Shift Left on Security to Enable Secure and Rapid Digital Transformation

Rapid development and deployment can be a major competitive business advantage. This approach minimizes waste and cost, aligns business and IT teams, and allows companies to respond to real-time customer need and market trends. However exciting these opportunities are, it’s important to remember that dynamic and complex IT environments are creating increasing risk and threat, and reliability and security are a must have, not an optional extra.

Ensuring that rapid development and security protocols are not at odds should be a goal for any forward-focused business, especially during October’s cyber security Awareness Month. Shifting left on your security is becoming increasingly popular, but how can it be done?

Embracing the Shift Left Approach from a Security Standpoint

The idea behind the ‘shift-left’ approach for security is simple. Instead of first building a new product or service entirely, and then introducing security as a rubber stamp of approval at the end, you bring the security process in at an earlier point in the timeline, at the DevOps stage.

This has multiple benefits. From a business perspective, it’s a more cost-effective way to work on a new project. In fact, according to software development guru Steve McConnell, “violations are 10x to 20x less expensive to resolve during software development compared to at the production release step.”

The shift-left approach also ensures that areas such as reliability and compliance are considered at the earliest possible stage and can be part of the game plan from the start. As any security problems are discovered at the beginning, they are much easier to resolve, as they aren’t integral to the product yet. Troubleshooting security issues in advance means you can fix potential security violations before they become a reality.

Change the Way Security Fits Within your Business Structure and Company Culture

Without “shifting left,” when security is added as an afterthought, key stakeholders in development have historically seen security as a hurdle to get past, or a hoop to jump through. Often, security can stand in the way of a product or a service, making it more difficult to make quick decisions or streamline a process.

By moving security earlier on in the process, it can do the exact opposite – making it easier to say yes to new innovation and change. One example could be third-party code that would speed up development of a new product. Instead of being forced to build your own code from scratch to ensure security, automated processes could scan the code at the point of entry and ensure it is architecturally sound, working with DevOps teams to make their lives easier.

Going Further to Break Down Traditional Silos

Another method to increase the speed of deployment and its agility is to create a shared ownership over delivery of projects as well as a shared accountability for each other’s bottom lines. If development is responsible for secure code going out, and security is responsible for quick deployment, they suddenly have a shared goal they can work towards.

This change in mentality provides functionality and security in one for your business, with a seamless ability to feedback and improve. This is effective throughout a specific development cycle, and also as an overall posture of communication and collaboration for your company. Furthermore, this approach makes the security function less disruptive. It’s a quiet and constant part of the process rather than an addition that is seen to blow up the hard work of your development team at the very last stages.

What Does This Look Like in Action?

Embedding security into the application itself as part of the risk reduction process can be done in a number of ways. Let’s look at a practical example of implementing this methodology using GuardiCore Centra.

First, you will identify the applications and the connections it creates, either on staging or in the QA environment. You can then verify and analyze what the associated risks are.

Once the the GuardiCore agent is embedded into the workloads, you can then configure the security policy using our flexible policy engine. Workload specific, this can be implemented with a Zero Trust policy model. The policies are applied to the assets themselves, without the need to rely on IP addresses or any physical location, so wherever the application moves to, the policy follows.

The Benefits are Clear

Rapid digital transformation is essential for business success, and yet without security at its core – the risks are simply too great. Rather than allow security to continue to take a bolted-on role that is disparate from business process, we should be using tools such as Centra to enable security to shift-left and take an early and equal continuous role in development.

As CTO Ariel Zeitlin shared with his insights, the sooner you get started, the sooner you can enjoy the taste of your success

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