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I Get DevOps, but What is DevSecOps?

Susmitha Vakkalanka
Susmitha Vakkalanka
Published on
May 2, 2024

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Table of Content

Benefits of DevSecOps

DevOps vs DevSecOps: The Key Differences In a Nutshell

The Four Foundational Pillars of DevSecOps

The DevSecOps Lifecycle

How to implement DevSecOps

The goal of DevSecOps is to bring security into the development and release process, with rapid and secure code delivery. 

DevOps brings Developers and Operations teams together, and implements the right processes and technology to deliver software quicker. Currently many organizations focus on speed to market, emphasizing collaboration between developers and operations, but overlook security. At that point, the code is almost fully developed, so security measures are usually retrofitted or tacked on as an afterthought later in the deployment process. If a security threat is discovered at that late stage, engineers will have to rework countless lines of code, further delaying the release, or create a patch. 

DevSecOps emphasizes security at all stages of the software lifecycle, from planning, design, development, QA/testing, release and when operating on a production environment. By bringing the security team into the loop at all stages of the development process, they can actually find and resolve vulnerabilities sooner and cheaper, without delaying time to market. 

Each year, there are more security risks, like cybertheft, data leakage, phishing, ransomware, and denial of service attacks. As platforms become more connected, the cost of each incident (and the potential liability to software companies) increases exponentially. The costs of these cyberthreats are simply too high to leave until the end of the development process. 

The time to market is shorter every year and older security practices slow down development. Teams had to find a way to speed up without compromising security. This is how DevSecOps started. The ultimate goal is to unite security teams and developers while ensuring fast, safe delivery of code.” 

  • Sonatype’s 2020 DevSecOps Community Survey.

DevSecOps was created “to bring individuals of all abilities to a high level of proficiency in security in a short period of time,” ensuring that all collaborators who work on the application are responsible for the security of their contribution. As a result, code is more secure as it’s being written, the application is continuously validated for common security threats, and possible breach points are detected as part of the application deployment. When all collaborators incorporate security principles throughout the process, the organization can ultimately deliver a better, more secure product, which has many benefits for the entire organization. Ultimately, this will require some additional implementation and training on the front end, but will save the organization time and money in the long term, and even increase employee satisfaction. According to Sonatype’s 2020 DevSecOps Community Survey, “developers who receive training on how to code securely are 5x more likely to enjoy their work.” 

Benefits of DevSecOps

The benefits of DevSecOps include the same advantages of DevOps, while delivering even more value:

  1. Fast software delivery
  2. Continuous security
  3. High product quality
  4. Improved compliance
  5. Increased collaboration
  6. Enhanced speed-to-market
  7. Proactive security vulnerability patching

DevOps vs DevSecOps: The Key Differences In a Nutshell

Understanding key differences between DevOps and DevSecOps is imperative for IT businesses. Though you may be using both the terms interchangeable, understanding the concepts will help you leverage the best of both worlds. Below are the major differences between DevOps and DevSecOps:

DevOps DevSecOps
Definition DevOps is the collaboration of development and operations teams to develop and deliver software at speed. DevSecOps is the seamless collaboration of development, security, and operations teams to develop and deliver high-quality, secure software at speed.
Purpose The main purpose of DevOps is speed. The main purpose of DevSecOps is speed as well as security.
Objective Seamless collaboration of teams by focusing on continuous integration, automation, and continuous delivery for maintaining speed. Seamless collaboration of teams by focusing on continuous integration, continuous testing, automation, and continuous delivery for maintaining the highest level of security and speed.
Emphasis DevOps emphasizes the importance of faster software development. DevSecOps emphasizes the importance of creating secure and compliant code.
Concept of security Starts right after the development pipeline. Starts during the build process.
Skillsets required Knowledge of Linux basics and code scripting. Must have a hands-on understanding of various DevOps tools and technologies. Knowledge of automated security tools to detect vulnerabilities in code. Must also have exposure to DevOps tools and technologies.

