Table of Contents Hide
- DevSecOps – Best Practices for Engineers
- Top 10 Best Practices for Engineers in DevSecOps
- Secure your application development process
- Protect your production environment
- Implement least privilege principles
- Use role-based access control (RBAC)
- Encrypt sensitive data
- Vulnerability assessment and management
- Risk assessment
- Threat modeling
- Secrets management – Best Practices for Engineers
- Security awareness training
- Additional Best Practices for Engineers in DevSecOps
- Conclusion on Best Practices for Engineers
The top 10 best practices for Engineers in the DevSecOps space include securing your application development process, protecting your production environment, implementing least privilege principles, using role-based access control (RBAC), and encrypting sensitive data. It also includes vulnerability assessment and management, risk assessment, threat modeling, secrets management, and security awareness training.
Security is important in DevOps because it helps to protect organizations from a variety of threats, including data breaches, malware attacks, denial-of-service attacks, and ransomware attacks. This is why staying on top the best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps cannot be overemphasized.
DevOps practices such as continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) can help organizations develop and deploy software more quickly and efficiently. However, adopting these practices can also heighten the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities into production. This is because CI/CD pipelines often automate the building, testing, and deployment process, making it challenging to identify and address security vulnerabilities before releasing them to production
Integrating security into the DevOps workflow enables organizations to reduce the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities into production and improve their overall security posture. This article will help and provide you with the best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps. Let’s get right into it.
DevSecOps – Best Practices for Engineers
Many people think of DevOps engineers as system administrators who are also good at coding. However, this is a narrow view of the role. DevOps engineers are responsible for the entire software development lifecycle, from development to deployment to operations. They collaborate closely with developers, QA engineers, and IT operations to ensure they deliver software quickly and reliably while maintaining high-security standards. In reality, DevOps engineers are more like “glue people” who bring different teams and disciplines together.
As for DevSecOps, it is mainly the practice of integrating security into the software development lifecycle. This means that we consider security at every stage of the development process, from gathering requirements to designing, developing, testing, and deploying. DevSecOps Engineers are important because they help reduce the risk of introducing security vulnerabilities into production. Additionally, it ensures that we implement security controls correctly and effectively.
Putting them together, we have DevSecOps. Now, DevSecOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev), IT operations (Ops), and security (Sec). The goal of DevSecOps is to deliver software quickly and reliably while maintaining high-security standards. It is important because it helps to break down the silos that often exist between development, operations, and security teams. This allows for better collaboration and communication, which can lead to more secure software.
Before we talk about the best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps, it is important to understand its importance. DevSecOps is equally important because it helps organizations to:
- Minimize the introduction of security vulnerabilities into production
- Improve compliance with industry regulations and standards
- Increase customer trust and confidence
- Reduce costs associated with security breaches and remediation
- Faster time to market for new features and products
Best Practices for Engineers – Implementing DevSecOps in your organization
Before you start implementing DevSecOps and the best practices for Engineers in your organization. There are a few things you need to know:
- DevSecOps is a cultural change, not just a technical one. It requires a shift in mindset from siloed teams to cross-functional teams that work together to deliver secure software.
- DevSecOps is an ongoing process. It’s not something you can implement once and then forget about. You need to continuously assess and improve your DevSecOps practices to keep up with the evolving threat landscape.
- DevSecOps requires investment. You need to invest in the right tools, technologies, and training for your team.
A simple example of how DevSecOps can be implemented
To understand the importance of the best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps, let us look at a use case. A developer writes some code for a new feature. An automated static analysis tool scans the code for security vulnerabilities. If the tool detects any vulnerabilities, it alerts the developer, who then addresses and fixes them. The development team subsequently tests the code using various methods, including security testing. If the code successfully passes all tests, the team deploys it to production.
This is just one example of how DevSecOps can be implemented. There are many different ways to do it, and the best approach will vary depending on your organization’s specific needs.
Like any other plan you try to kick-start, there are challenges. Some of the most common challenges that organizations face when implementing DevSecOps include:
- Siloed teams. DevOps requires teams to break down silos and work together effectively. This can be a challenge, especially in large organizations.
- Cultural resistance. Some people may resist change, especially if they are accustomed to working in a siloed environment. It’s important to communicate the benefits of DevSecOps and to get buy-in from all stakeholders.
- Lack of skills and knowledge. DevSecOps requires a variety of skills and knowledge, including software development, IT operations, and security. It’s important to train your team on DevSecOps practices and to provide them with the tools and resources they need to be successful.
