June 22, 2020

Let’s Talk About DevSecOps

If there are two things software development organizations are perennially worried about, it’s quality and speed: the quality of products they can bring into the market, and the speed at which they can do it.

As the pressure of bringing high-quality products quickly into the market mounts, DevOps has facilitated teams to achieve both these goals – with ease. By bridging the gap between development and operations teams, it helps in dramatically reducing the time taken to develop (and deliver) a good quality product.

What DevOps fails to address, however, is security. Although it aims to improve collaboration between teams, it does not integrate security into the development process. That’s where DevSecOps comes into the picture!

What is DevSecOps?

The floodgates of security breaches, data leaks, and privacy compromise have been plaguing the business world for a long time. Since even a small breach can greatly impact user experience, brand reputation, and competitive standing, improving the security of products being developed has become a business requisite. It is especially true in a day and age where teams are getting increasingly remote and are building software from highly dispersed geographic locations.

DevSecOps works on the premise of introducing security earlier in the life cycle of software development. By making every stakeholder in the software development process responsible for the security of the product under development, it aims to bring a shift-left approach, so vulnerabilities can be identified quickly, and security can be enhanced.

Through early and frequent security testing, it helps teams

  • Achieve greater speed, agility, and quality of products
  • Respond to changes and needs quickly and effectively
  • Fuel better collaboration and communication and work collectively towards reaching goals
  • Enjoy more opportunities for automating builds and carrying out robust QA testing
  • Detect vulnerabilities early in the lifecycle and free teams from driving all focus on enhancing security post development

What problems does DevSecOps aim to solve?

Software development teams have long been focusing on improving the speed and quality of their products. But they have rarely considered integrating security from the beginning of the development process. The approach to security has mostly been methodical, with QA teams testing the product for bugs and issues – long after the product has been developed.

DevSecOps aims to

  • Align security with IT and business objectives and make everyone in the software development life cycle responsible for security.
  • Integrate security controls early in the development process and automate core security tasks from the beginning.
  • Reduce the likelihood and impact of bugs and errors, thus bringing down the chances of security breaches and product downtime.
  • Shift security left and eliminate the need for security architects to manually configure security consoles post development.
  • Make development and security go hand in hand by overcoming departmental silos where one team develops applications, and one team tests it.

How can organizations set the foundation of DevSecOps?

Integrating security into DevOps requires organizations to build new mindsets, implement new processes, and embrace new tools.

Here are some steps they need to take to set the foundation of DevSecOps:

  • Carefully understand current processes, identify security shortcomings, and build a roadmap for integrating security – once the basics have been worked out.
  • Educate teams across the software development lifecycle about the need for integrating security early and often.
  • Adhere to the collaborative, agile nature of DevOps and integrate security into the development processes as early and as seamlessly possible.
  • Fuel better collaboration between development, operations, and QA teams and implement CI/CD tools and processes to ensure security is embedded in every build.
  • Develop code in small iterations, so vulnerabilities can be identified (and resolved) earlier in the lifecycle.
  • Have a robust change management strategy in place, so QA teams can regularly verify the security of suggested changes.

Deliver high-quality applications quickly and securely

Through better collaboration between development and operations teams, DevOps has made the big bang approach to software development a thing of the past. It has been empowering teams to bring high quality applications into the market quickly, improving both scale and speed of delivery. However, DevOps processes have failed to bring security aspects of development up to speed with this accelerated pace of delivery.

The concept of DevSecOps sets security at the core of the DevOps process while paving the way for rapid application development and innovation. Instead of considering security as an afterthought (or as a roadblock to outdoing competition), DevSecOps integrates security from the very beginning and across the development process. By empowering DevOps teams to think about (and implement) application and infrastructure security from the start, it makes sure end products meet not just speed and quality requirements, but also evolving security demands.

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