Cybersecurity risks are growing at an alarming rate. No month goes by without a report of a significant breach or data leak. As a startup founder and business person, you need to be aware of the looming attack types and understand what part of your business might be at risk.
Most companies have already integrated software development and IT operations into a cohesive and efficient DevOps lifecycle. However, this step has brought forth new concerns, including application security and cybercrime prevention.
Read on to learn five practical steps and better security integration into your day-to-day DevOps.
Embed cyber awareness into company culture.
Many small business owners neglect their email security until a cyberattack wrecks their data.
According to a Threat Stack survey, in 2018, the main reason security has been ignored in IT companies is to achieve faster objectives and meet deadlines. Tech startups and other small businesses often find themselves in a situation where various teams become more codependent.
These dependencies bring up general issues that refer to every department in the company and thus require a more structural approach with input from everybody. Security is one of those issues. Each team creates a set of vulnerabilities that connect to the others, creating extensive issues.
Security isn’t virtual. It’s a set of practices, steps and tools that come together to create a better environment in the whole company. This is why small businesses need to adopt it as a mindset, not just view it as a set of practices.
Everything starts at the top of the chain. You, as a leader, need to go all-in on cyber protection practices and their enforcement. Developers and the operations team need to work together, communicate security-related issues and learn from each other.
One of the best ways is to give employees a platform to ask questions and get answers right from the security team. Otherwise, each department will get sucked into their day-to-day tasks and miss the point with protective measures.
Start from Day 1.
No matter if your company has ten or 200 employees, security training should be a priority during onboarding. While it’s essential for all employees, developers and operations team members should get a more in-depth and specific version of it.
Starting the conversation with new teammates will cultivate awareness throughout the company. You can also bring secure coding practices to the attention of the whole company through senior developers. Creating training courses and updating everybody’s (especially juniors) knowledge around the topic is key to a consistent and successful practice.
Still, you need to ensure that the senior level employees adhere to the same rules and enforce the policies. It’ll make an environment where the initial seeds can thrive.
Nail your security processes.
Each team in your organization should create their own security process that will define vulnerabilities and set solutions. Then they can bring the process together and identify where the road maps become cross-team, even if the teams consist of a few people.
Inserting security measures into DevOps creates a new kind of collaborative movement within organizations (DevSecOps), which views the safety component as everybody’s job. While creating security guidelines could take a lot of time, don’t postpone starting the work. The longer you take to begin, the longer your employees will hang onto undefined processes.
You don’t need lengthy explanations to make the security processes stick. Don’t try to check every box from the start. Make a reference document and fill it in as you go. Define the solutions in a concise document and don’t complicate the execution. The steps need to be simple and easy for everybody to follow.
In addition to documentation, set a baseline of security tools and applications you should deploy.
Protecting your domain and securing your communications is a primary step in a chain of steps you still need to take against data leakage. Setting your SPF records straight and reaching DMARC reject policy should be one of the first things you do when you get a website.
While some applications facilitate your day-to-day, others are simply critical for the workflow. Usually, hackers target the second type as they contain valuable information. Securing your business-critical code base is yet another layer to your company’s operation safety.
Test your code periodically.
It’s easy to get into a rush with new features and roll out code that has been inserted at the last minute. Last-minute changes are unavoidable, but you can minimize the risks by finding bugs in the process instead of postponing it until the second of release.
Motivate your team members to find issues as a part of rolling code review. Plus, ensure you test the app by replicating various penetration methods hackers would use. You might want to use in-house resources to run tests, but having an outsourced company look at your code also helps in the process.
It’s also vital to use various methods like penetration testing, composition analysis and fuzzing. No one type can discover all the issues. And while automatic testing might get you ahead of many problems, never skip the manual testing.
When a developer looks at the code, they identify vulnerabilities otherwise invisible to any testing algorithm. In this case, the human factor can actually play to your strengths, as the coder will look at the system from the hacker’s perspective.
Ensure third-party code security.
It’s a no-brainer that you should check the code you’re releasing. This also refers to the ready-made solutions, snippets and libraries you integrate into your app.
Open-source code can be handy. Still, it also tends to have exploitable vulnerabilities. While you can’t avoid using external libraries, you can guard the code-base against malicious assets.
The best practice is to analyze it thoroughly. Once you’re confident that it’s clean, only then use it in the app.
Businesses, even small businesses, needs to view themselves as tech companies if they have an app.
Cybersecurity is as essential for your business as airbags are for your car. You might deem your company insignificant in terms of hacker attacks, but, rest assured, integrating security measures into your DevOps should be a top priority.
Originally published Oct. 27, 2021.