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SecOps is the blending of security and IT operations into one combined set of workflows, tools, and methodologies. This increases the speed at which new infrastructure can be spun up without impacting the quality or security of your systems. Let’s discuss what SecOps means, how it works, and the SecOps best practices for enterprises.

What is SecOps?

SecOps is based on the DevOps philosophy, which blends software development and IT operations teams. Infrastructure configurations are abstracted as software, which is integrated, tested, and deployed using the same processes that application developers use. The SecOps methodology takes this a step further, removing barriers between the security and IT operations teams. SecOps focuses on integrating security processes into the provisioning, deployment, and management of systems and infrastructure.

Why is SecOps important?

The operations team will spin up new virtual and physical systems completely independently of security teams in a traditional IT department. Once a machine is ready to deploy, the security team will perform security checks and vulnerability testing. If there are any issues, deployment will be delayed until Ops can remediate the problem and perform security testing again. In the meantime, any business units waiting on that system—for instance, a development team trying to release new software on a tight schedule—lose valuable time. And that’s the best-case scenario.

Sometimes, in their haste to meet business demands, Ops will ignore the red flags discovered by security teams so they can still deploy infrastructure on schedule. Or, even worse, they’ll skip the security testing altogether and hope for the best. Either way, this can leave massive security vulnerabilities in business-critical, production infrastructure. For example, the Equifax breach in 2017 was caused by lax security processes, and went undetected for so long because of an expired certificate. That means this high-profile event might have been prevented if Equifax had integrated security processes into their IT operations.

SecOps brings security and operations teams together, allowing them to work simultaneously to provision infrastructure quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality or security.

How SecOps uses DevOps principles to improve efficiency and security

SecOps enables teams to integrate security and operations processes by abstracting them as software code and introducing automation.

For Ops, that means infrastructure configurations and updates are written as software definition files that are centrally managed in a code repository. These definition files can be deployed automatically to many devices simultaneously, allowing enterprises to scale quickly and efficiently. This methodology is called infrastructure as code (IaC), and it’s a fundamental principle of DevOps, NetDevOps, and SecOps.

On the Sec side of SecOps, automatic security testing runs at multiple stages in the infrastructure provisioning process:

  1. When the initial configuration is written: at this stage, testing is focused on bugs or mistakes in the configuration that could leave vulnerabilities open in the system.
  2. When the configuration is integrated into the code repository: automatic testing ensures that the new code doesn’t conflict with other versions or introduce any issues to existing configurations.
  3. The configuration will receive comprehensive functional, non-functional, and security testing in a dedicated testing environment before production.
  4. In production: servers are continuously monitored and tested, with additional testing performed when patches are deployed, or other changes occur in the production environment.

Automatic security testing allows your teams to “shift left,” meaning issues and vulnerabilities are spotted and fixed as early in the provisioning process as possible, so you can work faster and with greater agility to meet the demands of your enterprise. This form of continuous and automatic testing is part of the CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) methodology, which is foundational to DevOps, NetDevOps, and SecOps.

When you combine IaC with CI/CD to implement SecOps in your enterprise, you’re able to spin up your infrastructure more rapidly and catch security vulnerabilities and other issues earlier in the process. Plus, since SecOps seeks to automate as many processes as possible, you can reduce the risk of human error in your infrastructure configurations and security testing.

With SecOps, you can improve your enterprise’s security posture while still increasing your productivity and efficiency.

The top SecOps best practices for enterprises

SecOps is a methodology or framework for operational security, not a technology solution you can purchase and spin up in your datacenter. If you want to implement SecOps in your enterprise, you’ll need to:

Build a collaborative culture within your organization

SecOps focuses on blending the security and IT operations teams, which means you should foster a culture of open communication and cross-functional collaboration. Mistakes should be openly discussed and resolved as a team effort, so nobody’s afraid to ask for help or point out security issues. Everybody’s role within the organization should also be clearly outlined, so nobody’s left fearing automation or redundancy. This will allow all your SecOps teams to fully embrace new tools and processes to make a smoother transition.

Provide the proper SecOps tools and training 

You must empower your teams with the technology and training they need to implement SecOps processes successfully. In addition to automated testing and abstracting management processes as software, SecOps also requires other tools, such as:

  • Monitoring and visibility: You need to monitor, analyze, and visualize your SecOps infrastructure and applications to ensure optimal performance and security. It would be best if you partnered with a vendor-neutral solution that provides one central dashboard for observing and managing all your systems, whether they’re on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Incident response: An automated incident response solution can detect issues, follow predefined scripts and policies to remediate events automatically, and alert security teams and other stakeholders when human intervention is required.
  • Collaboration and sharing: You need a central repository with version control for your infrastructure and networking configurations. This allows your Sec and Ops teams to work with the same code simultaneously without stepping on each other’s toes.

Once you’ve chosen which tools and processes to adopt, you’ll need to train your SecOps teams on how to use them. You should also ensure your staff has enough time to become comfortable using these skills and technologies at speed required for CI/CD and SecOps.

Following these best practices will ensure that your SecOps initiative is based on a solid foundation that includes team trust and collaboration, comprehensive training, and the best tools and technology for every SecOps process.

Further help implementing SecOps best practices

The value of SecOps is that you can increase the speed and efficiency of your IT operations while ensuring that security is a priority at every stage of the deployment process. To effectively implement SecOps, your enterprise needs to foster a culture of collaboration, invest in the right tools for the job, and train your teams on how to handle new workflows and technologies. 

ZPE Systems is here to help your enterprise implement SecOps best practices. The Nodegrid family of hardware and software solutions provides SecOps capabilities such as:

  • Zero-touch provisioning to automatically configure end devices from anywhere in the world
  • Vendor-neutral interface abstraction so you can manage all your infrastructure solutions from one centralized control panel
  • Support for advanced security methodologies like Zero Trust and Security Service Edge (SSE)

Need more help implementing the SecOps best practices?

To learn more about how Nodegrid can help you implement SecOps best practices for your enterprise, contact ZPE Systems today.

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