SecOps, a combination of the terms security and operations, is a methodology that IT managers implement to enhance the connection, collaboration and communication between IT security and IT operations teams, helping to ensure that the IT organization as a whole can meet its application and network security objectives without compromising on application performance.
- The overarching goal of the SecOps methodology is to ensure that organizations do not compromise the security of an application.
- 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.
- SecOps encourages collaboration with operations and security teams throughout the development process, ensuring that necessary security features are baked in to minimize the impact on application performance.
- The benefits of a SecOps team are fewer security breaches, vulnerabilities, distractions.
Problems arise when development and operations teams are siloed. 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.
The overarching 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, application uptime and performance requirements. SecOps may also be called DevSecOps when the organization attempts to simultaneously eliminate information and activity silos between development, security and operations teams within IT. 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, defining application requirements and product architecture design. Once the product is built, it will be thoroughly tested before its deployment to the production environment.
The traditional model does not introduce security considerations early enough 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 to minimize the impact on application performance.
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 (SOC), 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 is conducted by SecOps teams responsible for closely monitoring activity throughout the enterprise IT infrastructure, including private, public and hybrid cloud environments. Network monitoring includes monitoring security events and the operational status and performance of deployed applications.
Incident response is the responsibility of SecOps teams when an unwanted or unexpected situation occurs. Incidents may be reported by users but network monitoring software tools frequently discover them 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 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 is a security process with two basic steps––gaining knowledge and understanding of possible security threats and establishing methods to detect,respond and 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.
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, they can complete tasks more efficiently and significantly reduce duplicative effort. 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.
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