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By Brian Nathans

Resources

6 min read

SecOps is a methodology that aims to automate crucial security tasks, with the goal of developing more secure applications. The purpose of SecOps is to minimize security risks during the development process and daily activities. Under a joint SecOps strategy, the security and operations teams work together to maintain a safe environment by identifying and resolving vulnerabilities and resolving any security issues.

While a company that shares plaintext passwords will not be using centralised access controls overnight, the process of becoming a SecOps-oriented team begins with making sure the Security team is not siloed and that security concerns are not an afterthought. Technically speaking, SecOps is a software development philosophy and development system and the system is much like the software development system known as DevOps.

What Is SecOps?

SecOps is the collaboration between IT security and operations teams that focuses on reducing enterprise risk and keeping an enterprise secure. As a subset of infosec, implementing SecOps includes following a set of SOC processes, tools, and practices that help enterprises achieve their security goals more successfully.

Compared to traditional security environments, SecOps improves security alongside the programming and operations aspects of DevOps and typically provides a superior ROI (return on investment).

It is evident that SecOps is continually evolving, which often contributes to more complexity. It is now more prevalent than ever for organisations to deal with sophisticated threats from across the globe, leading to increased security vulnerabilities. In this guide we will cover everything you need to know about implementing SecOps in your organisation.

Key roles in a SecOps team

Incident responder

  • Configures and monitors security tools.
  • Identifies threats
  • Triages, classifies and prioritises threats

Security Investigator

  • Identifies affected hosts and devices
  • Evaluates running and terminated processes
  • Performs threat analysis
  • Crafts and deploys mitigation and eradication strategy

Advanced Security Analyst

  • Identifies unknown vulnerabilities
  • Reviews past threats and mitigations
  • Assesses vendor and product health
  • Recommends product, process and tool changes

SOC Manager

  • Manages entire SOC teams
  • Communicates with CISO, business leaders and partners.
  • Has strong people management and crisis management skills
  • Is familiar with the functions and responsibilities of each SOC tier

Security Engineer / Architect

  • Manages overall security architecture
  • Ensures architecture is part of the development cycle.
  • Evaluates and tests vendor tools
  • Ensures compliance

Benefits of SecOps

Security-oriented communication and collaboration

SecOps is applied at the cultural level, enabling open channels of communication between all parties involved, from IT and security professionals to third-party entities and integrated software, to personnel and visitors who connect to the network at the various endpoints.

In a SecOps ecosystem, everyone is aligned with the goal of securing the company network, and everyone collaborates to achieve security goals. When priorities unite, security goals can be met efficiently, organisations can increase their Return on Investment (ROI) through shared resources and streamlined operations.

Secure continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD)

SecOps practices ensure that CI/CD pipelines prioritise security, as well as fast delivery. The SecOps team apply security measures in Continuous Integration (CI), ensuring the codebase is secure, and in Continuous Delivery (CD), speeding up security tasks with automation.

Merging SecOps and CI/CD practices ensures that teams and technologies collaborate to continuously secure the network and codebase, without causing backlogs. SecOps teams can then use automation to reduce application ad service disruptions, streamline security audits and enhance the visibility of security vulnerabilities.

Enhanced collaboration between IT security and operations teams.

When organisations break down information silos and allow teams to work together, tasks are completed more efficiently and duplicated effort is significantly reduced.

Increased efficiency via shared resources

Appropriate tools are key to enabling efficient collaboration between all teams. You can use tools with granular access control to ensure that relevant personnel gain appropriate access and authorization. Sharing resources helps provide everyone with what they need at key moments.

Reduced application and service disruptions

When all of the organisation is united under a dynamic security endeavour, the collaborative effort ensures quick response time. As all relevant personnel join forces to fix the issue, they reduce the application and service disruptions.

__Streamlined security audit __

Whether you’re using manual audits, automation tools, or exercising a double-sword practice that covers both bases - you can streamline the audit process by distributing auditing tasks. This will ensure there’s no backlog and issues can be caught in a timely manner.

__Enhance visibility of security vulnerabilities __

When everyone is set to the task of securing the organisation, you can catch vulnerabilities faster. Nowadays, there are so many vulnerabilities, we need vulnerability libraries to keep track of everything. When everyone keeps an eye for vulnerabilities, you gain more visibility.

Best practices for implementing SecOps in an organisation

Shifting team culture from Agile or DevOps to include security measures makes sense but could slow the development process at first. Programmers are used to working quickly to add new features and versions of software. Security is usually not backed into the process and is typically more reactive in nature (only being considered when there is an issue). Let us review some of the best practices for incorporating SecOps into whichever methodology you might be using in your organisation.

Provide SecOps Training

Some organisations may opt to develop their own SecOps training and procedures. Others may choose to use established frameworks and training resources. Third-party courses are readily available and can be used to quickly implement the training process.

Avoid potential pitfalls

One of the benefits of SecOps is the improved teamwork between all parties involved in software production. Where Security teams and Development teams would once disagree on how code gets to production, having closer cross-team collaboration will mitigate this.

Provide access to SecOps tools

In addition to the popular development tools e.g. GitHub, AWS, certain security tools can help you to implement SecOps into your system while maintaining speed. Automation platforms can manage many of the security procedures and pair perfectly with a well-documented SecOps process.

Know which processes to automate and should stay manual

In a large-scale, fast-paced IT environment, automation is critical for successful SecOps. Automating processes such as monitoring, anomaly detection and vulnerability scanning is the only way to perform these processes to scale and in real-time.

However, not every process that falls within the realm of SecOps can be fully automated. Tasks such as responding to complex security events that aren’t covered by an existing “playbook” within your monitoring and incident remediation tools require much effort, even much more the creation of response playbooks for handling new types of incidents so that they can be managed automatically in the future.

Build holistic, comprehensive processes that work across the entire infrastructure

Since the challenges that modern SecOps teams must address are so broad and dynamic, it’s critical to implement processes that work across the organisation’s entire IT infrastructure. To be most effective, SecOps require processes (and tools) that are as broad as possible. Although you may not be able to deploy just a single tool and process to deal with every security threat under the sun, SecOps teams should strive to implement solutions that can be used everywhere within their IT organisation if possible.

Address the entire application delivery pipeline.

SecOps processes should be able to mitigate security threats at all stages of the application delivery pipeline. SecOps teams should strive to begin checking for vulnerabilities in their various forms as early in the delivery pipeline as possible. As soon as new code has been written, vulnerability scanning should begin. Security testing should continue under different types of configurations before the application is deployed.

Final Thoughts

While implementing SecOps in any organisation might be capital intensive and tasking for both security and operations teams, the return on investment, in the near and short term is evident. To ensure that your organisation reaps the full benefits of SecOps, be sure to follow and implement the best practices we have discussed above. Successful implementation of SecOps will result in enhanced visibility of security vulnerabilities, reduced application and service disruptions, secure continuous integration and delivery among other benefits.

If you found this post informative then why not check out our previous guide on free open source SIEM tools or our previous post on the leading deployment software?

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