What Is DevSecOps?

what is devsecops

DevSecOps refers to the integration of security practices into a DevOps software delivery model. Its foundation is a culture where development and operations are enabled through process and tooling to take part in a shared responsibility for delivering secure software.The definition of DevSecOps Model, at a high-functioning level, is to integrate security objectives as early as possible in the lifecycle of software development. While security is “everyone’s responsibility,” DevOps teams are uniquely positioned at the intersection of development and operations, empowered to apply security in both breadth and depth.

What Is the Difference Between DevOps and DevSecOps?

The difference between DevOps and DevSecOps is, to put it simply, the culture of shared responsibility. DevOps is a concept that has been talked about and written about for over a decade, and many definitions of DevOps have emerged. At its core, DevOps is an organizational paradigm that aligns development and operations practices as a shared responsibility.

Why are DevSecOps practices important?

Digital transformation has become an existential requirement for almost all enterprises. Such transformation includes three significant motions: more software, cloud technologies and DevOps methodologies.

More software means more of the organization’s risk becomes digital, raising the level of technical debt and therefore application security, making it increasingly challenging to secure digital assets.

Cloud means use of newer technologies that introduce different risks, change faster, are more publicly accessible — eliminating or redefining the concept of a secure perimeter. It also means many of the IT and infrastructure risks are moved to the cloud, and others are becoming purely software defined, reducing many risks while highlighting the importance of permission and access management.

Lastly, DevOps means a change to how software is developed and delivered, accelerating the cycle from writing code to delivering customer value to learning from the market and adapting. Empowered development teams ship software continuously and faster than ever, making technology and implementation decisions autonomously and without intermediaries. The traditional slow feedback loops that bog down development are not tolerated as teams increasingly prioritize being self-sufficient — you write it, you run it.

As the rest of the organization evolves, security teams are faced with greater demands and often become more of a bottleneck. Legacy application security tools and practices, designed for the slower-paced pre-cloud era, put security teams in the critical path of delivering high quality applications. These teams, understaffed due to the severe security talent shortage, become a bottleneck and fail to keep up. As a result, dev teams ship insecure applications, security teams burn out, and security becomes a naysayer, negating the acceleration the business is seeking.To deal with these challenges, people started changing their practices and this gave birth to DevSecOps. A DevSecOps culture brings security into the DevOps fold, enabling development teams to secure what they build at their pace, while also creating greater collaboration between development and security practitioners. It allows security teams to become a supporting organization, offering expertise and tooling to increase this developer autonomy while still providing the level of oversight the business demands.

6 Benefits of the DevSecOps Model

  1. Faster delivery: The speed of software delivery is improved when security is integrated in the pipeline. Bugs are identified and fixed before deployment, allowing developers to focus on shipping features.
  2. Improved security posture: Security is a feature from the design phase onwards. A shared responsibility model ensures security is tightly integrated—from building, deploying, to securing production workloads.
  3. Reduced costs: Identifying vulnerabilities and bugs before deploying results in an exponential reduction in risk and operational cost.
  4. Enhancing the value of DevOps: Improving overall security posture as a culture of shared responsibility is created by the integration of security practices into DevOps. The Snyk/Puppet 2020 DevSecOps Insights Report found this to be the case in mature DevSecOps organizations.
  5. Improving security integration and pace: Cost and time of secure software delivery is reduced through eliminating the need to retrofit security controls post development.
  6. Enabling greater overall business success: Greater trust in the security of developed software and embracing new technologies enables enhanced revenue growth and expanded business offerings.

DevSecOps Adoption: Integrating Security into the CI/CD Pipeline

Most modern DevOps organizations will depend on some combination of continuous integration and continuous deployment/delivery systems, in the form of a CI/CD pipeline. The pipeline is an excellent foundation from which a variety of automated security testing and validation can be performed, without requiring the manual toil of a human operator.

Empowering DevSecOps Culture

So how can an organization make the evolutionary climb from “DevOps” to “DevSecOps”? It’s not as simple as just handing an already busy DevOps team a set of security KPIs and calling it a day. It needs to be a collaborative, shared culture of rapid iteration.

If integrating security objectives early is the goal, it needs to be as painless as possible to do so. The burden of integrating security teams and objectives into the value stream should not fall to the developers. Adding additional steps will only lengthen the time it takes to deliver features to customers. Security should be a nimble organization, with a pragmatic approach to applying security with minimal disruption.

During the planning process, particularly as it relates to infrastructure, security engineers should be involved in discussions, empowered to push back on poor/insecure choices, but knowledgeable enough to offer alternatives. Oftentimes, overburdened security teams simply say “no,” and outsource the finding of alternatives to the DevOps teams. Again, this goes back to empowering security organizations with the right level of resources.

With security and DevOps collaborating early and often, security objectives have been tightly woven into the fabric of the infrastructure. Features and applications that are deployed to production will be the result of a comprehensive and effective collaboration between security, development, and operations. Security won’t have to go ask for extra features or auditing from development teams after the fact; they will know these were built in from day one.

If your organization has evolved to practice DevSecOps, you know that not only are you iterating quickly, delighting your customers with new features and improved functionality, but that you are delivering that experience with a level of security to match.

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