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How to Implement DevSecOps?

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There are many businesses that fail to implement DevSecOps the right way. A lot of them might approach this topic by executing fast implementations without any sort of testing or research. That's not the smartest thing you can do, is it?

If you're one of those companies that want to learn how to successfully implement DevSecOps, then you should try to implement these battle-tested strategies. They are the best practices I have gathered throughout my years of experience in this field of implementation, testing and research. Let's start off with the first one: Test automation.

#1 Implement Test Automation

What does test automation have to do with DevSecOps? Everything! If you want to successfully implement DevSecOps, then you should really focus on implementing test automation. This has so many benefits that it's almost inexplicable.

For example: if something goes wrong with your code and nobody finds out about it until a customer faces this "bug" or defect , the company will face huge financial losses. By using automated tests, you can reduce the risk of bugs being introduced into production by an astounding amount. Imagine what would happen if there are no automated tests whatsoever? There's probably going to be more defects in the end product which ends up having a low quality standard.

Earlier it used to take nearly 13.3 hours to correct a bug in the development part.

Before you say anything, I know that these numbers are from 2019, but that doesn't make them any less valuable or trustable. Test automation has such an appealing value that it's almost palpable. This means that automated tests reduce the amount of time necessary to find and resolve bugs by a whopping 336 times! That's not all though... These tests can also be executed at a much faster rate than their manual counterparts due to the fact they only have one purpose: Testing. Automated tests do not require human effort so that means that they can be executed much, much faster. If you're not convinced about the value of test automation yet, then let me continue with the next point.

#2 Full Lifecycle Support & Testing

Now I'm going to explain in great detail what this means in regards to DevSecOps. What you should understand is that automated security tests are for sure a thing. They were actually here before DevSecOps came along and started gaining mainstream attention lately. You can create these automated security tests by using frameworks such as OWASP ZAP, but also through application vulnerability scanners like Netsparker or Acunetix. Don't worry if you don't know all these tools off by heart because I'll soon cover them all in a blog post.

The important thing to understand here is that automated security tests should be part of your continuous testing pipeline . By having this kind of strategy, you're going to include security tests in every build and deploy process. That way, you can quickly resolve bugs before these end up causing financial losses. Let me explain better with an example: imagine that you've implemented a login form into your website and that by some mistake, between the development and deployment phase, there was a small bug which would allow anyone to access another user's personal information after getting their user id by simply manipulating the URL parameters. After finding out about this critical vulnerability, I'm sure that you would want it resolved asap right? That's where automated security tests come into play. They will allow you to resolve this issue in a matter of minutes instead of days.

#3 Automate Your Build Process

So you already know that automated security tests are crucial and should be part of your continuous testing pipeline , but there's something more to it than just having automated security tests included in every build and deploy process: Implement an automated build and deployment process . By doing so, you can easily catch issues before they even get to production which is undoubtedly one of the biggest benefits here. Imagine how much time and money would be wasted if your CI/CD processes were not fully automated? Now I'm quite certain that you understand why DevSecOps heavily rely on automation and should never be implemented manually by developers or testers.

#4 Use API Security Testing Tools

API security testing tools are a crucial tool for DevSecOps because they allow you to test API endpoints before going into production. If your API is not secure enough, the implications could definitely be huge and that's why API security testing should be a part of everyone's strategy. By using API security services such as ZAP , you can easily create automated tests which will check if there aren't any security vulnerabilities within your API endpoints. If there are, this would give you an appropriate warning allowing you to fix the issue right away instead of finding out about it after someone has exploited it once deployed into production. At this point don't forget that I mentioned OWASP ZAP earlier in this blog. I didn't mention it for nothing, ZAP is an open source tool that allows you to intercept any communication between your application and the client. This means that this tool can also be used by testers in order to test both web applications but APIs as well. As a matter of fact, one of the OWASP main goals was to create a free security scanner which would allow developers to fix issues before they get deployed into production environment.

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#5 Security Assessments & Pen Testing

If there's any reason why you should care about DevSecOps, it should be because time is money. It might sound cliché but when we're talking about business critical applications such as banking or healthcare software, If your software gets hacked, the consequences could be disastrous.

Why is that? It's because they store highly sensitive data which can be used to make a profit (financial gain) by people who don't own the data and use it for malicious purposes such as identity theft or credit card frauds. By hiring professional ethical hackers, you're going to find out if your applications are secure enough before someone else exploits them. Now I'm quite sure you got confused when I mentioned "ethical" hackers but what about the shady ones such as blackhat hackers? What do we know about them? Well, we know that they aim at exploiting every software or API which doesn't take security seriously and these types of breaches can lead to serious financial loss. The cost of a breach has increased from $154 per user to $158 in the past year. This is a huge increase and that's why you should care about DevSecOps because it can help you save a lot of time, money and headaches down the road.

