Spending Developers on Security - Part 1
July 10, 2018

Hillel Solow
Protego

Securing cloud native applications presents an interesting challenge. Cloud native application developers view the cloud as an operating system, and they write for and run on that operating system. When it comes to security, this means spending time configuring this operating system to enforce security policies on the various parts of the application. In the cloud, this often translates into IAM roles, VPC configurations, etc.

In the shift to cloud native, many organizations have also adopted a configuration-as-code approach. This helps drive up application deployment velocity by letting developers and DevOps teams reconfigure their deployments as their needs arise. Other organizations, particularly the more regulated ones, still have security people owning these tools, but that creates increased pressure on the security organization to keep up.

Your Mileage May Vary

How much are organizations investing in this process, and how much is it getting them? I recently spent some time talking with developers using primarily serverless technologies, to understand how they handle security configuration.

If I oversimplify, there are three types of developers in the serverless arena:

Extreme Minimalists: This strategy can be summed up as "do nothing until you have to", or "why procrastinate today when you can procrastinate tomorrow", and basically means, don't touch security configuration until something you deploy to staging doesn't work, see what error you got, add a permission or configuration as needed.

Balanced Realists: Here the strategy consists of spending about two minutes before deploying a function reviewing roles and configuration, and trying to catch any missing or perhaps extra permissions or configurations before rolling it out. Handle the rest as exceptions.

High-Functioning Security Fundamentalists: This is less common, but not as extinct as one might think, and involves really reviewing the entire security configuration before each deploy, revalidating all permission, and tracking anything that might be missing.

As you can imagine, each profile ends up spending dramatically different amounts of time on security, and getting very different results. By and large the first group spends zero time on deployment, but then spends a lot more time when permissions are missing. In the end, they tend to still come out on top in terms of time spent, but are worst off in security, as by the time they see an error in the logs for some function that's missing permission, they're almost certainly going to drop a big wildcard in to get it working.

The second group tends to spend about two to three minutes per deploy, and still hit the occasional exception. Their security outcomes are somewhat better than the first group, but not a whole lot. They too have a lot of wildcards, but they are slightly better at removing old permissions that are no longer needed.

The third group spends 5-8 minutes per deploy but has a pretty low rate of exception after, and tend to have a much better security posture than the first two groups, both because they spend more time, but also because that time is spent within the mindset of "let me get the exact profile I need and no more." Bravo to them, but honestly, I don't think I could keep that up for long.

Read Spending Developers on Security - Part 2 to answer the question: What's it Going to Cost Me?

Hillel Solow is CTO and Co-Founder of Protego

The Latest

September 18, 2018

To celebrate IT Professionals Day 2018 (this year on September 18), the SolarWinds IT Pro Day 2018: A World Powered by Tech Pros survey explores a "Tech PROactive" world where technology professionals have the time, resources, and ability to use their technology prowess to do absolutely anything ...

September 17, 2018

The role of DevOps in capitalizing on the benefits of hybrid cloud has become increasingly important, with developers and IT operations now working together closer than ever to continuously plan, develop, deliver, integrate, test, and deploy new applications and services in the hybrid cloud ...

September 13, 2018

"Our research provides compelling evidence that smart investments in technology, process, and culture drive profit, quality, and customer outcomes that are important for organizations to stay competitive and relevant -- both today and as we look to the future," said Dr. Nicole Forsgren, co-founder and CEO of DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA), referring to the organization's latest report Accelerate: State of DevOps 2018: Strategies for a New Economy ...

September 12, 2018

This next blog examines the security component of step four of the Twelve-Factor methodology — backing services. Here follows some actionable advice from the WhiteHat Security Addendum Checklist, which developers and ops engineers can follow during the SaaS build and operations stages ...

September 10, 2018

When thinking about security automation, a common concern from security teams is that they don't have the coding capabilities needed to create, implement, and maintain it. So, what are teams to do when internal resources are tight and there isn't budget to hire an outside consultant or "unicorn?" ...

September 06, 2018

In evaluating 316 million incidents, it is clear that attacks against the application are growing in volume and sophistication, and as such, continue to be a major threat to business, according to Security Report for Web Applications (Q2 2018) from tCell ...

September 04, 2018

There's a welcome insight in the 2018 Accelerate State of DevOps Report from DORA, because for the first time it calls out database development as a key technical practice which can drive high performance in DevOps ...

August 29, 2018

While everyone is convinced about the benefits of containers, to really know if you're making progress, you need to measure container performance using KPIs.These KPIs should shed light on how a DevOps team is faring in terms of important parameters like speed, quality, availability, and efficiency. Let's look at the specific KPIs to track for each of these broad categories ...

August 27, 2018

Protego Labs recently discovered that 98 percent of functions in serverless applications are at risk, with 16 percent considered "serious" ...

August 23, 2018

After another record year of breaches, The 2018 DevSecOps Community Survey found that 3 in 10 respondents suspected or verified breaches stemming from vulnerabilities in open source components — a 55% increase over 2017, and 121% increase since 2014 ...

Share this