A Practitioner’s Perspective of DevOps: Keeping Systems Updated

By Sachin Agarwal, Senior DevOps Engineer, Securonix

In my first post of this series for newer DevOps and security professionals, I discussed continuous security as part of the DevOps framework I wrote about in my book, Mastering DevOps with Continuous Security: Advanced Strategies and Best Practices. The three pillars of DevOps (as covered in the book) across this series of blog posts are continuous security, keeping systems updated, and regular compliance audits. This post focuses on the second, keeping systems updated. For those new to DevOps and security, keep in mind that the culture and processes will be drastically different from traditional software development, with more integration across teams so that security is practiced in a more proactive manner.

Cultural integration for incorporating latest security updates and shared responsibility

In DevOps, cultural integration as I define it means that everyone from developers to security teams is on the same page about security. It’s about making security a key part of the job, not just something tacked on at the end. This means the adoption and routine implementation of the latest security updates and compliance systems. The traditional silos that new DevOps and security practitioners are used to are theoretically broken down – software development has security embedded within the workflows as opposed to having it added at a later stage , before full release. This approach cultivates a culture of heightened security awareness and fosters a sense of responsibility across development, operations, and security teams. To get there, new practitioners need to change how they approach and learn continuously about security risks and how to prevent them, as it’s a shared responsibility across all teams. Training sessions and clear communication around the latest security threats, the impact of these threats, and the role they play in countering them help build a proactive culture and workplace.

Risk management with regular audits to identify, mitigate, and proactively address security risks before they escalate

Risk management involves actively finding and fixing potential security issues before they escalate. Regular audits play an important role in this strategy, allowing organizations to uncover vulnerabilities in their early stages, assess compliance gaps, and mitigate security threats promptly. For newcomers in DevOps and security, think of it as a routine health check-up for your systems, focusing on prevention rather than cure. Regular audits help spot weak spots early, and addressing these swiftly means you’re less likely to face bigger problems down the line. If you’re starting out, prioritize learning about your systems’ compliance requirements and industry standards, ensuring your audits are thorough. React quickly to audit findings with fixes or updates, and always keep learning about new threats and security practices to stay ahead. Regular audits are just one part of a broad strategy to keep systems safe though. They work best alongside ongoing activities like constant system checks, staying informed about the latest cyber threats, and following best coding practices.

Continuous assurance to embed compliance checks and audits into DevOps pipeline

In DevOps and security, continuous assurance means always checking your work against security and compliance standards. To do this effectively, organizations weave automated security tools into every step of the development cycle. For example, code analysis tools that spot security problems whenever new code is added are used, in addition to dynamic tools that test the running app for issues that static tools might miss. This relates back to the first around embedding security within software development processes and not just at the end. Finally, there is a need for continued training for teams to understand security as an essential part of their job, not an extra step.This approach helps keep enterprise systems secure and compliant. Continuous assurance calls back to the cultural integration section mentioned above, as it’s not only a tool but people and process-oriented approach. Beginner DevOps team members should remember to learn and understand all of the organization’s tech and risk environment. Know the system inside out – its architecture, its dependencies, its data flow, its risk profile, and its compliance needs.

Practical implications for keeping systems updated

In the context of my work at Securonix, a good example that ties together all three principles is how Securonix helps maintain CCPA compliance in a DevOps environment. We integrate data privacy capabilities into the platform with features and reporting like data masking, access controls, and detailed audit trails. I help our customers ensure their systems are assessed continuously for adherence to security regulations so they can manage consumer data privacy and compliance​.

Hopefully this second post gives you an idea of how to approach keeping systems updated in any sort of new DevOps and security profession. I’ll be covering regular compliance audits in my next post.

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