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DevSecOps applications in different industries
DevSecOps applications in different industries
DevSecOps applications in different industries

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DevSecOps Applications in 6 Industries [Examples and Case Studies]

Overview:

  1. Understanding the importance of DevSecOps and API security across industries.

  2. Discovering sector-specific security challenges and the need for tailored solutions.

    1. Fintech

    2. HealthCare

    3. E-commerce

    4. Manufacturing and Supply Chain

    5. Media and Entertainment

    6. Energy

  3. Learning from real-world case studies, code samples, and assets.

  4. Gaining practical insights and recommendations to implement DevSecOps practices effectively.

Introduction

The Age of Abundance

We are in an era marked by exponential growth and innovation. With the increased adoption in AI especially the Large Language Models (LLMs) to the advancements in nuclear fusion aiming to provide an unparalleled abundance of energy, we will continue to witness and experience a rapid acceleration in technology adoption across sectors. Soon we will find ourselves immersed in the age of abundance.

Unfortunately, what else is “Abundant”, is the rise of security vulnerabilities.

Here are some recent stats posted by TheHackerNews:

  • 1,578,733 malware attacks were analyzed.

  • 200,454 of these were unique attacks with previously undetected malware.

  • An alarming average of 17,280 attacks occurred each day.

  • A staggering 60% targeted sectors like finance, healthcare, and retail.

  • Specifically, healthcare saw 93,000 targeted attacks.

Source: https://x.com/TheHackersNews/status/1702953968933175441?s=20

As cyber threats become as abundant as our innovations, the solution lies in proactive defenses. DevSecOps offers a way to counter these threats, enabling organizations to address vulnerabilities at scale and rectify them before they even reach production. Soon, we will see a paradigm shift towards an AI-engineered DevSecOps approach, going beyond our traditional methods.

The DevSecOps Approach

As businesses are constantly accelerating product and feature releases, the traditional approach of siloed development and operations teams can no longer keep up with these demands. This realization led to the birth of DevOps, a set of best practices that promotes collaboration, automation, and continuous delivery.

However, as organizations began adopting DevOps, they quickly recognized that security can't be an afterthought. This realization gave rise to DevSecOps, a philosophy that integrates security into every aspect of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). With DevSecOps, organizations can identify and mitigate vulnerabilities at a faster pace.

Examples of recent Attacks

Cyberattacks have affected various industries, causing significant disruptions and financial losses. Here are some notable examples:

  • Finance & Banking: In 2016, hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank by exploiting the SWIFT network.

  • Healthcare: In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware affected over 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries. NHS, UK saw more than 60 of its trusts compromised, causing disruptions and an estimated £92 million loss.

  • E-commerce & Retail: In 2013, Target faced a data breach with cybercriminals stealing payment cards and personal information of millions. Similarly, in 2015, Macy's breach exposed customer data due to malware introduced via a compromised HVAC vendor. By 2023, Honda's e-commerce platform exhibited vulnerabilities stemming from API flaws.

  • Manufacturing & Supply Chain: In 2020, Toyota faced disruptions due to a cyberattack on its production control systems. The NotPetya ransomware attack in 2017 targeted various industries, including manufacturers like Maersk and Merck, encrypting computers' master boot records.

  • Entertainment & Media: HBO, in 2017, saw unaired episodes and sensitive documents leaked due to lax permissions and unpatched systems. Similarly, in 2016, Netflix’s unreleased content was held for ransom by hackers.

  • Energy & Utilities: The 2015 attack on Ukraine's power grid, which was orchestrated by Russian hackers, disrupted power supply for 200,000 citizens. The 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack disturbed fuel transport in the U.S. East Coast due to exploited compromised legacy VPN credentials.

This snapshot displays the global and diverse nature of cyber attacks. No industry, no sector, no country, no organization and no person is secure. We have to make smart, conscious and dedicated efforts in preventing such cyber attacks. Remember, they (the attackers) have to be right just Once!

Does that scare you or excite you?

Remember, if technology is the cause of a problem, it can also be its solution.

We will deep dive into one such technologically driven approach across sectors - DevSecOps.

DevSecOps: A Line of Defense

Most of these attacks listed above could have been prevented with the right tactical and strategic initiatives. To name a few:

  • Regular vulnerability scanning in code and infrastructure before they go live.

  • Ensuring that all systems, configurations and software are secure and up-to-date.

  • Continuous monitoring and alerting of suspicious activities; example - rate limiting, incorrect login attempts etc.

  • Implementation of multi-factor authentication, role-based access controls, and the principle of least privilege to prevent unauthorized access.

In the face of evolving cyber threats, the adoption of DevSecOps practices has become imperative.

Unique Security Needs by Industry

While the core principles of DevSecOps remain consistent across industries, each sector has its own set of security needs. For example:

  • Financial institutions prioritize the protection of customer data and compliance with regulations like PCI-DSS.

  • Healthcare organizations are responsible for safeguarding patients' health and information while meeting HIPAA requirements.

  • E-commerce and retail companies must protect user data and secure online transactions.

  • Manufacturing and supply chain organizations face challenges related to IoT devices and ensuring supply chain security.

  • Entertainment and media companies grapple with protecting user data and combating piracy with DRM.

  • Energy and utility sectors focus on securing their smart grids and operational technology.