- Budget constraints. Implementing DevSecOps can require an initial investment in tools, technologies, and training. However, the long-term benefits of DevSecOps typically outweigh the costs.
Some tips for overcoming these challenges
- Start small. Don’t try to implement DevSecOps across your entire organization overnight. Start by piloting DevSecOps in a small team or project. Once you’ve proven the value of DevSecOps, you can scale it out to other teams and projects.
- Get buy-in from leadership. It’s important to get buy-in from senior leadership for DevSecOps to be successful. Communicate the benefits of DevSecOps and how it will help the organization achieve its goals.
- Invest in training. Provide your team with the training they need to be successful with DevSecOps. This may include training on software development, IT operations, security, and DevSecOps practices.
- Use the right tools and technologies. There are a variety of tools and technologies available to help you implement DevSecOps. Choose tools and technologies that are right for your organization’s needs and budget.
- Measure and improve. It’s important to measure the effectiveness of your DevSecOps practices and to make improvements as needed. You can do this by tracking metrics such as the number of security vulnerabilities found and fixed, the time it takes to deploy new features, and the number of security incidents.
Top 10 Best Practices for Engineers in DevSecOps
Some of the best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps include;
Secure your application development process
The application development process is a critical point of attack for attackers. By securing your application development process, you can reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities being introduced into production. Here are some best practices for engineers:
Use a secure code repository
A secure code repository is a central location where developers can store and manage code. A secure code repository should include features such as:
- Access control: Only authorized users should be able to access the code repository.
- Version control: The code repository should track all changes to the code so that you can easily roll back to a previous version if necessary.
- Auditing: The code repository should audit all activity, so that you can track who made what changes and when.
Some popular secure code repositories include GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.
Implement code reviews
Code reviews are a process where developers review each other’s code to identify potential security vulnerabilities. This remains one of the most important best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps and the importance is self-explanatory. It should be conducted at regular intervals, such as before a new feature is released to production.
Code reviews can be conducted manually or using automated tools. Automated tools can help to identify common security vulnerabilities, but they cannot replace manual code reviews.
Automate security testing
Security testing should be an integral part of the software development lifecycle. Security testing can be automated using a variety of tools. Automated security testing tools can help to identify a wide range of security vulnerabilities, including known vulnerabilities, zero-day vulnerabilities, and custom vulnerabilities.
Some popular automated security testing tools include SAST (static application security testing) tools, DAST (dynamic application security testing) tools, and IAST (interactive application security testing) tools.
In addition to the above best practices for engineers, you should also consider the following:
- Use a secure development framework
- Educate your developers on security best practices
- Implement a security incident response plan
Protect your production environment
Here are some additional best practices for engineers to protect your production environment:
- Use a secure infrastructure: This includes using secure hardware, software, and networking components. It also means following best practices for engineers when configuring and managing your infrastructure.
- Implement least privilege access: This means that users should only have the access they need to perform their job duties. This can be done using role-based access control (RBAC) and other access control mechanisms.
- Monitor your environment for suspicious activity using security tools such as security information and event management (SIEM) systems and intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS).
- Keep your software up to date: This includes installing the latest security patches for your operating systems, applications, and middleware.
- Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication: This will help to protect your accounts from being compromised.
- Have a security incident response plan in place: This plan should outline the steps you will take in the event of a security incident.
Implement least privilege principles
The principle of least privilege states that users should only have the access they need to perform their job duties. This is a fundamental security principle that can help to reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents. Making it top on the list of best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps.
There are several ways to implement least privilege principles. One common approach is to use role-based access control (RBAC). RBAC allows you to assign users to roles based on their job duties. Each role is then granted specific permissions. For example, a developer might have permission to access code repositories and development tools but not permission to access production servers.
Another way to implement least privilege principles is to use access control lists (ACLs). ACLs allow you to grant or deny users access to specific resources, such as files, directories, and network ports. For example, you could use an ACL to grant a user permission to read a file but not to write to it.
Use role-based access control (RBAC)
RBAC is a system for controlling user access to resources. It works by assigning users to roles and then granting permissions to those roles. This allows you to give users only the access they need to perform their job duties.
To implement RBAC, you need to:
- Identify the different roles in your organization.
- Determine the permissions that each role needs.
- Assign users to roles.
Once you have implemented RBAC, you can easily manage user access by modifying role permissions.
Monitoring user activity is important to ensure that users access only the resources they are authorized to access.
Use role-based access control (RBAC)
To use role-based access control (RBAC) to assign users to roles based on their job duties and restrict access to sensitive resources based on roles, you can follow these steps:
- Identify the different roles in your organization. What are the different job duties that need to be performed?
