Basic Knowledge

DevSecOps

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Ngoc Vo

Marketing Executive @CyStack|May 24, 2023

Explore how DevSecOps can integrate security into your development process and accelerate software delivery and enhance security at the same time.

DevSecOps: Benefits and Best Practices

The software development industry has begun to embrace DevSecOps, a methodology that intertwines development, security, and operations from the get-go. This approach offers organizations the ability to balance speed and security seamlessly, ensuring that while we build fast, we also build safely.

This article will dive into DevSecOps and how your organization can benefit from it. Read on to find out.

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps, a combination of Development, Security, and Operations, is a methodology that embeds security practices within the DevOps process.

It is designed to address the often insufficient security of applications and infrastructure in fast-paced, iterative development environments. This approach breaks down the silos that traditionally separate development, security, and operations teams.

At its core, DevSecOps involves plugging security into every phase of the software development life cycle.

Instead of bolting security measures onto a product after it’s been developed, security considerations are made part of the planning and design stages. The goal is to identify and address potential security issues as early as possible, reducing the likelihood of significant security breaches or costly late-stage remediation.

DevSecOps is more than just a set of practices or tools—it’s a culture shift. This approach makes everyone who is part of the development process accountable for security and requires them not to treat it as an afterthought.

DevSecOps vs. DevOps

Traditional software development models, including the DevOps approach, typically see security as a separate stage in the software development life cycle.

In these models, development teams focus on building functionality and features and then pass their work off to a separate security team to test and audit before deployment. This siloed approach can lead to a number of issues.

It often results in security being considered a secondary concern, with checks performed late in the development cycle. If security flaws are identified at this late stage, they can be costly and time-consuming to fix, as they may require significant changes to the codebase.

Also, developers often build and then hand over their code to operations and security teams without a clear understanding of the security implications of their design choices. This can result in a lack of ownership and accountability for security issues.

The DevSecOps approach addresses these issues by keeping security in mind throughout the development process rather than viewing it as a separate stage.

By embedding security considerations from the start, DevSecOps fosters a culture of shared security responsibility, where everyone involved in the development process takes ownership of security.

Benefits of DevSecOps

Fast Software Delivery

Since DevSecOps incorporates security practices into every step of the development process, it enables continuous integration and delivery.

The blend of security into the development lifecycle means that security checks and controls are applied during all of its stages, not after. This simultaneous process reduces delays and bottlenecks typically associated with separate security audits and enhances the velocity of software delivery.

Improved Security

DevSecOps emphasizes “security as code” with automated, integrated security testing. This approach ensures that security is continually evaluated and not merely considered at the end of the line.

It strives to detect and correct security issues as early as possible, reducing the chances of vulnerabilities making it into the final product. Applications therefore are more secure as they are developed and deployed.

Accelerated Vulnerability Patching

DevSecOps automates the process of identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, which can significantly speed up patching. Automated tools can scan code for known vulnerabilities as it’s being developed, and they can even stop the build process if a vulnerability is found.

This reduces the opportunities malicious actors have to take advantage of those security vulnerabilities, especially those in public-facing systems.

Cost Reduction

DevSecOps aims to catch and address security issues early in the development cycle. Thanks to this proactive approach, it can help avoid the potentially high costs associated with fixing vulnerabilities in deployed software.

Additionally, automated security testing tools can reduce the amount of manual labor needed for security audits, further saving time and money.

Improved Collaboration

DevSecOps encourages developers, operations staff, and security professionals to work together closely. The enhanced collaboration it fosters can lead to more efficient development processes. This doesn’t just improve security outcomes but also brings a more cohesive and effective organization overall.

Challenges in Implementing DevSecOps

Cultural Resistance

Traditionally, different teams have worked separately, each with its own responsibilities, goals, and tools. Merging these into a unified DevSecOps approach may meet resistance, as team members may be uncomfortable with or unprepared for the changes.

Cultivating a culture that values shared responsibility for security and collaboration across teams is key. However, it requires plenty of time, patience, and leadership support.

Process and Tool Complexity

Adding security into the DevOps pipeline involves using various tools for continuous integration, continuous delivery, infrastructure as code, automated testing, and more. Each of these tools needs to be learned and managed, adding complexity to the development process.

The processes also involved in DevSecOps are also complex, requiring careful planning and coordination across teams.

Lack of Security Mindset and Expertise

Developers tend to focus only on writing code while letting security teams handle the security aspects. They may not have a deep understanding of security principles, practices, and technologies.

In the new model, however, developers need to have a solid understanding of security to include it into their work from the start. This requires training and education, which can take time and resources.

Communication Issues

Different teams have traditionally operated in isolation and may not be used to communicating and collaborating closely. This can lead to misunderstandings, missed vulnerabilities, and other issues.

Ensuring clear, effective communication between all team members is essential for the success of a DevSecOps approach. But this is easier said than done.

Best Practices in DevSecOps

Adopting the Shift-Left Approach

The ‘shift-left’ approach in DevSecOps involves focusing on security from the start of the development process rather than at the end of the life cycle.

This approach not only improves security but also enhances efficiency, as it’s generally easier and less disruptive to address issues early on. You will need clear security requirements at the start of projects, use tools for static code analysis to detect vulnerabilities in development, and conduct regular security reviews.

Leveraging Technology for Automation

Microservices and containers can be powerful tools in implementing DevSecOps. These technologies allow for modular, scalable application development and can facilitate automated testing, deployment, and scaling. Teams can minimize disruption and accelerate development, all while maintaining a high level of security.

Investing in Education and Training

In DevSecOps, everyone plays a role in security. As such, it’s important that all team members have a good understanding of security principles and best practices.

Regular training sessions, workshops, and resources can help to build this knowledge. It’s also important to foster a culture where security is valued and prioritized and where team members feel comfortable raising security concerns.

Fostering Effective Communication

Proactive and responsible communication is key to the success of DevSecOps. This means regularly sharing updates, discussing security concerns, and collaborating on solutions.

Tools like chat platforms, issue trackers, and shared dashboards can help to facilitate effective communication. It’s also important to build a culture where open communication is encouraged and where team members feel comfortable raising issues and asking questions.

Enhancing Visibility

This involves monitoring systems, detecting potential issues, setting up alerts, and maintaining audibility and traceability of actions.

The ability to perform comprehensive audits helps to ensure compliance, while traceability ensures that any actions can be traced back to the individual who performed them.

Tools that provide real-time monitoring of code changes, system performance, and security events can provide valuable insights and help teams quickly identify and address issues.

How CyStack Can Help Implement DevSecOps

DevSecOps is a paradigm shift in how software development is approached. The early focus on security helps organizations reduce costs, improve efficiency, and deliver safer products.

If you’re interested in exploring how your organization can benefit from implementing DevSecOps or need help overcoming its challenges, don’t hesitate to contact CyStack. Our experts are ready to evaluate your current practices, devise a tailored DevSecOps strategy, and assist in its execution.

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