API Security's Role in Connectivity

Why are we talking about API security here?

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) enable connectivity and data exchange between various systems. APIs are the fundamental and foundational to how technology is applied in every sector. Hence API security is the most critical aspect of DevSecOps across industries.

While APIs offer numerous opportunities for collaboration and innovation, they also introduce security risks. By implementing robust API security practices, organizations can ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their APIs and the data they handle. Throughout this blog, we will address the importance of API security within each industry deep-dive section.

Now, let's explore the fundamentals of DevSecOps and its relevance in today's cyber threat landscape.

DevSecOps Unpacked

From DevOps to DevSecOps

The transition from DevOps to DevSecOps introduces security as a core component of the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC). By integrating security into DevOps, organizations can identify and address vulnerabilities earlier in the development process, reducing the likelihood of costly security breaches.

Relevance in Today's Cyber Threat Landscape

As seen in the stats above, the cybersecurity landscape has evolved significantly in recent years, with attacks becoming more sophisticated and frequent. You need a scalable technologically driven approach that works 24 x 7 x 365.  With the rising adoption of AI, cloud computing, microservices architectures, and the Internet of Things (IoT), organizations must embrace DevSecOps.

Bridging Traditional Security Gaps

Historically, security teams and developers have worked in silos, leading to communication gaps and a lack of synergy between these groups. DevSecOps aims to bridge these traditional security gaps. By working together throughout the SDLC, these teams can better understand each other's perspectives, share knowledge, and jointly address security challenges. This collaboration is essential to ensure the timely identification and remediation of vulnerabilities, ensuring that security is a shared responsibility.

Now that we have unpacked DevSecOps, let's delve into the fundamentals of DevSecOps and the key practices that form its foundation.

DevSecOps Fundamentals

In this section, we will explore the key aspects that contribute to building a robust DevSecOps culture within an organization.

1. Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a crucial practice for the successful implementation of DevSecOps. Instead of manually configuring infrastructure components, IaC enables organizations to define their infrastructure using code.

This code is version-controlled and can be developed, tested, and deployed just like any other software. This approach ensures consistency, repeatability, and scalability, reducing the risk of misconfiguration and increasing the overall security posture.

By treating infrastructure as code, organizations can automate security controls, enforce configuration standards, and perform security testing on infrastructure code to identify vulnerabilities before deployment.

2. Auto Testing and Continuous Integration

Automated testing is a key practice in DevSecOps, ensuring that security testing is conducted continuously throughout the SDLC. By incorporating security testing tools into the continuous integration (CI) process, organizations can detect vulnerabilities early on and prevent them from being deployed into production. It is essential to implement a comprehensive suite of tests that cover vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and secure coding practices.

Continuous testing and integration provide organizations with quick feedback on the security posture of their applications and infrastructure, allowing them to remediate vulnerabilities promptly. Automating these processes ensures that security is not a bottleneck, but rather an integral part of the development workflow.

3. Secrets Management

Managing secrets, such as API keys, database credentials, and encryption keys, is a critical aspect of DevSecOps. Storing secrets securely and ensuring controlled access is essential to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Secrets management solutions, such as HashiCorp Vault or AWS Secrets Manager, enable organizations to store secrets securely and control access through granular permissions. Integration of these solutions into the CI/CD pipeline ensures that secrets are securely retrieved at runtime, minimizing the risk of accidental exposure.

By implementing robust secrets management practices, organizations can protect their critical assets and reduce the likelihood of security incidents.

4. Code Sample: Secure CI/CD Pipeline

To illustrate the practical implementation of these DevSecOps fundamentals, let's examine a code sample for a secure CI/CD pipeline. This code demonstrates how to integrate various security practices into the development process.

.gitlab-ci.yml

stages:
  - build
  - test
  - deploy

 Stage 1: Build
Build app:
  stage: build
  script:
    - npm install
    - npm run build

 Stage 2: Test
Security test:
  stage: test
  script:
    - npm audit
    - sonar-scanner

Unit test:
  stage: test
  script:
    - npm test

 Stage 3: Deploy
Deploy app:
  stage: deploy
  script:
    - npm ci --production
    - npm start

In this example, the CI/CD pipeline consists of three stages: build, test, and deploy. In the build stage, the application's dependencies are installed, and the code is built. In the test stage, security testing is performed using the "npm audit" command to identify any vulnerabilities in the dependencies. Additionally, the “sonar-scanner” command runs a static code analysis to detect common security issues.

The unit test stage executes the application's unit tests to ensure its functionality. Finally, in the deploy stage, the application is deployed into the production environment.

Throughout this pipeline, security practices are embedded. Vulnerability scanning, static analysis, and unit tests are performed automatically, enabling developers to address security issues early in the development process.

Now that we have covered the DevSecOps fundamentals, let's explore specific security challenges and solutions for different industry sectors.

Sector Deep-Dive:

1. DevSecOps in Finance & Banking

Background

Money is essentially an entry in a digital database located somewhere in the world. Over the past decade, the finance and banking sectors have experienced growth at an unbelievable pace. To give perspective, the total amount processed daily on the global stage is in trillions of dollars. The global fintech market was valued at $194 billion in 2022.

