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Build Cyber-Smart Software: A Case for Holistic DevOps

07.13.22 | By Ascent

Imagine the perfect security tool. It solves open-ended problems by providing the information you want in the way you need to view it. It doesn’t have any unnecessary capabilities you are still required to pay for. It’s readily maintained, supported, and built using technologies you prefer.

Do your technologists understand software development?

We all instinctively know it’s a pipe dream to buy a tool like that off the shelf. Many organizations face limited choices. They harness software with missing features, pay for code bloat, allot extra funds for “secure” features, and find themselves engineering broad mods, generally operating without the ability to build specific features for themselves. Woodworkers build their own jigs out of wood. Machinists fashion their own tools to better fabricate metal. Security companies must construct custom security tools.

Build can be defined many ways: integrate systems using low-code or no-code solutions, utilize open-source tools with custom modifications, find a great software development agency partner who recognizes your problem, create an internal capability organic to your organization, or (most commonly) some combination of the above. It can be as simple as writing local Python automation scripts and as complex as producing scalable, high-performance systems running in the cloud.

Hire technologists who develop

Regardless of the constructs you choose, you must hire technologists who understand software development. Security analysts who can write an automation script, a team of software engineers who can build specialized infrastructure, or a manager who can employ an external developer team. Without your company’s internal capability, your organization risks stale and unmaintained software, the oft-grumbled shelf-ware, incurring security risks, expending energy on projects not contributing value, or any other myriad challenges associated with constructing software from the ground up.

With a movement toward methodologies like SOAR (where automation rules), the capability to develop is a modern security shop necessity.

Security-savvy engineering

At Ascent, our goal is to:

  • Augment analysts by training, supporting, and enabling them to assemble tools themselves
  • Build high-quality professional software, effectively addressing customers’ pain points

To this end, we recruit security analysts who can program and software engineers who understand cybersecurity.

Your analysts should code

Modern software stacks, intuitive dev environments, and good DevOps practices can significantly reduce the overhead of producing (and maintaining!) quality software. How often have you heard an analyst or engineer refer to a script simplifying and automating an essential process, but they are not sure what state it’s in or where it’s stored? Wholistic DevOps practices make it easier for these “simple” pieces of software to stay current, useful, and secure. Most importantly, applying these tools is easier when your team members’ knowledge and experience shortens the DevOps learning curve.

An internal engineering capability who can address these problems, provide pre-formed thoughtful opinions, build frameworks, and support other members of the team releases analyst cycles to solve interesting security problems rather than dealing with dev overhead.

Applying software to security problems

Most organizations don’t face entirely unique security problems. Many challenges are terribly common but nuanced for each organization and industry. Ascent consults with a wide variety of business in the American corporate world, many of whom face similar challenges. Our consultants identify and address these reoccurring problems, often automating software processes.

Different software requires specific attention to fit, finish, and polish. As our team identifies problems and builds solutions, we often recognize the new and improved software’s global value. Maybe it solves another person’s problem. Maybe it fits into a larger suite of awesome tools. Maybe it is just worth sharing to see how other technologists apply it.

As the audience, impact, and scope increase for a piece of software, resiliency requirements increase. It must have a thoughtful UX, backups, monitoring, scaling, and performance tuning. A software engineering team who both recognize the specifics of a security-focused organization and can build high-quality software is a superpower.

Software engineers often have a very systematic and deliberate way of thinking: their developed mental models address cyber-world problems. These methods and models translate well into the security world. Good software engineers partnering with security analysts is a winning combination: the product’s base is research tested and security proven.

Pursue cyber literacy

In today’s cyberworld, coding is cyber literacy. Encourage, equip, and hire code-savvy analysts and security-focused software engineers. Consider how you can apply DevOps and software best practices to your security stack. Collaborate with your team to customize the tools you leverage in-house. If you have security problems requiring collaborative software engineers, please contact us at info@meetascent.com.

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Whether you’re starting your cybersecurity journey or you’re improving your security posture, our team is passionate about protecting your people and business.
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