Cloud Security

Shift Left Security: Easy Guide 101 

Shift Left Security recognizes that security should not be the last approach when an application moves through the different stages of design, development, deployment, and testing. Security is seen as a final element that wraps applications at the end of the application lifecycle before it’s released to end users. Shift Left Security shifts the angle […]

Mansi B.

Written by Mansi B.

August 14, 2023 | 6 min read

Shift Left Security recognizes that security should not be the last approach when an application moves through the different stages of design, development, deployment, and testing. Security is seen as a final element that wraps applications at the end of the application lifecycle before it’s released to end users. Shift Left Security shifts the angle and changes this by prioritizing security measures first. It enables tighter integration of security protocols during development and pushes security features and releases to be implemented early on.

By tackling challenges at the forefront and remediating core vulnerabilities, developers provide a better user experience and worry less about emerging threats. In this blog, we will cover the shift left in security and walk readers through the basics below.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Shift Left Security?
  2. Why Shift Left Security?
  3. Difference between Shift Left and Shift Right Security
  4. Types of Shift Left Security
  5. Steps for Implementing Shift Left Security
  6. What are the Benefits of Shift Left Security 
  7. What are the Best Practices for Shift Left Security?
  8. How PingSafe helps in Shift Left Security?
  9. Conclusion

What is Shift Left Security?

Organizations lose money yearly by not addressing security vulnerabilities during the application development lifecycle. It introduces new security risks and gives developers a list of issues to remediate, which can quickly escalate. Developers need ongoing support with designing security measures and need to work closely with security teams. 

Shift left security moves security to the left and shifts it to the earliest phases of development. 

Why Shift Left Security?

Shift-left security assesses potential application issues during the initial phases of development and makes it more affordable to address them. By detecting and fixing problems in software design from the very start, organizations can streamline deliveries and enhance customer satisfaction rates. DevOps is gaining momentum, and organizations are progressively implementing distributed microservices worldwide.

Shift-left security is a part of the DevSecOps culture and allows developers to do their jobs securely without relying on extra tools or adding more work. It integrates the best practices into the developer’s toolchains and implements continuous integration pipelines to run automated vulnerability tests. 

Difference between Shift Left and Shift Right Security 

Shift left testing involves testing applications during the early stages of the development pipeline and moves security to the left. It detects bugs and vulnerabilities and isolates threats before they get magnified while designing the application and later become an issue.

Developers run tests before pushing individual units to version control and prioritize application performance, end-to-end automation, and TDD and BDD-driven tests.

Shift right security is the other end, pushing security to the far right. It involves testing applications after they have been released to end users. Teams can monitor APIs and gain insights into usability and resource usage based on the software’s operation. It also allows developers to optimize or add new features by continuously refining improvements and pushing security boundaries. Shift right security also monitors how much actual traffic and user requests applications can handle, which is an aspect that cannot be tested in pre-production environments.

Types of Shift Left Security

Standard tools used to equip Shift-left Security are – compliance scans, dependency scans, container scans, dynamic application security testing (DAST), and static application security testing (SAST).

The four main types of shift left security are:

  1. Traditional Shift Left Testing
  2. Incremental Shift Left Testing 
  3. Agile/DevOps Shift Left Security
  4. Model-based Shift Left Security

1. Traditional Shift Left Testing

Traditional shift left testing emphasizes testing from the bottom up and focuses on running integration and unit tests.

2. Incremental Shift Left Testing 

Incremental shift-left security follows the waterfall development cycle, dividing complex projects into smaller increments. It also shifts operational tests and development testing to the left for enterprises.

3. Agile/DevOps Shift Left Security

Agile/DevOps shift-left security takes a test-driven development approach and is a widespread and ongoing testing strategy. It blocks out essential requirements and does not include operational testing for its phases.

4. Model-based Shift Left Security

Unlike the other three types of shift left testing, model-based shift left security focuses on uncovering code defects. It eliminates delays in architecture performance, prevents executable components downtimes, and more.

