Six Tips for Using DevOps to Combat Security Vulnerabilities
Growing requirements from stakeholders for rapid app deployment means more businesses need to explore DevOps to ensure collaboration between their development and operations teams during the development life-cycle.
In a recent BMC/Forbes security survey, 60 percent of executives said their IT and security teams “have only a general or a little understanding of each other’s requirements.” Additionally, the report revealed that these two groups often have goals that are out of sync. Such complications lead to companies taking months to repair known security vulnerabilities, exposing them further to potential data breaches in the process.
Here are some tips for securing your app development life-cycle against vulnerabilities:
1. Standardize on a DevOps Platform
Mitigating security vulnerabilities and data breaches start with standardizing on a DevOps platform. Your platform serves a vital role in defending against data breaches regardless of whether you do all your app development in-house or depend on third-party developers to fulfill that role.
A single DevOps platform enables:
- Standardized protocols and security across development and QA.
- One security path for all.
- Checks and balances for project managers, developers, QA and stakeholders.
- Best possible process flow across all groups.
- Code level tracked to a developer.
- Standard components across internal and third party development teams.
Such a platform also enables you to practice good developer hygiene. You want to ensure that only authorized people can access to your source code to make changes. Remember, security and data breaches aren’t all about outside hackers. Let’s say you hire an outside contractor to support your next app development initiative. You now have the tools to onboard and off board the developer from your project. You can lock the developer out of your project after their contract, protecting your company’s intellectual property and source code.
2. Scale Back Disorganization
The development team’s project managers and stakeholders are another line of defense against security vulnerabilities. Part of their job is ensuring security is in place during each stage of the app development process flow. They also ensure that the modules your developers need for development are in place and other details like data encryption are happening locally on the device.
Project managers and stakeholders can also drive significant details around application programming interfaces (APIs) and security standards throughout the DevOps workflow.
Here are some positive steps to rein in the “wild west” that some larger development shops become:
- Review and audit all assets and tools that are currently in use.
- Review code repository location, including GitHub and local hard drives.
- Invest in tools training for your developers to promote standard check-in, check-out and administrator practices.
- Define protocol settings.
- Ensure an end-to-end process flow is in place.
3. Standardize on Authentication Methods
There’s a balancing act to maintaining user productivity and security in mobile app design, putting the onus on the developer or solution architect to create a user experience (UX) where security isn’t a barrier.
Fortunately, today’s mobile devices let you set strong authentication methods including biometrics such as retina and fingerprint scanning, providing a pleasant UX while maintaining secure authentication.
4. Create Pre-built Modules for Development Teams
Using a series of pre-built and optimized modules is another best practice for protecting against security vulnerabilities. These modules built are using the best possible code. Developers can then “stitch” modules together versus having to develop everything from scratch, which makes for rapid application development. Using this method, some businesses can achieve dramatic reductions in development lifecycles. Going from six months to one month for development time is not unheard of using this method.
Development teams should roll these pre-built modules or seek out open source solutions so they can curate them to meet their requirements.
Teams can also look to a mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) solution to act as the glue between your application and enterprise backend systems and provide reusable components for your app.
5. Implement Security as Part of Your Versioning Control
Your versioning control also needs to account for security. Your DevOps platform should have security controls that let you set bugs and issues by the following criteria:
- Severity 1
- Severity 2
- Severity 3
- By SLA
6. Set up an Enterprise App Store
Using mobile application management (MAM), typically part of an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution, enables you to push app updates to all your enterprise-owned and bring your own devices (BYOD) registered on your network.
With this type of connectivity, you can set your DevOps platform to notify users when there’s a severity 3 or 2 issue and to download an app update for a severity 1 issue immediately to their device. This will also provide a great mechanism to ensure everyone is using the most up-to-date release of the application, taking advantage of new features and capabilities.
Toward DevOps, Collaboration and Security
Establishing a secure application development life-cycle will be essential as enterprises enter the next digital era. Not only will developing a framework help ease implementation, but it will also allow your organization to streamline security updates, fix bugs and collaborate across multiple DevOps teams — and ensure that you are on the forefront of security best practices for the evolution of the digital enterprise.