Working with DevOps tools can be a cause for concern for many businesses, as there are risks of being vulnerable to hacker attacks. However, with the right security procedures in place, it is possible to use DevOps tools without compromising the reputation of your business. In this article, we will look at the potential risks associated with using DevOps tools and how to minimize the chance of being hacked.  


I. What is DevOps Security? 

II. What are DevOps security risks?       

III. How can I overcome these risks? 


What is DevOps Security? 

The DevSecOps market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.6% from $2.79 billion in 2020 up to $17.24 billion in 2028. (Research & Markets)

The emergence of DevOps Security, or DevSecOps, has revolutionized the way organizations develop, deliver, and operate software. By integrating security into every stage of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), organizations can now achieve high velocity in software delivery while ensuring that their applications are secure. 

DevOps methodologies make it possible to rapidly produce and deploy applications through automation and microservices architectures. Containers and cloud computing provide scalability and resilience for these applications, but they also increase the attack surface area greatly; as each instance of a microservice is an additional entry point for malicious actors. On top of this, many toolchains like build servers, container orchestrators, and code repositories can be compromised if not monitored properly. 

“79% of DevSec teams report it’s challenging to consistently monitor for vulnerabilities. (State of Pentesting Report 2022)” 

It is therefore critical to make security an integral part of the development process, not a patch applied afterward. Application security must be woven into the DevOps environment and all stages of software production if organizations want to protect against malicious actors. Doing so enables them to benefit from the agility and speed that DevOps Security offers without compromising their application’s safety. 

[Also read: Shadow IT: definition, risks, and measures to prevent it] 

What are DevOps security risks?

DevOps security risks

The pace of application development and deployment brings with it a range of potential security risks, including: 

a. Speed over Security 

 The speed of application development is a key goal for DevOps teams. However, this focus on speed can lead to corners being cut when it comes to security. Security processes and standards are often ignored because they are seen as slowing down the delivery of applications.  

As a result, significant vulnerabilities may be overlooked or remain undiscovered due to a lack of time and resources allocated for security testing. Leaving embedded secrets and credentials i.e. API keys and passwords, in the code or configuration settings can also lead to security issues. This is especially true if these secrets are placed in public repositories such as GitHub and left unencrypted. 

b. Cloud Provider Limitations 

 “According to a 2020 report, cloud misconfigurations cost organizations $5 trillion in 2018 and 2019.”  (DivvyCloud)

There are several potential security risks when using cloud-native technologies such as Containers and Kubernetes. Data stored in the cloud can be vulnerable to attacks, particularly if it is not properly secured with encryption.  

In addition, cloud providers often impose certain limitations on their services which might make it difficult for DevOps teams to comply with best security practices. For example, limiting access to resources or imposing overly restrictive user permissions may prevent necessary operations from being carried out. 

c. Different toolsets are being used without proper coordination. 

DevOps teams tend to use many different tools and technologies, such as Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, GitHub, etc., which all require certain configuration settings. If these settings are not properly coordinated across the tools, it can create security vulnerabilities.  

For example, if a particular tool is set up with incorrect access levels or inadequate authentication requirements, an attacker can easily exploit this weakness and gain unauthorized access. Also, DevOps teams often overlook the need for secure coding practices when building applications quickly. As a result, applications can be vulnerable to attacks such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS). 

d. The ‘Privileged Access Management’ tool is attractive to hackers. 

The ‘Privileged Access Management’ (PAM) tool is an important component of DevOps security. This tool is used to control access to various resources such as data, applications and networks. However, if the PAM configuration or settings are not secure, it can be attractive to hackers who are looking for vulnerabilities. For example, weak passwords or easy-to-guess usernames can be easily guessed by attackers and used to gain unauthorized access. 

How can I overcome DevOps security risks? 