#6 Plan for Security for all Existing Applications

Now there's something we haven't talked yet: What about already existing applications? How do we deal with them? Well, what you need to understand here is that even though an application might be up and running for years, they were built at some point in time and by doing so new technologies were used such as HTML5 which brings along entirely new sets of vulnerabilities. So what do we do with these types of applications which contain a lot of vulnerabilities? The best thing you can do is to plan for them and this means that security testing should be part of the new application development process. If your applications are already using modern frameworks such as AngularJS, ReactJS or Bootstrap , new online tools such as Snyk allow you to scan existing apps in order to find out if there aren't any known vulnerabilities. This will give you an appropriate warning allowing you to fix the issue before it gets exploited and trust me, I know how critical this might sound but it's even more critical than ever before because both development and security teams heavily rely on DevOps principles.

#7 Security Automation – What Can You Do?

It might sound weird but if you're a software developer or tester and you don't know about the OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP), it's time to think about learning more about this tool. Why? Because it's an open source penetration testing tool which has been used for over 10 years in order to find vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting, content spoofing and so on. Nowadays, ZAP became sort of a standard because it allows developers and testers to see how their applications behave with different types of requests. For instance, if we take a look at the following image, we can see that ZAP includes both automated scanners which are essential when performing security audits because they allow us to find out whether or not there are any vulnerabilities in our applications or not.

Once you know which vulnerabilities exist, the next step is to fix them and this is where security automation comes into play. By using automated scanners such as ZAP, it's possible to scan an application automatically at regular intervals because you can configure them via Jenkins . This will allow you to find out about existing vulnerabilities before they get exploited by blackhat hackers. Furthermore, if your software development process includes agile methodologies such as Scrum , it's more than obvious that developers need tools which help them better understand how productive they've been during a sprint. To address this issue, ZAP includes reports which provide detailed information about detected threats so that developers can quickly fix issues without wasting too much time because this is crucial and it might lead to a significant decrease in the overall cost of ownership.

There's something we should consider: There are plenty of open source tools which can be used by developers and testers in order to find vulnerabilities much faster than before. These tools typically come with an easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) which allows you to perform different tasks such as using intercepting proxies , fuzzing, spidering and so on. In addition, if these testing tools don't meet your specific needs, there are plenty of other alternatives available online but make sure that whatever tool you choose gets updated frequently . This way you'll stay up to date with all newly discovered vulnerabilities trying not to fall behind because it could have a negative impact on your software and its security.

#8 Continuous Security – What Can You Do?

As long as we're talking about the agile process and testing methodologies, it's important to mention that most companies which adhere to agile principles tend to perform both development and security tests at the same time. If done right, this could be a huge advantage because it allows companies not only improve their web applications but also make them more secure than before without wasting too much time. By integrating security automation via tools such as ZAP into the agile process, developers have a better understanding of how critical vulnerabilities are being treated throughout the development process . To give you a better idea of what I'm talking about here's an example: Let's say that there's a critical vulnerability in one of your web applications which is marked as P0 on OWASP 's risk assessment scale.

This type of issues should be treated as high priority because they could lead to serious problems such as data loss, server compromise and so on. With this in mind, it's essential that security testing continues even after the development process finishes because you'll want to find out whether or not vulnerabilities introduced during development are properly fixed . In addition, if there are any new flaws introduced due to lack of knowledge or lack of experience, these should be quickly reported and patched . For example: If your software uses a third-party library which gets updated from time to time , it's possible that another flaw was accidentally introduced into the application without you knowing about it.

#9 Transition To DevSecOps – What Should You Do?

Now that we've established the importance of implementing security automation as part of your software development process, let's talk about DevSecOps and see if we can implement it even though we're not using agile methodologies. The answer is: Yes, it's possible and there are plenty of things that you can do in order to make this happen. First and foremost, companies will typically choose one or more tools which help them automate various aspects of their security testing . For example, they might choose to use automated scanners such as ZAP because these scans don't require any human interaction . Furthermore, these types of tools should come with an easy-to-use GUI which allows you to browse URLs and perform various other tasks such as using proxies, spidering and so on. The bottom line is that if a tool doesn't provide a GUI or requires the use of APIs , it's going to be really difficult for developers and testers to make DevSecOps a reality .

#10 Conclusion – Any Last Words?

We've provided several tips on how you can implement DevSecOps successfully no matter who your target audience is since there are plenty of open source tools available out there which help both developers and testers automate their security testing efforts. While the open source tools listed in this article are perfectly suitable for most web applications, if your software is a web-facing application or if you're working on a super critical project , it might be worthwhile to consider commercial solutions such as Veracode and IBM AppScan. The bottom line is that DevSecOps movement isn't going anywhere anytime soon because of the fact that cloud computing is more popular than ever before. In addition, hackers are innovating new ways of finding new vulnerabilities which means that companies will have to update their strategies from time to time just so they can stay ahead of the competition.

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