The Four Foundational Pillars of DevSecOps

Though businesses can tailor their own strategies to incorporate security culture across their DevOps pipeline, DevSecOps strategy typically lies on four foundational pillars:

  1. People
    Remember that human resources are the greatest efficiency asset in any initiative, either DevOps or DevSecOps. As you move to the DevSecOps world, the development, security, and operations teams, that used to function in a siloed fashion, may continue to work separately for a while. So, breaking down this cultural inertia can be the most pertinent aspect of your DevSecOps journey. Quickly identify and address those silos and drive seamless communication within the teams. Drive a culture of collaboration that imparts openness, transparency, ownership, and accountability.
  2. Process
    Simplify and automate manual processes to the extent possible, while putting security, speed, and quality at the forefront. With DevOps in place, the development and delivery processes are now much faster than before, ensuring that the security processes are on par with that speed. The new DevSecOps operating model must articulate how teams work together, including clear interaction models and enabling mechanisms that define participation in each role and maximize collaboration. Every control and function needs to work cohesively such that the business attains unimaginable agility.
  3. Technology
    The DevOps initiatives are augmented by a host of cloud-based technologies that enable development teams to realize speed delivery. With the introduction of DevSecOps, many cloud-based security solutions are becoming mainstream. For instance, security-as-code, testing-as-code, infrastructure-as-code, and compliance-as-code, erase the need for some manual security processes. When these tools and services are implemented rightly, quality becomes consistent across the DevOps pipeline. It's best to follow an incremental approach to deploy these new security tools.
  4. Governance
    DevSecOps, when implemented rightly, enhances governance efficiency. DevSecOps leverages a uniform set of tools and automated controls, which eases the process of monitoring and testing required tools. Moreover, DevSecOps can cater to the requirements of compliance and control teams and relieve developer resources by gradually automating testing processes. For instance, by leveraging compliance-as-code, the teams can accomplish the process of pulling tickets, selecting samples, and identifying audit trails from multiple systems in minutes.

The DevSecOps Lifecycle

The typical DevOps software development lifecycle includes phases like Plan, Code, Build, Test, Release and Deploy. As DevSecOps is all about integrating security into DevOps, specific security controls are applied in each phase of the CI/CD pipeline. The following are the phases of such security procedures:

  1. Threat Modeling
    Threat modeling is the process of identifying security vulnerabilities in code during the architecture phase of the application development. It also helps in mitigating those threats.
  2. Scan
    Scanning is the process of analyzing code using application security tools such as SAST and DAST to identify potential security vulnerabilities and issues in it. It includes both manual and automated processes. This phase helps developers to bridge the security gaps earlier in the SDLC.
  3. Analyze
    The analyzing phase includes the process of reviewing the data and metrics collected in the previous phases to identify all the security risks. Then, the risks are aligned as per their severity. SAST tools, like Klocwork, are used to automate this process.
  4. Remediate
    The remediation phase includes the process of mitigating the security vulnerabilities identified and organized in the previous phases. SAST tools are used to automatically remediate the identified vulnerabilities, errors, and bugs. This process enables fast security vulnerability patching.
  5. Monitor
    Monitoring is the process of tracking the identified security vulnerabilities, remediation processes, and the overall security posture of the application. It also enables teams to track and manage the variation between the actual and target metric values. Moreover, it helps DevSecOps teams to make data-driven decisions during the SDLC.

Read: A manual on how to integrate security into DevOps toolchain

How to implement DevSecOps

The good news is, if you are already using DevOps, you are already most of the way there. The biggest difference is shifting security to the left. 

  1. Educate all stakeholders about DevSecOps and security best practices. In order for everyone to be responsible for security, the entire culture of the organization must change. Executives and individual contributors need to understand the value of DevSecOps and be committed to the process. Make sure you have buy-in from senior management and find champions at your organization to evangelize the importance of DevSecOps. If security is not a priority for the entire organization, individual contributors will not integrate the recommended security measures.
  2. Integrate continuous automated security checks. Implement gates in the CI/CD pipeline to make sure applications with vulnerabilities are not allowed to be deployed. When there are multiple collaborators on a project, as each piece of code is uploaded, enable automated testing for security on code dependencies and core. By testing code in small chunks, vulnerabilities can be discovered more quickly. Automating actions with scripting, APIs and CI plugins ensures that security is simplified and streamlined to provide value for developers. By using tools that can scan code as you write it, you can find security issues early.
  3. Use KPIs to create transparency and align teams.  The best way to make sure that all teams are on the same page and have access to the same information in real-time, is with data. Security dashboards ensure that your developers are practicing secure coding, and enable the security team to monitor activity and identify trends that may need further attention. If part of the code does not meet security standards, then it cannot be deployed. In addition, building feedback loops that give you visibility into the process help you track and analyze the key performance indicators (KPIs) that help you consistently iterate and improve on processes.
Are you considering implementing DevSecOps at your own organization? Reach out to us today, if you’d like more information about how Opsera can help align Dev, Ops and Security teams towards faster and safer software releases!

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