Assembling A Container Security Program

Our paper, Assembling a Container Security Program, covers a broad range of topics around how to securely build, manage, and deploy containers. During our research we learned that issues often arise early in the software development or container assembly portion of the build process, so we cover much more than merely runtime security – the focus of most container security research. We also discovered that operations teams struggle with getting control over containers, so we also cover a number of questions regarding monitoring, auditing, and management. To give you a flavor for the content, we cover the following: IT and Security teams lack visibility into containers and have trouble validating them – both before placing them into production, and when running in production. Their peers on the development team are often disinterested in security, and cannot be bothered to provide reports and metrics. This is essentially the same problem we have for application security in general: the people responsible for the code are not incentivized to make security their problem, and the people who need to know what’s going on lack visibility. Containers are scaring the hell out of security pros because of their lack of transparency. The burden of securing containers falls across Development, Operations, and Security teams – but these groups are not always certain how to tackle the issues. This research is intended to aid security practitioners, developers, and IT operations teams in selecting container security tools and approaches. We will not go into great detail on how to secure apps in general here – we are limiting ourselves to build, container management, deployment, platform, and runtime security issues that arise with the use of containers. We will focus on Docker as the dominant container model, but the vast majority of our security recommendations also apply to Cloud Foundry, Rocket, Google Pods, and the like. If you worry about container security this is a good primer on all aspects of how code is built, bundled, containerized, and deployed. We would like to thank Aqua Security for licensing this research and participating in some of our initial discussions. As always, we welcome comments and suggestions. If you have questions, please feel free to email us, info at Download a copy of the paper here Share:

Read Post

Building Security Into DevOps

We are excited about this research paper, because we are excited about what the DevOps approach has delivered to many organizations, both small and large, already. And even firms who have only recently started down the path toward a full DevOps process already enjoy the advantages of streamlined testing and build processing with continuous integration. Our focus for this research was on how to embed security and security testing into DevOps, leveraging automated workflows to implement security testing, and providing fast feedback to developers when something is amiss. We offer a basic overview of DevOps, followed by several perspectives on how security folks and developers can work together to engineer security into a DevOps pipeline. From the paper: Some folks who suggest moving to DevOps meet internal resistance, fresh off the failures to implement Agile processes. When development teams of the past decade tried to go ‘Agile’ they often ran smack into the other groups within their own firms who remained steadfastly un-Agile. This resulted in more of the same in inter-group friction and further compounded communication and organizational issues. This dysfunction can have a paralytic effect, dropping productivity to nil. Most people are so entrenched in traditional software development approaches that it’s hard to see development ever getting better. And when firms who have adopted DevOps talk about deploying code every day instead of every year, or being fully patched within hours, or detection and recovery from a bug within minutes, most developers scoff at these notion as pure utopian fantasy. That is, until they see DevOps in action – then their jaws drop. We know plenty of you are already tired of hearing the term ‘DevOps’, and think this is just the newest overhyped flavor of Agile. Heck, even one of our associate analysts has scoffed at the claim that DevOps will have a pronounced effect on development and operations. But you don’t need to look far to see incredible success stories. When it comes down to it, DevOps is merely a way to reduce friction and leverage the full potential of your infrastructure. You can – and we know some organizations have and will – screw it up. But part of the beauty of this approach is that you quickly learn from mistakes – you can back them out and continue move forward. And it’s not magic fairy dust – it requires a radical change in organization, months of hard work to automate basic daily chores, and years to mature the pipeline. The benefits are not felt overnight – you only make small improvements on any given day, but they snowball over time. Especially paired with cloud computing, which provides granular API-level control over infrastructure, DevOps enables dramatic improvement. Our thanks to Veracode for licensing this content so we can bring it to you free of charge! Here is the paper: Building Security Into DevOps (PDF). Share:

Read Post

Secure Agile Development

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know we have talked about the troubles of integrating security testing and secure code development practices into and Agile development process. Security is trying to manage risks to the organization, including risks introduced by new technologies such as code. Development teams try to deliver quality code faster, which means jettisoning things that slow them down. Both want customers to be happy and deliver new products and services, but underlying goals of risk reduction and maximized efficiency do not inherently mesh, causing friction. This research paper was conceived as a way to help security people understand and better work with development. We explain what development teams are trying to do, how they want to work, and offer pragmatic advice to help mesh the goals of both organizations into a unified process. And on this topic, we really wanted to give back to the community! We’ve included much of what we have learned with secure code development over the last two decades, as well as things we’ve learned from other development teams, CISOs and security vendors, to provide a simple guide on how to promote security in Agile software development teams. We are also proud to announce that Vercode has licensed this content. It’s not every day that a vendor will back a research paper that does not promote or demystify a product category, but it’s an area we felt security — and developers — could use information on. As this research is geared toward helping CISOs and others build a process, it’s decidedly non-product focused, so we are grateful for Veracode’s help in supporting our efforts to bring this research to you. As always, if you have questions or comments, please contact us at info at Securosis with the ‘dot com’ extension, or simply comment on the blog. You can download the paper here Share:

Read Post

Totally Transparent Research is the embodiment of how we work at Securosis. It’s our core operating philosophy, our research policy, and a specific process. We initially developed it to help maintain objectivity while producing licensed research, but its benefits extend to all aspects of our business.