Steps for Implementing Shift Left Security

Here is how organizations can implement shift left security into their business workflows:

1. Define the Strategy

Organizations create a one-page document that defines shift left security initiatives. It details its objectives, people, tools, and processes. The documentation must include who gets total ownership and how roles are assigned to security teams. It will also track key performance indicators and critical shift-left security metrics.

2. Create Shift Left Software Development Documentation

Good shift-left security accounts for current software development processes. Identifying the organization’s operations, management methodologies, CI/C D tools, and how to code artifacts transition from initial development to production is essential. The documentation will list current security measures and explain their effectiveness in order of ranking. 

3. Train Development Teams 

Train development teams to handle code securely and implement the best cyber hygiene practices on the cloud. Developers can gain high awareness of security measures by undergoing relevant training and improving their understanding of emerging cyber threats across cloud environments. It reduces operational expenses, mitigates risks, and minimizes the likelihood of future data breaches since they’re better equipped to handle them.

What are the Benefits of Shift Left Security?

Here are the benefits of shift left security:

  • Shift left security discovers vulnerabilities in the early stages of the application development lifecycle. It identifies potential security risks and corrects those issues. 
  • Shift left security strengthens overall cloud security posture for organizations and reduces running costs. It ensures optimal delivery timelines and streamlines security integrations, thus achieving success rates. 
  • With optimized security processes comes increased reliability and performance. Shift-left security approaches can improve business revenue and enhance collaboration with third parties and external agents on various projects.

What are the Best Practices for Shift Left Security?

The following is a list of the best practices for shift left security in organizations:

  • Define Security Policies

Defining security policies can improve shift-left security by automatically enforcing boundaries and securing critical information. It makes DevSecOps processes more efficient, agile, scalable, and fast.

  • Incorporate Visibility in the Culture

A primary objective of shift left security is to ensure that code stays secure during and after release. Security teams require continuous visibility into application security to do this, and they can instantly remediate issues as needed by releasing the latest updates. 

  • Add Automation 

Automation can speed up shift-left security workflows, identify vulnerabilities, and apply potential fixes. It can also address external threats to cloud applications and systems and reduce the time to market for software development and deployment.

  • Implement Security Fixes During Code Creation

Developers can be aware of the best coding practices by implementing shift-left security fixes during code creation. It spots errors early and gives feedback as soon as possible for the best performance and results. 

  • Assess How Software Is Made

Understanding how software is made can help address gaps in shift-left security measures. It involves reexamining the SDLC and determining which tools are relevant to codebases.

How PingSafe helps in Shift Left Security?

PingSafe helps organizations shift left security by offering its advanced Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP). It provides unparalleled protection for multi-cloud infrastructure components and services from development to deployment. PingSafe includes various tools, like CSPM, CWPP, KSPM, IaC, and CDR, for effective threat identification, detection, and remediation. Its Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) tool allows enterprises to scale up effectively while simplifying the architecture and gives a holistic overview of cloud security workflows.

PingSafe’s Cloud Detection Response (CDR) tool provides cutting-edge endpoint security defense and defends applications from hackers. The platform also offers agentless vulnerability management to secure cloud workloads, prevents cloud credentials leakages, and enforces security scanning for over 800+ types of secrets across GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket, and many more. It improves visibility into cloud workloads, delivers real-time workload monitoring and protection, and unifies cloud security. 

Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM) features container vulnerability scans, secures Kubernetes clusters, and properly configures cloud resources so that they use a shared responsibility model and assure adequate coverage.

PingSafe also offers comprehensive monitoring and management of security policies, allows writing custom rules, and can fix common misconfigurations to optimize security and reduce costs. It prioritizes contextual alerts, enables proactive risk management, and gives a 360-degree security posture analysis of cloud environments. PingSafe also enables continuous compliance monitoring, making it convenient for enterprises to adhere to the latest standards like PCI-DSS, HIPAA, NIST, etc.

Conclusion

The type of Shift Left Security solution a business owner chooses for their organization will depend on their budget and requirements. Good shift left security tackles the most critical vulnerabilities and ensures continuous compliance at scale for enterprises. Companies can also detect false positives in real time, reduce alert fatigue, and speed up the time of releases by incorporating these cutting-edge solutions.