Everything you need to know about DevSecOps

all about DEVSECOPS

DevSecOps is significantly transforming IT organizations by effectively harnessing the full potential of DevOps.

Fortune 500 companies have started implementing security controls into their DevOps culture, procedures, and tools with an approach popularly known as ‘DevSecOps.’ With the popularity of DevSecOps proliferating, businesses are more likely to implement threat modeling, risk assessment, and security automation into DevOps environment. DevSecOps enhances the security and compliance maturity levels while accelerating product delivery and quality. This is the right time for Organizations to explore DevSecOps opportunities and gain an edge over competitors.

Statistics regarding DevSecOps

  • According to Gartner, 90% of software development projects will be following DevSecops practices by 2022, a whopping 50% increase from 2019.
  • The rate of adoption of DevSecOps by development teams has increased to 80% in 2021.
  • Organizations with DevSecOps rectify flaws 11.5x times faster than the ones without.

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps uses the approach of “everyone is responsible for security” mindset and can be defined as follows:

DevSecOps is a combination of development, security, and operations. It integrates security at every phase of the software development lifecycle, from initial design, build, coding through development, testing, deployment, and delivery.

The primary goal of DevSecOps is to incorporate security into all stages of the software development, unlike its predecessor development models—DevOps, which involved security only in the final stages of the SDLC.

DevSecOps is based on the core principle that proficient individuals across different technical disciplines will come together to enhance existing security processes.

The DevSecOps movement focuses on creating innovative solutions for complex software development processes within an agile framework. It acts as a bridge between IT and security while ensuring fast, safe delivery of code.

The intention is to create accountability among different teams to implement security decisions and actions at the same scale as development and operations.

From testing for potential threats to building business-driven security services, a DevSecOps framework ensures security is built into applications rather than implementing haphazardly in the later stages. With continuous integration of security at every stage of the software delivery lifecycle, the cost of compliance is reduced, and software is delivered faster.

With the increase in speed and frequency of releases, traditional application security teams cannot keep up with the pace of releases and ensure each release is secure. With the adoption of Agile and DevOps practices, aiming to reduce software development cycles is a must.

The earlier you implement security solutions into the workflow, the sooner you can identify and rectify security vulnerabilities.

Unlike traditional development environments, DevSecOps enables developers to fix security issues in their code as soon as possible rather than waiting until the end of the SDLC. This process is called “shifting left,” as it moves security testing toward developers.

DevSecOps provides real-time insights and continuous feedback loops throughout SDLC. With DevSecOps, application and infrastructure security are seamlessly integrated into Agile and DevOps processes and tools. It ensures application and infrastructure security share responsibility rather than being the sole responsibility of security teams.

"The absence of security in the initial stages of System Engineering is the single most significant cybersecurity gap and risk in modern system development."

Linda Rawson

How Does DevSecOps Work?

DevSecOps offer enhanced automation throughout the software delivery pipeline, eliminates mistakes, and reduces attacks and downtime. Integrating security into the DevOps framework can be completed seamlessly using the right DevSecOps tools and processes.

Let’s take a look at the DevSecOps workflow:

  • The changes done by developer ‘A’ within a version control management system are committed to the version control management system.
  • Developer B retrieves the code from the version control management system to analyze and identify security defects in code.
  • Using an infrastructure-as-code tool such as Chef An environment is then created where the application is deployed, and security configurations are applied to the system.
  • Tests are performed on the newly deployed application, including back-end, UI, integration, security tests, and API.
  • The application is deployed to a production environment after passing the tests.
  • The production environment is constantly monitored to identify active security threats to the system.

Organizations can work seamlessly towards a shared goal of increased code quality and enhanced security and compliance with a robust test-driven development environment and continuous integration.

Why Do Organizations Need DevSecOps?

The IT infrastructure landscape has undergone transformational changes over the years. The shift to agile cloud computing platforms has hugely benefitted organizations looking to thrive and grow.

DevOps applications are light years ahead in terms of speed, scale, and functionality but lack robust security and compliance. This gave rise to DevSecOps to bring development, operations, and security together under one umbrella.

Hackers are constantly on the lookout to deploy malware and other exploits. If they insert malware into an application during the build process, and if it is left undiscovered until deployment and reaches thousands of customers, it will cause huge damage to both the customer and the reputation of the company.

Security should be given equal importance alongside development and operations for any organization involved in application development and distribution. With the integration of DevSecOps and DevOps, developers and network administrators have security in their minds when developing and deploying applications. Organizations can implement DevSecOps to break down walls between development, security, and operations to gain maximum efficiency in lesser duration.

What are the benefits of a DevSecOps model?

Following are the key benefits of DevSecOps approach:

Faster and cost-effective delivery

When security is integrated into the pipeline, the speed of software delivery is significantly improved. Bugs are identified and fixed before deployment. By eliminating the need to retrofit security controls post-development Cost and time of secure software delivery are reduced.

With a non-DevSecOps environment fixing code and security issues can be time-consuming and expensive. Thanks to the rapid, secure delivery of DevSecOps, time and costs can be reduced by minimizing the need to repeat a process to address security issues. This results in a cost-effective and more secure code since integrated security cuts out duplicative reviews and unnecessary rebuilds.

