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How to enhance security by integrating SAST and DAST in CI/CD?

The OWASP Top 10 is a security awareness document that lists top security risks affecting web applications during a time span. The document suggests the security risks affecting our web application haven’t changed in years.SAST and DAST provide two stringent methods to safeguard their software delivery pipeline at various stages. Here are some of the security risks that are topping the list for the past five years:

  • SQL Injections
  • Cross Site Scripting
  • Broken Authentication
  • Broken access control,
  • Security misconfigurations
  • Insecure deserialization
  • Using Vulnerable components
  • Insufficient Logging & Monitoring

For security analysts in software development projects or developers in DevSecOps teams, the document gives the starting point—against which security risks you must test your application.

OWAS is also known for its Cheat Sheet Series. The OWASP Cheat Sheet Series was produced by the OWASP Foundation to give a succinct collection of high-value information on various application security problems. This cheat sheet has also a Kubernetes section and practically everything you need to know about securing your Kubernetes clusters and Docker containers.

What are SAST and DAST, and what is the difference between them?

Dynamic application security testing (DAST) is a black-box testing methodology common under traditional software development values. In DAST, security teams run their tests on an application running in a near-production environment and report security issues back to the development team, who must fix them.

However, DAST fails to detect most security risks covered in The OWASP list. SQL injection for instance is more of a flaw in the embedded SQL code and thus is beyond the scope of detection for a DAST tool. Only an expert developer can check a code for SQL injection risks. The same goes for security misconfiguration. If somebody from system operations (SysOps) messes up with the configurations, it could lead to security nightmares once the application is in the wild.

Therefore, white-box security testing methods such as static application security testing (SAST) are growing in prominence, especially in organizations with strong DevSecOps opinions.

DevOps, DevSecOps, and application testing

Since under DevOps, security is in part a responsibility of the developer, they will ensure only secure code changes are making to the automated CI/CD pipeline. Developers, for example, can integrate automated scripts in their IDE to monitor SQL injection vulnerabilities affecting their code.

Organizations trying to follow DevOps practices have to redefine their development practices and repurpose their application stack to be compliant. They choose DevOps because they want to be the first to react and want to cut the gap between development and production.

When we talk about automated pipelines from development to deployment, a manual process in between can slow down things significantly. Today, DevOps translates to modular applications living under multiple containers on the cloud and orchestrated by Kubernetes. Imagine your security team coming at the time of final deployment insisting they want to check each container for security vulnerabilities. What is the point of adopting DevOps in the first place?

When it comes to DevOps, we are automating three important stages of software development through continuous integration (CI), continuous monitoring, and continuous delivery (CD). When talking about quality testing in DevOps, we often talk about bringing it to the left of the delivery pipeline.

For those who don’t know, in a development pipeline, development is on the left and delivery is on the right. By shift-left, it means bringing testing closer to development and away from delivery.

Nevertheless, doesn’t quality also constitute security? If so, why can’t we move security to the left too on the pipeline and automate static application security testing (SAST) with continuous monitoring tools?

DevSecOps or secure DevOps is the natural evolution of DevOps and is about bringing security to DevOps without slowing down on DevOps expectations. If we talk about continuous integration (CI), any code change is integrated into the base code with each commit. Now that security comes under the shift-left scanner, a developer should learn if their code has XSS vulnerabilities as soon as it passes through the integration part of the pipeline.

SAST and DAST to secure CI/CD pipelines

For organizations deeply engrained in DevOps/DevSecOps principles, SAST and DAST provide two stringent methods to safeguard their software delivery pipeline at various stages. SAST is perfectly suited for DevSecOps environments and associated shift-left philosophy, as a white box solution. SAST methods dictate the application code must be tested for trending security risks as defined in The OWASP Top 10 and other security documents. Developers on the advice of security people can write automated scripts that test their code in real-time against security risks listed in The OWASP Top 10. This will save the developers and quality team time moving back and forth with security holes and fixes and won’t slow the pipeline. In addition, the security team can integrate continuous monitoring tools into the CI pipeline to automate the process from integration to delivery.

If your application used a layout library that now has known vulnerabilities, there is no way a black box tool like DAST could tell that. However, there isn’t every instance, DevOps or not, when SAST is applicable. Broken authentication is a major security concern according to the OWASP list. An application is only going to make a connection to the internet once it is dynamic. It is only then you can learn if it has a problem authenticating on the application server.

DAST is important depending upon the security risk you want it to detect. For example, you can’t tell from a static application if its cryptographic signature is broken. It is only when it returns an error connecting via HTTPS that it has the problem. Insufficient logging and monitoring are another set of security issues listed on OWASP documentation. Without sufficient logging and monitoring, it is hard to detect the trail of events in case of a network intrusion leading to a data breach. With static application security testing (SAST), you can’t learn of the discrepancy and must rely on dynamic application security testing (DAST).

Continuous Security in DevOps shouldn’t be a challenge

Security doesn’t come naturally to your CI/CD pipelines unless you build it natively **into your DevOps process and fully embrace DevSecOps from a cultural point of view. The idea of DevOps is to automate every aspect of the software development cycle including security. DAST and SAST methods allow you to make sure that the application in development is secure at the code level and when interacting with the network and runtime environment.

Security in DevOps stops being a challenge starting from the moment you are using the right tools. One of the decisions, many CIOs and CTOs do is to use CI/CD as a service. The choice of your platform is crucial and determines the quality of your applications, therefore their security.

Many CI/CD platforms offer a set of tools and practices that you can use to reduce the complexity of the main 2 DevOps processes: CI and CD. However, not all of these platforms, allow you to integrate SAST and DAST in a simple way.

Other platforms offer more features but will need you to invest some time and effort to set up your DevSecOps pipelines.

What about platforms that do more with less. Have you thought of using NoCode?

In general, the term “NoCode” refers to the method of creating digital products, apps, and websites without having to write a single line of code. NoCode allows you to create digital solutions without having to learn a programming language or manipulate codes. NoCode is disrupting every workflow in software development, and DevOps is not left out.

DevOps has become an essential practice for businesses that aim to produce quick and long-lasting solutions. To achieve the goals of agility, continuous integration, continuous deployment, and continuous testing, this approach entails the use of many tools and frameworks that require coding. To decrease the workload of DevOps personnel, NoCode solutions have optimized this process and maintained it as codeless as possible.

WildCard CI/CD solution takes a security-first approach in handling CI/CD. Adding SAST and DAST checks is easy as pie and can be done in a few clicks. We’ve built a NoCode platform that provides a solution to help organizations, and developers, even those without DevOps experience or coding knowledge, to successfully implement and manage versioned infrastructure using NoCode DevSecOps pipelines.

You can use Wildcard to build, deploy, and manage applications without writing a single line of code. Start for free by singing using Github or GitLab.

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