Key Concept

Unifying Application Security Intelligence Data

Aggregating Application Security Data is Cricital in Decoupled Architectures

What is Application Security?

Application security can be defined as building security into your software starting at the earliest point - the code. This practice includes adding logic to add and test security features and to prevent security vulnerabilities. Application security also includes writing code to fortify user access, protect application input, encryption, and threat modeling.

Application security has been recognized as a set of best practices for developers; however, in recent years, the DevOps community has begun to understand they are also responsible for implementing application security best practices around the supply chain and the DevOps pipeline.

Why Application Security Data Aggregation is Needed in a Cloud-Native Environment

A cloud-native decoupled architecture adds complexity to application security best practices. In a decoupled architecture, each independently deployed component has its private pipeline. Hundreds of independent updates are moving across the pipeline all day long. Each pipeline execution generates critical application security data, resulting in the data being fragmented across siloed security tools. The simple task of tracking what version of a component a logical application is using becomes highly dynamic. Manually tracking the security data that comes from a component update is impossible. When a vulnerability is found in a single component, IT teams must locate all applications that use the component to contain the vulnerability, a task that takes an average of 227 days, according to 2023 JFrog research.

Federating Component Data to the Application Level

As technology becomes more decoupled, introducing software supply chain management becomes more critical. Restoring the ‘application release’ concept should be a function of software supply chain practices. In decoupled architectures, the application view is only logical. A logical application’s security profile is an aggregation of  SBOMs, software composition analysis, and CVEs. Federating the application security data of all components into a central evidence store is an essential practice in understanding and protecting the software supply chain. To this point, the Biden Administration’s 2022 SBOM order requires teams to deliver an Application SBOM for any software solution delivered to the government.

Top 5 Application Security Best Practices that Generates Data

Where does DevOps and Security data come from? By now, most companies have built DevOps pipelines that address some level of application security. The top 5 most common Application Security Best Practices include:

These best practices create the data that shows the micro-level information on each component pushed through the pipeline. Gathering this data and tracking historical changes can create a more comprehensive view of an organization’s application security profile.

Open Source Application Security Projects to Watch

With new interest in application security and supply chain management, there are new open source projects to watch. Here is a list to get started.

Project Description
Ortelius.io
Ortelius is a federated software supply chain catalog of all security and DevOps results, with data aggregation for comprehensive end-to-end insights and history. Incubating at the Continuous Delivery Foundation(CDF).
Tekton.dev
An event-based CI/CD engine built for Kubernetes. Also includes Tekton Chains for auditing the pipeline itself. Incubating at the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF).
CD.Events
A critical piece in the overall pipeline puzzle. CDEvents is a Continuous Delivery Foundation(CDF) community effort to define standards for creating a CD events framework. CDEvents will simplify and standardize CI/CD workflows, eliminating much of the one-off scripting, and creating an audit of what is occurring in the pipeline. An event-based CI/CD pipeline will make it easy to add and update Pipeline activities without touching hundreds of pipeline workflows.
Keptn
An event-based Cloud-native CI/CD engine for orchestrating your application lifecycle. Designed to include observability and remediation with a GitOps approach. Incubating at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
Alpha-Omega
Their goal is to first (Alpha), work with the most popular open-source projects to find and fix vulnerabilities and second (Omega) provides over 10,000 OS projects with automated security analysis. An Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) community project.
SigStore.dev
Container Signing, verification, and storage in an OCI registry. Provides a historical record of changes and allows for searching of the record. An Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) community project.
Syft A CLI tool and Go library for generating a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) from container images and filesystems. Managed by Anchore.
Apko Build and publish OCI container images built from Alpine Package Keeper packages. A safer way to create containers. Managed by ChainGuard.

 

Conclusion

Application Security best practices generate critical information for hardening digital assets against cyber attacks. The challenge is this critical data is fragmented across siloed tools or hidden in logs. The use of a centralized evidence store that can aggregate the data across containers and tools provides the macro view of an organization’s security profile, including ‘logical’ application SBOM reports, open-source inventory, and CVE blast radius. It is this aggregated data that allows teams to respond to cyber threats in hours, not months.

DeployHub Gathers Application Security Insights

DeployHub is an open source software supply chain security platform that consumes and aggregates security and DevOps intelligence, providing comprehensive, end-to-end insights. DeployHub harvests security and DevOps data, giving IT teams quick access to the unified information they need to respond to issues and vulnerabilities quickly.  DeployHub is added to your CI/CD pipeline to automate the collection and aggregation of this data using a simple command line interface that can also add SBOM generation to the process if you have not already done so. The open source core of DeployHub is called Ortelius.io, incubating at the Continuous Delivery Foundation.

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Signup for DeployHub Team, the free SaaS software supply chain security platform. DeployHub Team is based on the Ortelius Open Source project incubating at the Continuous Delivery Foundation.

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Suggested Whitepaper

Application Security Tooling for your DevOps Pipeline

Application security tooling is the automation of security best practices into the DevOps Pipeline. Application security has mainly focused on improving code to fortify user access, protect application input, encryption, and threat modeling. In addition, security enhancements to the DevOps Pipeline enforce best practices to harden the application lifecycle. This whitepaper provides a clear understanding of what is needed to harden application security at minimal cost.

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application security and DevOps

Further Reading