DevSecOps – short for development, security, and operations – is the practice of integrating security continuously throughout the software and application development lifecycle to ensure optimal security and performance efficiency.It is considered a necessary extension of the DevOps methodology.
A DevSecOps mindset is an absolute necessity for any IT organization that is leveraging containers or the cloud, both of which require new security guidelines, policies, practices, and tools. Due to the agile nature of these technologies, security must be integrated at every stage of the DevOps lifecycle and the CI/CD pipeline.
7 Benefits of DevSecOps
|1. Enhanced Security||Enhanced application security is one of the most compelling benefits of DevSecOps. It takes a proactive approach to security to help mitigate threats from early on in the process.|
|2. Cross-Team Collaboration||Development, security, and operations teams work collaboratively to ensure all best practices are being applied and address any vulnerabilities in the process.|
|3. Faster Delivery||Software and applications are delivered faster when security is considered in every step of the pipeline because fixes are done early within the process, which allows developers to focus on deployment features.|
|4. Compliance||Developers use DevSecOps because it ensures the development process is compliant with all data security and legal requirements.|
|5. Added Value||Because a DevSecOps approach requires teams to work collaboratively, it motivates teams to come up with different changes that can be made to add value to the customer without the need of compromising security.|
|6. Cost Efficiency||Because a DevSecOps approach involves continuously and automatically pushing for security, integration, and delivery, developers can focus on other priorities, bringing overhead costs down.|
|7. Business Success||When stakeholders to an organization do not have to worry about security vulnerabilities being exploited, which can disrupt regular operations, trust in the business increases, which usually brings more revenue in.|
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DevOps vs. DevSecOps
DevOps is an agile development methodology that links software development and IT operations in order to shorten the software development lifecycle and enable continuous development and delivery cycle. DevOps is built on three continuous principles:
- Integration: With continuous integration comes core development activities including, coding, design, build, integration and testing.
- Delivery: Continuous delivery includes the regular delivery of software applications and upgrades
- Deployment: Continuous deployment is essentially an automated pipeline workflow.
DevSecOps is an outgrowth of the DevOps movement, which aims to accelerate the software development lifecycle and enable the rapid response schedule of applications and updates. DevSecOps builds on this agile framework by incorporating security measures within each phase of the IT process in order to minimize security vulnerabilities and improve compliance – all without impacting speed of release cycles.
DevSecOps enforces a culture where everyone incorporates security functionalities into each step of the DevOps framework. As part of the DevSecOps mindset, organizations will likely add steps to the traditional DevOps workflow. These include:
- Conducting a risk/benefit analysis to determine the organization’s current risk tolerance.
- Creating an overarching, built-in security strategy that addresses existing vulnerabilities and known threats in the security landscape.
- Determining the security controls needed for the application.
- Automating recurring tasks within the security development and testing process.
How Does DevSecOps Work?
As mentioned above, DevSecOps encourages cross-team collaboration along all stages of the CI/CD pipeline. Every CI/CD pipeline will look different based on your team’s specific needs and resources, but in general, they have four essential stages. The CI/CD pipeline has 4 components to it:
- Build: In this stage, source code is pulled from a repository and built into a binary artifact. Your chosen integrated development environment (IDE) may help your developers automate this process.
- Test: With the CI/CD pipeline, you want to employ as much continuous testing as possible. Unit testing helps to verify that new features are working as intended, and most of your testing should be this type. Regression testing makes sure that new additions to your code won’t break your existing infrastructure.
- Deliver: Developers’ code should go to a staging environment after testing. Perform A/B tests and find lingering problems, as well as letting your QA team know what they need to look at.
- Deploy: Once your build has passed all automated testing, it can be deployed in production. Continuous delivery involves humans for manual approval, while continuous deployment involves full deployment automation.
In a traditional DevOps approach, security testing is done near the end of the development process—typically once the application has been deployed to a production environment. This is because security-related tasks such as secure configuration management and vulnerability scanning can be fairly time intensive, slowing down the development process.
The DevSecOps model requires security practices to be interwoven throughout the CI/CD pipeline.
5 DevSecOps Best Practices
Organizations that want to unite IT operations, the security team and application developers need to make security a core component of the software development workflow. In order to enable DevSecOps, the organization must do the following two basic things:
- Ensure security testing is incorporated throughout the development cycle and completed by the development team
- Enable the development team to manage and solve issues found during testing.
To that end, here are a few DevSecOps best practices that will help ensure the organization can shift to this new agile model:
1. Dedicate an Infosec Leader Within the DevOps Team.
Many teams enable a DevSecOps mindset by including a security champion within their development teams. This is someone who has expertise in application security and has taken more advanced training in this field than most of the team. This person can review security fixes to make sure they are correct.
2. Upskill the IT Team
Upskill the IT Team to Ensure Security is Infused into every aspect of the development lifecycle. In a DevSecOps model, every member of the development team is accountable for security. Given that this was not a core responsibility of a DevOps engineer or software developer in the past, it may be necessary for the organization to upskill staff to support these new requirements. Organizations can work with their cybersecurity partner to develop a curriculum or training program to get their IT team up to speed with DevSecOps principles.
3. Automate Recurring Security Processes and Tasks.
DevOps is all about speed—and so is DevSecOps. By implementing automated security controls and tests early in the development cycle, the organization can ensure rapid, agile delivery of applications. Further, by using tools that scan code as it is written, it is possible to identify and remediate security issues more quickly.
4. Emphasize Culture Shift
One of the most important practices to follow to ensure that every stakeholder is on the same page is to shift the organization’s culture to take a more proactive security approach. Stakeholders include employees, customers, vendors, directors, and anyone else who has a stake in the organization. Some ways to aid the culture shift is to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity training program for employees. This training should include the most common adversaries and ways these adversaries operate to gain access to confidential data. Additionally, developers should adopt a shift-left approach to security. This means, thinking about security from early in the process and throughout the process to ensure full protection that any vulnerabilities are patched.
5. Select the Right Tools to Continuously Integrate Security.
Cloud technology, as well as the use of containers and microservices, require organizations to reevaluate their security policies, practices and tools. In this environment, many organizations are looking toward cloud-native security platforms (CNSP) as the answer. The goal of CNSPs, in part, is to simplify the complexity of securing a diverse, multi-cloud environment. CNSPs are designed to meet the needs of cloud-native architectures and the development practices of DevOps culture. Rather than focus on one particular vendor, CNSPs are cloud-agnostic and are built to provide visibility and protection across a hybrid stack. They also feature capabilities such as secure configuration management, runtime protection for cloud workloads and containers, and detection and response capabilities for virtual machines (VMs), containers and serverless functions.