Shifting Left with Security: DevSecOps for Early Vulnerability Detection

Apr 5, 2024

Complacency and passivity are no longer options for app security. Today’s software build failures can become tomorrow’s headaches when hackers locate the vulnerabilities your company failed to detect. A successful cyber attack can lead to data breaches, financial losses, and extensive reputational damage to your organization.

Providing your developers with the right tools for integrating security from the start and implementing a more proactive shift-left approach saves time and money while protecting your company from potential threats. 

🤔 What Is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps (development, security, and operations) is a methodology that integrates security throughout the IT development lifecycle. It goes beyond the security teams and requires everyone, from developers to release managers, to assume responsibility for ensuring an application’s security. 

This represents a shift from older standards, where security concerns didn’t become a factor until late in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Integrating security from the start and every stage establishes a proactive security culture among IT teams and positively impacts the whole company. Risk mitigation and threat protection become a top priority compared to a reactive approach to an incident like a security breach. 

This saves brands valuable time, money, and resources.

Impacts to Developers

Ensuring security becomes a fundamental consideration for your developers when they start a build. In addition, stakeholders must learn to elevate security requirements, perform threat modeling, and define their overall security objectives. Other essential elements of DevSecOps include:

  • Static code analysis
  • Dynamic application security testing (DAST)
  • Penetration testing
  • Vulnerability testing

Secure coding practices are essential to minimizing the presence of security vulnerabilities. Follow validation guidelines like secure authentication, error handling, and input validation to lower the potential of a bad actor finding a hole through which they can perform malicious actions like:

  • SQL injection attacks
  • Brute force attacks 
  • Exploiting broken authentication
  • Injecting lousy code into a site
  • Taking advantage of security misconfigurations

Adhering to DevSecOps makes it easier for businesses to reduce risks and resolve security issues during the SDLC.

What Are the Benefits of Taking a Shift Left Approach to Development?

The shift left approach is a core component of DevSecOps. Security concerns move from the end (right) to the beginning (left) of the SDLC. Security architects get involved early to ensure that each component and configuration item receives the correct patches and gets configured securely. 

A few of the many benefits of a shift-left approach include:

  • Addressing tasks related to security, testing, and assessments early helps organizations locate and handle security problems before they require escalation.
  • Being proactive also prevents IT teams from dealing with critical issues later in development, lowering project costs and the need to call in additional resources. 
  • Earlier testing and validation increase the chances of development teams finding defects before they impact end-users.
  • An iterative approach allows companies to refine products to meet changing customer needs and preferences. This leads to enhanced quality and a more reliable platform. 

When implemented correctly, a shift left approach in DevSecOps helps streamline development and reduce the time needed for troubleshooting. This allows companies to deliver their products to the market faster, giving them an edge over competitors. 

⚠️ Why Is Early Vulnerability Detection Important?

Organizations paid an average of $4.45 million globally because of data breaches, per IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023. Industries like healthcare paid out even more at $10 million. That money could have been used to benefit workers and help businesses grow but was instead spent cleaning up the mess of a data breach.  

Think of early vulnerability detection as going to your doctor annually. Being proactive about your health allows doctors to catch potential issues earlier, saving you money and enhancing your quality of life. Similarly, you want to avoid putting your company in a position where it’s reacting to cyberattacks that lead to higher costs as you perform remediation and damage control.

Taking a proactive approach and protecting your company is much easier.

Finding issues early in the development lifecycle allows IT personnel to locate and remediate security risks before they become an opening for bad actors. That lowers the chances of your organization missing a vulnerability that opens up the potential for hacker exploitation. 

📌 What Are Some DevSecOps Best Practices?

After understanding how the shift left approach helps with early vulnerability detection, here are some best practices companies should follow for DevSecOps. 

1. Take Advantage of Automation

Integrating automation into the DevSecOps process creates a more secure software release process. It helps teams work through SDLC steps more quickly, including speeding up continuous code integrations. You can build and execute automation frameworks around every phase, ensuring that security functions get integrated from test to stage to production. 

For example, you can use automation tools to perform threat modeling to identify and prioritize data risks. With the right platform, you can quickly implement threat modeling approaches like STRIDE:

  • Spoofing: Pretending to be someone else trying to access an application
  • Tampering: Attempting to modify data by exploiting an application vulnerability
  • Repudiation: Keeping up with someone attempting to deny they performed a specific action
  • Information disclosure: Someone accessing data without the proper permissions
  • Denial of service: Keeping legitimate users from accessing a system
  • Elevation of privilege: Letting someone gain a level of access they should not have

2. Document Key DevSecOps Concepts

One of the best ways to educate employees on secure development practices is to keep an updated repository of DevSecOps documentation. This documentation should cover the security responsibilities of every role in the SDLC. Examples of other information to cover in your documents include:

  • Capturing CI/CD workflows to ensure consistency and repeatability
  • Detailing which coding and automation tools to use for managing and provisioning software infrastructure
  • Writing down all automated security testing practices used for vulnerability detection
  • Outlining incident response and recovery procedures

3. Develop a Security Culture

Application and data security should be prioritized at the top. Company leaders must go beyond technical solutions and integrate security into everyday behaviors and practices. Ingraining security into the company culture makes employees more likely to adopt secure practices.

Becoming more security-centric helps organizations protect themselves against cybersecurity attacks. This establishes trust among customers, partners, and stakeholders, strengthening the company. 

🚀 Emphasize Application Security With Kiuwan

Kiuwan’s DevSecOps security platform gives companies everything they need to help developers navigate security during development. Organizations can easily conform to standards set by organizations like OWASP and NIST.Learn more about Kiuwan’s powerful capabilities with a demo from a solutions engineer who can answer your questions and set you up with a free trial.

Get Your FREE Demo of Kiuwan Application Security Today!

Identify and remediate vulnerabilities with fast and efficient scanning and reporting. We are compliant with all security standards and offer tailored packages to mitigate your cyber risk within the SDLC.

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