Going beyond Open Source Research, and a far cry from the traditional syndicated research model, we think it’s the best way to produce independent, objective, quality research.

Here’s how it works:

  • Content is developed ‘live’ on the blog. Primary research is generally released in pieces, as a series of posts, so we can digest and integrate feedback, making the end results much stronger than traditional “ivory tower” research.
  • Comments are enabled for posts. All comments are kept except for spam, personal insults of a clearly inflammatory nature, and completely off-topic content that distracts from the discussion. We welcome comments critical of the work, even if somewhat insulting to the authors. Really.
  • Anyone can comment, and no registration is required. Vendors or consultants with a relevant product or offering must properly identify themselves. While their comments won’t be deleted, the writer/moderator will “call out”, identify, and possibly ridicule vendors who fail to do so.
  • Vendors considering licensing the content are welcome to provide feedback, but it must be posted in the comments - just like everyone else. There is no back channel influence on the research findings or posts.
    Analysts must reply to comments and defend the research position, or agree to modify the content.
  • At the end of the post series, the analyst compiles the posts into a paper, presentation, or other delivery vehicle. Public comments/input factors into the research, where appropriate.
  • If the research is distributed as a paper, significant commenters/contributors are acknowledged in the opening of the report. If they did not post their real names, handles used for comments are listed. Commenters do not retain any rights to the report, but their contributions will be recognized.
  • All primary research will be released under a Creative Commons license. The current license is Non-Commercial, Attribution. The analyst, at their discretion, may add a Derivative Works or Share Alike condition.
  • Securosis primary research does not discuss specific vendors or specific products/offerings, unless used to provide context, contrast or to make a point (which is very very rare).
    Although quotes from published primary research (and published primary research only) may be used in press releases, said quotes may never mention a specific vendor, even if the vendor is mentioned in the source report. Securosis must approve any quote to appear in any vendor marketing collateral.
  • Final primary research will be posted on the blog with open comments.
  • Research will be updated periodically to reflect market realities, based on the discretion of the primary analyst. Updated research will be dated and given a version number.
    For research that cannot be developed using this model, such as complex principles or models that are unsuited for a series of blog posts, the content will be chunked up and posted at or before release of the paper to solicit public feedback, and provide an open venue for comments and criticisms.
  • In rare cases Securosis may write papers outside of the primary research agenda, but only if the end result can be non-biased and valuable to the user community to supplement industry-wide efforts or advances. A “Radically Transparent Research” process will be followed in developing these papers, where absolutely all materials are public at all stages of development, including communications (email, call notes).
    Only the free primary research released on our site can be licensed. We will not accept licensing fees on research we charge users to access.
  • All licensed research will be clearly labeled with the licensees. No licensed research will be released without indicating the sources of licensing fees. Again, there will be no back channel influence. We’re open and transparent about our revenue sources.

In essence, we develop all of our research out in the open, and not only seek public comments, but keep those comments indefinitely as a record of the research creation process. If you believe we are biased or not doing our homework, you can call us out on it and it will be there in the record. Our philosophy involves cracking open the research process, and using our readers to eliminate bias and enhance the quality of the work.

On the back end, here’s how we handle this approach with licensees:

  • Licensees may propose paper topics. The topic may be accepted if it is consistent with the Securosis research agenda and goals, but only if it can be covered without bias and will be valuable to the end user community.
  • Analysts produce research according to their own research agendas, and may offer licensing under the same objectivity requirements.
  • The potential licensee will be provided an outline of our research positions and the potential research product so they can determine if it is likely to meet their objectives.
  • Once the licensee agrees, development of the primary research content begins, following the Totally Transparent Research process as outlined above. At this point, there is no money exchanged.
  • Upon completion of the paper, the licensee will receive a release candidate to determine whether the final result still meets their needs.
  • If the content does not meet their needs, the licensee is not required to pay, and the research will be released without licensing or with alternate licensees.
  • Licensees may host and reuse the content for the length of the license (typically one year). This includes placing the content behind a registration process, posting on white paper networks, or translation into other languages. The research will always be hosted at Securosis for free without registration.

Here is the language we currently place in our research project agreements:

Content will be created independently of LICENSEE with no obligations for payment. Once content is complete, LICENSEE will have a 3 day review period to determine if the content meets corporate objectives. If the content is unsuitable, LICENSEE will not be obligated for any payment and Securosis is free to distribute the whitepaper without branding or with alternate licensees, and will not complete any associated webcasts for the declining LICENSEE. Content licensing, webcasts and payment are contingent on the content being acceptable to LICENSEE. This maintains objectivity while limiting the risk to LICENSEE. Securosis maintains all rights to the content and to include Securosis branding in addition to any licensee branding.

Even this process itself is open to criticism. If you have questions or comments, you can email us or comment on the blog.