Using DevSecOps to Improve Your Vulnerability Management Program

Using DevSecOps can enhance your vulnerability management program

The basic idea behind DevSecOps is to introduce security as early as possible in the software development life cycle (SDLC). At the same time, the model can lead to increased collaboration between development and security teams as part of the effort to integrate security into the SDLC.

In other words, DevSecOps provides an excellent foundation for an effective vulnerability management strategy. DevSecOps contributes to four key areas of vulnerability management: discovery, validation, prioritization and remediation.

Each of these components plays a key role in helping to eliminate the software vulnerabilities that can present a real security risk for organizations. Let’s take a look at each one to see how it impacts vulnerability management.

The Essential Components of Vulnerability Management With DevSecOps

Discovery is essential for vulnerability management, because without it organizations can’t identify the software bugs that could potentially be exploited by cyber criminals. Companies can discover software flaws by using tools such as:

  • vulnerability scanners
  • a dynamic, automatically updated SBOM (software bill of materials)
  • SCA (software composition analysis)
  • and VEX (vulnerability exploitability exchange)

With these tools and documents, an organization can fully understand what’s in their software environment —including software versions, commercial and open-source components, and dependencies — and compare this information with known vulnerabilities.

Validation is also pivotal for successful vulnerability management because it’s the stage where those software bugs that represent actual risk to organizations are separated out from those vulnerabilities that are not serious security risks.

The process of validation is essentially a technical analysis to determine if a specific vulnerability in a piece of software code can be exploited in a given production environment. It’s always deterministic, providing a definitive yes or no answer to the question of whether a particular vulnerability is exploitable.

Among the benefits of validation is that it enables security and development teams to apply fewer patches, which in turn gives them more time to create new products and features. It frees them of the burden of patch backlogs.

Prioritization enables teams to quickly determine which of the discovered and validated vulnerabilities should be remediated first because of the potential risks they present. Not all software vulnerabilities are equal in terms of the impact they can potentially have when exploited by cyber criminals.

This component of DevSecOps is vital for effective vulnerability management. A framework for prioritizing vulnerabilities, the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), attempts to assign severity scores to vulnerabilities. This lets teams prioritize resources according to threat level.

Tools are available to help organizations prioritize which vulnerabilities need immediate fixing and which can be held off because they pose little or no immediate risk.

Remediation is the step in the vulnerability management process that all the other phases lead to. The key to fixing software bugs efficiently is to automate the task to the greatest extent possible. This speeds up the process of eliminating risks presented by the affected software, and also accelerates the delivery of newly developed products into production.

Teams need to focus on smart remediation that leverages automation, which fits in with the previous stages of the vulnerability management process. By applying automation to each of these components of DevSecOps, organizations can ensure the most effective vulnerability management.

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