Security along the Container-based SDLC
Nowadays, containers are becoming the standard deployment unit of software, and that in the Cloud-based Application Security world means 2 things:
- The Software Applications are distributed into containers.
- The minimum unit of deployment and shipment is the container.
In other words, using containers we are adding a new element to be considered along the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) as a new additional piece of software (containers), and from Architectural point of view, those new pieces of software will be distributed.
Said that, the purpose of this post is explain you how to embed Security along the Container-based SDLC (Secure-SDLC) and how to DevOps practices will help its adoption.
The above Secure-SDLC diagram was created using the classic Systems development life cycle published at Wikipedia and software engineering and security-related techniques such as:
- The Twelve-Factor App is a methodology for building software-as-a-service apps.
- SP 800-190 - Application Container Security Guide - By NIST, September 2017.
- Exploring container security: An overview - By Maya Kaczorowski, Security & Privacy Product Manager at Google, March 2018.
- Container Security — From Image Analysis to Network Segmentation, Options Are Maturing - By Gartner, August 2018
- Some thoughts picked from my QA and Security in Development Process presented on July 2005 (Spanish).
Security-related Techniques and Practices
In the above picture you can see some security-related techniques and practices used in traditional security approaches that still can and must use. Yes, there are not nothing new. The only thing that changes are the tools. Below, at the end of post, you will see a list of open source security tools that can be used in each security technique proposed in the Secure-SDLC.
- SAST (Static Application Security Testing), also known as “white box testing” has been around for more than a decade.
- DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing), also known as “black box” testing, can find security vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a running application, typically web apps. Info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_application_security_testing
- IAST (Interactive Application Security Testing). Info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_security
- RASP (Run-time Application Security Protection). Runtime Application Security Protection, works inside the application, but it is less a testing tool and more a security tool. It’s plugged into an application or its runtime environment and can control application execution. That allows RASP to protect the app even if a network’s perimeter defenses are breached and the apps contain security vulnerabilities missed by the development team. RASP lets an app run continuous security checks on itself and respond to live attacks by terminating an attacker’s session and alerting defenders to the attack. Info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runtime_application_self-protection
- Misuse cases. More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misuse_case
- Abuse cases. More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abuse_case
- Intrusion Detection System (IDS). More information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrusion_detection_system
- Software Composition Analysis (SCA) / Software Supply Chain.
From Old-school SDLC to Container-based Secure-SDLC
Three things to consider:
Mixing old with new, adapt old to new along all stages
One of OWASP Security Principles I allways use is Minimise the Attack Surface (Leveraging existing components), but since I’m using container as a new element in the software development process, I have to adapt existing techniques and frameworks to mitigate the new attack vectors that container brings. That means mixing old with new and adapt old to new along all stages, for example:
- We do Static Code Analysis, now we have to consider container’s definition and its dependencies.
- We do Application Testing and Pentesting and we have to extend Pentesting to Application into containers.
- We do Network Segmentation and Isolation, now we have to consider a new level of segmentation and isolation that container brings.
- We do Monitor the performance and activity of Applications, now we have to do the same but at container level and at distributed way, etc.
Security is a process, not a product
Buying and deploying a new Security Tool will not guarantee to solve all security problems because security means different things in different stages in the SDLC and it isn’t a problem absolute. We know that every year come new security problems and new attack vectors, it is impossible to get “Absolute Security”. For that, we have to embed security in all stages of SDLC because Security is a Process, not a Product.
From DevOps to DevSecOps
DevOps is a culture of collaboration between teams, Developers and Operations who have traditionally operated in isolated groups working together towards a common goal: release software faster and more reliably.
But what about security?. Security people also work towards to same goal. Then why they don’t work together where everyone is responsible for security. If so, that will allow teams release software faster, reliably and secure.
Open Source Container Security Tools
The criteria I’m going to use to select the tools are:
- Adaptable or ready to be used with containers.
- DevOps friendly.
- Recommended to be used with The Best Security Practices (OWASP, NIST, etc.)
- Open Source.
Click here to download the list in PDF format.
If don’t see a open source security product in the document that is worth being reviewed, please, drop me an email and I’ll add to document and review it.
- Although you can do it, you shouln’d use all those open source security tools without outlining your SDLC before, without identifying the security challenges you want to face in each SDLC' stage and without to identifying the existing security practices you are using.
- The Container has certain inherent characteristics that impact the way the application behaves approach in lastly SDLC' stages.
- Since the containers are immutable and ephemeral, the CI/CD processes are shorters in order to deliver new pieces of applications, their updates and their dependencies. In fact, these processes without control are a common attack vector (weakest link) frequently used to introduce untrusted, unpatched, insecure third-party software. Then, make sure to adopt a Software Composition Analysis (SCA) / Software Supply Chain practice and a tool or framework.
That’s it, I hope it helpful. In the next post I’ll explain how use some of them. Stay tuned.