Why user security awareness must follow the continuous delivery model?

User security awareness is a very important aspect in a company’s security policy that involves testing and awarding the employees for protection against cyberattacks. User security awareness training aids in recognising, avoiding and proper reporting of potential threats. This can prevent compromise of sensitive data and attack of phishing, malware, ransomware, and spyware on the system software. Aware employees can act as a defence line against sophisticated cyberattacks which can pose a risk to the business. Continuous security is an advanced strategy to address security concerns through the continuous delivery approach. Continuous Delivery allows building software in a way so that it can be released to production at any time. It is generally used to build, test and deploy code rapidly with automated ability to adjust according to changes. It completely automates the deployment process eliminating bottlenecks, handoffs, and human intervention. Smooth continuous delivery gives secure, tested software that can be utilised by users and clients any time. It brings improved efficiency and productivity, enhanced product delivery times and better application code integrity in the system.

Benefits from continuous delivery making it indispensable for user cybersecurity awareness-

  • Low-risk releases –

The fundamental benefit from continuous delivery is painless and low-risk software deployments that can be conducted at a moments notice. By applying various deployment, achieving zero-downtime deployments is quite easy. Moreover, blue-green deployments make it detectable for users too.

  • Increased efficiency in the market –

Generally, integration and text-fix phase for any traditional software delivery cycle takes more than weeks and holds up months on the end too. But with the continuous delivery model wherein teams coordinate together reduces the workload by reducing various processes. Teams work to automate the building and deploying process. They also do environment provisioning, and regression testing processes collaborating. Developers incorporate integration and regression testing avoiding the re-work phase in the conventional methods.

  • Higher quality of products amd services-

With automated tools turning the regressions in minutes and making time available for teams to focus on research – the quality is enhanced itself. The effort can be put into the analysis of higher-level testing activities like the exploratory testing, usability testing, performance and security testing. Quality can be ensured form the very beginning with the deployment pipeline as these activities are performed regularly.

  • Cost efficiency-

The expenses used in making changes in software products is substantially reduced by investment in the automation of processes. The build, test, deployment automated processes eliminate the prices associated with the release and delivery of changes to the software.

  • Better products-

Continuing delivery approach is suited for working in small batches ensuring feedback returns from users throughout the delivery lifecycle based on working software. Ideas can be tested out with users before mass release through the hypothesis-driven method and A/B testing techniques. The product development is better with feedback as it directs the building of whole features a better way. It also does in the removal of 2/3 features that have delivered zero or negative value to the business.

  • Happier teams-

Study reports suggest that continuous delivery makes releases less severe and decreases the chances of team burnout. Also, the frequent release makes the software teams that generally deliver actively engaged with users. It aids in learning workable ideas and see first-hand results of the proposed and released work. The focus then remains whole solely on providing better services to the user than on other associated worries.

Processes that help the team to develop and utilise the better continuous delivery model

  • Developing code conventions for OWASP Proactive Controls

For starters, having a strategy for how to proactively mitigate general vulnerabilities can come to aid. Generally, attackers start assaulting a system by scanning for the most common vulnerabilities using widely-available tools like ZAP or Metasploit. So having a stretch and backup plan on hand can be effective for identifying the vulnerabilities in the system. Using well-understood mitigations reduces the unpredictability factor and other unforeseen bugs during the implementation stage.

  • Having security acceptance criteria

Whenever there are security criteria unique to features which can it be conventionally covered by Cross-Functional Requirements (CFRs) capturing them stories and validating these through the QA process is the best possible plan.

  • Creating an incident response plan

There is a need to identify those who will be involved in fixing the issue, who will be notified of a breach in the organisation first and how and what processes will be included when notifying users. This can be really aiding in time of crisis similarly when the entire team should be involved and made aware of the same plan. It should be made sure that they understand their specific roles and responsibilities in the backup plan and efficiently carry them out in case of a breach.

  • Building security in the delivery pipeline. 

The optimal way is to automate the best security practices in the delivery pipeline. Using static and dynamic tools for analysing vulnerabilities that missed out while development and testing period. These checks that automatically run needs frequent updating and including a normal delivery pipeline check is not difficult. Any team should know how to update the external dependencies whenever necessary for the best security build.

Conclusion

 Cybersecurity until recently has always been an after ought and reactive process in the software development lifecycle. But the increased security breaches have led the team’s to invest and put the effort into incorporating security practices while updating a product or system. And so has the processes and software like continuous delivery models are being adopted simultaneously while developing employee awareness standards and practices throughout the development lifecycle. It makes security stronger and less prone to cyber-attacks. Continuous deployment is basically changing how software is being built. Not only software development is faster, but it also leads to higher quality products and happier teams and customers. Moreover, it brings better visibility into progress and costs and increases the experimental innovation streak of teams. Teams need a few important practices, frequent conversations about improving and iterating and adopting additional security practices gradually in a continuous delivery model.

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Matt is a global CISO with 20+ Years of Directing International Security Programmes for Multi-Billion Pound Organisations. With a passion for security and a cybersecurity evangelist.

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