What is DevSecOps and Why Do We Need It?

What is DevSecOps and Why Do We Need It?
Charles Ragland
Read More From Charles Ragland
August 12, 2020 | 4 Min Read

DevSecOps, SecDevOps, and any variation of those words are massively trending topics in tech companies today. People love to talk about it, but what is it? 

Start with the word itself. Development, Security, Operations. 

DevSecOps is the addition of a security component to the DevOps workflow. Agile software development has created a need for development and operations teams to work together to provide regularly updated applications. This is achieved by creating a pipeline of tools to automate the repeatable deployment of infrastructure for testing, analyzing code, and merging it into production if it passes checks. Adding security tools into this pipeline allows security to go from a bolted on afterthought, or onerous list of compliance requirements, and allows applications to be built with security in mind. DevSecOps is simply the philosophy of bringing security up to the same speed as the other teams, and placing best practices into the heart of the product pipeline.

DevSecOps: The Hero We Deserve

I’m going to need you to stay with me for the next part. It’ll all make sense, I promise. 

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who like Batman, and those who are wrong. Batman works in the shadows and most citizens of Gotham City don’t ever have to interact with him. They benefit from the added security of having Batman ingrained in the social culture of the city. 

Where am I going with this? 

DevSecOps is like Batman. When you build secure applications from scratch, users can just use them. Your well implemented security process works in the background, keeping things safe. After all, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre advises making usability great and security “good enough”. Good enough means that it’s going to make things difficult for attackers and not impede the usability of average people. If it’s difficult to use, nobody will use it.

DevSecOps in Action: Incorporate security processes into your workflows

Last fall, I had the pleasure of speaking and presenting a workshop at BSidesDFW. The workshop was designed to be an OSINT CTF that allowed participants to follow the social media misadventures of an oversharing employee and after some sleuthing, take over the AWS environment of their company. 

BSidesDFW

I waited until the start of the very first workshop to publish AWS access keys on GitHub. Within 15 minutes, I had received an email from an automated tool that searches through public GitHub repositories looking for sensitive information, and notifies the owner of the repository that something is there that shouldn’t be. In this case, it said it found AWS access keys. Within minutes of that, I had received another email, this one from AWS, stating that they were disabling that key, and it would no longer be able to access AWS infrastructure associated with my account.

For the command line enthusiasts in our clientele, we offer a CLI based API for ShadowSearch. It’s written in Python, and has a few dependencies. Some time ago, we were notified by Dependabot, that one of the libraries contained a security vulnerability. The bot also automatically created a pull request to merge the updated libraries into our application with minimal effort on our end. 

Dependabot
Dependabot email notification

Digital Shadows has recently released a new feature for detecting exposure from code repositories, such as GitHub.. With the alerts in place, SearchLight will be able to notify you of unauthorized commits to your public repositories, as well as any sensitive data you provide as an asset to be monitored. This will be an incredibly useful way to integrate SearchLight into your workflow and ensure the integrity of the code on your public repositories.

unauthorized code commits alert
Unauthorized code commits to public repositories

Wrapping Up

Hopefully you made it this far, and now you realized that DevSecOps is a great way for organizations to incorporate security processes into their workflows. Using tools like the ones I’ve mentioned above allow us to be like Batman. We can do the hard work unnoticed, and provide a great experience for users that has security baked in.

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