- Determine the permissions that each role needs. What resources does each role need to access to perform its job duties?
- Assign users to roles. Based on their job duties, assign each user to the appropriate role(s).
- Restrict access to sensitive resources based on roles. Only grant roles access to the sensitive resources that they need to perform their job duties.
You can use RBAC to restrict access to sensitive resources, such as:
- Network ports
RBAC can be implemented using a variety of tools and technologies, such as:
- Operating systems
- Cloud platforms
- Identity and access management (IAM) systems
Encrypt sensitive data
Encryption is the process of converting data into a format that cannot be read without the appropriate decryption key. Encryption is an important security measure that can help protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, even if it is stolen or compromised.
Encrypt data at rest and in transit
Devices, such as hard drives or SSDs, store data at rest. Networks transmit data in transit. It is important to encrypt data at rest and in transit to protect it from unauthorized access.
Use strong encryption keys
Encryption keys are used to encrypt and decrypt data. It is important to use strong encryption keys that are difficult to crack. Strong encryption keys should be at least 256 bits long.
Manage encryption keys securely
It is important to manage encryption keys securely to prevent them from being compromised. Encryption keys should be securely stored in a safe location and regularly backed up.
How to encrypt data
There are several different ways to encrypt data. Some common methods include:
- File-level encryption: This type of encryption encrypts individual files.
- Disk encryption: This type of encryption encrypts the entire contents of a disk.
- Network encryption: This type of encryption encrypts data that is being transmitted over a network.
Tools for encrypting data
There are a number of different tools available for encrypting data. Some common tools include:
- Operating systems: Many operating systems include built-in encryption tools. For example, Windows BitLocker and macOS FileVault are both built-in encryption tools.
- Cloud platforms: Cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform also offer encryption features.
- Third-party encryption tools: There are also a number of third-party encryption tools available, such as VeraCrypt and GPG.
Vulnerability assessment and management
Vulnerability assessment and management is a process of identifying, assessing, and remediating security vulnerabilities in systems and applications. This is an important security practice because it can help organizations to reduce the risk of security incidents.
Regularly scan your systems and applications for vulnerabilities
The first step in vulnerability assessment and management is to regularly scan your systems and applications for vulnerabilities. This can be done using a variety of tools, such as vulnerability scanners and penetration testing tools.
Automated tools, known as vulnerability scanners, scan systems and applications for known vulnerabilities. Manual tools, specifically penetration testing tools, simulate attacks on systems and applications to identify potential vulnerabilities.
Fix vulnerabilities promptly
Once you have identified vulnerabilities in your systems and applications, it is important to fix them promptly. This can be done by installing security patches, updating software, or changing security configurations.
Monitor for new vulnerabilities
New vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, so it is important to monitor for new vulnerabilities and fix them promptly. This can be done by subscribing to security advisories and regularly scanning your systems and applications for vulnerabilities.
Risk assessment is the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating the risks to your systems and applications. This is an important security practice because it can help you prioritize your security efforts and make informed decisions about how to allocate your resources.
Identify the risks to your systems and applications
The first step in risk assessment is to identify the risks to your systems and applications. This can be done by brainstorming with your team, conducting threat modeling exercises, and reviewing security advisories.
Once you have identified the risks, you need to assess the likelihood and impact of each risk. The likelihood of a risk is the probability that the risk will occur. The impact of a risk is the severity of the consequences if the risk occurs.
Implement mitigation strategies to reduce your risk
Once you have assessed the likelihood and impact of each risk, you need to implement mitigation strategies to reduce your risk. Mitigation strategies can include:
- Implementing security controls, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and access control lists.
- Updating software and security patches.
- Training employees on security best practices.
- Conducting regular security audits.
Threat modeling is the process of identifying, analyzing, and mitigating potential threats to your systems and applications. This is an important security practice because it can help you design your systems and applications more securely.
Identify the potential threats to your systems and applications
The first step in threat modeling is to identify the potential threats to your systems and applications. This can be done by brainstorming with your team, conducting risk assessments, and reviewing security advisories.
Some common threats to systems and applications include:
- Malware attacks
- SQL injection attacks
- Cross-site scripting attacks
- Denial-of-service attacks
- Man-in-the-middle attacks
Analyze how attackers might exploit these threats
Once you have identified the potential threats to your systems and applications, you need to analyze how attackers might exploit these threats. This can be done by thinking like an attacker and trying to find ways to exploit the vulnerabilities in your systems and applications.
