How to Improve Your DevOps Test Automation Strategy

Test automation strategies have strengthened business models by transforming lengthy and labor-intensive testing processes into streamlined automated processes. Companies are adding automation security testing as an integral part of the development process in their DevOps strategies.

A robust test automation suite enables organizations to validate functionality and simple security test cases with every execution of the DevOps pipeline. Companies can focus more on day-to-day activities and ensure that teams work more efficiently without investing much time into repetitive tasks.

But what if you already have an existing DevOps test automation strategy? How do you ensure that your DevOps testing strategy is sufficient to maintain good security in your applications?

Well, there are several ways you can create and implement an ideal DevOps test automation strategy that helps you with early identification of vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the application.

5 Ways to Improve Your DevOps Test Automation Strategy

In this article, we will explain the key points to building a reliable DevOps security test automation strategy that will help you tighten your applications’ security:

1. Apply the Right Test Automation Framework

Frameworks are a primary element of test automation strategies. They provide reusable components that can be used to create custom automation tests by different teams.

A well-built testing automation suite can serve as a critical asset to your organization and an integral part of DevOps. It promotes faster delivery, early detection of issues, and eases the process of continuous updates and execution.

You can use open-source software or commercial software to build test suites that fit your team’s needs. Both open-source and commercial software for DevOps testing strategies have their fair share of pros and cons.

For instance, you can find massive support communities for troubleshooting, learning, support, and updates while working with open-source software such as Selenium or OWASP ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy).

On the other hand, commercial software like Ranorex will provide you with an end-to-end space for easy building, implementing, and executing your automated test suites, with a dedicated support mechanism in case you run into issues.

Open source tools for DevOps such as Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) are widely used to identify security issues pertinent to your web applications while it is in the development and software testing phase.

OWASP ZAP is also considered to be a great automation security tool that can be used for manual security testing by experienced testers.

Frameworks for your test automation strategy allow you to focus on user value, instead of just technology. It empowers the team to look beyond the technical implementation of an application and serve the end-user in a much better way. Properly implemented test automation frameworks cogently reduce test suite maintenance costs during DevOps.

2: Understand the Application’s Needs

Assimilating the test automation requirements, and selecting the right set of tools to implement isn’t enough for effective DevOps. It is essential to understand every element within the user environment of the app such as its configurations, framework, end-user goal, security parameters, etc.

The more you understand the application, the easier it will be for you to choose the right automation tools needed for your application’s security testing during DevOps.

If an automation tool helps with the technical aspect of an app but interferes with the end-user experience, then you may want to consider a different tool.

Thus, it is essential for the team handling test automation for DevOps to know the entire application so that they can choose an ideal and efficient automation security tool.

By considering various aspects of the application, the team will be able to understand the application not just from a technical perspective but also from the customer’s point of view.

For example, for financial service applications, security should be of utmost priority. The automation testing team should then focus on creating robust strategies that support the overall security of the application such as verifying the integrity of transaction details and negative test cases to ensure users cannot see another user’s account details, etc.

For this, organizations should encourage participation from both the development and automation testing teams.

In DevOps testing, continuous delivery from the development team enables the automation testing team to be a part of each module. It helps in the creation of much better and seamless DevOps testing strategies that align with the project development.

By working closely with the development team, the automation testing team is able to update test cases that meet the latest functionality of the application without much hassle or delay. They integrate the latest code into their test cases to run quick security tests, and ensure early identification and remediation of potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Keeping the automation testing team in the loop about every update regarding the application can result in better DevOps testing. It will not only improve the software testing process but also promote smooth communication flow between different teams.

3: Be Selective with Your DevOps Test Cases

The primary motivation for implementing DevOps automation test strategy is to get coverage of easy security issues and leave more complex ones to the security team.

However, with the plethora of code, it often becomes difficult to successfully approach every DevOps test case within the application using only automated security testing. Thus, it is important to determine the test cases that need to be automated first. There are many things that can be considered such as how frequently will the DevOps test cases need to be run, if it requires large amounts of data, is there a lot of logic required, etc.

Automated testing has ample benefits, especially for repetitive test cases and continuous delivery. Whereas manual testing serves as a better alternative for test cases that are more complex or performed only a few times.

We will talk about these considerations for DevOps next to help you understand and prioritize your test cases.

To get the maximum benefit from your software testing strategies, you should automate tests that are:

  • Repetitive in nature and run frequently
  • Prone to manual errors
  • Expensive and time-consuming if performed manually
  • Labor intensive and require a heavy resource investment

You can also leverage test automation for test cases that:

  • Run on various software or hardware platforms and configurations
  • Require large amounts of data

4: Keep Your DevOps Test Cases Small

Although some quality analysts aim at building large test cases to address complex code structures, keeping your test cases small can be more beneficial.

When you create small test cases, you will be able to identify each test explicitly, and set a clear definition of the expected outcome. Then you will know exactly what failed or succeeded. The test cases will be much simpler and easier to understand.

If the development team needs to address a particular test case, it won’t take long for them to understand what the test case holds.

Moreover, instead of going through the entire documentation, you’ll be able to identify test cases by merely looking at them whenever required.

While it is important to keep your test cases small, it is also essential to consider negative test cases. For example, you should not be able to access another user’s data with their credentials.

Security teams often create negative test cases to ensure better software security, where a user should not be able to access another user’s data or exploit input validation.

This helps check for invalid data or unexpected user behavior in your DevOps strategy. For example, if a username consists of only alphabetical characters, and you input a numeric value, the system should prompt you to correctly enter the input value again.

Smaller test cases in DevOps test automation strategies also tend to closely adhere to the Single Responsibility Principle (SRP). The SRP states that every module or class in a program should be responsible for only one piece of that program’s functionality.

Therefore, smaller test cases for DevOps testing focus on precise validation that reduces the possibility of vulnerabilities in an application. It encourages better learning and understanding across various teams to work cohesively.

5: Maintain Flexibility with Non-UI-Dependent Test Cases

Keep in mind that your DevOps testing strategy needs to be able to accommodate changes.

Ensure that your test cases are flexible and able to adapt to new changes in the UI and are feasible for future use.

One of the most reliable ways to create easy yet powerful DevOps test cases is to write them in action terms that are supported by backend functions.

Rather than using scripting languages like JScript, use keyword-based tests that eliminate the need to depend on UI elements that might change as the development progresses with time.

This is specifically for a DevOps test automation strategy where constant changes and updates are made in the applications.

Final Thoughts

DevOps isn’t just confined within technical implementation and execution, it goes beyond that to align with the needs of your business. Incorporating the right set of tools and frameworks into your test automation strategy can improve your software development process.

Any time invested in creating a DevOps test automation strategy is time well spent. Automation technology can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire security testing procedure. The key is to analyze and create test cases that are sustainable and will stay relevant as the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) progresses.

Remember that improper test automation strategies can have a drastic impact on your entire DevOps testing strategy. Therefore, it is recommended that you work with knowledgeable professionals to build and implement a strong DevOps test automation strategy, one which lasts for a long period and is nearly unaffected by frequent code changes.

About

Cypress Data Defense was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado with offices across the United States. Our goal is to help organizations secure their IT development and operations using a pragmatic, risk-based approach. The diverse background of our founders allows us to apply security controls to governance, networks, and applications across the enterprise.

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