DevOps Security Champion: Who, What and Why?

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In general, DevOps is a process and culture of organizations to get applications out the door faster and with higher quality. To do so, security champions are essential. In DevOps, security champions work as a backup mechanism in various projects and take multiple leadership roles.

Security champions make effective decisions and take projects forward while strengthening the best security practices. How do you enable security champions in DevOps? In this article, we will describe four practical ways of enabling them in DevOps. But first, we will discuss their role in more detail.

Security Champions in DevOps
Let’s suppose you are accountable for creating a mature security process across an organization. To fulfill this project, there are various teams working on different product and services, using multiple technologies and an active approach. However, some team approach security ad hoc security activities while others use existing security technologies and processes.

After a few weeks of reading documents, learning about calendar releases and suggesting specific knowledge and best practices, you realize that your best efforts around security haven’t addressed myriad issues. You need help, but the central security team isn’t budgeted to help your team. This is where security champions come in.

Security champions play a vital role in DevOps. They are dynamic members of a team who help in making decisions about the engagement of the security team.

They act as a fundamental element of the security assurance process for the product and service, and are the main point of interaction within the entire team.

By taking different leadership roles and decisions inside a smaller team, security champions form a shield of sorts for the team leaders. They give them the freedom needed to drive the project further while supporting and emphasizing the best security practices in the project.

Enabling Security Champions in DevOps
Here are four ways to build an efficient team of security champions.

1. Identifying Teams

The first and most important thing in building a competent team of security champions is to identify the team you are going to work with. In this phase, distribution of tasks occurs. It is important to note this step should be done before starting the project; otherwise, miscommunication and other problems could occur.

It is essential to keep a record of the team so the other development departments also know who is reponsible for which of the various tasks.

To implement this step, you need to talk with the decision-makers and technical managers, such as product owners and company heads to find out information such as the number of people working on different projects and how they can fit into the development teams already working on the project, what programming languages and various frameworks are being used and how they are being implemented.

2. Role Distinction of Team

It’s also important to define the role of each team member. Every team must have its security champion assigned to them and the security champions must know what they are supposed to do.

The security champions should have well-defined goals and purpose, and the rest of the team should communicate with them to ensure best security practices are implemented. The security framework the project follows was selected during its planning phase. As such, the entire team must work with the security champions to ensure the security of the application.

The security champion should also conduct security reviews regularly, especially at milestones during the project.

It is important to note that protecting security best practices is not just the security champion. Rather, it is a collective effort of the entire project team.

3. Select Champions

Once you have identified the team and defined the roles, the next step is selecting the champions. To accomplish this step, you need approval from managers at all levels, from to-level to product owners and direct team managers. They can help you identify potential champions, choose eligible candidates and conduct interviews to judge their capabilities.

Because this is the selection stage, you need to describe the role clearly to the selected candidate. You also may explain the strategy you plan to adopt as well as the advantages of becoming a security champion. These include:

The chance to attend various security conferences.
Being a part of the security meta-team.
Increased value in the marketplace.
Better product quality.
Personal development and the ability to look at things differently.
4. Stay Connected and Communicate Clearly

The security champions are required to communicate consistently with their team members and project leaders. They can use any of the various communication channels available to collaborate effectively:

Messaging apps
VoIP apps
Mobile phone apps
Security champions also need to combine as much of the technical data as possible to provide the team safe and secure access, thereby fostering a collective approach toward secure product development instead of keeping everyone in remote smaller groups who don’t exchange knowledge.

Security champions play a significant role in DevOps because they introduce a sense of responsibility of security within their department. Their participation starts small and increases gradually. Their presence benefits not only the company but also the application or service itself.

There are different ways by which you can enable security champions in DevOps to add value to your project. By doing so, you are helping to create a culture of security awareness, which leads to secure applications and improved quality security features.

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