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What is Security Operations (SecOps)?

Security operations, also known as SecOps, refers to a business combining internal information security and IT operations practices to improve collaboration and reduce risks. SecOps is a set of Security operations center(SOC) processes to improve the security posture of an organization. Historically, most businesses have treated security and IT operations as discrete functions handled by independent organizations using distinct approaches and methodologies.

Too often, these siloed organizational structures are inherently inefficient and dysfunctional. Each group has unique and often conflicting objectives. Operations teams focus on accelerating IT service agility and optimizing system performance. On the other hand, security teams focus on defending infrastructure against malicious attacks, protecting confidential data and complying with government and industry regulations.

A natural tension exists between IT operations teams, who are under pressure to get new applications and services deployed as quickly as possible, and security teams whose mission is to safeguard critical IT systems and data. Security operations break down organizational and cultural barriers and eliminate inefficiencies and conflicts by establishing a security-first mindset and fusing security into IT operations processes. With SecOps, threat and risk mitigation become a shared responsibility, and operations professionals work closely with security professionals to reduce vulnerabilities without impairing business agility.

SecOps vs. DevOps vs. DevSecOps

The terms SecOps, DevOps and DevSecOps all describe different ways of blending distinct functional organizations and processes. Just as SecOps refers to combining security with IT operations, DevOps refers to converging development and IT operations to improve collaboration, eliminate inefficiencies and accelerate the pace of innovation. DevSecOps goes a step farther by weaving security into DevOps and factoring security considerations into every phase of the software development, delivery and deployment lifecycle. The DevSecOps approach typically requires “shifting security left” or “shift left,” for short, to address security earlier in the application development lifecycle.

IT Operations Security Challenges

The diverse and dynamic nature of IT operations poses a variety of security challenges. IT operations teams rely on different configuration management tools, secOps automation platforms and service orchestration solutions to accelerate IT service agility and application deployment. Each platform has unique administrative accounts and privileged access credentials that are administered using different tools and processes, creating blind spots and vulnerabilities for security teams.

In addition, the configuration management tools, automation platforms and service orchestration solutions all use secrets (passwords, secure shell [SSH] keys, application programming interface [API] keys, etc.) to gain access to compute, storage and networking resources. These secrets are also administered using various tools and processes. And further weakening the organization’s security posture, operations teams sometimes hard code secrets into automation scripts. This not only makes secrets rotation a manual and infrequent process but also like code, scripts are posted to code repositories like GitHub where they can be marked public and exploited by bad actors.

Securing IT Operations

Identity security solutions help businesses increase security automation and visibility, streamline SecOps programs and strengthen IT operations security. Leading identity security solutions provide privileged access management functionality that secures access to administrative accounts associated with configuration management tools, automation platforms and service orchestration solutions. They also support secrets management functionality to secure the secrets used by configuration management tools, automation platforms and service orchestration solutions to access critical infrastructure.

With an identity security solution, privileged credentials and secrets for human users, application scripts and non-human identities are stored in a centralized, tamper-resistant digital vault and automatically updated and rotated based on policy. Identity security solutions also isolate and record privileged sessions to reduce risks, improve observability and help organizations consistently enforce policies and processes.

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