Future Trend

Now, with the emerging prominence of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and the ubiquity of mobile wallets, this figure is poised to surge even more. Very soon, your bank and money will be on your smartphone and not just a reflection of entry from the database.

Behind the Scenes at a FinTech firm

In order to understand - “How to Secure”, it's crucial to understand “What to Secure”.

Here are the main components powering the banking industry

  • Mobile & Web Apps: Essential portals where customers engage with their bank. They primarily interact with backend systems through the API Gateway.

  • API Gateway: More than an access point; it manages request routing, rate limiting, user authentication, and activity logging.

  • Microservices: Specialized modules handling distinct tasks like -

    • Payment Service: Manages transactions and collaborates with external gateways for secure transfers.

    • Account Management: Maintains user profiles, preferences, and security configurations.

    • Transaction Service: Monitors all financial movements within the platform.

    • AI & ML Service: Employs advanced algorithms for fraud detection and personalized banking insights.

  • Databases: Repositories for data storage and retrieval, utilizing either Relational or NoSQL structures based on requirements.

  • External Services: The platform extends its capabilities by interfacing with third-party solutions, from Payment Gateways to Blockchain services.

external services

Security Pain Points: Data and Compliance

  • Data: With vast amounts of sensitive information, banks face the constant threat of data breaches. Each transaction, personal detail, or account balance is a potential vulnerability point if not secured.

  • Compliance: Regulatory frameworks like GDPR, CCPA, and PSD2 mandate strict adherence. Non-compliance doesn't just lead to hefty penalties, but can also expose systemic vulnerabilities, putting both the bank and its customers at risk.

Real-world Consequences: Revenue and Trust

  • Revenue: A security breach, even a minor one, can lead to substantial financial losses. These are not just from immediate theft or fraud, but also from potential litigations, regulatory fines, and the cost of remedial actions.

  • Trust: In the financial sector, trust is paramount. A compromised system can erode years of customer goodwill, with customers switching loyalties to perceived safer alternatives. Rebuilding this trust is often more expensive than the direct cost of a breach.

  • For example: In 2016, hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank by exploiting the SWIFT network.

API Security: Transactions and Encryption

API security is pivotal in FinTech due to the sensitive financial data interchanged among banks, FinTech entities, and other stakeholders. The key to this security lies in transactions and encryption. Here are the crucial elements:

  • Encryption: Using established algorithms, like AES, to protect data during transmission and storage.

  • Authentication & Authorization: Implementing strong mechanisms, e.g., OAuth2, to restrict API access to authorized users.

  • API Management: Tools are employed to monitor API activities, ensuring compliance, rate limiting, and logging. This ensures both security and developer needs are met.

  • Application-Level Encryption: Encrypting data within apps provides enhanced security during financial transactions.

  • API Discovery: Identifying shadow APIs to protect exposed sensitive data is essential.

  • Infrastructure Security: A fortified backend is crucial to prevent data leaks and securely store confidential information.

  • Code Obfuscation: Protects apps from cloning by encrypting parts or the entirety of the code.

  • Monitoring & Detection: Systems to spot and promptly address cyber threats.

  • Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to protocols like PCI DSS safeguards API security.

  • Continuous Improvement: Regularly updating security protocols and researching their efficacy is crucial.

By embracing these measures, FinTech firms can fortify their APIs, ensuring the safety of interchanged financial data.

2. DevSecOps in Healthcare

In Healthcare, cyberattacks aren't just data breaches; they pose immediate risks to human lives, making top-notch security strategies both critical and non-negotiable. Imagine a world where healthcare is continuously informed by real-time data. Rather than an annual check-up, your physician would have constant access to your health metrics, enabling immediate intervention for any concerning trends.

This integration of technology within healthcare demands security focus.

Architecture and Components

Just search for Healthcare and Medical technologies and you will realize this ecosystem is a complex network consisting of patient care, workflow optimizations, and enhanced healthcare services. Here are some key systems:

  • EHR Systems: These store patient histories, treatments, and other vital medical records. They're the backbone of modern healthcare, ensuring seamless care continuity. Some of the foundational platforms like Cerner, Evident, and Athenahealth provide cloud-based repositories for patient histories and treatments.

  • Telehealth Platforms: These services rose especially during the Covid times by empowering physicians to offer remote consultations, widening the reach of healthcare. This means more data and API calls.

  • Medical IoT Devices: From wearable health monitors to smart infusion pumps, smart pacemakers, these devices collect, analyze, and transmit patient data.

  • Healthcare Mobile and Web Apps: Most people use fitness trackers and apps nowadays. Also there are applications that allow patients to book appointments, access health records, or even get medication reminders.

  • Integration Points: These are the APIs that allow integration with pharmacies, diagnostic labs, insurance providers, and other third-party services.

FDA guidelines for Medical Devices

Regulations, regulations and more regulations …..

The FDA sets rigorous standards for healthcare devices to guarantee both their efficacy and safety. These criteria encompass a broad scope, from design and clinical assessment to manufacturing processes, packaging, labeling, and ongoing market surveillance.

Spotlight: Smart Pacemakers

Take smart pacemakers as an illustrative example. These vital devices control heart rate and rhythm, catering to patients who suffer from slow heart rates or heart blocks. Given the sensitive nature of their function, the FDA has specifically issued security requirements for medical devices like smart pacemakers. This proactive regulatory action has spurred manufacturers to enhance the cybersecurity features of their products, ensuring a safer healthcare landscape for all.

