Implementing a Shift-Left Approach
Shift left is a concept that has been gaining traction in the cybersecurity industry in recent years, with the focus on incorporating security and security testing into the software development process early. The benefits of a shift-left approach include delivering secure code faster, reducing vulnerabilities in production, and driving efficiencies across AppSec and Dev teams.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of shift left in more detail, as well as share two key resources that can help organizations learn best practices to implement it: "Shift Left: Beyond the Cybersecurity Buzzword" by Security Magazine, and RSAC Fireside Chat “StackHawk helps move the application security needle to ‘shift everywhere’” both articles featuring StackHawk’s CSO and security expert, Scott Gerlach.
What is Shift Left?
Shift left is a practice of incorporating security into the software development process as early as possible. Traditionally, security has been treated as an afterthought, with developers creating software first and security teams testing it later, either just before deployment or after it's been pushed to production. This approach is no longer sufficient. The speed at which software is developed and deployed today outpaces the ability for traditional approaches of security testing to keep up, and therefore can expose applications running in production to an increasing number of cyber attacks.
Shift left means that security is integrated into the development process from the start. This approach involves threat modeling, secure design, security testing and vulnerability assessments (to name a few) as early as possible in the development cycle. By identifying and addressing security issues early, organizations can save time and money and reduce the risk of a cyber attack being successful and the potential damage and interruption caused by one.
Shift left also involves a change in mindset. Rather than viewing security as a separate function, it is integrated into the development process, making it part of the development team's responsibility. This approach is commonly referred to as DevSecOps, and it involves a collaborative approach between development, security, and operations teams.
Shift Left: Beyond the Cybersecurity Buzzword
"Shift Left: Beyond the Cybersecurity Buzzword" is an article that provides a comprehensive overview of the shift left concept. The article explores the benefits of shift left, including early detection of vulnerabilities, cost savings, and improved overall security. It also discusses the challenges of implementing shift left, such as resistance to change and lack of expertise.
The article also offers practical guidance on how to implement shift left, such as involving the security team early in the development process, automating security testing, and providing training for developers on security best practices. The article emphasizes the importance of a collaborative approach between development, security, and operations teams.
RSAC Fireside Chat: StackHawk Helps Move the Application Security Needle to Shift Everywhere
The RSAC Fireside Chat is a podcast that discusses how StackHawk can help organizations implement shift left and improve their application security. StackHawk seamlessly integrates security testing into the software development process, making it part of the development team's responsibility.
The podcast discusses the challenges organizations face in securing their applications and how StackHawk can help organizations shift left and improve their application security. The podcast explores the features of StackHawk, such as automated API and application security testing. The podcast also emphasizes the importance of a collaborative approach between development and security teams.
How Can Organizations Implement Shift Left?
Implementing shift left requires a change in mindset and a collaborative approach between development, security, and operations teams. The following are some steps organizations can take to implement shift left:
Involve the Development Team Early in the AppSec Design Process
The development team must be involved and have buy-in for shift-left to work at all. Development teams need to help and accept design of process, selection of tooling, as well as ground rules for working agreements on how to partner with security teams. People, process, technology are what enable change. We often forget the people part of this formula.
2. Involve the Security Team Early in the Development Process
The security team should be involved in the development process from the beginning. This allows them to identify potential security risks early and provide guidance on how to mitigate those risks. By involving the security team early, organizations can save time and money by avoiding costly security issues later in the development process.
3. Implement a Self Service Approach
Be mindful of designing something that is a black box that developers can’t use or see. Empowering developers to be successful in the recreation of issues helps keep pace with the flow of development. If you’re breaking builds, and developers can’t easily recreate the issue or service their process, they will spend time to unwind it. That doesn’t mean don’t log decisions, but give developers the ability to make informed, action-based decisions.
4. Automate Security Testing
Automating security testing can save time and ensure that security testing is consistent and thorough. Tools like StackHawk offer a modern approach to application security testing by offering a platform that’s easily integrated into the existing dev workflows and CI/CD pipelines.
5. Provide Training for Developers on Security Best Practices
Developers should be trained on security best practices to ensure they are aware of potential security risks and how to mitigate them. This training can be provided by the security team or through external resources.
6. Conduct Regular Vulnerability Assessments
Regular vulnerability assessments can help identify security risks early in the development process. These assessments should be conducted by the security team or an external security provider.
7. Implement Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) can help ensure that security testing is integrated into the development process. CI/CD involves automating the building, testing, and deployment of software applications, which can help identify and mitigate security risks early in the development process.
8. Collaborate Between Development, Security, and Operations Teams
Collaboration between development, security, and operations teams is essential for successful implementation of shift left. The teams should work together to identify potential security risks and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.
Shift left is an essential concept that organizations need to adopt to improve their application security. By integrating security into the development process, organizations can identify and address security issues earlier, saving time and money in the long run. The resources mentioned in this blog post, "Shift Left: Beyond the Cybersecurity Buzzword" and RSAC Fireside Chat “StackHawk helps move the application security needle to ‘shift everywhere’” offer great guidance on how to implement shift left and improve application security.
Implementing shift left requires a change in mindset and a collaborative approach between development, security, and operations teams, but the benefits are significant and can help organizations stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape.
Learn more about StackHawk and how we can help your organizations improve application security best practices in order to shift left. We’d love to hear from you.
[Alexa Sevilla is the Director of Product Marketing at StackHawk]