Guest OpEd by Gilad David Maayan
The competitive software market has created a paradox of conflicting demands.
On the one hand, consumers have come to expect ever-faster software delivery, and this includes efficient administration and maintenance of software products.
On the other hand, the need for secure software is increasingly difficult to ignore, with a growing number of cybersecurity threats (And more severe consequences) looming over the industry.
Traditional software operations model, and even more modern methodologies like DevOps, fail to keep up, necessitating the introduction of a new cultural approach to software delivery.
SecOps is the integration of security and IT operations in a unified and continuous process.
(See this fantastic simple explanation of DevOps without the complications and information overload. Courtesy of Rackspace.)
This means that security becomes a central part of the software development process and not merely an afterthought tacked on at the last stages before deployment.
In practical terms, this means that security measures must be incorporated at all levels throughout the software delivery pipeline.
This involves introducing security earlier in the software lifecycle, also known as shifting left.
Benefits of SecOps include greater visibility over security events, improved response capabilities and more efficient work processes.
All of this, in turn, contributes to a higher return on investment, allowing organizations to save time and money associated with the technical debt accumulated in traditional siloed (separated and linear) workloads.
However, implementing SecOps can be challenging, as it often requires not only a change in processes but also in how IT operations teams think.
The following outlines four major security challenges and offers solutions to help you overcome them.
Challenge 1: Keeping Up with Tight Deadlines
The purpose of the integrated approach of SecOps is to reduce the time it takes to deliver and maintain secure software.
However, security measures, such as monitoring, testing and analysis, are time-consuming, with security teams often struggling to keep up with the fast pace of Ops teams.
This makes it difficult to keep the teams in sync.
The simplest way to increase the overall speed of your security processes is with the aid of automated tools.
These include monitoring and scanning tools that can execute repetitive tasks, freeing up security personnel for more complex tasks, as well as more advanced tools like Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR).
SOAR tools can often correlate data and crunch the numbers at a much faster rate than a human could, and in some cases help reduce human error.
One crucial area of security that can benefit from automated tools is incident response, which requires immediate action and cannot rely on planning and expertise alone.
Challenge 2: Managing Large Volumes of Data
The sheer scale of data that security monitoring tools generate can be overwhelming, resulting in alert fatigue and a large number of false positives.
Sorting through all that data is a logistical challenge and is labor-intensive.
Furthermore, the raw data must be analyzed to produce actionable information, which requires further man-power.
Security management and analytics tools can take advantage of artificial intelligence to help sort out the data generated by vulnerability scans, penetration tests and threat intelligence feeds.
While tools like Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) are essential for correlating data from various sources, they are often not enough by themselves, as they do not separate the wheat from the chaff.
Aside from SOAR (mentioned above), successful SecOps may require the integration of SIEM with AI-based capabilities such as User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA), which augments human threat detection capabilities by establishing baselines of normal behavioral patterns and alerting security teams to any deviations, allowing them to focus on only the relevant security events.
Challenge 3: Integrating Work Processes
Security and operations teams tend to prioritize different things: security vs speed and efficiency.
The conflicting goals of the teams make it difficult to coordinate a schedule. Aside from the strain on limited resources, the push for speed can encourage a negligent attitude towards security, resulting in the release of vulnerability-ridden software and updates.
This requires adapting the work culture of the organization, which may involve training employees to understand both the importance of security and their responsibilities regarding the implementation of security standards, even if they are not part of the professional security team.
Organizations may also redefine the roles of employees and set new priorities relating to core business processes.
The main takeaway is that everyone in the organization must share a unified security vision.
Challenge 4: Cost and Effort
When organizations first adopt SecOps methodologies, they can expect a learning curve and a major effort to establish new processes.
This may require a lot of manpower, coupled with budget constraints. It may take a while for teams to become more efficient and learn how to fully take advantage of the new tools and procedures.
Planning for realistic schedules and budgets is essential for implementing successful SecOps.
Organizations should their teams to adapt to the new process while increasing the scope of security integration and correlation of multiple data sources, which helps provide business context that will enable SecOps teams to work more efficiently.
While the implementation of SecOps can be difficult, and the change difficult for teams to adapt to, this is often a necessary step to maintain a competitive advantage and guarantee the continued security of your software.
However, the challenges discussed here can be addressed, and there are a number of tools available to help you reduce the burden on your resources.
To successfully make the change, you should plan ahead and consider the psychological aspects of managing your teams, as well as the technical aspects.
About the Author
Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.
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