Why DevOps professionals need to think about security

Published on: 20 May 2022

DevOps is becoming a huge buzzword in IT, but that’s not to say it’s without its teething problems as businesses of all sizes come to more widely adopt it.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of these, examine how firms can get around them to get DevOps running smoothly, and explain some of the career opportunities available for people with computing experience who think they could excel in DevOps.
DevOps explained
First of all, a little background on DevOps. A portmanteau word blending together ‘development’ and ‘operations’, it refers to the alignment and coordination of software development and IT operations to reduce complexity and improve output.
It first came to prominence in 2009 after being created by developers Andrew Clay and Patrick Debois, and it aims to reduce obstacles so that software can be continually developed and deployed to provide more value to customers.
Why is DevOps in demand?
DevOps is popular because it’s capable of altering every stage of software development through a cultural shift in the way teams work.
Because it’s also faster, organisations are seeking it out to cater for the ever-increasing development speeds that buyers are growing to expect in the modern world. Using DevOps, teams can deliver products more rapidly than ever, which is crucial amid research like Deloitte’s that suggests IT teams are now being expected to deliver projects four times faster on the same budget.
Siloing is no longer able to keep up, whereas DevOps allows businesses to  better respond to customer needs, get products to market faster, adapt to new markets, and achieve business goals.
DevOps and security issues
There are of course drawbacks to DevOps, the most significant of which are the potential security risks it poses. With the previous technique known as the waterfall model, there were regular security compliance tests that meant changes and patches would have to be carried out until a product met the specifications of a separate security team.
However, with DevOps, security may be sacrificed for the sake of speed and an increase in coding mistakes could occur that leave products vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Furthermore, migrating to a serverless system may expose sensitive data to prying eyes and mask issues that do not crop up until actual deployment.
Another potential issue is the fact that DevOps - by its very nature - is collaborative, and that means more people are privy to secrets and data who might not take care of it. Even where carelessness or malice is not to blame, team members could neglect security under the assumption that someone else is responsible for it.
When speed is of the essence, security may find itself on the backburner and viewed as a time-consuming nuisance by people keen to get the job done. 
How can security be embedded in DevOps?
DevOps is too useful a technique to be ignored because of potential security risks, so the obvious answer for businesses looking to adopt it would be to address the issues and put mitigating procedures in place to prevent them.
These might include:

1. Assigning responsibility

To avoid the possibility of team members all thinking their colleagues have addressed security, it makes sense to assign responsibility to one or more people in advance. This might necessitate recruiting a DevOps expert or training up existing members of staff.

2. Checking compliance

If you know the security protocols you must comply with before you start - such as following secure coding practices - you can put a plan in place to address them as you work.
3. Plan for every eventuality
Similarly, predicting the possible threats your project could face in terms of cyber attacks and weak points should allow you to put measures in place to prevent them occurring.
4. Test regularly
Although it might seem laborious, carrying out regular security tests throughout the development process will allow you to spot vulnerabilities as soon as they crop up and to put patches in place to fix them.
5. Check cloud security
As mentioned earlier, going serverless could present unforeseen issues once projects go live. You can address this by checking your cloud security is compatible with application requirements before this stage is reached.
The consequences of a security breach can be severe for businesses, so it is essential to ensure security is a key concern before rolling out DevOps.
Career opportunities in DevOps
DevOps has risen from being something barely anyone had heard of to a process firms of all sizes are interested in. As a result, the number of available roles and career opportunities for such professionals has risen exponentially.
This could therefore be an excellent job transition for anyone with experience in software development life cycles, networking or operations, particularly those who know coding and can work their way around programs such as VB-Script and PowerShell.
Careers are available as a Release Manager, DevOps Test Engineer, DevOps Cloud Engineer, Site Reliability Engineer and, eventually, DevOps Architect, so there is no shortage of possibilities when it comes to working your way up.
And as for companies you could work for, the world is really your oyster: Accenture, Facebook and the larger banks frequently advertise roles, while other giants like Amazon, Netflix, Etsy and Sony Pictures are DevOps trailblazers and so may regularly have jobs available.
So if you love IT and don’t mind a little pressure in a fast-paced environment, you could put your prior training to work and embark on a career that ensures security issues don’t derail DevOps.