Why use Monitoring as a DevOps Security Tool in 2020?

DevOps Security Tool Blog - Block quote from the text reading, "While monitoring doesn’t necessarily provide you with a security system for your servers, it can help your team prepare for some of the most common security concerns in 2020."

DevOps security tools are an important part of the IT landscape, and as cybersecurity threats grow and change, teams need to take advantage of security tool they have available, even the ones that aren’t specifically for security. With the further adoption of DevSecOps practices, including Security in DevOps workflows, an emphasis on security protocols in general, and a constant search for good DevOps security tools, DevOps teams need to find ways to ensure their systems are secure.

Cybersecurity leaders have been talking about the most common security concerns for 2020 since late summer, and many tech companies are already discussing how to get ahead of these risks. Just to name a few that many experts are talking about:

  • DDoS attacks and botnets are on the rise, and could pose large scale threats. 
  • Ransomware continues to grow in popularity.
  • DNS spoofing and hijacking continue to be an issue for companies.
  • Malicious parties are focusing on security and access misconfigurations as a point of entry
  • Popular vendors and OpenSource code are increasingly becoming a security concern for the tech industry

With all the talk in the industry about these threats, we thought we would talk a bit about why your team should adopt monitoring as one of your DevOps security tools in 2020, and share a few specific tips on how to use monitoring to your advantage against security risks. While monitoring doesn’t necessarily provide you with a security system for your servers, it can help your team prepare for some of the most common security concerns for the coming year. 

Monitoring will give you a baseline

Anomaly detection, whether from a general maintenance or security point of view, begins with knowing what is normal for your infrastructure. The metrics ingested by your monitoring solution and analyzed daily by your team are a powerful tool against security threats such as cryptocurrency miners and ransomware. Both of these examples are going to cause a noticeable change is CPU usage, a spike that can easily be detected and when coupled with an alert system, your team will know immediately that something is off. 

Catching anomalies gives admins the opportunity to isolate them before they get out of hand, and gives them the opportunity to be proactive in case it happens again. Monitoring becomes one important piece in your security strategy. 

Performance monitoring is a strong DevOps security tool

Performance monitoring provides valuable insight into the state of your infrastructure, and makes it easier to see the impact server and networking issues can have on your business. When it comes to security, performance monitoring gives you a good indication of malicious activity on your infrastructure which is creating latency or preventing users from logging in, making it an effective DevOps security tool.

Taking advantage of synthetic monitoring can alert you to performance issues before end users even begin to experience a problem, allowing your team to get ahead of any malicious activity before it spreads to your users. Using web-browser-based or javascript synthetics which can perform complex interactions such as logging in or navigating a series of pages offers a good deal of extra knowledge, giving your team the opportunity to be proactive, rather than reactive.

Monitor your DNS

DNS is the key to your customers accessing your services, making it a target for hackers who want to redirect traffic to their systems. Protecting your DNS starts with vendor redundancy, which we talked about at length in our DNS Basics series, but monitoring can provide an extra layer of security to your systems. 

By regularly checking that your domain is not only responding, but also resolving to the correct IP address, you can quickly detect if a malicious party is redirecting your traffic. 

Automated and consistent monitoring

Automation is an important part of DevOps, and your monitoring deployment should be no different than any of your other deployments. By taking advantage of automation to help keep your configuration consistent across your network, can help eliminate the potential for a small mistake becoming a much larger issue.

Using tools that allow you to apply monitoring configuration across a large number of servers simultaneously, rather than having to manually configure each device, can both save time and bolster security. When coupled with an effective alert system and advanced alerting tools, consistent monitoring can be the difference between deflecting a security risk before it spreads through your systems and finding yourself the victim of ransomware. 

Tracking and auditing your infrastructure

Monitoring provides a natural way to track and maintain your infrastructure assets, especially those that are publicly available. While we’ve talked about monitoring as a way to know your baseline, it’s also a good way to assess what’s needed in your infrastructure, what parts should be online, and which devices you may no longer need.

The details

The items we’ve listed above are just some of the most significant ways monitoring can help bolster the security of your systems, but there are also a good deal of small things that monitoring can help with, such as pinpointing a safe state so you can redeploy. It’s important to make sure that your monitoring solution will provide the metrics you need. Granular data, end-to-end visibility, a single-pane-of-glass view, and many other monitoring features can give teams a tool to help them maintain both the security and health of their systems.

While it is not specifically a DevOps security tool, when you couple monitoring with other security practices, such as using immutable systems, vendor redundancy, and managing the dependencies within your system, you are able to create a solid security strategy.