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From DevOps to SecOps: An Introduction

Due to the increasing demand for new applications and software, DevOps has become a truly mainstream development practice. DevOps helps organizations to deliver products and services much quicker than traditional development methodologies.

DevOps encourages collaboration between operations and development teams. However, sometimes fast development comes at the expense of security. The transition from DevOps to SecOps is only natural, for anyone looking to integrate security into their software development process. 

SecOps processes incorporate security into the development pipelines from the beginning. Establishing a security-first culture is a complex task, but it is worth the effort. Continue reading to learn more about SecOps, including key best practices for implementing security protocols within your existing development processes.

What is SecOps?

The SecOps approach is based on the collaboration between your IT security and operations teams. Through this approach, security and operations staff work together to meet shared goals and keep your organization secure.

SecOps is a practice that places an emphasis on automation of important security tasks. In addition, it shifts security to the early stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC). To fully benefit from the agile culture, enterprises must make security their top priority. Doing so enables them to improve business performance while reducing security risks.

What Happens When Security and IT Work Together: 5 Benefits of SecOps

  1. Better communication
    SecOps enables better communication with the decision-makers of your organization. Thus providing improved visibility and awareness of security vulnerabilities, for all key interested parties.
  2. Improved security
    In SecOps environments, security becomes the main focus. It is integrated into operations and software development processes from the very beginning, enabling automation, thus enhancing security.
  3. Integration between tools and technology
    IT and security teams can effectively collaborate to leverage real-time threat prevention and removal tools. By working together, the teams are able to perform a proactive vulnerability assessment and form a shared security portfolio.
  4. Improved IT operations
    SecOps improves operational efficiency, enables minimal downtime, reduces compliance failures, and allows better patch deployment.
  5. Proactive security measures
    SecOps promotes continuous security practices that apply to the entire organization. These practices allow you to resolve problems quickly and more accurately, because they involve employees at all levels.

SecOps Team Responsibilities

SecOps provides support to the daily functions of the entire organization. The list below explains how SecOps supports different aspects of organizational functions.

The Executive Committee

The executive committee is a group of managers that develop the strategic vision of the organization. The SecOps team reports to the committee on their achievements in securing the business and their plans for the future.

Security Operations Center (SOC)

Your SOC is an interactive and instructive division of the SecOps team. The security center monitors, responds to, and promotes awareness among the organization’s leaders about cyber security incidents.

Network Security Monitoring

The process of analyzing network communication for irregular activity. This process identifies network anomalies or weak signals that can be associated with threats. Once an alert is identified, the monitoring system will send alerts to admins. Monitoring tools leverage machine learning or statistical analysis to analyze and detect intrusions.

Threat Intelligence

During incident response investigations, threat intel helps incident responders and security analysts better understand malicious activity. Threat intelligence provides insights about new security vulnerabilities, threats, risks, exploits, and malware. The organization can better defend itself when there is more information readily available about possible threats, source, attacker’s motives, and capabilities.

Incident Response

The ability of an organization to react and address security incidents quickly and quietly. The SecOps team usually identifies the security event, while the incident response team investigates, isolates, and eliminates the attack and repairs damages. The two teams work according to an incident response plan to prevent data loss, unauthorized access and service outages.

Digital Forensics

SecOps teams use digital forensics to investigate and analyze information stored on digital devices and computers. Organizations use this digital forensics data during threat hunting and incident response investigations to isolate evidence that confirms or disproves a given security threat. Digital forensics and incident response experts can also use this data to trace root cause and isolate patient zero (or the entry vector) for a cyber attack.

Compromise & Security Risk Assessments

The ongoing assessment of an organization’s IT security perimeters. SecOps teams conduct routine penetration tests, vulnerability scanning, and compromise assessments to help organizations detect and manage vulnerabilities, hidden threats, and unknown risks present in their IT environment. Penetration tests mimic the behaviors and techniques of attackers to find and exploit ways into your network.

3 Best Practices for Implementing SecOps

1. Ongoing SecOps Training
Successful SecOps implementation is based on proper security training of all personnel. Some organizations may use external training courses, ready-made resources, or accepted frameworks. Others might choose to create internal SecOps training.

2. Promote Internal Collaboration
One of the main benefits of SecOps is the improved teamwork between security and operations. In the past, security and IT teams could have opposite views on how to prevent security threats. It caused confusion about how to prevent security risks. However, cross-team collaboration and communication assist in avoiding this issue.

3. Leverage SecOps Tools
Make sure to include the following tools in your day-to-day security operations:

  • Incident management and configuration management tools—SecOps teams use these tools to automate test systems, routine processes, and update key systems when they detect a vulnerability. Tools such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, and SaltStack.
  • Incident response automation tools—automated incident response software and tools, including Infocyte HUNT, allow organizations to respond quicker and more effectively to cyber security incidents.
  • Security monitoring tools—monitor the IT infrastructure and systems and send alerts when a possible risk is identified.
  • Automated security tools—SecOps use these tools to automate routine tasks, improve processes and get visibility into cloud environments. Automated security tools include OSQuery, PagerDuty, AWS CloudTrail, and OSSEC.
  • Container technologies—SecOps teams use Kubernetes, Docker and their security tools like Aqua, to simplify software delivery, automate tasks, and deploy new features.

Conclusion

Some claim that SecOps and DevOps should be combined. Others argue that DevOps only exists for large enterprises. But in reality, SecOps and DevOps must remain separate. This division of security operations and development operations allows organizations to protect their individual values, cultures, and focus. When SecOps and DevOps are combined together, you can lose the benefit of independent teams with specialized skills and functions.

Most organizations, will need to adopt DevOps due to the changing industry trends like moving towards a large number of smaller applications. A top-down management approach is essential for both SecOps and DevOps. This means leadership must also invest in relevant security resources to be successful with any dev project. A combined approach of both SecOps and DevOps can work great — as long as the focus of security and collaboration is in place from the outset of a project.


About the Author

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/giladdavidmaayan/

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