Source: https://cybersecurityventures.com/cybersecurity-guidance-for-heart-patients-with-pacemakers/

Key DevSecOps Initiatives

Considering the above ecosystem, these are some DevSecOps strategies to implement -

  • Application/API Tracking: Start by automatically finding and closely monitoring all the code in your systems.

  • Security Setup: Integrate best security practices into your healthcare products and services.

  • Regulatory Watch: If you are in GRC which stands for Governance, Risk and Compliance, keep an ongoing eye on rules like HIPAA to make sure you're always in compliance.

  • Automated Checks: Use automated tools for routine security checks during development like code scanners, SAST, DAST, secret scanners and IAST tools such as Akto.

  • Ongoing Protection: Keep monitoring your systems to protect against any future risks like DDoS attacks. You cannot have a downtime of healthcare systems in an ICU.

Addressing Security Risks

Additionally there are important security risks to address -

  • Compliance: In healthcare, following rules like HIPAA isn't optional; failure to comply can lead to hefty fines.

  • Patient Data: Leaking patient info is not just bad for privacy; it can endanger health and lives.

  • API Security: The healthcare world is fast becoming digital, but this opens up new risks. Bad actors often target the APIs that manage critical healthcare functions. These APIs need tight security to prevent unauthorized data access. Also, healthcare devices connected to the internet can be risky if not well-guarded. For example, ransomware attacks can disable vital healthcare devices. Check out Akto’s solutions for addressing Healthcare Security Risks.

Spotlight: Optus Data Breach

Last year, a breach at Optus (The second-largest telecommunications provider in Australia) had API security breach. impacted over 11 million patients, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced security measures.

Have you heard of FHIR in Healthcare?

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically, developed by Health Level Seven International (HL7). FHIR enables medical organizations to easily store, retrieve, update, and share patient data in an efficient and secure manner. It is widely used in mobile applications, cloud communications, EHR-based data sharing, and server communications across the healthcare industry.

In conclusion, FHIR plays a crucial role in healthcare by enabling seamless and secure exchange of healthcare information.

Sources for further reading:

In summary, as healthcare tech grows, DevSecOps becomes increasingly critical. It helps to protect sensitive data, maintain compliance, increase agility, reduce costs and maintains the trust people have in healthcare providers.

3. DevSecOps in E-commerce & Retail

The High Stakes

Profit margins and consumer trust are the two key metrics associated with the success of the e-commerce and retail industry. Every downtime of an application, a security bug, or vulnerability leads to a financial and reputation loss, and yes, customers will switch to competitors faster than you can say "shopping cart." This makes DevSecOps not only indispensable but challenging as well.

Current State of E-commerce Sector

The E-commerce ecosystem is extremely matured with the use of cutting edge technology stack to develop and deploy applications. As a security engineer, you might be overwhelmed working in this space due the myriad of things to review and secure. Risk prioritization comes of utmost importance.

Let’s take a real world example of an architecture of an e-commerce company and break it down, layer by layer, service by service to better understand the security risks.

Systems Design of an E-Commerce Company

An e-commerce system usually needs to handle various functionalities like user management, product catalog management, order processing, payment, inventory management, recommendation engine, and more.

system design of an ecommerce company

The e-commerce system in this diagram serves as a high-level overview. It captures the multi-layered architecture, including frontend, backend services, data layer, and other essential components.

Understanding the Security Risks

Evaluating the systems design above shows the vast attack surface and possibly different attack vectors in an e-commerce sector.

1. Account Takeovers

Challenges: Simple usernames and passwords aren't enough anymore.

Strategy: Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and apply Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

2. Payment Processing

Challenges: Risk of financial data being stolen.

Strategy: Use end-to-end encryption and apply machine learning algorithms for detecting fraudulent activities.

3. Data Storage

Challenges: Storing sensitive data without robust security is asking for trouble.

Strategy: Use full-disk encryption and real-time monitoring systems.

4. Web App Security

Challenges: SQL injections, Server Side Template Injections, CSRF, Stored and reflected Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) are major threats.

DevSecOps Strategy: Use parameterized SQL queries and implement and consistently review Content Security Policies and Cross Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)

5. Supply Chain Attacks

Challenges: Compromised supply chain can lead to malicious code injection or product security compromise.

Strategy: Employ Software Composition Analysis (SCA) to monitor third-party components for vulnerabilities and establish a secure software supply chain process.

6. Application Downtime

Challenges: DoS and DDoS attacks can bring a website down, causing financial loss and reputational damage.

Strategy: Implement robust DDoS protection measures, utilize Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute traffic, and design a scalable architecture to withstand traffic spikes. Additionally, employ real-time monitoring and alerting systems to detect and mitigate attacks early.

DevSecOps Overall Strategy

To cover briefly

  • Securely configure network and access control of cloud infrastructure

  • Implement Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD): Use CI/CD tools like Jenkins, GitLab, or CircleCI to automate the build, test, and deploy process.

  • Integrate security testing tools like Snyk or Akto to scan for vulnerabilities and code quality issues during the CI/CD pipeline.

