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Monitoring AWS Golden AMI Pipelines with Slack

If your company uses Slack and is looking for ways to easily monitor activities in its AWS Golden AMI Pipeline, you can use AWS native services to send messages into a Slack channel. This can give your teams better visibility into the approval process for the candidate AMIs that they submit, as opposed to handling this via email. As we all know, email messages can get lost, overlooked or dumped in spam folders, which doesn’t happen with Slack messages. Moreover, Slack channels can have multiple subscribers so a single message can be seen by multiple people or other bots. Handling approval requests within a Slack channel also simplifies the management of the process.

Read on for a detailed, step-by-step explanation.

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Ancestry: On the Vanguard of DevOps Security

Grant Johnson, Ancestry’s Director, Risk & Compliance

(This is a guest post by Grant Johnson, Director, Risk & Compliance at Ancestry)

Over the past two years, Ancestry moved its entire applications and data infrastructure from local data centers to Amazon’s cloud, and this required a new approach for managing vulnerabilities in our DevOps pipeline. In the hopes that our insights will help security teams embarking on this path, this article details the challenges we faced and the best practices that helped us succeed, including:

  • the benefits of replacing production AMIs with new ones instead of patching them;
  • the importance of making security an enabler of agile, cloud processes like DevOps;
  • and effective ways to get DevOps team members and senior leaders to buy into your risk reduction strategy.

Read on to learn how, with Qualys’ help, we streamlined and automated vulnerability fixes, resulting in a steep drop in the number of high severity bugs in our production applications.

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Container Security Becomes a Priority for Enterprises

Among the IT innovations that businesses are using to digitally transform operations, containers might be the most disruptive and revolutionary.

“They’re a real game changer,” Qualys Chief Product Officer Sumedh Thakar said at QSC 2018 in Las Vegas.

DevOps teams have embraced containers because they boost speed and flexibility in app development and delivery, and are ideal for microservices. In fact, by 2020 more than 50% of organizations will run containerized applications in production, up from under 20% in 2017, according to Gartner. Thus, security teams must prioritize protecting the applications that DevOps teams create with this OS virtualization method.

“We see container security as a significant new paradigm coming at us, which will bring a lot of change,” Qualys CEO Philippe Courtot said.

Asif Awan, Qualys’ Container Security CTO

But to ensure the security and compliance of container-based code, organizations can’t rely on conventional application security products. “Your existing tools aren’t going to work,” said Asif Awan, Qualys’ Container Security CTO. Unsurprisingly, organizations cite security as the biggest challenge when deploying containers, according to Forrester.

“Security automation is a simple term but to get a handle over that entire automated and ever-accelerating CI/CD (continuous integration and delivery) pipeline is becoming more and more difficult,” Awan said.

Responding to this need, Qualys offers a comprehensive security solution that monitors and protects containerized applications from the inside.  In order to do that, Qualys technology collects granular behavior data about the application, providing deep visibility and enforcing normal application behavior for runtime protection.

Read on to learn about Qualys’ container security approach.

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Capital One: Building Security Into DevOps

Capital One prides itself on staying at the forefront of IT innovations to give its business a competitive edge.

For example, it adopted Agile software-development methodologies years ago, and uses artificial intelligence and machine learning. It was the first bank to implement a mobile wallet with “contactless” NFC payments, and to offer voice-activated financial transactions using Amazon’s Alexa. When 2018 ends, Capital One expects 80% of its IT infrastructure to be cloud based, allowing it to go from seven to two data centers.

Given its tech transformation track record, it’s not surprising that Capital One has embraced DevSecOps, embedding automated security checks into its DevOps pipeline. This effort has dramatically accelerated the process of assessing vulnerabilities and mis-configurations in its virtual machine images and containers.

As a result, the code created in the DevOps pipeline is certified as secure and released to production without unnecessary delays. This allows Capital One — one of the United States’ 10 largest banks, based on deposits — to consistently boost its business across the board by quickly and continuously improving its web properties, mobile apps, online services and digital offerings.

“This has provided a huge benefit to the entire company,” said Emmanuel Enaohwo, Senior Manager for Vulnerability/Configuration Management at Capital One, a Fortune 500 company based in McLean, Virginia that offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients.

Read on to learn how the bank has automated vulnerability and compliance checks in its CI/CD software pipeline, helped by Qualys.

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Infosec Teams Race To Secure DevOps

With DevOps adoption spreading, infosec teams are scrambling to address the new security challenges stemming from DevOps’ accelerated code development and app deployment. But while IT organizations have made notable progress adapting security to their DevOps processes, work remains to be done.

That’s a key finding from SANS Institute’s “Secure DevOps: Fact or Fiction” report, which was discussed recently in a two-day webcast (Part 1 & Part 2) co-sponsored by Qualys. A revealing statistic: Under 50% of respondent organizations have fully “shifted left” to embed security throughout their DevOps pipelines, a figure that should be higher.

“Security is still being built in at the end, whereas risk reduction should start earlier in the software development lifecycle,” said Barbara Filkins, a SANS analyst. With security in the early stages of application design, “we can eliminate many issues that we’d see at the back end,” she said.

Threading security throughout DevOps also preserves the benefits of continuous and quick software delivery, like improved customer support and employee productivity. 

