Whitepaper: Build Security Into Your DevOps Strategy

Integrate Security Into Your Software Development Process — Effectively and Efficiently

Security. It's a top priority. Learn how to reduce security risks and also accelerate development, reduce costs, and increase the quality of your software.

Download our whitepaper to discover how to speed up your software development security and quality efforts.

Security is the number one concern of public sector organizations. Many struggle to integrate security into their existing development practices. This paper investigates the processes and automation needed to improve software security while maintaining — and improving — quality.

Key takeaways:

As a result of the high concern about security, there are industrial regulations to assure good security and privacy practices such as PCI DSS for payment processing, GDPR for privacy, and HIPAA for healthcare. These are focused on protecting information and making sure confidential information isn’t leaked by accident or by attack. In the future, more regulation is likely. California with CCPA and New Jersey’s data-privacy bill are additional privacy regulations to consider.

Despite these regulations in public and private sectors, there are still security breaches. As of the first quarter of 2020, over 17 million leaked government records have leaked, an increase of 278% over the same period in 2019. Some are high profile.

The current situation of deploying insecure software and patching it after a high-profile breach is unacceptable. Software developers need a new approach and need to ask themselves: "What is it that we're doing today? Why isn't it working? And what should we be doing to change that?"

When focusing on accelerating delivery to end customers, be it a product or deliverables to other agencies, the first goal is to remove the bottlenecks in the process. Verification and validation — and the required testing at all levels of the system architecture — are the key bottlenecks to identify and make more efficient.

Improving the software development and delivery process is a multifaceted problem that juggles seemingly contradictory goals of accelerating development, reducing costs while increasing quality, and reducing security risks. 

There are several challenges with the traditional approach to security. The first challenge is a finite number of people and technologies that can be leveraged at the late stage of the process. Secondly, security inspection required of nearly finished software is a specialized skill. The sheer lack of people that can understand what the security problems are and uncover them, is a large risk to the organization. Thirdly, the security team becomes the gatekeeper and bottleneck to the final release. Security issues and vulnerabilities so late in the process can be difficult to fix because developers may already be reassigned.

Leaving security until the late stages of development is risky and expensive. Issues found are more complicated to diagnose and might be difficult to remedy — it’s nearly impossible to improve the security of an application by testing. Vulnerabilities are discovered but might not be fixable at such a late stage. Developers are not always security experts and complex vulnerabilities are challenging to map to problems in the code.

Using automation tools like static application security testing (SAST/static analysis) to find vulnerabilities in nearly complete code base is difficult. Inevitably, it’s hard to prioritize and sift through many reported issues so late in the process. In addition, any fixes for issues requires integration teams to retest the whole application. Because security has such a broad global impact, the project ends up with either a delayed release or poor quality and security, which is a more common outcome. In too many cases, software ends up with security issues leaking out into a production environment with a promise to fix them at some point in the future.

The different phases of the development process are represented differently based on the audience, but one approach that’s gaining traction for helping software teams is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

SAFe is popular in organizations that are trying to scale their Agile practices across an enterprise, beyond individual teams and silos. SAFe identifies these different phases of software development and clearly identifies best practices that are appropriate for each phase (represented as sectors) of the process.

These testing techniques are used continuously as part of a DevOps pipeline, leveraging infrastructure that can be created dynamically, which is itself secure and assembled in a secure way. 

The term, shift left, refers to the desire to move critical software activities like verification and validation earlier in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). There are cost and risk reduction benefits when teams find and fix defects and security vulnerabilities sooner rather than later

It’s important to think about the drivers behind the software development goals before jumping into details about the implementation and the shift-left practices. These drivers may be budget and quality goals in a strict risk management framework. The important consideration is to weave best software development and security practices in to support your agency's missions.

About Parasoft

Parasoft’s software testing solutions support the entire software development process, from when the developer writes the first line of code all the way through unit and functional testing, to performance and security testing, leveraging simulated test environments along the way. Parasoft's unique analytics platform aggregates data from across all testing practices, providing insights up and down the testing pyramid to enable organizations to succeed in today's most strategic development initiatives, including Agile/DevOps, Continuous Testing, and the complexities of IoT. Parasoft’s automated software testing innovations fuel software development organizations, helping teams reduce the time, cost, and effort of delivering high-quality software to the market.