Get ahead of the security curve: steps for your 'shift left' journey

Mar 15, 2023 11:47:06 AM
Complex geometric blueprint of a curve and arrow shifting left.
The world of software development is constantly evolving, with new technologies and approaches emerging every day. However, one of the most impactful movements in recent years has been the shift towards "Shift Left" - a method of streamlining the software development process to make it more efficient, cost-effective, and customer-focused.
Shift Left is a powerful approach that can help organizations to develop and deliver software faster, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively. By emphasizing collaboration, using automation, and continuously monitoring and improving, teams can take advantage of this exciting new movement and stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of software development.

What makes a Left Shift superior to Right Shift?

With traditional software development, testing and quality assurance activities are often delayed until the end of the entire process, a practice known as "Shift Right". Unfortunately, this technique comes with many drawbacks. Deferring these crucial steps till after coding is complete means that any issues found can be difficult to repair - especially for larger systems where bugs have far-reaching impacts and require considerable resources to solve.
By contrast, with Shift Left, testing and QA are integrated into the development process from the very beginning. This means that developers are testing their code as they write it, and QA teams are reviewing and testing code as soon as it's ready. This helps to catch problems early before they have a chance to grow and become more complex.
At its core, Shift Left is all about shifting the focus of software development activities to the left of the development timeline. This means that tasks that were traditionally done later in the development cycle, such as testing, are now performed earlier and more frequently. The result is a process that is faster, more agile, and more responsive to the needs of the customer.
Increased Speed and Agility
One of the biggest benefits of Shift Left is that it enables teams to develop and deliver software much faster. By shifting the focus of activities to the left, teams can identify and resolve problems early in the process, before they become bigger issues. This, in turn, allows for faster iterations and quicker releases, which is especially important in today's fast-paced business environment.
Improved Quality
Shift Left also helps to improve the overall quality of software. By involving testing and quality assurance activities earlier in the process, teams can catch and resolve issues before they are delivered to customers and create problems. This results in software that is more stable, more secure, and more reliable - all of which are critical factors for success in today's market.
Lower Costs
Finally, Shift Left can also help to lower costs. By catching and resolving issues early in the development cycle, teams can avoid the costly rework that often occurs later in the process. Additionally, by streamlining the development process and reducing the number of iterations, teams can reduce the overall cost of development and delivery.

So, how do you go about implementing Shift Left in your organization? Here are a few tips:

Maximize collaboration
To carry out Shift Left effectively, it's essential to foster collaboration among multiple teams and stakeholders. This encourages everyone to work together in diagnosing potential issues earlier on while avoiding the common pitfalls of separate entities working independently and passing off responsibilities between them.
Use automation
Another key to Shift Left is the use of automation. By automating many of the tasks that were traditionally done manually, teams can reduce the time and effort required to complete them. Additionally, automation can help to ensure that tasks are completed consistently and accurately, further improving the quality of the software. Automated security tools, including SAST, DAST, IAST, secrets detection and software composition analysis have the potential to quickly identify vulnerabilities in applications and systems before they cause serious damage. Automation provides organizations with the opportunity to embed security into their development processes right away, thus limiting vulnerabilities that could be exploited in production.
Continuously monitor and improve
Finally, Shift Left is not a one-time event - it's an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement. Teams should be constantly evaluating their processes, seeking out new ways to improve, and making changes as needed. This will help to ensure that the process remains efficient and effective over time.

Which technology can help you move left on the DevOps pipeline?

Static Application System Testing - SAST
SAST is an extraordinary white box testing solution for automated application security with great advantages. It proactively scans source code to identify any existing vulnerabilities, and clearly states how to fix them. This technology allows organizations to detect issues at the outset of development before they become complex problems. With SAST integrated into your software development life cycle process from day one, companies can anticipate potential pitfalls before it's too late.
Dynamic Application Security Testing - DAST
DAST supplements SAST by taking a black-box testing approach. DAST scans active applications and injects potential defects and common attack vectors to detect vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), or local file inclusion (LFI). Additionally, DAST can identify configuration issues during run time, server setup flaws, and post-login workflow errors. By integrating both SAST and DAST technologies into one cohesive security process for apps, organizations can get great visibility of their application's safety.
Interactive Application Security Testing - IAST
IAST combines the best of SAST and DAST by using a grey box testing approach. It is implemented as a proxy in a test runtime environment, such as a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) or .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR), and can monitor runtime operations and simulate attacks within a controlled sandbox. IAST offers a more interactive and hands-on approach to security testing, which can help organizations catch security issues that might have been missed by other testing methods.
Secrets Detection
The term "secrets" refers to security certificates, database credentials, API keys, and other similar information that can provide access to sensitive information and systems. Secrets detection technology can scan logs, source code, and other files for any hidden secrets that were not removed. SAST tools and code reviews commonly miss hardcoded secrets, especially during version updates. If these secrets are uploaded to a git repository and become public, systems affected by these secrets can become compromised. Secrets detection technology can prevent this from happening by finding secrets that were missed by other tools.
Software Composition Analysis - SCA
SCA is an automated process used to identify open-source software and analyze it for security issues, licensing issues, and code quality. Modern open-source components have a large number of dependencies, each of which could contain vulnerabilities. SCA tools can perform deep inspection of the entire dependency tree to discover components that can threaten the large system. By identifying these components early and switching them for secure components, organizations can save a major remediation effort later on.
In conclusion, shift left security is a proactive approach to cyber security that emphasizes identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities earlier in the development process. This method has proven to be an effective means of reducing the risk of cyber-attacks and improving the overall security posture of organizations.
At Cyberfame, we embrace this approach and use cutting-edge technologies to provide our clients with the most efficient and effective vulnerability scanning and mapping tool. By staying ahead of the curve and constantly working to improve our solutions, we are dedicated to helping our clients stay secure and protected in an ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.
Visit to see the app that rapidly scans, rates, and charts your digital security in a few minutes.