Design your systems and applications to mitigate these threats
Once you have analyzed how attackers might exploit the threats to your systems and applications, you can design your systems and applications to mitigate these threats. This can be done by implementing security controls, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and access control lists.
You can also mitigate threats by following secure coding practices and regularly updating your software and security patches.
Secrets management – Best Practices for Engineers
Secrets management is the process of securely generating, storing, and rotating secrets. They are sensitive data, such as passwords, API keys, and encryption keys, that need to be protected from unauthorized access.
Securely generate secrets
Secrets should be generated securely using a strong password generator. Secrets should be long and complex, and they should be unique to each application or service.
Store secrets securely
Secrets should be stored securely in a secret management tool. A secret management tool is a software application that helps organizations securely store and manage their secrets.
Secret management tools typically use encryption to protect secrets at rest and in transit. They also provide features such as access control and auditing to help organizations manage who can access and use secrets.
Rotate secrets regularly
Secrets should be rotated regularly to reduce the risk of them being compromised. Rotating secrets means changing the secrets to new, unique values.
“The frequency of rotating secrets depends on the sensitivity of the secrets and the risk of compromising them. For example, one should rotate passwords more frequently than encryption keys.
Use a secret management tool to manage your secrets
A secret management tool can help you to securely generate, store, and rotate secrets. Secret management tools also provide features such as access control and auditing to help you manage who can access and use secrets.
Some popular secret management tools include:
- HashiCorp Vault
- AWS Secrets Manager
- Azure Key Vault
- Google Cloud Key Management Service (KMS)
Security awareness training
Security awareness training is the process of educating employees on security best practices and making them aware of the risks associated with cyber threats. This training is an important part of any organization’s security program, as it can help to reduce the risk of human error-related security incidents.
Train your employees on security best practices
Security awareness training should cover a variety of topics, including:
- Password hygiene: Employees should be taught how to create and manage strong passwords.
- Phishing attacks: Employees should be taught how to identify and avoid phishing attacks.
- Malware: Employees should be taught how to identify and avoid malware.
- Social engineering: Employees should be taught how to identify and avoid social engineering attacks.
- Physical security: Employees should be taught about physical security best practices, such as how to keep laptops secure and how to dispose of sensitive documents properly.
Make security awareness an ongoing priority
Security awareness training should be an ongoing priority, as new cyber threats are emerging all the time. Organizations should regularly update their security awareness training programs to reflect the latest threats and best practices for engineers and other professionals.
Here are some additional tips for security awareness training:
- Make security awareness training mandatory for all employees.
- Use a variety of training methods, such as online training, in-person training, and phishing simulations.
- Tailor security awareness training to the specific needs of your organization.
- Regularly update your security awareness training programs to reflect the latest threats and best practices.
- Measure the effectiveness of your security awareness training programs.
Additional Best Practices for Engineers in DevSecOps
It is impossible to exhaust the best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps as it continually changes. So, we are listing more of the best practices for Engineers in DevSecOps you should adopt;
Implementing a security information and event management (SIEM) system
A SIEM system collects and analyzes logs from your systems and applications to identify suspicious activity. This can help you to detect security incidents early on and respond to them quickly.
SIEM systems typically use a variety of techniques to identify suspicious activity, such as:
- Correlation: SIEM systems can correlate events from different sources to identify patterns that may indicate a security incident.
- Thresholding: SIEM systems can generate alerts when certain thresholds are exceeded, such as a certain number of failed login attempts or a certain volume of traffic from a suspicious source.
- Behavioral analytics: SIEM systems can use behavioral analytics to identify anomalous behavior that may indicate a security incident.
Using a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline
A CI/CD pipeline automates the building, testing, and deployment of your software. This ensures that we consider security at every stage of the development process.
CI/CD pipelines typically include the following steps:
- Building: The pipeline builds your software from source code.
- Testing: The pipeline runs tests on your software to ensure that it is working as expected.
- Deployment: The pipeline deploys your software to production.
CI/CD pipelines can help to improve the security of your software by:
- Automating security tests: CI/CD pipelines can automate security tests, such as static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST), to identify security vulnerabilities in your software.
- Integrating security into the development process: CI/CD pipelines can integrate security into the development process by requiring developers to fix security vulnerabilities before their code is deployed to production.
- Reducing the risk of human error: CI/CD pipelines can help to reduce the risk of human error by automating the software development and deployment process.
Conclusion on Best Practices for Engineers
DevSecOps is a set of practices that helps organizations to integrate security into the software development lifecycle. By following best practices for engineers in DevSecOps, you can reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities being introduced into production.
I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks for reading! Until next time.