  • Use Containers and Serverless Architecture: Containers and serverless architecture can help improve security and scalability. Use container orchestration tools like Kubernetes to manage container deployments and ensure proper security configurations

  • Adopt Security as Code: Implement security controls and policies as code, making it easier to enforce and maintain security standards across the development lifecycle

  • Integrate security tests into your CI/CD pipeline.

  • Use logs and monitoring tools for real-time alerts on security incidents.

API Security in E-commerce and Retail

Inadequate security can lead to unauthorized access, data leaks, or malicious manipulation.

For a stronger API security posture, implement strong authentication and authorization mechanisms like OAuth 2.0, input validation to prevent injection attacks, and continuous monitoring and logging.

Most importantly do a complete recon of all publicly exposed APIs and review for Insecure Direct Object References (IDORs) and XML External Entity (XXEs) Attacks.

Check out Akto’s solutions for addressing E-commerce Security Risks.

IDORs:

  • Risk: Attackers may exploit improper access controls to access unauthorized data.

  • Strategy: Implement proper access controls, validate and sanitize input, and employ monitoring and logging to detect suspicious activities.

Resources:

Blogs

  • The IDOR Blueprint: Check out this comprehensive guide to identifying and mitigating IDOR vulnerabilities. You can check out this fantastic video.

  • How IDOR caused exposure of Florida’s tax filers’ data?: Find out more about the impact and lessons learned here.

  • Warning: IDOR Vulnerability Found in Microsoft Teams Product: Read more about how this vulnerability is discovered and can be prevented.

Tests

XXEs:

  • Risk: Attackers could exploit XXEs to disclose internal files, execute remote code, or launch DoS attacks.

  • Strategy: Disable XML external entity processing, employ input validation, and use less complex data formats like JSON whenever possible. Ensure code, libraries, and frameworks are updated to versions that mitigate XXE risks.

Resources:

Blogs

  • What is XML External Entity attack (XXE attack) & How to prevent as a developer?: Learn all about XML External Entity attack and how to prevent it.

Tests

Insecure Data Exposure

  • Risk: APIs may unintentionally leak sensitive information like customer data or proprietary algorithms.

  • Strategy: Leverage robust security protocols such as OAuth 2.0 for authentication and JSON Web Tokens (JWT) for information exchange. Encryption should be enforced both in transit and at rest.

Resource Exhaustion

  • Risk: Absence of rate limiting makes APIs vulnerable to Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

  • Strategy: Dynamic rate limiting should be employed to adapt to the user's behavior and history. Implement CAPTCHA challenges or additional authentication steps for suspected abuse.

No matter what e-commerce you work for, there will always be a multitude of API calls and hence securing them is vital in overall strengthening the security posture of the platform.

4. DevSecOps in Manufacturing & Supply Chain

Decoding the Sector

We are in the age of Industry 4.0 where manufacturing and supply chains are undergoing a profound transformation, driven by cutting-edge technologies. Central to this revolution is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT leverages smart machines and real-time data analysis to tap into the vast reservoir of industrial data.

The Journey Ahead

The remainder of the section would then dive into details on each technology (IIoT, industrial control systems, additive manufacturing, etc.) along with associated DevSecOps security risks and mitigations.

manufacturing and supply chain industry security

Source: https://www.tibco.com/reference-center/what-is-iiot

Below we will review the key technologies used in manufacturing and supply chain, with a focus on DevSecOps and security risks.

DevSecOps in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

IIoT devices like sensors, meters, and motors now populate factories and warehouses. They enable real-time analytics and optimization. But IIoT expands the attack surface with more endpoints. For example - devices may have weak authentication, lack updates, or run vulnerable code.

DevSecOps requires baking security into IIoT designs, proper network segmentation, monitoring for anomalies, and access controls.

DevSecOps in Industrial Control Systems

ICS (Industrial Control Systems) and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) are critical components of industrial automation and control processes. Proprietary OS and hardware make them hard to patch or upgrade and exposure to OT networks for remote monitoring creates risks. Vulnerabilities could allow attackers to manipulate physical processes.

The DevSecOps approach must be on hardening the systems and networks by segmenting ICS networks, closing unused ports, and monitoring traffic patterns to mitigate risks. But systems must be hardened without breaking processes.

DevSecOps in Additive Manufacturing

3D printers play a vital role in modern manufacturing but often receive digital build files over insecure channels like USB or email. Manipulated files could compromise the entire production process.

Incorporating DevSecOps practices into additive manufacturing involves implementing secure transfer protocols for print jobs, thoroughly validating digital assets, and instituting controls around printer fleet management.

DevSecOps in Supply Chain Platforms

Cloud platforms have become the backbone of integrated supply chain systems. Ensuring the security of these platforms is paramount. DevSecOps emphasizes API security, access controls, data encryption, high availability, and resilient infrastructure. Strict governance around change management becomes a necessity in this context.

DevSecOps in RFID and GPS Tracking

RFID tags and GPS tracking are essential for monitoring materials and goods in transit. To prevent location tampering or counterfeiting, data should be encrypted. Access controls on location/status data are equally important. DevSecOps methodologies include rigorous testing for spoofing or denial-of-service attacks.

DevSecOps in Robotics and Automation

Greater automation on factory floors, thanks to increased robotics, introduces new risks. Compromised safety sensors or controllers could lead to accidents or malicious manipulation.

