Organizations are now embracing security automation in the development process. Automating security is essential in streamlining processes and integrating secure design early during the software development cycle.
The complexity and scale of the current application development environments and computer systems present large and complex security threats. On top of this, the increasingly accelerated development cycles coupled with frequent software releases offer an evolving production of vulnerabilities.
So, manual security approaches are unable to keep up with the emerging reality. Read on to find how and why organizations are automating web elements in development processes.
Web automation refers to a concept that allows software to carry out pre-defined processes, tasks, and actions on a web application. Web automation can automate all click and typing done at a desk each day on a website.
For example, security automation is important in the web development process. The software process helps investigate, detect, and fix threats to web systems and applications.
With the frequent attacks on applications from hackers, manual threat response is usually slow and labor-intensive. However, security automation provides an easy and repeatable process for ensuring a safe technology environment.
Why automating the development process is essential
As the pace and complexity of software development increased, so was the need to automate some of the development processes. It makes it hard to manually manage compliance and security.
The catastrophic effects of security breaches provide the strongest impetus supporting automation. Automation is an essential part of ensuring an application is effective.
Through automation, both development and security teams can pay attention to more troublesome aspects. This way, they can guarantee the security of deployed applications.
Automation also streamlines daily operations through the integration of policies, applications, processes, and infrastructure across the development lifecycle.
What processes you can automate
To ensure the development process is safe, some critical and tedious aspects of security need to be automated. Some of the processes that require automation include:
- Monitoring and detecting threats: Businesses require continuous visibility of every aspect of their IT infrastructure. Security monitoring tools offer visibility at scale while integrating continuous monitoring.
- Investigating threat: After establishing a vulnerability, investigation commences to establish the affected machines, damage caused, and exploited vulnerabilities. Security automation undertakes most of the forensic work in a shorter time frame compared to engineers or developers.
- Responding to the incident: After establishing a vulnerability, a software development tool will determine the correct response. With automation, the response can be done fast regardless of whether it is the removal of malware, installation of patches, or deactivation of service.
- Permission management: A critical aspect of security involves the management of uses and their permissions. However, keeping up with thousands of users is a challenge when doing it manually. So, automating the process of provisioning and monitoring host escalations saves a lot of effort, resources, and time.
- Ensuring application and business continuity: Security automation can shield applications and businesses from critical information breaches. Automation can deploy IP blocking to prevent a brute force attack while allowing other IP addresses. As well, automation provides a way of replicating critical server instances to make sure essential data is still available.
Benefits of automation
The automation of web development elements frees security teams and developers to pay attention to complex aspects of their job. These benefits include:
- Fast detection: The automation of development processes provides intelligent threat detection throughout the IT environment. This way, it can issue notifications depending on the recognized threat.
- Better incident response: With automated security systems, it is easier for security teams to prioritize threat notifications for faster response. Also, in some cases, automation of some responses eliminates the need for manual interventions.
- Improved visibility of security metrics: Through security automation, developers can track and report security threats and incidents. The reports let security teams focus on critical areas and build effective application security policies.
Best automation practices
The recent combination of development and operations teams in companies is resulting in a successful and faster release rate of code. Here are the best automation practices associated with web development processes.
- Befriending automation
In software development speed is one of the tenets in continuous deployment and continuous integration environment. How fast you can deliver production code trumps everything else. Security tests and controls need to be included early in the development cycle.
Since organizations push multiple versions of code each day, automation provides a convenient way of monitoring development progress. So, automation is an important software development characteristic in businesses with mature development processes.
- Thoughtful automation
When doing static application security testing (SAST) scan things of interest like changes to the code committed each day. Attempting to automatically scan the entire application each day takes a lot of time making it a difficult daily task.
So, consider dynamic application security testing (DAST) in the development process. Unlike static analysis, its focus is on establishing potential security issues with the code. It looks for threats in real-time as the application is running.
The inclusion of automatic security analysis in continuous integration platforms limits the introduction of vulnerable code in the early stages of software development.
- Evaluate code dependencies
In development security operations, code dependency check is essential. It ensures that no code with known vulnerabilities finds its way into the software. Despite the growing risks associated with the use of third-party software, organizations still use open-source software in their applications.
A survey in 2017 showed that 96% of commercial applications include open-source components. In 6 out of 10 such applications contained known security threats in their components.
- Divide the task into manageable tasks
When building software, it is advisable to break things down into manageable chunks then choosing one to start with before moving to the next. At the onset, think small and take note of your successes before moving to the next step.
- Teach secure coding to developers
Get the time and investment necessary to teach the development team secure coding. Developers usually do not know when their code is insecure. So, investment is necessary to train developers on security.