“As a DevOps engineer, you’re looking to automate security at the speed of what business needs,” said Qualys Product Management Director Hari Srinivasan.

“The goal is enabling a transition from DevOps to secure DevOps that is factual, not fiction,” Filkins said.

Read on to learn about DevSecOps challenges, best practices and case studies.

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Securing Container Deployments with Qualys

With container adoption booming, security teams must protect the applications that DevOps teams create and deploy using this method of OS virtualization. The security must be comprehensive across the entire container lifecycle, and built into the DevOps pipeline in a way that is seamless and unobtrusive.

Accomplishing this requires an understanding of Docker container technology and the adoption of processes and tools tailored for these environments. In a recent webcast, Qualys Director of Product Management Hari Srinivasan, an expert on cloud and container security, outlined container security risks, use cases, and best practices.

Read on to learn about Srinivasan’s recommendations for gaining visibility into container assets, doing vulnerability analysis, and detecting drifting runtimes across your DevOps pipeline.

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QSC18 Virtual Edition – Building Security In: The Qualys Cloud Platform and Architecture

Digital transformation, driven primarily by the DevOps movement, represents a new opportunity “to redo IT from scratch, but more importantly, to redo security from scratch,” Sumedh Thakar, Qualys’ Chief Product Officer, said during QSC18 Virtual Edition.

Specifically, organizations can organically build security into this new, hybrid IT infrastructure, instead of abruptly bolting it on as has been done traditionally — and ineffectively.  Meshing security in natively requires a unified security and compliance platform for detection, prevention and response.

Today, many organizations have a fragmented, siloed strategy that doesn’t provide the needed visibility because it’s based on accumulating point products that don’t scale, are costly to deploy and maintain, and complex to integrate.

“This is why security is so far behind,” Thakar said during his keynote.

“The effort and resistance that goes into putting together the information that’s required to make decisions is very costly, very time-consuming, and not accurate,” he added.

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DevSecOps: Practical Steps to Seamlessly Integrate Security into DevOps

To properly and effectively protect DevOps pipelines, organizations can’t blindly apply conventional security processes they’ve used for traditional network perimeters. Since DevOps’ value is the speed and frequency with which code is created, updated and deployed, security must be re-thought so that it’s not a last step that slows down this process.

Hampering the agility of DevOps teams has terrible consequences. These teams produce the code that digitally transforms business tasks and makes them more innovative and efficient. Thus, it’s imperative for security to be built into — not bolted onto — the entire DevOps lifecycle, from planning, coding, testing, release and packaging, to deploying, operating and monitoring.

If security teams take existing processes and tools, and try to jam them into the DevOps pipeline, they’ll break the automation, agility and flexibility that DevOps brings. 

“This doesn’t work,” Qualys Vice President of Product Management Chris Carlson said during a recent webcast, in which he explained how security teams can seamlessly integrate security into DevOps using Qualys products.

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Securing the Hybrid Cloud: A Guide to Using Security Controls, Tools and Automation

When a bank recently created a consumer mobile wallet, it built the entire project — from development to deployment — in the cloud, an increasingly common decision among enterprises.

A less common step taken by this multinational bank and Qualys customer was incorporating the security team from day one. It recognized that the safety of the application was as critical for its success as its feature functionality.

In doing so, this bank tackled a challenge that organizations face as they move workloads to public cloud platforms: Protecting these new cloud workloads as effectively as their on-premises systems, but with processes and tools that are effective in both environments.

In a recent webcast, SANS Institute and Qualys experts addressed this issue in detail, offering insights and recommendations for security teams faced with protecting hybrid IT infrastructures’ assets on premises and in public clouds.

Cloud adoption triggers new security needs

In pursuit of digital transformation benefits, organizations are aggressively moving more workloads to public clouds, expanding from straightforward software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to more involved platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service (PaaS and IaaS) deployments.

As this happens, InfoSec teams find that safeguarding these environments can be complex. “Security teams have rallied around the idea that this is something they need to live with,” Dave Shackleford, a SANS analyst and instructor, said during the webcast.

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Securing your Cloud and Container DevOps Pipeline

Organizations are aggressively moving workloads to public cloud platforms, such as Amazon’s AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft’s Azure, upping the ante for InfoSec teams, which must protect these new environments.

Driving this growth in cloud computing adoption is its essential role in digital transformation initiatives, which help businesses be more efficient, effective, flexible and innovative in areas like e-business, supply chain management, customer support and employee collaboration.

Digital transformation projects are typically delivered using web and mobile apps created in DevOps pipelines, where developers and operations staff work collaboratively at every step of the software lifecycle, releasing apps or app updates frequently.

But security must be integrated throughout the DevOps process — planning, coding, testing, releasing, deploying, monitoring — in an automated way, organically building it into the software lifecycle instead of bolting it on at the end.

That way, vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, policy violations, malware and other safety issues can be addressed before code is released, reducing the risk of exposing your organization and your customers to cyber attacks.

In a recent webcast, Hari Srinivasan, Qualys’ Director of Product Management for Cloud and Virtualization Security, explained how Qualys can help you secure your cloud and container deployments across your DevOps pipeline.

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