Reduction of cost

Discovering of vulnerabilities in the beginning stages of Software development life cycle can significantly bring the operating costs down thus saving more money.

Ensuring compliance with industry-standard regulations

Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) one has to be extremely cautious about data handling. DevSecOps provides a holistic overview by providing a better framework for easier compliance.

Ensuring greater business success

Greater trust in the security of developed software enables enhanced revenue growth and business expansion. DevSecOps minimizes the frequency of security bottlenecks, accelerating the speed of product delivery and, thus, product sales.

"The purpose and intent of DevSecOps is to build on the mindset that everyone is responsible for security with the goal of safely distributing security decisions at speed and scale to those who hold the highest level of context without sacrificing the safety required"

Shannon Lietz co-author of the "DevSecOps Manifesto

Improved, proactive security

DevSecOps introduces cybersecurity processes throughout the development cycle by reviewing auditing, scanning, and testing the code for security issues. Fixing Security problems become less expensive before additional dependencies are introduced and can be remedied using protective technology and implement early in the cycle.

Multiple teams coming together to work on security improves accountability. These collaborations result in faster and effective security response strategies leading to robust security design patterns. DevSecOps reduce the time to rectify the vulnerabilities enabling security teams to focus on higher-value work. They also ensure and simplify compliance, eliminating modifications for security reasons.

Accelerated security vulnerability patching

The core benefit of DevSecOps is its ability to manage newly identified security vulnerabilities. The ability to identify and rectify common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) is diminished as DevSecOps integrates vulnerability scanning and patching into the release cycle. By implementing this limits threat of vulnerabilities in public-facing production systems.

Automation compatible with modern development

If organizations use a continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline, Cybersecurity testing can be integrated into an automated test suite for operations teams. Automation of security checks ensures that the incorporated software dependencies are at appropriate patch levels and confirms that the software passes security unit testing. Before the final update is deployed to production, it tests and secures code by conducting static and dynamic analysis.

What is rugged DevOps?

Rugged DevOps is an approach that prioritizes the security of code at all stages of the software development lifecycle – SDLC. Rugged DevOps is the product of the rugged software movement, whose goal was to raise the development community’s awareness about security. Programmers and operations team members must possess a high degree of security awareness and the ability to automate testing throughout the software development lifecycle in the rugged approach.

A DevSecOps environment involves automated testing throughout the development cycle. Ruggedizing refers to making security the primary focus. This involves incremental safety improvements in the continuous delivery pipeline, consistent threat assessment, and adding security testing to automated processes.

Combining security with DevOps cycles requires a tedious process where the rugged DevOps team has to log integration and delivery processes at a granular level so that security issues can be identified as soon as they arise. The more granular the records are, the easier it becomes to identify security threats. Some of the popular tools to record logs in rugged DevOps environments are Jira and Cucumber.

Rugged DevOps enables reliable code to be produced with fewer revisions securely. Rugged DevOps is also referred to as DevSecOps or Secure DevOps. Although the three value security as a component in software development, only the rugged DevOps approach makes “security first” a priority, uses penetration tests throughout development, and produces a hardened end product.

The term “rugged” refers to adding increased trust, transparency, and a better understanding of probable risks. It is a robust approach where security parameters are implemented at the start of the project, and penetration tests are performed throughout the development cycle. Rugged is a mindset that brings tougher controls and thrives in an environment where developers are motivated to continually make code more secure.

What is the difference between DevSecOps and SecDevOps?

The terms DevSecOps and SecDevOps are often confusing for many. Following should give you a good idea about the difference:

DevSecOps emphasize integrating security into every stage of the software development life cycle, SecDevOps however believes security should be the primary agenda at every stage in the SDLC.

I would like to elaborate it further for clarity and ease of understanding:

DevSecOps

This approach advocates security practices from the initial planning and design stages through development to testing and beyond. In this approach, Dev leads the pack and takes on the prime responsibility for security while writing code, and security testing is done throughout the development process, not after completion.

Since security is considered a developers responsibility, there is a lot of pressure to complete development and release on time which sometimes causes security to be pushed to the last step in development.

This can be extremely risky to an organization as there is a strong possibility that applications are put into the field unsecured or not fully tested.

It’s easy to release applications with the idea patches can be done once the bugs are caught, but from a security perspective, patching simply can’t keep up. EX: In 2017 Equifax breach was caused by a missed patch on an open-source application.

SecDevOps

SecDevOps adapts security efforts and best practices and integrates them continuously throughout the pipeline. Here security requirements are taken into account before development to ensure security is included throughout the product lifecycle.

Security efforts come into the continuous development and integration (CD/CI) pipeline, and security issues are taken into account before development begins and at every step of the ongoing process.

SecDevOps also includes InfoSec teams as part of the development pipeline. The main advantage of this approach is that it addresses previous shortcomings by automating and integrating security solutions as part of the core development process – and not as an afterthought that may end up disrupting the entire production process.

