DevOps environments delivered through the cloud such as AWS have transformed development operations for enterprises, delivering unprecedented agility and automation enablement. However, they neglect the crucial aspect of security in the entire process, pushing threat management to the perimeters. In today’s fast-paced business environment, where less time to market is desired, security leaders are wary of releasing software with vulnerabilities.

That is why, to take true advantage of the efficiency and responsiveness of DevOps, enterprises must integrate IT security into the full life cycle of their apps.

Did you know: As many as 68% executives stated that their CEOs expect the DevOps and security teams to prioritize acceleration of business processes and delivery.

Why DevSecOps?

Earlier, the role of security did not come into the picture until the final stage of development. That was fine when development cycles lasted a few months, but not anymore. If your security practices are out of date, it can botch up even the most proficient DevOps initiatives.

To ensure that all mission-critical applications are protected with high-level security, enterprises need to shift from DevOps to DevSecOps. DevSecOps incorporates application and infrastructure security right from the start, and through every stage of development. It also means automating certain security gates to prevent the DevOps workflow from slowing down.

DevSecOps ensures a secure application delivery, with much quicker time to market. Organisations can achieve unparalleled success by adopting DevSecOps and redefining operations, letting the engineering and security work in tandem. In addition, DevSecOps also represents an enterprise-wide culture that involves people, processes, and technologies, to implement security management at the heart of development and business operations.

Moving from DevOps to DevSecOps: The Process

Transitioning from DevOps to DevSecOps involves three steps:

  • Assessment of current security measures: Threat modeling and risk assessments help security teams analyse the level of sensitivity of an organisation's assets and potential threats.
  • Merging security into DevOps: Examining the development workflow and ensuring minimal disruptions by integrating security practices and automation.
  • Integrating DevSecOps with Security Operations: Constant monitoring of potential security concerns during the development stage and ensuring a quick response are key elements of the DevSecOps approach.

In recent times, most companies have reportedly experienced at least one cloud data breach and nearly half of them reported more than 10 breaches. High-profile data breaches have made organizations realize the need to identify vulnerabilities in their applications and mitigate them in order to avoid serious financial and business consequences. So they are adding application security testing, including SAST and DAST, to their software development workflows.

Defining and Implementing  SAST and DAST
SAST and DAST are two different methodologies for application security testing to identify security vulnerabilities that could attack an application. A key part of an enterprise’s DevSecOps culture, they are most effective in different phases of the software development life cycle.

SAST, that is Static application security testing, is a white box method which examines the code to find software flaws. Dynamic application security testing (DAST), on the other hand, is a black box testing method that examines an application while it is running. It is done to discover vulnerabilities that a potential attacker could exploit.

It is best to perform SAST testing in the early stages and against all files containing source code. DAST should be performed on a running application in a simulated environment. The best approach is to include both SAST and DAST in different stages of the application security testing program.

Building end-to-end DevSecOps CI/CD pipeline on AWS

Building a comprehensive DevSecOps pipeline must be a part of every app development strategy to maintain a successful software factory. It has to include continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery and deployment (CD), continuous testing, continuous logging and monitoring, auditing and governance, and operations.

Identifying vulnerabilities in the initial stages of software development can significantly reduce the overall cost of developing application changes; doing it in an automated manner can accelerate the delivery of these changes.

To identify security vulnerabilities at different stages, organizations can integrate various tools and services on cloud or third-party, into their DevSecOps pipelines.

AWS features the required set of services and tools to realize this objective. It gives the flexibility to build DevSecOps pipelines with easy integrations of AWS cloud native and third-party tools. AWS services also include collating all security findings.

AWS Security Tools related to DevOps workflows:

Amazon CloudWatch collects and organises data from AWS services and databases to enable auto scaling actions or trigger events. The AWS X-Ray lets app developers scrutinise and debug production of distributed applications. Through AWS CloudTrail, all AWS interactions and modifications are monitored to maintain transparency in collaboration and communication.

Build and deploy a microservices architecture with Amazon Elastic Container Service and AWS Lambda. Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service to deploy, manage and scale containerized applications. AWS Lambda is a serverless computing service for running code without provisioning or managing servers.

CI-CD Security:
AWS CodeBuild is a continuous integration service that includes compiling source code and running tests to produce ready-to-deploy software packages. AWS CodeDeploy is a fully managed deployment service that automates software deployments to a variety of computing services on Amazon or on-premises servers. AWS CodePipeline is a continuous delivery service to model, visualize, and automate the steps in release pipelines for fast and reliable application and infrastructure updates. AWS CodeCommit is a fully managed source control service that hosts secure Git-based repositories.

