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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

Building Blocks for strong Cloud security programs

Cloud applications passes through different phases through various tools and teams during their development and updates. Security processes are often an afterthought, applied only in the final stages of software development. This approach puts both developers and security teams at a disadvantage.

Developers want to create secure apps, while security teams aim to strengthen application security. However, traditional security processes designed for on-prem production struggle to keep up with the ever-changing and quasi-public cloud environments. As a result, incorporating security into agile software development life cycles (SDLC) can be costly and inefficient.

To address this issue, a shift-left approach to software development is gaining traction. Shift-left security involves integrating security early in the software development lifecycle, fostering a culture of shared responsibility between developers and security teams. However, many organisations struggle to implement shift-left security effectively.

In the past, security was isolated within a specific team in the final stages of development. But with the shift towards hyper-agile development cycles, security needs to keep pace. One challenge lies in the differing goals and skill sets of developers and security professionals. Developers focus on meeting end-user demands, while security teams prioritise ensuring code safety to prevent future exploitation.

For a successful shift-left transformation, organisations must establish trust between security and development teams. Developers need to believe that security will support their work without slowing them down. Additionally, having security-minded development teams and full environmental visibility are essential.

Four best practices are crucial for implementing true shift-left security:

1. Align and Communicate: Top-down support is vital for successful organisational change. The leadership of each team needs to communicate and collaborate effectively to drive the shift-left efforts forward.

2. Measure: Organisations must constantly measure progress against security goals and identify security issues that remain unresolved. Speed of product development, time to fix exploits, and stakeholder satisfaction are key metrics to track.

3. Enforce and Automate: Automation is essential for providing real-time context to the right individuals. Infrastructure-as-code can facilitate enforcing security guardrails throughout the pipeline, enabling developers to deploy securely with minimal friction.

4. Share and Improve: Democratising security knowledge is crucial in fostering shift-left success. Developers and engineers need channels to share and improve the security process, saturating the earliest phases of SDLC with security.

An example of successful shift-left implementation is the case of United Airlines, where the security team provided centralised visibility and aligned development teams alongside security to create a culture of shared responsibility.

Ultimately, organisations that fully commit to these best practices can successfully embed security into their day-to-day processes and democratize security understanding, achieving true shift-left security.


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