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Just-in-Time Elastic Provisioning of DevOps Secrets

Digital transformation, now accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, will drive businesses like Cloud, IT Services, and Development. Against this background, new agile software-development methods, such as DevOps, have significantly changed the way companies operate, allowing an increase in speed and efficiency in software development. However, it is worth mentioning that investments in Information Security will need to be made to mitigate the associated business risks.

According to Gartner, by 2021, DevSecOps practices (i.e., the adoption of Security practices in Development and Operation processes) will be adopted by 60% of agile development teams, against 20% in 2019. Thus, in this article, we will present the DevOps scenario, the associated cybersecurity concepts, and Privileged Access Management, as well as senhasegura as a PAM solution, which helps to protect secrets in DevOps environments to ensure DevSecOps practices.



How important is a DevOps?

In times of fast deliveries and immediate results, DevOps environments have emerged to meet the need for high-quality deliveries in the shortest possible time. Therefore, through the extensive use of automation for building and testing and the integration of processes between the Development and Operations teams, it is possible to speed up product development activities. These activities include building, testing, and launching software, quickly and reliably. Nevertheless, DevOps environments are complex in terms of infrastructure and culture. As a result, many companies are not structurally prepared to implement DevOps properly. And what had been designed to bring agility and quality to the development process, if poorly implemented, can be a means for creating vulnerabilities and gaps in the cybersecurity goals. At the same time, security should not be a factor that increases development time.


As a new way of working, DevOps security issues are new too. So, clients are still learning how to solve them, and solution developers are also creating ways to solve these new problems. These problems are spread throughout the entire development process of the DevOps pipeline, from product planning and building to implementation and monitoring.


However, only 46% of IT professionals are currently mapping security risks in the early stages of development. Thus, with security as a secondary concern, DevOps teams may underestimate basic cybersecurity practices. In DevOps environments, which rely on coding, careless developers might allow leaks of confidential information, such as secrets, through APIs or poorly configured containers, without risks being perceived by administrators. 

The solution to this problem is as follows: separating sensitive secrets from the Development team. This solution does not need to consume many resources. In fact, secret management is an extension of Privileged Access Management – in some cases already implemented in the organization -, and occurs in the development pipeline.  In this context, one of the approaches used by security solution manufacturers is the provision of Just-in-time access.

How can Just-in-Time help?

The purpose of just-in-time is to allow access to applications or systems only at predetermined periods, and on-demand. Thus, through just-in-time, organizations are able to grant privileges to credentials, both personal and machine ones, in order to provide granular privileged access to an application or system, just to perform a certain task. This type of access is one of the means used to securely provide and grant access, and thus reduce the attack surface and the associated cybersecurity risks.


MT4: senhasegura is a PAM provider that focuses on reducing complexity and accelerating maturity in DevOps environments. senhasegura’s DevOps Secret Management (DSM) can help organizations increase security through the DevSecOps journey. Via this module, one can scan the development pipeline to detect sensitive data, allow the rotation of secrets without the need for code refactoring and, in this way, isolate sensitive data in production from development teams.

Thus, senhasegura is able to leverage the PAM infrastructure to provide a secret management tool, benefiting from the senhasegura platform, known by its deployment easiness and user-friendly approach. Therefore, the implementation of senhasegura allows reducing security risks and time to value in agile organizations. 

One of the use cases introduced by senhasegura is the elastic provisioning of Just-in-Time secrets – senhasegura ensures that each container application has its own secret. In this way, the application pods in Kubernetes use the integration APIs from senhasegura’s DevOps Secret Management to manage the secrets of each of the applications. Secrets are provided in senhasegura through the Just-in-Time mode, that is, only when the secret is needed. Besides, a secret is provisioned for each pod, allowing secrets to be used only by their respective pods. Also, senhasegura deprovisiones the secrets after their use, reducing the attack surface.


For an environment focused on individual actions, applying secret management effectively and worrying about who has access is critical to building this environment in a pipeline. Therefore, by increasing visibility into the functions and the access to information in the pipeline, organizations are able to reduce the risk of data leaks, which can lead to loss of revenue and trust by partners, clients, and suppliers.

To conclude, the security management context in DevOps environments is not part of the current DevOps process. Through the integration of basic privilege management protocols, organizations can ensure that security is prioritized and ensured in the development process.


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