What Security Looks Like in DevSecOps?

Although there is an increased focus on security, it becomes challenging for software teams to implement security processes in the pipeline. Due to the pressure of completing projects on time and within budget, other considerations get overruled. This leads to security being added in the end as the last step for a release.

Security knowledge is limited to a few individuals in an organization. Generally, these individuals are often grouped into a centralized security team. The security team tests the product to find vulnerabilities in the release before deployment.

When the team finds a vulnerability, they pass the news back to the development team regarding the bug found. The development team usually doesn’t have the security training or knowledge regarding the tools that the security team uses. This results in the release of a faulty code and a promise to “fix them in the next release.

The traditional approach leads to the delayed release of the code, which may have security vulnerabilities in the production.

What Security Looks Like With SecDevOps?

With SecDevOps, security controls, guidelines, coding standards, and policies should be integrated into the software development process. This can be achieved by making security a crucial part of the process from the beginning. Thus the order “Sec” then “Dev” finally “Ops.”

The necessary policies consisting of secure coding standards, rules for avoiding insecure APIs and poor encryption, and testing guidelines are defined by the security team. The main goal is for developers to work towards more secure software as part of their daily routine. Fewer security vulnerabilities will be found at the end of the pipeline since security is now baked in at the start of development.

The vulnerabilities that pass on to each stage can be investigated, and the results of root cause analysis can be used to improve on the security policies and guidelines. This facilitates in improving the outcome as each cycle progresses.

Such iterative improvements to the policy result in lesser escalations. This incremental and integrated approach works more efficiently when compared to tackling a security threat at the end of the project.

How to become a DevSecOps professional?

The DevSecOps profession requires a broad set of skills. From the technical skill set of an IT security professional to the knowledge of the DevOps approach and Cybersecurity concepts, you need to know them all. Along with technical skills, a passion for cybersecurity with a sound awareness of the latest threats and trends are also needed to become a DevSecOps Engineer.

Programming and Tools

As you know already, the “dev” section of DevSecOps refers to the development of code. Coding is a crucial part of your responsibility as a DevSecOps engineer. When a vulnerability is discovered in the security system, DevSecOps engineers must be able to write code and fix it.

DevSecOps professionals should come up with customized tools and techniques to implement security purposes in the DevOps pipeline. You should be well-versed in at least one of the programming languages like Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Perl. You also need to be proficient with AWS, Docker, Kubernetes, and ways to implement developer tools such as GitHub and Dependency management. 

Sufficient knowledge to operate configuration management tools such as Chef, Puppet, and Ansible.

Risk Assessment and Threat Modeling Techniques

DevSecOps engineers perform risk assessments by running regular tests and analyzing the system’s strengths and weaknesses, resulting in the efficiency of the code. Awareness regarding the complexities of risk assessment is imperative.

Knowledge in threat modeling techniques is a must. By looking at a security system, you should be able to identify current cyber threats along with future threats that may occur and the countermeasures to protect your system.

Strong Communication and Teamwork Skills

The responsibilities of DevSecOps engineers include communicating clearly with both their peers and their employers. DevOps Security professionals must possess proficient communication skills to spread knowledge to the team regarding various concepts like scalability, automation, and security. Excellent communication skills provide a doorway to deliver the message effectively.

· DevSecOps engineers should be updated with details of various cybersecurity threats and the latest software. Since they are in charge of software development, recognizing the security threats, and configuring the network infrastructure, they should also possess knowledge of the implementation of risk assessment techniques and the latest security best practices.

Having worked as a non-DevOps security engineer indicates future success in this domain.

Qualification and experience requirements for DevSecOps

  • Knowing the basics of security principles is a must for individuals aspiring to get into the DevSecOps Engineer role.
  • Individuals should have technical degrees such as engineering or computer science to become a DevSecOps engineer.
  • Candidates accredited with DevOps certifications by good DevOps Institutes are preferred
  • DevOps security professionals should have technical proficiencies and familiarity with DevOps culture. Additionally, they should also have a keen interest in cybersecurity and up-to-date knowledge of threats and trends.

With the right education and good skills, you can enjoy a stimulating and interesting career in the cybersecurity field. This cutting-edge technology will continue to roar in the coming years. So get ready for an exciting career ahead!

What's the future of DevSecOps?

Organizations all across the world are embracing the DevSecOps approach for project development. This has led to a surge of career opportunities in the Cybersecurity domain. DevSecOps is based on the core principle that proficient individuals across different technical disciplines will come together to enhance existing security processes.

The DevSecOps movement focuses on creating innovative solutions for complex software development processes within an agile framework. It acts as a bridge between IT and security while ensuring fast, safe delivery of code.

As more and more organizations realize the of end to end security implementation, DevOps will get absorbed into DevSecOps. Therefore DevSecOps implementation is a must-have methodology to secure the future of your organization.

About Chaithra M.J

Chaithra M.J
A Software engineer, a Cybersecurity blogger and enthusiast, currently pursuing writing as an independent writer. Along with writing, Tech, Philosophy, Self-help, Chess and movies are her interests.

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