Shift Left Security: The Magic Elixir for Securing Cloud-Native Apps

Developing applications quickly has always been the goal of development teams. Traditionally, that often puts them at odds with the need for testing. Developers might code up to the last minute, leaving little time to find and fix vulnerabilities in time to meet deadlines. 

During the past decade, this historical push-pull between security and developers led many organizations to look to build security deeper into the application development lifecycle. This new approach, “shift-left security,” is a pivotal part of supporting the DevOps methodology. By focusing on finding and remediating vulnerabilities earlier, organizations can streamline the development process and improve velocity. 

Cloud computing empowers the adoption of DevOps. It offers DevOps teams a centralized platform for testing and deployment. But for DevOps teams to embrace the cloud, security has to be at the forefront of your considerations. For developers, that means making security a part of the continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline that forms the cornerstone of DevOps practices.

Out with the Old and In with the New

The CI/CD pipeline is vital to supporting DevOps through the automation of building, testing and deploying applications. It is not enough to just scan applications after they are live. A shift-left approach to security should start the same second that DevOps teams begin developing the application and provisioning infrastructure. By using APIs, developers can integrate security into their toolsets and enable security teams to find problems early. 

Speedy delivery of applications is not the enemy of security, though it can seem that way. Security is meant to be an enabler, an elixir that helps organizations use technology to reach their business goals. Making that a reality, however, requires making it a foundational part of the development process. 

In our Buyer’s Guide for Cloud Workload Protection Platforms, we provide a list of key features we believe organizations should look for to help secure their cloud environments. Automation is crucial. In research from CrowdStrike and Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), 41% of respondents said that automating the introduction of controls and processes via integration with the software development lifecycle and CI/CD tools is a top priority. Using automation, organizations can keep pace with the elastic, dynamic nature of cloud-native applications and infrastructure.

Better Security, Better Apps

At CrowdStrike, we focus on integrating security into the CI/CD pipeline. As part of the functionality of CrowdStrike’s Falcon Cloud Workload Protection (CWP), customers have the ability to create verified image policies to ensure that only approved images are allowed to progress through the CI/CD pipeline and run in their hosts or Kubernetes clusters. 

The tighter the integration between security and the pipeline, the earlier threats can be identified, and the more the speed of delivery can be accelerated. By seamlessly integrating with Jenkins, Bamboo, GitLab and others, Falcon CWP allows DevOps teams to respond and remediate incidents even faster within the toolsets they use. 

Falcon CWP also continuously scans container images for known vulnerabilities, configuration issues, secrets/keys and OSS licensing issues, and streamlines visibility for security operations by providing insights and context for misconfigurations and compliance violations. It also uses reporting and dashboards to drive alignment across the security operations, DevOps and infrastructure teams. 

Hardening the CI/CD pipeline allows DevOps teams to move fast without sacrificing security. The automation and integration of security into the CI/CD pipeline transforms the DevOps culture into its close relative, DevSecOps, which extends the methodology of DevOps by focusing on building security into the process. As businesses continue to adopt cloud services and infrastructure, forgetting to keep security top of mind is not an option. The CI/CD pipeline represents an attractive target for threat actors. Its criticality means that a compromise could have a significant impact on business and IT operations. 

Baking security into the CI/CD pipeline enables businesses to pursue their digital initiatives with confidence and security. By shifting security left, organizations can identify misconfigurations and other security risks before they impact users. Given the role that cloud computing plays in enabling DevOps, protecting cloud environments and workloads will only take on a larger role in defending the CI/CD pipeline, your applications and, ultimately, your customers. 

To learn more about how to choose security solutions to protect your CI/CD pipeline, download the CrowdStrike Cloud Workload Protection Platform Buyers Guide.

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