DevSecOps Overview: What, Why, and How

DevOps implementation helps companies improve collaboration between teams and deliver better software faster. But speed doesn’t always stand for security, so here comes DevSecOps. This relatively new term is short for development, security, and operations.

DevSecOps automates security integration at every stage of the software development lifecycle. Security was formerly isolated to a specific team and applied in the final stage of development. But as the speed and frequency of releases increase, traditional teams can’t keep up with this pace to ensure each release is secure.

In the modern DevOps framework, security is a shared responsibility integrated from end to end. In other words, it’s a natural evolution in the way companies approach security.

Overall, organizations in any industry may require DevSecOps implementation. For example, if your product or service deals with personal information, you need to embrace DevSecOps practices. And in case your company already does DevOps, shifting toward DevSecOps would be a good idea.

Why make this effort if you implemented notorious DevOps formerly? Well, DevOps is about automation and optimization — nobody guarantees you security. Organizations continuously deliver software using old frameworks for years — and then all customer websites may be attacked in a moment through one similar vulnerability. Such cases are fatal for any company’s reputation.

The good news is adding security to existing DevOps processes won’t be difficult and will bring lots of advantages. Let’s speak about them in detail.

Benefits

  • Proactive Security Level

Cybersecurity processes appear throughout the whole development lifecycle. You constantly audit, test, and scan the code for security issues. Their number decreases, it becomes less expensive to fix them. DevSecOps practices also simplify compliance, saving app development projects from having to be retrofitted for security.

  • Rapid and Cost-effective Software Delivery

Security problems and their fixing always lead to time delays. Implementing DevSecOps guarantees rapid and secure delivery as well as saves your time and costs.

  • Accelerated Security Vulnerability Patching

DevSecOps allows you to manage security vulnerabilities quicker. Add scanning and patching into the release cycle and limit the number of opportunities for hackers.

  • Repeatable and Adaptive Process

A mature DevSecOps implementation establishes a consistent security application and adaptive environment. Over time, you’ll get reliable automation, orchestration, immutable infrastructure, and even serverless compute environments.

Best Practices

To experience all advantages DevSecOps can bring to the work processes, companies and teams should be aware of its best practices. They will be helpful in high-quality security implementation.

  • Shift Left

This approach encourages software engineers to move security from the end to the beginning of the delivery process. Shifting left allows identifying and manage security risks at the early stage.

A common challenge lies in a temporary disruption of the existing DevOps workflow. If previously the code got to the testing phase practically after the push, now developers will fix security-level warnings before building the code. Still, this process is similar to automation implementation, and you may overcome it with the help of atomic changes.

  • Automation

DevSecOps embraces automation, just like DevOps does. Security automation is necessary to match the pace of code delivery in CI/CD and get over the temporary workflow disruption. In DevSecOps, choosing the proper automation tool is crucial for the success of your product.

  • Security Education

Development engineers, operations teams, and compliance teams need to collaborate tightly to ensure everyone understands the company’s security standards. People should be familiar with the basic principles of app security and security testing. Developers need to understand threat models, compliance checks and have a working knowledge of how to measure risks or implement security controls.

  • People, Process & Technology

This trinity plays a significant role in DevSecOps. People should be interested in security implementation, processes need to go through standardization, and technology must ensure effective execution.

  • Traceability, Auditability, Visibility

Traceability is about tracking configuration items across the development cycle to where requirements are implemented in the code. Auditability ensures compliance with technical, procedural, and administrative security controls. Visibility assures solid system monitoring and increases awareness of cyberattacks if they occur.

Due to the process cyclicality, reports and history recording cover each stage. You can track all security updates, patches, vulnerability fixes. This may be the key benefit of DevSecOps because you get multipage reports, diagrams, charts, and visualizations.

Implementation

Implementing DevSecOps is a detailed and gradual process. Its components depend on the size and complexity of the project. We recommend you the following basic steps to make your integration fast and smooth:

  • Plan & Develop

Planning is key to successful DevSecOps implementation. Review existing processes, gather as much information as possible. Establish a strategy including acceptance criteria, threat models, and user design. Don’t forget to set up a single code review system.

  • Build & Test

Picking the right automated build tools is essential since the source code is combined into machine code at this stage. Moreover, some plugins can automatically detect vulnerable libraries and replace them. And solid testing environment boosts your security level.

  • Deploy & Operate

This stage is about automating and accelerating the software delivery process. IaC tools help to achieve these goals. DevSecOps implementation allows minimizing the risk of human errors and securing infrastructure more efficiently.

  • Monitor & Scale

Using powerful continuous monitoring tools is crucial in establishing high-quality security. Scaling in DevSecOps manages any threats simply and effectively.

Tools

It’s clear with implementation. But what tools should companies use? Well, there’s a great variety to consider. Here are four main types of tools to implement DevSecOps:

  • SAST

Static app security testing tools like SonarqQube help perform automatic reviews with static analysis of code to detect bugs. Teams use these tools during the code, build, and development phases.

  • DAST

Dynamic app security testing tools, namely Tinfoil Security, represent a black box testing technology that imitates hacker actions during a cyber-attack. They do not require access to the code and analyze the client-side of the app.

  • IAST

Interactive app security testing tools work during functional testing and analyze web app runtime behavior. Seeker is one of such instruments — it detects weaknesses and describes them in detail.

  • SCA

Software composition analysis tools such as Black Duck allow scan source code to find vulnerabilities and highlight license risks to accelerate prioritization.

Summary

Essential DevSecOps is not difficult to implement — but just like with everything security-related, it has plenty of pitfalls to watch out for. When you’re aiming at a solid DevSecOps practice, there are even more things to be cautious about.

If you feel unsure, delegate this task to professionals. It may be either a task for security or DevOps experts.

If you’ve already established the DevOps workflow, involving the security process will facilitate security foundation building. At its essence, DevSecOps represents DevOps principles and encourages teams to consider security from the very beginning.

DevSecOps makes security a clockwork process and not a once-a-year check it used to be. Don’t hesitate and revolutionize your security approach. Although you may face some challenges, the result will be astonishing!

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