12 tools enabling DevSecOps for cloud-native applications

DevSecOps represents a shift in software development toward a culture in which the onus of security falls on everyone in the software development life cycle. When it comes to the cloud-native world, DevSecOps means using the right tools to secure your images, pods, clusters, and artifacts at every stage of the continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline.

Currently, most DevOps teams see security as a bottleneck for pushing out software to market. As a result, they often miss serious vulnerabilities in products or fail to completely secure the production environment, leaving them open to attack. By implementing inspections, scans, and code reviews at every stage in the CI/CD pipeline, organizations can save themselves from severe security failures.

A common practice is to rely on the tools and features that come in-built in a cloud service providers’ (CSP) platform for monitoring and security. However, as enterprises increasingly adopt hybrid and multicloud strategies, the lack of a shared or centralized toolset can lead to inconsistent implementation of security policies across platforms and environments. DevSecOps teams are now turning to vendor-agnostic, cloud-native tools to fill in the gaps in their security strategy and execute a more uniform strategy across the entire business infrastructure.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Landscape consolidates some of the best cloud-native tools and platforms in the industry that can be leveraged to implement DevSecOps. Tools that address an organization’s security concerns can be found under security and compliance, key management, and observability and analysis. Graduated and incubating projects are tools and frameworks that have passed a certain level of checks and have implemented CNCF standards. Read on to learn more about the best open-source, cloud-native, DevSecOps security tools that have graduated or are in incubating status in the CNCF Landscape.

Security and compliance

1. The Update Framework (TUF)

TUF was the first security project to reach graduated status with the CNCF. It is a software framework that helps developers secure systems that automatically download and install software updates. It maintains the security of software repositories through a series of roles and keys that can maintain security even if certain keys and servers are compromised. It offers developers a framework for limiting the impact of breaches and recovery post-breach. TUF’s flexibility allows developers to adopt it into any software update system. As automated containerized update systems become more ubiquitous, TUF becomes an essential security tool for enterprises.

2. Open Policy Agent (OPA)

OPA is another graduated project under CNCF that centralizes security and compliance across CI/CD pipelines, application programming interface (API) gateways, Kubernetes, and data protection. OPA is a policy engine that unifies and automates your policy toolset and framework across your entire cloud-native stack. It decouples policy from an application’s other responsibilities, allowing you to release and review policies without compromising performance or availability.

3. The Falco Project

The Falco Project, or just Falco, is a cloud-native runtime security tool that focuses on threat detection in Kubernetes. Falco is the first incubation-level runtime security project to join CNCF, and it can be integrated across most major cloud platforms. Falco monitors the runtime environment for suspicious container behavior and malicious activity. It can immediately detect CVE vulnerabilities in your cloud environment and generate alerts to security policy violations.

4. The Notary Project

Notary is a platform that establishes trust over digital content through the use of strong cryptographic signatures. Notary not only verifies the origin and author of digital content but also ensures that the content cannot be altered unless the author approves and “signs” any modifications. This level of trust can then be included in policy implementation, where organizations can require that only high-trust, signed content be deployed at runtime. This is a seamless means of ensuring security across the CI/CD workflow.

Key Management

5. SPIFFE and 6. SPIRE

SPIFFE and SPIRE are both open-source CNCF incubating projects that offer organizations a standard and a toolset for establishing trust between software services. They accomplish this without having to use network-based security controls or secrets. SPIFFE is a “universal identity control plane” that uses platform-agnostic, cryptographic identities to securely authenticate software services across platforms and databases. SPIRE implements the SPIFFE standards and specifications across heterogeneous environments. Together, they offer robust key management services for your cloud-native workflows.

Observability and analysis: Monitoring

7. Prometheus

Prometheus is a free and open-source CNCF graduated project that provides event monitoring and alerting. It gathers and stores real-time metrics and then generates alerts about the health, performance, and behavior of a system. You can then act on the insights provided by Prometheus to address security incidents and inefficiently performing systems in order to promote end-to-end agility and security across your CI/CD pipeline.

8. Cortex

Cortex builds on Prometheus and adds horizontal scalability and cloud-native storage capabilities. To elaborate, Cortex can run across multiple machines in a cluster and store metric data virtually indefinitely.

9. Thanos

Thanos is a CNCF incubating project that is rather similar to Cortex in that it expands on the capabilities of Prometheus by bringing high availability and “unlimited,” long-term storage.

Observability and analysis: Logging

10. Fluentd

Fluentd is an open-source data collection project that builds a unified logging layer for your cloud stack. Fluentd collects, filters, buffers, and outputs logs across multiple sources and destinations. It is lightweight and can require as little as 30-40MB to run, processing up to 13,000 events/second/core. Furthermore, a library of plugins gives developers the flexibility to expand the functionalities of Fluentd to adapt to their needs.

Observability and analysis: Tracing

11. Jaeger

The CNCF graduated project Jaeger is an open-source, end-to-end distributed tracing system for your microservices architecture. It monitors and troubleshoots transactions between distributed services that are part of your cloud-native DevSecOps workflow. Additional services Jaeger offers include performance and latency optimization, root cause analysis, service dependency analysis, and distributed context propagation.

12. OpenTelemetry

OpenTelemetry is an open-source, CNCF incubating project that offers developers an observability framework. It includes a collection of tools, APIs, and software development kits (SDKs) to collect telemetry data from cloud-native applications. OpenTelemetry can be used to instrument, collect, generate, and export metrics, traces, and logs to monitor your cloud-native software’s health, behavior, and performance.

One of the core principles of DevSecOps involves shifting security to the left — and this “shift left” approach means that team members take an active involvement in monitoring and implementing security right from the beginning of development. While the tools and frameworks mentioned above contribute to a culture of secure DevOps, they are not the be-all and end-all of a successful DevSecOps implementation. Developers still need to be trained to adopt these tools in their workflows and be onboarded into the new approach. Furthermore, security best practices need to be incorporated into the organizational culture to ensure that these tools are implemented and leveraged appropriately and effectively. The tools you choose also contribute to how seamless the transition is, so make sure to select tools that can more easily be integrated into your CI/CD pipelines.

Featured image: Piqsels

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