DevSecOps in robotics entails ensuring physical security, segmenting networks from corporate IT, and deploying anomaly detection to monitor robot behavior for any aberrations.

DevSecOps in AR/VR Applications

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications facilitate remote assistance, training, and simulations. However, they rely on real-time data transmission that could be intercepted. DevSecOps mandates encryption for AR/VR data and communications. Headset firmware and software must be continuously hardened and kept up-to-date.

DevSecOps in Blockchain Ledgers

Blockchain technology establishes trust among partners in manufacturing ecosystems. Ensuring the security of consensus mechanisms is vital to prevent manipulation. Access controls, robust key management, and transaction validation are indispensable for resilient blockchain implementations in manufacturing.

Case Study: SolarWinds and the Growing Threat of Supply Chain Attacks

The SolarWinds cyberattack serves as a potent case study illustrating the escalating dangers associated with supply chain vulnerabilities. SolarWinds' Orion software, utilized by over 300,000 customers, became the target of a Russian-led cyberattack that compromised its software update mechanism.

This breach had a ripple effect, impacting a myriad of organizations and governmental agencies. The incident underscores the urgency for organizations to invest in advanced supply chain security measures, such as risk assessment frameworks and zero-trust architectures.

Conclusion

In summary, prioritizing IoT and API security is indispensable for safeguarding the integrity and efficiency of manufacturing and supply chain operations. The focus should be on multi-layered security strategies for IoT devices and robust API inventory management to mitigate vulnerabilities and risks effectively.

5. DevSecOps in Entertainment & Media

The Triad: User Data, Piracy, and Digital Rights Management (DRM)

The entertainment and media sector faces specialized cybersecurity challenges, such as data breaches, content piracy, and unauthorized sharing of DRM-protected content. Due to the valuable nature of intellectual property and the large amount of sensitive user data processed, this industry is especially enticing for cybercriminals. Lets look at key security measures to effectively address these security risks.

Tokenization and Data Masking

Tokenization and Data Masking are crucial in the entertainment and media sector for several reasons, each addressing different aspects of data security and regulatory compliance. Let's delve into the specifics:

Why Are They Important?

  • Protecting User Data: Given the vast amounts of personal and payment data processed by media platforms, securing this information is paramount. A single breach can erode user trust and result in hefty legal penalties.

  • Intellectual Property Safeguarding: High-value digital assets like copyrighted videos, music, and articles also require stringent security measures to avoid unauthorized access and distribution.

  • Regulatory Compliance: The industry is often subject to regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and PCI DSS, which mandate strict data protection measures. Tokenization and data masking help meet these regulatory requirements.

  • Minimizing Impact of Data Breaches: Even with robust security measures, the risk of data breaches cannot be entirely eliminated. Tokenization and data masking minimize the damage by ensuring that the breached data is less sensitive or even useless for malicious intent.

How does Tokenization Help?

Tokenization is like swapping your real identity card with a fake one when you go out. The fake ID has no valuable information about you, but anyone checking it would think it's valid. If someone steals it, they don't really get any information about you.

Technical Perspective: Tokenization replaces sensitive information, like credit card numbers or social security numbers, with a unique identifier known as a "token." The real data is stored securely in a separate location, often called a "vault." The token serves as a placeholder that can be used in operations and transactions without exposing the sensitive data.

This means if there's a data breach, the exposed tokens are worthless without access to the separate secure vault where the actual sensitive data is stored.

Why is Data Masking needed?

Data masking is like blurring out certain parts of your ID card when showing it to someone. They can see you have an ID, but not all the information on it. This way, even if someone looks at your ID, they can't see the sensitive details.

Technical Perspective: Data Masking involves obscuring specific data within a database so that it remains usable but is secure. For instance, the last four digits of a Social Security Number may be visible, but the rest of the numbers are replaced with "XXXX."

Like tokenization, data masking protects the data subject's data privacy and data security by essentially hiding the data.

Content Security: Beyond Digital Watermarking

Digital watermarking is a powerful tool for tracing content leaks to their origin. However, it should be part of a multi-layered security approach that includes encryption, DRM, and secure content delivery networks (CDNs).

Case Study: Cutting-Edge DevSecOps at Netflix

Netflix exemplifies DevSecOps implementation by embedding security into its Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. This approach allows for robust security measures without sacrificing speed in feature releases or system availability.

Real-time Vulnerability Scanning

Netflix employs automated security scans within its build and deployment processes. These scans use machine learning algorithms to identify and flag potential vulnerabilities for immediate resolution, thereby reducing the risk of exploitation.

IaC: Ensuring Compliance at Scale

Through Infrastructure as Code (IaC), Netflix automates compliance checks and enforces preset security configurations across its entire cloud-based infrastructure. This ensures a consistent and secure environment, scalable to the ever-growing demand.

API Security: The Backbone of Content and Preferences

APIs are vital for the seamless functioning of media services, acting as the core channel for content delivery, user preferences, and service interoperability. Consequently, API security measures are crucial.

Advanced Rate Limiting: Adaptive Controls

Rate limiting and throttling can be dynamically adapted based on user behavior, geographic location, and other contextual factors. This adaptive approach is more effective in preventing brute-force and DDoS attacks.

