strategy reduces time to market and cost while also providing improved security and quality outcomes.

Developers frequently need to adjust their tool sets as they progress from one stage of the development cycle to the next, and a DevSecOps strategy can make this easy without disrupting their workflows. Jobs are run through common scripts which can easily be altered to accommodate new tools as needed.

This means any modifications made to security tools can be implemented quickly across all applications, helping teams avoid having to make updates in each individual application, which can be tedious and expensive.

Implementing a DevSecOps approach presents challenges due to the delicate balance that needs to be struck between people, processes and technology involved. Therefore, leadership teams should make sure they’re working closely together with developers and security personnel throughout this process.

It’s essential for the security team to have familiarity with both infrastructure and software development environments. Doing so allows them to effectively collaborate with development, allowing your DevSecOps approach to be successful within your organization. It also means being able to freely share security and compliance knowledge between these teams.

6. Cost

By implementing security at the start of development, rather than later in the software development life cycle (SDLC), companies can avoid costly and time-consuming fixes. Furthermore, this process helps guarantee that their systems remain resilient and flexible during digital transformation as threats emerge and changes occur.

One of the key advantages of DevSecOps is that it empowers developers to identify and fix vulnerabilities in their own code, an entirely different approach than traditional processes where a security team would scan and then correct everything before release.

The primary challenge with this task is that it requires a great deal of human involvement, which can bog down an entire development team. Fortunately, there are tools available which automate this process and make tracking who did what much simpler.

Another issue is the prevalence of false positives from security scanners. This can be especially troublesome in DevSecOps environments with numerous releases, so developers need to know how to identify these false positives.

These challenges can be met by standardizing the process and offering portals for developers to run scans on-demand. The aim is to have an accessible process that everyone can use regardless of their time zone, making it simpler for security teams to support and monitor code being reviewed from around the world at various intervals.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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