In a highly congested and overpopulated world, the benefits of remote working have been long known – but sadly ignored. But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of that. Even companies that were extremely averse to letting their workforce work from their homes have finally given in to this new trend that has taken the world by storm.
Today, remote working has become a global norm. Companies like Microsoft, Twitter, and even Atlassian have announced long-term work-from-home for their employees.
This says a lot about how the remote working trend is here to stay; but also raises concerns over the security aspects of this new model – especially in the world of application development.
How delivery teams have traditionally looked at security
For a long time, delivery teams have looked at security as an obstacle to their development, deployment, and delivery goals. In a bid to release software as quickly as possible, they have long relied on continuous delivery models to meet time-to-market deadlines. But they’ve not realized the security challenges such models create: rapid rollouts are often the root cause of sloppy security postures which not only affect teams themselves; they also put customer data at risk.
Development and security teams working in isolation often are at loggerheads: while security teams grumble about shifting goals, development teams grudge against security getting in the way of their deliverables.
Poor collaboration between development and security teams leads to failed attempts at securing project deliverables throughout the software development lifecycle.
If security protocols are not rooted deep within the team’s culture, code that gets developed often lacks the security needed to thwart hacks and data breaches.
DevSecOps works on the principle of introducing security at the beginning of the software delivery lifecycle – rather than at the end. By improving communication and collaboration between development, security, and operations teams, it aims to make every member responsible for the security of the product under development.
It helps in making software applications less vulnerable to attacks and more usable for users. Since security checks are carried out from the start of the delivery pipeline, this shift-left approach to security allows for:
• Quicker identification and resolution of security bugs and issues
• Improved speed and agility to respond to changes
• Better quality of products
• Improved customer satisfaction
• Enhanced compliance
• Improved visibility and better traceability
Challenges with Distributed Teams
Distributed teams have become the standard for organizations across the world, allowing organizations to maintain their status-quo while adjusting to the new normal. Yet, with members of the team working from different physical locations, it is easy for things to go to be overlooked.
• How do you ensure continuous and real-time communication?
• How do you detect inefficiencies in processes?
• How do you integrate security across the development lifecycle?
• How do you strike the right balance between security and time-to-market?
• How do you get teams to stay on the same page?
• How do you monitor the level of security?
In the absence of the right tools or methodologies in place, these issues can quickly translate into major stumbling blocks, jeopardizing quality, efficiency, costs, and deadlines.
The old-fashioned, gatekeeper role that security teams have long been playing is no longer relevant for remote distributed teams. What organizations need is to communicate the importance of security and implement security paradigms like DevSecOps deep into the foundation of the delivery lifecycle to generate market advantages, strengthen brand reputation, and enhance customer value.
Best Practices to Make DevSecOps Work for Remote Distributed Teams
Here are some best practices to make DevSecOps work for remote distributed teams:
• Embrace automation: Automation is a great way to ensure the highest levels of security in your DevSecOps coding process while meeting time-to-market deadlines. For instance, instead of wasting time in manually creating test cases and manually testing the software under development for bugs and issues, automation can quicken the pace of testing while ensuring the required quality and security.
• Train the developers on secure coding: Instead of having security teams keep a close watch on the code being developed by development teams, training developers on secure coding can be a real game-changer for highly distributed teams. Since developers consciously drive efforts in secure programming, they do not have to indulge in regular call or meetings with their security counterparts at each stage of the lifecycle.
• Put together practices for code reviews and code analysis: Distributed teams can also leverage technology to have practices in place for frequent code reviews and code analysis. Using modern tools and code review best practices, developers can easily and systematically check each other’s code for mistakes, preventing bugs and errors from getting into your project and enhancing the collective coding efficiency of the team.
• Adopt shift-left testing: Another way to improve the security and quality of applications is to adopt the shift-left testing culture. Modern test automation suites can help in introducing security early in the development lifecycle, allowing for bugs and issues to be detected much earlier. For distributed teams, this means the ability to identify vulnerabilities as and when code is written – and without having to rely on a separate team for carrying out testing activities.
• Invest in continuous monitoring tools: Since distributed teams do not have the luxury of meeting their peers in person to stay abreast with project progress, continuous monitoring can help in keeping a track of every team member’s contribution to the project. By investing in continuous monitoring tools, you can monitor and identify compliance issues and security risks at each phase of your delivery lifecycle. Through regular tracking of key metrics, you can resolve application or infrastructure issues in real-time and achieve true efficiency and scalability.
• Integrate automated security testing tools into the build process: Integrating automated security testing tools into your build process can also aid in bringing security of your application to the next level. Such integration can help in carrying out security scans for every line of code written while automatically initiating tickets for bigger issues. Since security policies are automatically applied upon code commit, you can ensure early security intervention and ensure security testing is an easily repeatable process.
• Invest in tools, technologies and people expertise: Organizations need to invest in the right tools, technologies, and people expertise to respond to and neutralize threats as and when they happen. Such investment can help in integrated security controls at the beginning of the development pipeline while bringing down the likelihood of security breaches and product downtime.
Despite all the technological advances related to communication, collaboration and productivity, effectively running and managing a distributed workforce doesn’t come easy. Yet, given the fact that distributed teams have now become the norm, looking at security as an obstacle to quick application development is too risky.
DevSecOps brings the concept of security early in the application development lifecycle, thus allowing for risks and vulnerabilities to be identified before they impact the quality or delivery of the application under development, thus allowing for risks and vulnerabilities to be identified before they impact the quality or delivery of the application under development.