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DevOps Glossary

SecOps

What is SecOps?

One of the most common problems faced by enterprise IT organizations in establishing effective communication and collaboration between departments. Applications that are deployed in the cloud may have a dedicated development team that builds new updates and patches, and operations team that manages the performance of the application and an IT security team that maintains the security posture of the application and responds to potential cyber threats.

Problems arise when these teams are siloed - when their activities and objectives are kept highly separated within the organizational structure. Developers are motivated to release new code with regular frequency or on a pre-determined timeline, IT operations teams are motivated to maintain application uptime and IT security teams are motivated to prevent security breaches. The misalignment of objectives between these areas naturally leads to conflict during hand-offs:

  • Developers release an update that is inherently unstable and IT operations teams are left trying to manage the performance of an update that was never built with the proper performance requirements
  • Developers release code with unforeseen security vulnerabilities that create issues for IT security teams
  • IT operations teams introduce changes that improve application up-time while creating security vulnerabilities, leaving IT security analysts to resolve the issues that inevitably arise

Recently, IT managers have attempted to reduce friction between the various working groups in IT with new methodologies that promote collaboration and process integration between departments that have traditionally operated independently.

SecOps is a methodology that IT managers implement to enhance the connection, collaboration and communication between IT security and IT operations working teams, helping to ensure that the IT organization as a whole can meet its application and network security objectives without compromising on application performance. SecOps is a portmanteau of the terms security and operations, in the same way, that the popular DevOps methodology derives its name from development and operations. SecOps may also be referred to as DevSecOps when the organization attempts to simultaneously eliminate information and activity silos between development, security and operations teams within IT.

What are the Goals of SecOps?

The over-arching goal of the SecOps methodology is to ensure that organizations do not compromise the security of an application as they strive to meet development timelines and application uptime and performance requirements. The first and most important requirement for the success of a SecOps program is to obtain management buy-in and establish a clear and attainable timeline for improving organization security.

From there, IT organizations should establish a cross-department collaboration that strives to introduce application security features and aspects at earlier stages of application development. A typical software development cycle begins with planning and requirement analysis, the definition of application requirements and product architecture design. Once the product is built, it will be thoroughly tested before its deployment to the production environment.

The difficulty in the traditional model is that security considerations may not be introduced until late in the development process. SecOps addresses this difficulty by encouraging collaboration with operations and security teams throughout the development process, ensuring that necessary security features are baked in during the development process in a way that minimizes the impact on application performance.

What Does a SecOps Center Do?

One of the major challenges that IT organizations face is establishing a clear set of objectives, roles, and responsibilities for SecOps. Security and operations should act as an integrated team that manages the ongoing protection of the organization's information assets while consistently meeting application performance objectives and service level requirements. Many IT organizations establish a dedicated security operations center where SecOps team members collaborate and work towards these objectives.

Some of the most important activities and capabilities of the security operations center include:

Network Monitoring - SecOps teams are typically responsible for closely monitoring activity throughout the enterprise IT infrastructure, including private, public and hybrid cloud environments. Network monitoring includes monitoring of security events and the operational status and performance of deployed applications.

Incident Response - When an unwanted or unexpected situation occurs, SecOps teams are responsible for implementing the incident response plan. Incidents may be reported by users but they are frequently discovered by network monitoring software tools before they affect end-users at all. When a security breach happens, an incident response team takes the appropriate steps to contain the damage and prevent the attacker from further accessing the network.

Forensics and Root Cause Analysis - Forensics analysis of security events reflects the capability developed by SecOps to analyze and assess information to determine the root cause of a security breach, performance issue or another unexpected event on the network. SecOps teams use specialized security software tools to conduct root cause analysis, determine the underlying causes of security issues and rectify them before they can be exploited again.

Threat Intelligence - Threat intelligence is a security process with two basic steps: gaining knowledge and understanding of possible security threats to the organization and establishing methods to detect and respond to those threats (or proactively prevent them from occurring). Threat intelligence can be conducted as a collaborative effort within the SecOps team, within the company as a whole, and even between separate business entities with a collective interest in securing their internal systems.

What are the Benefits of Implementing SecOps?

IT organizations that successfully implement the SecOps methodology can experience a range of business benefits.

The first and most obvious benefit of SecOps is enhanced collaboration between IT security and operations teams. When organizations break down information silos and allow teams to work together, tasks are completed more efficiently and duplicated effort is significantly reduced.

Establishing a dedicated SecOps team with a security operations center can also result in:

  • Fewer security breaches - collaborative network monitoring enables early detection of cyberattacks, reducing the number of breaches and protecting data while maintaining compliance with privacy and security requirements
  • Fewer security vulnerabilities - code is more secure when it enters the production environment, thanks to input from security professionals at earlier stages of development. As a result, the IT organization experiences fewer security vulnerabilities.
  • Fewer security distractions - SecOps teams that work to automate things like threat detection and alerts are distracted less by false positives and do a better job of focusing on real security threats that necessitate a response

Enterprise SecOps Teams Use Sumo Logic to Support Performance and Security Objectives

Sumo Logic's cloud-native analytics platform empowers SecOps teams with the information and capabilities they need to take charge of enterprise security and application performance. Sumo Logic collects and aggregates data from throughout cloud environments into a shared platform where SecOps teams collaborate to troubleshoot operational issues, detect and respond to security threats and optimize application performance.