devsecops automation and safety critical software
May 21, 2020

How to Use DevSecOps for Security- and Safety-Critical Software Development

Static Analysis

DevSecOps has become a popular software development practice for automation, shortening feedback times, and ensuring secure software development. While DevSecOps is not radically different than DevOps, it’s nevertheless important to understand why it’s an essential practice for security- and safety-critical software development.

Here we explain what is DevSecOps automation and why it is important for safety-critical software.

Why DevSecOps is Important for Security- and Safety-Critical Software Development

Key components in the DevOps automation movement are Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) — rather than Continuous Deployment outside of the web-based software markets. Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery have traditionally been one of the main areas where IT and Development interface.

Continuous Integration typically improves the quality of the codebase by breaking up the tasks into small chunks and performing code integrations frequently. Each integration kicks off an automated build and test process to expose any defects and report status as quickly as possible.

4 Benefits of Continuous Integration

  1. Identifies problems sooner, which makes it easier for the developers to fix them and increasing the likelihood that the issue will be fixed correctly. This results in a build that’s error-free and operational.
  2. Encourages small, modular changes to the code, which helps to ensure that new functionality can be backed out of a release more quickly, or even prevented from entering the main code stream altogether. This minimizes the impact of an issue on other developers.
  3. Enables developers, through automation, to detect as many issues as possible in each integration build. This increases the breadth, depth, and repeatability of the tests, while also avoiding manual testing.
  4. It provides automation of the repeated tasks, which allows developers to focus on features.

The above benefits are just as valuable for the safety- and security- and safety-critical industries.

How to Extend Continuous Integration to Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery merely adds this same principle of an automated and repeatable process to the production of the final deliverable application or software system. This provides greater flexibility and the possibility of final deliveries with each and every build.

Ultimately, Continuous Delivery is about automating more of the development processes to improve the reliability, repeatability, and speed of the final deliveries.

What Is Security- and Safety-Critical Software Development

There are — of course — specific challenges and goals to the development of security- and safety-critical software systems. Many of these are defined by industry-specific functional-safety standards — each of which has a set of core requirements that helps enable you to produce higher quality, clearly documented, and unambiguous software.

However, in order to see those kinds of results, functional-safety standards require us to:

  • Know exactly what it is that has been delivered.
  • Know how the final deliverables were produced.
  • Produce documentation to reflect what has been delivered and how it has been put together.
  • Be able to reproduce the deliverables and all related verification and validation work products.

This means that functional-safety standards benefit from a controlled, reliable, repeatable, and — ideally — automated set of delivery processes to demonstrate compliance. DevSecOps Automation, which champions the same basic principles, is therefore a natural fit.

What’s more, DevSecOps automation helps to ensure that your code development process is free from coding errors and bugs. An essential part of that process is using a SAST tool — like Klocwork — to detect these vulnerabilities.

By regularly using a SAST tool provides you with the following benefits:

  • Automated vulnerability detection
  • Vulnerability elimination
  • Development velocity
  • Ease of integration

And, SAST tools are able to examine the code quickly, which reduces the amount of disruption to the software development cycle.

How DevSecOps Supports Security-Critical Software Development

Beyond the benefits provided by CI/CD, DevSecOps automation provides regular software development projects with the centralization (provision and management) of development resources and access to elastic computing capabilities.

The most significant and noticeable benefits of DevOps automation as a whole are:

  • Decreased development and operations costs.
  • Shorter development cycles.
  • Increased release velocity.
  • Improved defect detection.
  • Reduced deployment failures and rollbacks.
  • Reduced time to recover upon failure.

In addition, safety- and security-critical software development benefits from the principles of repeatability and independence, which are existing key components of testing, verifying, and validating safety-critical software:

  • Repeatability — with respect to software testing — is the notion that tests may be rerun at any time — providing that the behavior of the software (or the tests) have not changed, the results of two individual executions should be identical.
  • Independence — with respect to software testing — is the concept of ensuring that each test case within a suite of test cases is not influenced by the prior test cases. This ensures that the results could only be created by a specific test case and not influenced by the tests run previously.

DevSecOps Automation gives us both repeatability and independence, for the entire building, testing, and packaging process.

Independence is provided by the DevOps ideology of a clean workspace, or entirely new container (or machine instance), for each and every CI/ CD job. While repeatability is provided by the act of clearly defining the whole process as a set of individual steps or stages.

Related Content: Security- and Safety-critical Embedded Software Development within DevOps

Why Choose Klocwork for Security- and Safety-Critical Software Development

Klocwork is the most accurate and trusted static analyzers for the development of secure and safe code written in C, C++, C#, and Java. Its unique Differential Analysis enables teams to perform very fast incremental analysis on only the files that have changed while providing results equivalent to those from a full project scan, which ensures the shortest possible analysis times.

In addition, Klocwork provides software developers with the following benefits:

  • Detecting code vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and rule violations earlier in development. This helps to accelerate code reviews as well as the manual testing efforts of developers.
  • Enforcing industry and coding standards, including CWE, CERT, and OWASP.
  • Reporting on compliance over time and across product versions.

Pair DevSecOps with Klocwork