Penetration testing

Why DevOps Need Penetration Testing

David Burke
September 28, 2018 by
David Burke

When your goal is to innovate and deliver products and services at higher speed, security can be a bit of an afterthought. This is especially true when you consider that taking such measures can slow down DevOps processes, creating cumbersome hurdles along the way.

However, the last thing a business should do is ignore vulnerabilities in their security. These days, security flaws need to be addressed immediately to avoid the risk of them being exploited by hackers.

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The Need for Secure DevOps

DevOps (Development and Operations) is a catch-all phrase that refers to practices, tools and cultural philosophies within enterprise software development that aim to unify two business units: software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops).

It focuses on the improvement of traditional software development and infrastructure processes through better communication and collaboration. Improving the process in this way allows companies to innovate at a much fast pace. While it can mean a lot of different things to different people, it’s essentially about continuous integration, development, and innovation.

The trouble with DevOps is that the process involves many vulnerabilities. When you’re dealing with continuous development and daily software updates, you need to stay on top of cybersecurity or risk leaving behind flaws. And while DevOps pros are often in charge of handling security, most of them lack the proper knowledge and skills to handle security incidents adequately.

Besides the lack of knowledge and skills, there are other barriers to secure DevOps being practiced. These include inconsistent approaches, lack of automated testing tools, developer resistance and the fact that security testing tends to slow things down.

There are many ways to successfully introduce security into DevOps, including the use of penetration testing.

Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, also referred to as ethical hacking, is a process that can be used to test the security of your computer systems. This is done by finding and exploiting any weaknesses that exist within the system.

While these services can be done as a one-off, when it comes to DevOps it should be performed on an ongoing basis to keep up with the constant developments taking place. By implementing a continuous and automated security protection system, you can identify current exposures faced by your systems in a timely manner.

If you’re thinking of conducting a pentest, then you need to create a plan. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are testing cloud-based applications, then you need to speak to your cloud provider to find out if you face any restrictions on what you can do during the testing process.

If you don’t follow the process recommended by your cloud provider, then you could risk having your account shut down. For instance, they could do so if your testing looks like a DDoS attack or if you end up saturating the system with your test.

Create your pentesting plan with this in mind, covering items such as data and network access, compliance, automation and approach. Be sure to choose a pentesting tool that can effectively simulate a real-life attack.

There are a couple of things you should be looking out for when carrying out your penetration testing. For one, you want to see how people would respond to the attack. To get a more accurate response, you may choose not to disclose the test. The other thing to look out for is the automated response, which is more about testing the security systems you have in place.

All responses, both automated and human, should be documented. The reactions will reveal any flaws in how the security system and people respond to incidents, thus revealing how secure your system currently is. If you have discovered any vulnerabilities during your testing, then these need to be addressed immediately.

Security should be tested on a regular basis, but there are other things you can do to help improve DevOps security. It helps to think of long-term strategies that would be of benefit to DevOps, and considering the fact that these pros often lack the necessary knowledge and skills, focusing on improving awareness and knowledge should be top of your list.

It’s Time to Embrace Security

Security can sometimes be seen as an inconvenience, a hurdle you have to dodge or ignore in order to get something done. But it’s time to embrace security within DevOps.

Nowadays, companies can’t risk leaving their computer systems exposed to vulnerabilities. By conducting regular penetration testing, you can keep up with your security needs and uncover new vulnerabilities as they arise.



DevOps 101: Adopt Continuous Innovation, InformationWeek

Why Isn’t Secure DevOps Being Practiced?, SecurityIntelligence

Penetration Testing, Sense of Security

FREE role-guided training plans

FREE role-guided training plans

Get 12 cybersecurity training plans — one for each of the most common roles requested by employers.

50+% of DevOps pros handle security, but they lack proper knowledge and skills, TechRepublic

David Burke
David Burke

David Burke is an export-import manager by the day and in free time a freelance writer and a passionate blogger who likes writing articles that cover business, tech and cybersecurity related topics. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several other blogs. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending his free time outdoors with his family.