API Gateway: More Than Just a Doorkeeper

A fortified API gateway can offer advanced features such as deep packet inspection, rate-based blocking, and automated threat responses, which significantly enhance API endpoint security.

Conclusion

Mastering DevSecOps in the entertainment and media industry involves understanding its unique challenges and applying a range of advanced security techniques. By doing so, organizations not only protect their valuable assets but also offer a safer, more reliable experience for their users.

6. DevSecOps in Energy & Utilities

Smart Grids, Operational Tech, and IoT

Smart grids and operational technology (OT) systems are transforming the energy sector, but they also introduce unique and potentially devastating security risks. The increasing integration with Internet of Things (IoT) devices for monitoring and control further expands the attack surface.

Securing the Future: Mitigating Cyber Risks in Energy & Utilities

The energy and utilities sector powers the modern lifestyle, from electricity and gas to nuclear power and renewables. However, increased connectivity of operational technology and information systems has expanded the cyberattack surface. A breach can paralyze critical infrastructure and endanger public safety. Hence its important to integrate security into technology deployments. Key areas of focus include:

Hardening the Industrial Control Systems (ICS)

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and DCS (Distributed Control System) are both systems that manage substations, generators, pipelines, and other industrial processes.

Effective hardening practices are needed like Zero Trust Security, Network Micro Segmentation and Access Controls for these systems to securely operate.

Energy & Utilities: Smart Grids, Operational Tech, and IoT

Smart grids and operational technology (OT) systems are transforming the energy sector, but they also introduce unique and potentially devastating security risks. The increasing integration with Internet of Things (IoT) devices for monitoring and control further expands the attack surface.

Stats

In the first half of 2019, 41.6% of ICS computers in the energy sector experienced and blocked a cyber threat. The three main cyber threats detected in energy ICS environments included worms (7.1%), spyware (3.7%), and cryptocurrency miners (2.9%).

Source: Kaspersky Research Finds ICS Energy Sector Under the Highest Cyberthreat Pressure

To address these security risks, organizations should implement robust cybersecurity measures, such as:

  • Regularly updating and patching software and firmware to address vulnerabilities.

  • Implementing strong authentication and access control mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access.

  • Ensuring secure communication between devices and networks, using encryption and secure protocols.

By addressing these security risks and implementing appropriate countermeasures, it is possible to enhance the resilience and security of smart meters, distributed energy resources, and converged IT/OT systems.

Case Study: DevSecOps Implementation

This case study focuses on the DevSecOps transformation undertaken by a leading global provider of energy storage solutions. The goal was to enhance security, automate processes, and accelerate release velocity. Here's an overview of the technical implementation:

Background

The client relied on manual processes to deploy monolithic applications to on-prem infrastructure. They wanted to adopt modern DevOps practices with security as a core tenet.

Technical Approach

The legacy systems were migrated to a DevSecOps toolchain utilizing:

  • Jenkins for automation with parallel build agents

  • Ansible for infrastructure provisioning and configuration management

  • Terraform for infrastructure-as-code

  • Docker for containerization

  • SonarQube for static code analysis

  • Nexus as the artifact repository

  • Jira for agile project management

CI/CD pipelines were implemented for continuous delivery. Environments could be spun up and down on demand with Terraform. Infrastructure and apps were configured using Ansible roles and collections.

Security was woven throughout via:

DevSecOps Outcomes = Productivity Booster and Security Enhancer

The DevSecOps implementation led to many wins across departments -

  • Improved the security posture and reduced vulnerabilities

  • Enabled faster and more frequent releases

  • Ensured regulatory compliance was met

  • Instilled a culture shift across teams

By taking a technical approach focused on security, automation, and collaboration, the energy storage provider built a resilient DevSecOps foundation for developing and operating critical systems. The project serves as a model for other energy companies looking to transform legacy practices.

Source: DevSecOps Implementation : Enhancing Security for an Energy Services Firm - Veritis Group Inc

5 DevSecOps Common Challenges and Solutions

While each industry faces unique security challenges, several roadblocks are common when implementing DevSecOps across sectors:

1. Cultural Resistance

Transitioning from traditional silos to collaborative DevSecOps can meet internal resistance.

Universal mitigation: Executive sponsorship, training, and highlighting benefits help drive culture change.

2. Adding Security to Legacy Systems

Bolting on security to legacy environments can be hard without breaking processes.

Universal solution: Take an incremental approach - instrument systems, segment networks, and upgrade components systematically.

3. Scaling Toolchains

Complex toolchains that work for small teams may not translate to large, multi-project enterprises.

Universal path: Standardize tools where possible, integrate with existing systems, and limit customization.

4. Measuring ROI

Quantifying return on investment from DevSecOps can be difficult.

Universal approach: Track objective metrics like reduced vulnerabilities, improved audit results, and faster delivery over time.

5. Compliance Hurdles

Regulatory compliance adds challenges for regulated sectors like healthcare and finance.

Universal guidelines: Involve auditors early, integrate compliance checks into pipelines, and validate controls frequently.

By taking a principle-based approach to addressing these common barriers, organizations across verticals can pave a smoother path to DevSecOps adoption and maximize business value.

