Introduction to DevSecOps and Implementation of a Pipeline with Open-Source Tools

Imagine a superhero trio of Development, Security, and Operations coming together to create a robust shield for your software – that’s what DevSecOps is all about!

What's DevSecOps?

DevSecOps might sound like a secret code, but it’s just a cool way of saying “let’s make software safer from the get-go.” Unlike traditional development approaches (DevOps) where security is often an afterthought, DevSecOps champions the idea of integrating security seamlessly from the inception of the development process.

Why Does It Matter?

Picture this: Instead of waiting until the end of the movie to introduce the hero, DevSecOps brings security into the plot right from the start. It’s like having security guards in place from the first blueprint of your software project! This makes sure that potential security threats are spotted early, making your software safer and stronger.
To make this combination work, we need a change in three key areas: culture, process, and tools. Think of it like upgrading your team’s superpowers.
  • Culture: It’s all about having everyone on the same page. Instead of security being a separate “department,” it becomes a shared responsibility. Like teamwork in a sports game, everyone plays a part.
  • Process: DevSecOps spices up the traditional software development life cycle (SDLC). It’s not just about creating the software; it’s about creating it securely. Imagine adding layers of armor to your code as it’s being crafted.
  • Tools: Every superhero needs gadgets, right? DevSecOps uses a bunch of open-source tools. These tools help automate security checks, making sure our software is as secure as a high-tech vault.
DevSecOps is where Dev, Sec, and Ops work together seamlessly to build, test, and deploy software.
  • Development (Dev): Our coding champions craft the software, keeping security in mind.
  • Security (Sec): The security guardians run checks at every step, making sure no sneaky bugs or vulnerabilities slip through.
  • Operations (Ops): The operational wizards handle the deployment – putting our fortified software into action.

Understanding DevOps vs. DevSecOps

So, you’ve heard of DevOps – the dynamic duo of Development and Operations working hand in hand. But guess what? There’s something missing – Security! In the past, security used to be the last-minute hero swooping in after development wrapped up. Not a big deal when projects took forever, but times have changed!
DevOps is all about speed – quick, frequent development cycles that can make your head spin. However, there’s a catch. The old security practices, lingering in the past, can slow down this lightning-fast DevOps train.
DevSecOps is about thinking security right from the start, not as an afterthought. Picture this: Instead of waiting until the end of the movie to find the bad guy, we catch them in the opening scene!
Imagine discovering a high-risk vulnerability, like a SQL injection, early in the game. In traditional DevOps, fixing it means rerunning the entire pipeline – a real headache! But what if we shift security left, closer to the development cycle? Enter source code scanners – these tools can catch villains before they even enter.
Selecting the right tools is crucial. But effective DevSecOps is not just about tools; it’s a cultural shift. Imagine security becoming a part of the team from day one, not a last-minute consultant.As we integrate more security controls, tools, and processes into our automated workflow, behold the transformation – DevOps becomes DevSecOps.

DevSecOps Unleashed with Open-Source Tools

Guess what? Building a secure code doesn’t take much. With a bit of savvy tooling and some solid training, you can achieve software security greatness without spending a dime.
Let’s uncover some open-source gems that will make your DevSecOps journey both powerful and cost-effective.

Pre-commit Hooks

We’ve all been there – accidentally spilling sensitive info like AWS keys or access tokens into the vast world of public repositories. Enter the superheroes known as “Pre-commit Hooks,” with a star player called “Talisman.” This nifty tool scans your code before commits or pushes, making sure no secret gets out unintentionally. It’s like having a vigilant guard at the gate of your code kingdom!

Secrets Management

Storing passwords or keys directly in your code is a big no-no. Why risk exposing your secrets to the wrong eyes? Cue the magical “HashiCorp Vault” and the trusty “AWS Secrets Manager.” These open-source wizards help you keep your credentials safe and sound, tucked away from prying eyes. It’s like having a secure vault for your digital treasures!
With these open-source champions in your arsenal, you’re not just tightening security – you’re elevating the standard of your software game. And the best part? It’s all achievable without spending a penny!

