DevOps and Security

DevOps is a buzzword these days, and like many of the hyped concepts written about, it has a lot of meanings. There is this idea releasing software more often, using automation, having various groups talk to each other, and more, all of  which we might see as common sense. However other DevOps ideas, such as releasing more often (with potentially less review), being willing to break applications and fix them quickly, having developers able to release code to live, production environments, these don’t seem to be ideas that would enhance security for most organizations.

However, that’s not necessarily the case. Security and DevOps practices aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. I ran across a piece from the security perspective, looking at some of the ideas in DevOps that can actually enhance security.

Writing more code, especially around the configuration and infrastructure, allows versioning, auditing, and more that can ensure we have fewer mis-configured systems. Adding some Desired State Configuration (DSR), with some automated testing of this code, could ensure that the changes made don’t open up security holes. Or, at least, allow us to determine who made the change and when the issue appeared. These are important for understand security risk.

There are also the ideas of measurement, metrics, and feedback, which are important for ensuring security. After all, anomalous behavior should be investigated, as this could be a sign of intrusion. For databases, it’s especially important with the large number of clients that connect to our systems. Adding DevOps style monitoring can allow us to determine if a workload is normal, or perhaps a sign of intentional, accidental, or malicious data query activity.

I enjoyed the piece, and I’d recommend you read it. Plus, whenever I see “snowflake” in an article, I think of Grant and want to read further to see how someone else has used the same analogy he does.

Steve Jones

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Editor, SQLServerCentral
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