The SonarQube SAST tool catches bugs and vulnerabilities in app with thousands of automated Static Code Analysis rules. PHPStan focuses on finding errors in your code without actually running it. So it catches a whole class of bugs even before you write tests for the code. The OWASP Zap DAST tool automatically detects security vulnerabilities in your web applications even while you are developing and testing them. The OWASP Dependency-Check is a Software Composition Analysis (SCA) tool to detect publicly disclosed vulnerabilities within a project’s dependencies.

The Security Pillar of AWS Well-Architected Framework: Implement Security by Design

The AWS Well-Architected Framework’s security pillar puts together a comprehensive system for protection of all information, systems and assets, delivering business value through effective risk assessments and mitigation strategies. Impacting every stage of development operations, the framework helps an enterprise evolve into the Security by Design mode powered by AWS Cloud; risk management at the core of workflows across the organization. This pillar has five components:

1.Identity and access management
Identity and access management are integral to any information security program. It ensures that only authenticated users and components are able to access sensitive organizational resources, and only to the extent that is required.

The AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) service lets business leaders be in control of access to AWS services and resources. Where workloads require systemic access to AWS, the Identity and Access Management enables secure access on the basis of roles, instance profiles, identity federation, and temporary credentials.

2. Data protection
Before building any long lasting system architecture, there should be some foundational practices in data security already in place. That’s because they are critical for preventing financial loss and complying with regulations.

As an AWS customer you can maintain full control of your data. You can encrypt your data and manage keys, including regular key rotation. You can easily maintain them on your own or get automated by AWS. The versioning feature protects against accidental overwrites, deletes, and similar harm.

What’s more, AWS never initiates the movement of your data between ‘Regions’. That means that the content placed in one Region will be there unless you enable a feature or leverage a service that provides the functionality.

3. Infrastructure protection
Infrastructure protection encompasses in-depth defence and control methodologies that meet the best practices and organizational or regulatory obligations. These methodologies are critical for continually successful operations on cloud or on-premises. You can conduct packet inspection in AWS, by using AWS-native technologies or partner products and services available on the AWS Marketplace.

4. Detective controls
There are different types of detective controls that can be used to identify potential security threats or incidents. In AWS, you can implement detective controls like CloudTrail logs, AWS API calls, CloudWatch, Amazon GuardDuty that allows for auditing, automated analysis, and alarming, letting you continuously watch out for malicious or unauthorized behavior and protect your AWS accounts and workloads.

5. Incident response
All said and done, you must agree that even with the most mature preventive controls, your organization needs an incident response mechanism to respond to and mitigate potential security incidents.

You see, the existing architecture of your workload impacts the ability of your teams to operate efficiently through an incident, isolate or contain systems, and restore operations to working state. Having the tools and access ahead of a security incident, and routinely practicing incident response, helps to ensure that your architecture is equipped for timely investigation and recovery.

In AWS, the following practices facilitate effective incident response and risk management:

  • Detailed logging in of important content such as file access and changes.
  • Automated processing of events and trigger tools that automate responses through AWS APIs.
  • Pre-provision tooling and forensics exam in a safe, isolated environment through AWS CloudFormation.

Why Embrace DevSecOps with Cloud4C

Cloud4C is a fast growing managed Cloud services provider delivering end-to-end solutions in modern cloud transformation. With over 4000 transformation stories  and 40+ security controls, Cloud4C is the world’s largest application-focused cloud MSP and a leading cybersecurity solutions provider. We are facilitating increased collaboration between the development, security and operations teams across industries, eliminating security threats with greater agility, through DevSecOps on multiple cloud platforms such as AWS.

With Cloud4C, deploy the right stack of cloud-native security tools as required by the enterprise across development and business operations. Extending the capabilities further, Cloud4C deploys world-class security platforms such as MDR, EDR, Advanced Threat Protection, Threat Intelligence, SIEM-SOAR, and more to fortify the IT and cloud stack end-to-end. Do opt for our Fully Managed SOC services (dedicated cybersecurity and incident management team, processes, technologies) to alleviate all threat concerns, planned or unplanned.

To know more about our services, get in touch with us today!

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Team Cloud4c
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Team Cloud4c

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