The Power of Software Composition Analysis

Let’s dive into a cautionary tale that rocked the tech world – the Equifax breach of 2017. Imagine a huge number of credit card numbers and heaps of personal info leaked into the wrong hands. The culprit? A vulnerability in the “Struts2 Web Framework” that slipped through the cracks.
Many of us use cool open-source goodies like Nodejs, WordPress, and React to power our applications. But here’s the catch: these tools can have vulnerabilities too, just waiting to be discovered.
Enter the superhero known as Software Composition Analysis. It’s like having a cybersecurity detective that scans every nook and cranny of your codebase, checking for vulnerabilities in those trusty open-source companions.
So, how do you wield this cybersecurity magic? Here are a few tools to perform a Software Composition Analysis:

The Power of Static Analysis Security Testing

What if there were hidden vulnerabilities – the low-hanging fruits that cyber intruders love to feast on? Enter Static Analysis Security Testing, the vigilant code detective that sniffs out threats like SQL injection, Cross-site scripting, and Deserialization vulnerabilities. For Java based applications, a tool called “FindSecBugs” can be used. It performs an in-depth analysis of the code (without giving out too many false-positives) and gives a comprehensive report for all the vulnerabilities that have been identified in the code. FindSecBugs analyzes the code without bombarding you with false-positives, giving you a clear picture of vulnerabilities. Depending on the number and severity of the detected vulnerabilities, it’s decision time. Do you let the code continue its journey through the pipeline, or do you halt the process until those vulnerabilities are patched up?
Here is an example where we have leveraged sonarqube as SAST:

The Power of Dynamic Analysis Security Testing

Dynamic Analysis Security Testing, also known as web application scanning, is like sending a team of cyber detectives to explore every nook and cranny, uncovering potential weak spots. In the world of web application scanning, OWASP ZAP takes center stage. ZAP comes equipped with API end-points and a CLI (Command-Line Interface) that allows you to unleash it on your applications. Its mission? To ferret out security misconfigurations that could be hiding in the shadows. From sensitive information spillage in backup files to insecure HTTP headers, ZAP leaves no stone unturned.
Here is an example where we have leveraged OWASP ZAP as DAST:

Static Analysis scans your code's blueprint, but Dynamic Analysis scans the code in action.

Securing Your Containers

Let’s talk about Docker – the cool tool that lets you build stuff with just a few lines of code. But, here’s the catch: not all the things you find in the Docker store (Docker Hub) are safe. Some could have hidden problems like malware or weaknesses that you definitely don’t want in your digital space. Enter Clair – it’s like your security guard for Docker containers. When you’re about to use a Docker image, Clair steps in to check it out. It looks deep inside, finding any issues like vulnerabilities or hidden malware. Ever wondered what’s really inside those Docker images you grab from Docker Hub? Clair gives you a detailed report. It tells you if there’s anything risky inside, so you can fix it before using it. Before you send your containers out into the digital world, let Clair do its thing. Just run Clair on your Docker images, and it will tell you if there are any problems.
Other tools that can be considered for this stage of DevSecOps are:

Vulnerability Management Solutions

When we use various tools to build our awesome DevSecOps pipeline, they generate tons of vulnerabilities, each in its own special format. That’s where vulnerability management solutions step in, making sure all this data is organized, tracked, and fixed.
Imagine you’re juggling tools in your DevSecOps pipeline, and each one is throwing vulnerabilities at you in a different way. Chaos, right? That’s why we need a solution to gather all this data, so we can actually do something about it.
DefectDojo is the answer. It plays well with most of the tools in our DevSecOps arsenal, helping them funnel their vulnerability data into one central hub. This hub becomes our control center – a place where we can manage, prioritize, and fix vulnerabilities in an organized way.
Below is a screenshot of DefectDojo dashboard showing the vulnerabilities aggregated across all the tools.
Other tools available for vulnerability management are:


We’ve dived deep into the technical side of making a DevSecOps pipeline work smoothly in our environment. But here’s the deal – it’s not just about tools and techniques. DevSecOps is like a mindset, and to make it work, we need a cultural shift. Imagine a world where security is not an afterthought but part of the DNA of everything we build. That’s the dream of “secure by default.” Each team needs a security champion – someone who knows the ins and outs of keeping things safe.
DevSecOps is all about bringing teams together. It’s not the security team against the developers – it’s everyone working hand in hand. We need more collaboration, more communication. Security champions, teamwork, and a cultural shift – that’s the winning formula for DevSecOps success.
Now, go out there, build securely, and let’s make the digital world a safer place!
Vikas Agarwal is the Founder of GrowExx, a Digital Product Development Company specializing in Product Engineering, Data Engineering, Business Intelligence, Web and Mobile Applications. His expertise lies in Technology Innovation, Product Management, Building & nurturing strong and self-managed high-performing Agile teams.

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