The DevSecOps Strategy - A Checklist

Regardless of the industry, certain DevSecOps strategies should be followed. Most of them rely on Automation. It is a crucial element of DevSecOps. By automating security testing and monitoring processes, organizations can proactively identify vulnerabilities and security threats. Continuous monitoring allows security teams to detect anomalous behavior, including potential attacks, and respond swiftly.  Let’s elaborate further:

  • Centralized Asset Inventory

    • A centralized asset management system, such as Qualys, ensures complete visibility into all network assets. This facilitates effective vulnerability management and compliance reporting.

  • Configuration Management

    • Tools like Ansible or Puppet allow for streamlined configuration management. These tools can enforce security configurations across servers, such as ensuring SSH is configured correctly, thereby minimizing attack surfaces.

  • Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC)

    • Terraform or AWS CloudFormation can be used to automate the provisioning of infrastructure, ensuring that it aligns with security best practices like network segmentation.

  • Patch Management

    • Automated patch management tools like WSUS or Ivanti provide timely updates to systems, reducing the risk of exploitation from known vulnerabilities.

  • Key Management Service (KMS)

    • AWS KMS or HashiCorp Vault can be used for secure key management, ensuring encrypted storage and secure access to sensitive information.

  • Static and Dynamic Analysis (SAST & DAST)

    • Code security can be checked at multiple stages using SAST tools like CodeQL during development, and IAST/ DAST tools like Akto during runtime.

  • Software Composition Analysis

    • Tools like Snyk or WhiteSource can automatically scan dependencies for known vulnerabilities, providing timely alerts and potential fixes.

  • Least Privilege

    • Implement Identity and Access Management (IAM) with tools like Okta or Microsoft Azure Active Directory, restricting user privileges strictly to what’s necessary for their roles.

  • Defense-in-Depth

    • This principle is achieved through a multi-layered security approach involving firewalls, intrusion detection systems like Snort, and data encryption techniques.

  • Secure Coding Practices

    • Utilize secure coding frameworks such as OWASP’s ASVS and conduct regular code reviews, possibly automated through peer review platforms like Crucible.

By rigorously applying these strategies and tools, organizations can develop a robust DevSecOps ecosystem, significantly mitigating risks and fortifying their security posture across any industry.

Now, let's explore the specialized solutions provided by Akto to boost the security posture.

Akto's Impact on DevSecOps Across Sectors

Tailoring DevSecOps to Industry Needs

DevSecOps guidelines help make software development safer, but different industries have their own unique needs. Akto's security software for APIs takes care of this by offering tailored security solutions for each industry.

Key Features:

  1. Seamless DevSecOps Integration: Akto seamlessly integrates into your existing CI/CD pipeline, using its AI-driven engine to perform bulk API security testing. This early-stage vulnerability detection is critical for preemptive security measures.

  2. Real-Time API Inventory & Vulnerability Management: Akto’s platform actively monitors API traffic to continuously update an inventory of your API landscape. It identifies exposed sensitive data and misconfigurations in real-time, thereby enabling dynamic vulnerability management.

  3. Comprehensive Security Testing & Monitoring: Akto has the largest test library with over 100 built-in tests covering the OWASP Top 10, HackerOne Top 10, and proprietary business logic vulnerabilities, Akto provides a comprehensive security posture assessment for your APIs. Akto's Test Editor further allows for the development of custom security tests tailored to your organization’s unique needs.

    Source: Invalid Origin CORS Misconfiguration Detection - Akto

  4. Automated Misconfiguration Detection: Whether it’s improper CORS settings or insecure authentication mechanisms, Akto identifies and flags misconfigurations that could otherwise lead to security breaches.

The Akto Edge in DevSecOps and API Security

By providing a robust, real-time API security platform that is easily integrated into DevSecOps workflows, Akto not only ensures that your software systems are secure but also accelerates the development process. Their platform sets a benchmark for API security, contributing to the enhancement of security postures across diverse sectors. This makes Akto an indispensable partner for any organization aiming to adopt DevSecOps at scale.

Check out this webinar by Akto on API Security in DevSecOps.

Conclusion

DevSecOps has become a modern cybersecurity must-have across industries. It offers a proactive and collaborative approach to ensure security is integrated into the software development lifecycle from the start. By combining the principles of DevOps with robust security practices, organizations can protect their sensitive data, meet compliance requirements, maintain customer trust, and ultimately reduce the risk of security breaches.

In this comprehensive blog, we explored the significance of DevSecOps across sectors, overviewed its core principles, and unpacked its fundamentals. Through deep-dives into finance and banking, healthcare, e-commerce and retail, manufacturing and supply chain, entertainment and media, and energy and utilities, we examined sector-specific security challenges and case studies demonstrating the successful implementation of DevSecOps practices.

We also discussed common challenges and solutions applicable across industries, emphasizing the importance of automation, monitoring, and adherence to universal security principles. Finally, the specialized solutions provided by Akto for a successful DevSecOps implementation.

By embracing DevSecOps and tailoring its principles to specific industry needs, organizations can foster a security-conscious culture, minimize security risks, and achieve a tangible return on their security investments.

Continue reading

Continue reading

Gartner estimates that by 2025, less than 50% of enterprise APIs will be properly managed.

Gartner estimates that by 2025, less than 50% of enterprise APIs will be properly managed.

Protect your APIs from attacks now

Protect your APIs from attacks now

Protect your APIs from attacks now