DevSecOps adds a security focus to DevOps.
October 17, 2018

3 DevSecOps Best Practices You Can Apply Today

DevOps
Coding Best Practices

Many teams practice DevOps to accelerate release cycles. But speed shouldn’t come at the cost of security.

That’s why many practice DevOps with a security focus — DevSecOps.

What Is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps (Development Security Operations) adds security practices to the DevOps mindset. It's also known as rugged DevOps. 

Everyone involved in software development today is responsible for security. Just one security breach can have a huge impact. It can damage your product’s reputation. Or worse, it could put lives at risk.

But you can’t always slow down development to do extra security checks. Instead, you need to accelerate security efforts (and match the pace of development).  

That’s why DevSecOps is important. It’s especially key for safety-critical development teams.

There’s no room for security risks in:

In these industries, you can’t sacrifice security for the sake of speed.

3 DevSecOps Best Practices

DevSecOps blends speed, scale, and security to improve your development process.

Here are three DevSecOps best practices that you can apply today to improve security — without sacrificing speed.

1. Educate Your Developers

Everyone makes mistakes — including developers. And training developers on secure coding isn’t always a priority. But it should be.

Human error is one of the biggest contributors to coding errors. And coding errors are responsible for a large number of vulnerabilities in code.

Many developers are unaware of common software weaknesses. A good place to start learning about security mistakes is the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) list.

Using a coding standard can also educate developers on secure coding best practices. They’ll learn from their mistakes. And by checking their code against a standard, they’ll learn how to avoid key security vulnerabilities in the first place.

2. Use Automation Wisely

Automation is the key to speed in DevOps. Used wisely, automation can help with DevSecOps, too.

Automated tools can help you identify security risks.

For instance, Continuous Integration (CI) tools can help you automate security checks. And when security checks are an automatic part of the development process, you’ll rest assured that they actually happen.

Static application security testing (SAST) is one type of security check. You can use SAST to continuously check your code for security issues. This is typically done with automated static analysis tools, such as Helix QAC.

These tools can help you identify potential vulnerabilities in your code earlier in the development process. By checking for security issues frequently, you’ll be able to address them more effectively.

Plus, you can use these tools to check your code against a secure coding standard. As a result, you’ll be able to continuously inspect your code for potential errors — and improve the overall security of your codebase.

But automation should be used wisely.

It’s important to select the right automated tools for security.

You should also consider whether automation accelerates or slows down your development process. After all, if you have an SAST tool that produces too many false positives, you’ll lose time.

3. Keep Your Code Simple

As your code gets more complex, it can contain more security vulnerabilities.  

Simple, readable code is easier to collaborate on. One developer should be able to look at another developer’s code — and know exactly what’s going on.

There are best practices you can use to make your code simpler and more readable. These include things like avoiding unnecessary parentheses.

Applying a coding standard can also help to simplify your code. A coding standard is made up of rules — and some of these rules are designed to simplify your code.

For example, the following MISRA rule helps to minimize visual code complexity:

Rule 15.4

There should be no more than one break or goto statement used to terminate any iteration statement

And by keeping your code simple, you’ll minimize the risk of introducing security issues.

Security Starts With Your Code

The only way to be successful at DevSecOps is to incorporate security early on in your development process.

It can’t wait until the end of development — or even until testing. Security needs to start with your code. And it needs to be applied continuously throughout development.

Learn how to ensure secure code in C with a coding standard, such as MISRA.

How to Write Secure Code in C