Organizations should build security into every aspect of their DevOps processes and systems. Here are some strategies for mitigating DevOps security risks: 

a. Automate security processes:

Automating security processes such as vulnerability scanning, patch management, and access control can help reduce the time and resources needed to ensure application security.

b. Implement secure coding practices:

Secure coding practices should be implemented from the beginning of the software development cycle. This helps to prevent common vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows and SQL injections. 

c. Ensure all tools are properly configured:

All DevOps tools and technologies must be correctly configured in order to minimize potential security risks. This includes settings such as authentication requirements, access levels, encryption levels, etc. 

d. Monitor applications for suspicious activities:

Organizations should also monitor their applications for any suspicious activities that could indicate a potential attack or breach. Monitoring tools can help detect any potential vulnerabilities or malicious activities. 

e. Educate staff on security best practices:

Regular training and awareness sessions should be conducted to educate DevOps teams on the latest security best practices. This will help ensure that they are aware of the security risks associated with each tool and technology they use, as well as the necessary steps for mitigating those risks. 

f. Leverage Security-as-a-Service:

Organizations can also leverage Security-as-a-Service providers to gain access to additional resources and expertise in order to improve their security posture. These services can provide organizations with a comprehensive view of their application’s security landscape, allowing them to identify and address any potential vulnerabilities quickly and effectively. 

g. Utilize security-focused tools:

DevOps teams should also make use of specialized security-focused tools such as threat intelligence platforms, network scanners, and compliance management systems to identify potential security risks. 

h. Do not grant full access to your data:

It is important to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to certain areas of the system and data. This can be accomplished by implementing role-based access control (RBAC) or other forms of access management systems. Additionally, organizations should limit privileged user accounts and regularly monitor for suspicious activities.  

“Only 33% of data breaches involved internal team members, of those 78% of data breaches were from unintentional data loss or exposure. “(Aberdeen Report) 

i. Limit network access:

Organizations should also limit the network access of their DevOps tools and technologies in order to prevent unauthorized users from accessing confidential information. This can be achieved by configuring firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), and other security measures. 

Organizations should also consider investing in professional services to gain expert advice on how best to secure their cloud-native technologies. Professional services providers can provide assistance with setting up cloud architectures, configuring toolsets, and implementing security protocols.  

They can also help organizations create tailored security policies that are designed to protect the organization’s data, applications, and systems from malicious attacks. Professional services providers are a valuable asset when it comes to ensuring an organization’s DevOps processes remain secure. 


Q:  Is Azure DevOps secure? 

A: Yes, Azure DevOps is a secure platform that provides end-to-end security controls to ensure your data is protected. It includes features such as authentication, authorization, and encryption to help protect your applications and data from unauthorized access. Additionally, organizations should take extra steps to ensure their DevOps processes are secured by implementing the latest security best practices.  

Q: What type of security tools should be used? 

A: Organizations should leverage specialized security-focused tools such as threat intelligence platforms, network scanners, and compliance management systems to identify potential security risks. Additionally, organizations can take advantage of Security-as-a-Service providers to gain access to additional resources and expertise in order to ensure their applications and data remain secure.  

Q: How can I ensure that only authorized personnel have access? 

A: Organizations should implement role-based access control (RBAC) or other forms of access management systems in order to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to certain areas of the system and data. Additionally, organizations should consider limiting privileged user accounts and regularly monitor for suspicious activities.  

Q: What is DevOps vs DevSecOps? 

A: DevOps is a software development methodology that focuses on the collaboration between development and operations teams. On the other hand, DevSecOps is an evolution of DevOps that places greater emphasis on security within the development process. In DevSecOps, security measures are embedded into the DevOps process from the beginning in order to ensure applications and data remain secure.  

Q: Is DevSecOps cybersecurity? 

A: DevSecOps is not a type of cybersecurity, but rather an approach to security that embeds security measures into the development process. It seeks to prevent potential threats by proactively identifying and addressing weaknesses before they can be exploited. As such, while it is not a form of cybersecurity in and of itself, it is indeed an important element of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.