What is DevSecOps and Why is it Important?
Learn what is DevSecOps, why is it needed, and its importance to remain competitive and agile in today’s fast-paced world.
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DevSecOps stands for development, security, operations. The practice integrates security into every phase of the software development cycle. In the past, security was the last step before a software was released. There was a separate security team in a siloed development structure. This approach worked fine for traditional software development models such as the Waterfall model, where even iterations to software took several months.
Organizations , today, are increasingly adopting the agile method of software development, which has shortened the development cycle considerably. New iterations of an application are released within weeks or even days. Keeping security for the very end is no longer feasible. DevSecOps integrates infrastructure and application security into development processes. Security issues are addressed as they emerge, which makes them easier to fix.
DevOps Vs DevSecOps: The Difference
Both methodologies rely on automation and continuous processes to increase efficiency. DevOps focuses only on the development side of things. The aim is to improve the speed of delivery. DevSecOps, on the other hand, shifts security to the left, or to the beginning of the development cycle. It ensures that the codebase is secure from the very beginning. While shifting security to the left might increase delivery time of a software to begin with, development teams can benefit from faster iterations and better cost efficiency.
In addition, DevSecOps makes security a shared responsibility of the entire team. Security is no longer the sole responsibility of the QA team. Developers share the responsibility, translating to a more agile development process.
Benefits of DevSecOps
In a nutshell, DevSecOps helps organisations deliver more secure software, faster. Bugs and vulnerabilities can be identified early-on in the development process, which can substantially reduce the development time. Other tangible benefits of this agile methodology include:
- Proactive security, which translates to better consumer trust
- Adaptability, which translates to scalability for organizations
- Better resource management, which translates to cost efficiency
DevSecOps shifts security processes to the start of the development cycle. Security issues are addressed as soon as they emerge. Thus, potential vulnerabilities are addressed at very early stages of the development cycle before additional dependencies creep in. Code is monitored and audited at every stage of the development cycle, which means it makes it faster to patch vulnerabilities.
Engineers can proactively fix issues before an iteration is released to the public. In fact, DevSecOps fosters collaboration between the development and security team. This allows an organization to respond to security incidents faster. In addition, DevSecOps processes make compliance easier, all of which translates to a more secure application and better consumer trust.
A lot of DevSecOps processes rely on standardization for better efficiency. Standardization lends itself beautifully to automation, which can greatly reduce the workload of the testing team. Imagine an organization with a suite of 500 apps. It will be hectic for a team of 5-6 testers to continuously monitor every iteration of the 500 apps for potential bugs and vulnerabilities. With the help of automation, organizations can build triggers, evaluations and approvals so security teams can focus on higher-value tasks.
Moreover, automation containers are adaptable. They can adapt to changing development environments. Correct implementation of DevSecOps can make the entire development cycle scalable for enterprises without compromising on efficiency.
Dependencies in software development can cause serious delays. Imagine that a software requires library A from an open-source environment. Library A depends on library B, which, in turn, depends on library C that has certain vulnerabilities. Thus, the development team cannot use library A or B unless a non-vulnerable version of library C is found.
If the vulnerabilities in library C are detected at a very late stage in development, it will mean having to recode the entire thing, since libraries A and B cannot be used. With DevSecOps, project managers are more aware of potential risks at a very early stage of the project. A secure software is built right from the very beginning, which translates to resource optimization.
Best Practices for DevSecOps
The central tenet of DevSecOps is ‘Shift Left’. Security is moved from the end (right) to the beginning (left) of the development cycle. Software testers and engineers are part of the development process. They make sure that every component of an application is secure and documented. To be able to execute that central tenet, DevSecOps relies on certain best practices, such as:
- Education about security and compliance
- Automation and acceleration
A good implementation of DevSecOps will have interconnected processes and automation. For instance, scans can be set up such that they are triggered when a software component is changed. Similarly, the system can send an automated email to the entire development team when a scan is triggered. It can have information about what change triggered the scan, who made the change, and when. Thus, DevSecOps makes it easy to hold people accountable. It can be especially useful in large enterprises where teams might be located in different time zones or there might be a full suite of applications to manage.
Traditionally, developers are not very aware of security compliance. However, for DevSecOps to work, it is important that every team member familiarizes themselves with the basics of security compliance. For instance, a basic understanding of Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) and key steps in security testing are helpful. Similarly, a working knowledge of thread models, risk, and security controls comes in handy. The goal with educating developers on security and compliance is to have standardizations in place. Standardizations make the entire agile process even more scalable and efficient.
The end-goal with DevSecOps is to complement the modern agile method of software development. A good implementation of DevSecOps will have reliable automation in place that eliminates manual steps. It also identifies dependencies at the very start to eliminate avoidable iterations at a later stage. With DevSecOps, it is possible for an enterprise to test 30 microservices and onboard them in just 2 days.
As enterprises increasingly embrace cloud-native infrastructure, security teams have their task cut out. Teams deploying applications are continually growing bigger, which means security teams are always scrambling to add compliance to a growing bouquet of cloud-native applications.