A Leftward Shift in Cybersecurity Is Necessary

With the mounting complexity of IT operations, many companies are now realising the significance of including cybersecurity in the development and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline at an early stage.

The notion of prioritising safety early on in the development process is not novel, as it was first introduced in the 1970s. ‘Secure by design’ and ‘DevSecOps’ concepts stemmed from this original idea. Nonetheless, only approximately a third of contemporary development organisations have embraced this approach, making it a relatively new concept.

DevSecOps applies a predefined set of security services while delivering an application or workload, whereas secure by design focuses on ensuring secure code. This domain encompasses network protection, multi-factor authentication, authorisations, and other related areas.

Developers and IT organisations should universally embrace both approaches to achieve the utmost security standards for forthcoming applications.

Several factors come into play that impede adoption.

In the past, developers counted on IT security and operational teams to protect their code. Nonetheless, various challenges have made this a progressively daunting task. With cyber attacks becoming more sophisticated and targeted, the adoption of containerised hybrid computing infrastructure, and a complex network edge that is challenging to define, treating cybersecurity as an afterthought is no longer feasible.

With companies increasingly embracing digital technology, the intricacies of comprehending network topologies and application dependencies are accelerating rapidly, owing to the prevalence of serverless computing in the cloud and microservices architectures. Consequently, programmers face an augmented responsibility to ensure the consistent delivery of code, updates, and novel features and functionalities.

Thanks to the demanding nature of Agile and DevOps practices and the ubiquitous implementation of Platform and Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers and Infrastructure-as-Code deployment, developers are relying more and more on these services to deploy code at an unprecedented speed. However, accomplishing the same objectives requires developers to adopt even more intricate toolchains.

It is evident that numerous IT professionals lack adequate knowledge of cybersecurity, which has resulted in a significant shortage of skilled cybersecurity personnel. This shortfall is expected to lead to a substantial rise in financial and reputational damages owing to the growing prevalence of ransomware in the 2020s.

Enhancing Transparency in IT

IT departments may face challenges in determining how to initiate recovery from a cyberattack, as they may lack insight into code generation and deployment, such as development environments distant from production servers.

Unfortunately, new features and functionalities are introduced into production at such a rapid pace that documentation is frequently outdated, or even non-existent, despite the existence of run books dedicated to supporting issue response teams in comprehending the situation.

The risk of cybercrime targeting development environments highlights the compelling rationale for moving to the left. Developers frequently use open source code that is incorrectly utilised or misconfigured as well as complex automated toolchains that may allow hackers access to the business.

It’s uncommon for developers not to identify and halt the use of redundant test environments. To comprehend the likely consequences of hackers obtaining access to source code before its launch, one could refer to the Solarwinds supply chain attack of 2023.

Incursions into a company’s development environment make it significantly easier for malicious actors to insert malicious software into backups. As a result, IT personnel are unable to retrieve the required data while attempting to restore the system following a ransomware attack, either due to data corruption or ransomware being reinstalled from backups.

Going Left Made Simple in Three Easy Steps

Although comprehensive security tests are increasingly performed by organizations prior to deploying code into production, introducing continuous vulnerability testing during the early stages of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) results in more robust and secure software. Two key advantages of incorporating this process into the CI/CD pipeline are meeting the organization’s security requirements and engaging developers in the SDLC from an early stage.

Automating Static Application Security Testing (SAST) on all compiled code is strongly recommended. Most organizations that utilize Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) already possess the requisite tools and frameworks to accomplish this. It’s crucial to maintain the scan’s outcomes in a way that can be retraced to the original build and saved in a Vulnerable Component Database that is accessible via the CI engine dashboard. This enables continuous monitoring of the application, promotes compliance, reporting, and research.

Ensure that you examine software composition during build time to understand all dependencies on third-party and application software components.

Finally, it is advisable to conduct dynamic application security testing.

Incorporating measures to protect your company from unwarranted attention may entail considerable upfront expenses. Nonetheless, this investment is warranted to guarantee that your company doesn’t elicit any unwelcome attention.

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