Security as Code: A new era in Application Security

Introduction

Today, most businesses have embraced cloud computing and Infrastructure as Code to drive their digital transformation and remain competitive. DevOps organizations allow you to enter into a “no-ops” mode, automating the run phase of the application. Improving your time-to-market is good, but not at the expense of quality. One major pain point that remains in such organizations is vulnerability management: the later you discover a vulnerability, the more it costs to be fixed; which is why organizations are shifting to a new dynamic, the DevSecOps model.

Security as Code represents this new era, bringing security to the speed of DevOps. DevSecOps does not mean implementing security only at “Sec”. It is self-evident that security needs to be a transparent affair between developers, operations teams and security experts. Only then will security teams be able to get the others on board by adopting the right security controls into the SDLC.

This is where Security as Code comes into the picture. It is the exercise of injecting security close to the source code, into DevOps toolchain and workflows. This means strengthening the code right at its core, when its being created. It can be done by incorporating automated security policies, tests, scans into each stage of the CI/CD pipeline to detect bugs continuously. This would save development teams the time and effort of addressing the issues after deployment.

In this post, we will talk about this new philosophy and the ways it could influence your business.

 

The Paradigm of “Everything as Code”

If you are familiar with Configuration as Code and Infrastructure as Code , then Security as Code or Security by Design should not be a mystery to you.

Since the beginning of DevOps, Infrastructure as Code allows you to describe the infrastructure that hosts your application by writing code or executing scripts. It paves the way for automation, thus reducing risks and operational costs in run phase. It also helps leverage the scalability of the application in a cloud ecosystem and enables better alignment with the application lifecycle. It uses technologies like Terraform.

Configuration as Code is another best practice that involves you describing the configuration of your application’s environment by writing orchestration API and scripts. It reduces the extent of human error in your system and saves valuable time. It uses technologies like Ansible. Organizations that deploy hundreds of applications into production every day need to take advantage of both.

Today, the new trend is Security as Code, which builds on the benefits of both the above concepts, by describing security, close to the source code, in a simple, repeatable, and automatable way. As the name suggests, you have to define security, in a simple configuration file, as code.

 

How to put Security as Code into practice?

To begin with, you must assess the maturity of your current DevOps efforts. Audit your infrastructure and map out the current processes, including code changes. During the audit, it is important to track the changes in security policies to understand who made a modification and when.

Security team members who understand application’s requirements, context should be given the opportunity to design a part of the security policies. Team members have to communicate with one another to align when a line of code is altered or new code is rolled out, to discuss who has access to what resources, how code travels from commit to production stage, what are the tests run, tools used etc. Senior developers and operations team need to train in secure coding practices. Appoint a security champion in your DevSecOps team, who can preach about the various security concepts.

Automation can help you generate security policies based on scripts. This, combined with threat intelligence, can be the answer to restraining false positives. Automate your continuous delivery pipeline as much as possible. Establish automated security testing checks at all the vulnerable points of the process, thus adding another security layer on top of the code review tools used in production.

Above all, you have to realize that DevSecOps transformation calls for not only a change of tools but also a shift in culture.

Three essential criteria for the successful implementation of Security as Code culture

1. Easy adaptability:

The objective should not be to impose new processes but, on the contrary, to adapt to the internal processes of the company. This will allow greater control and agility.

2. Increased Collaboration:

Set up a transversal security team, that oversees the global security policy, and shares certain tasks with the DevSecOps team. Such a management approach would help erode the barrier between developers and security teams, yielding much better results.

3. Effective measurement:

Precise and effective metrics, related to costs and gains, are essential. Without these helpful indicators, it is difficult for the team to define optimum resource levels and expectations in terms of value generated.

 

Why is Security as Code important for your DevSecOps team?

Security as Code has a gigantic role to play in your DevSecOps transformation since it helps you shift left the security, while making the process easier with automation. Nurturing collaboration, enabling agility, enhancing visibility among development, operations and security teams are other key benefits. Since its advent, teams are giving up the traditional waterfall methodology, thus increasing the velocity of their release cycles.

The occurrence of security bottlenecks is diminished and compliance with supervisory standards is ensured. And the more secure your applications are, the better they help you sell! Therefore, Security as Code is the backbone of DevSecOps and it allows developers to focus on their forte, with security in mind. After all, developers are your heroes and when equipped with the right tools and process, they can make all the difference!

 

Welcome Security as Code era with R&S®Trusted Application Factory

Rohde & Schwarz Cybersecurity has the precise knowhow, processes and tools in place to help you leverage the Security as Code culture. The launch of R&S®Trusted Application Factory, a modern cloud native application protection solution, marks our resolve to secure the applications of tomorrow. This offering brings security closer to your application and provides security indicators throughout the application lifecycle. Achieving interoperability within the CI/CD domain is key. Being a tool and technology agnostic solution, it integrates effortlessly into your CI/CD pipeline.

 

With R&S®Trusted Application Factory, you can take one step further, to accelerate the integration of security policy in the build and test phases. Adding context description to the policy, you can now best adapt security to the context. To help you adhere to a DevSecOps model and embrace “Security as Code” culture, it provides a simple configuration file, versioned with the code, describing the applications you want to protect. All of this, using the same tools that your developers currently use. Thus, your DevSecOps team can relax while the product automatically transforms all this information into a security policy.

So, have you implemented Security as Code yet?

Please feel free to share your best practices in the comments section below.

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