RST Software
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Ross Krawczyk
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What is DevSecOps? And how is it different from DevOps?

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What is DevSecOps? And how is it different from DevOps?

In the fast-changing digital world, the motto of “shift left” is becoming increasingly popular in software development, as organizations move towards integrating security from the start. This article explores the concept of DevSecOps, a key player in the modern development landscape, and its differences from the well-established DevOps approach. This shift from DevOps to DevSecOps offers a more secure, efficient, and streamlined software delivery process, embodying the essence of security integration within the DevOps culture.

The history of DevSecOps?

Tracing the dialogue around software quality, an integral facet of DevSecOps, leads us back to a seminal paper written in 1976. Security was a peripheral consideration at that epoch.

Source: DevOps Institute

Fast forward to the early 2000s, the landscape was ripe for a paradigm shift. The urgency for a more integrated approach crystalized, laying the groundwork for what would later be recognized as DevSecOps. This new narrative officially entered the lexicon in January 2012, courtesy of Gartner’s Neil MacDonald, who initially coined the term DevOpsSec.

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps, a blend of Development, Security, and Operations, marks a paradigmatic shift in software development, underscoring the seamless fusion of security protocols from the development cycle's inception. In other words, in DevSecOps, Security refers to the proactive integration of security practices and measures throughout the DevOps process, ensuring the early identification and mitigation of security risks while fostering a culture of shared responsibility towards security across development, security, and operations teams. In result, the essence of DevSecOps transcends the traditional siloed approach and introduces the practice of melding security testing at every juncture of the software development process.

This approach encompasses tools and methodologies that foster collaboration between developers, security aficionados, and operations teams to engineer software that is both efficient and secure. The cultural metamorphosis brought forth by DevSecOps framework makes security a collective responsibility for every stakeholder involved in software construction.

How does DevSecOps work?

DevSecOps embraces a culture of continuous security, intertwined with continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) processes. It is not merely about introducing security protocols; it is about automating the security checks at every phase of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

This ensures that security is not a bottleneck but a facilitator of swift, secure code deployment. The automation extends to various aspects like:

  • Code analysis – rigorous examination of code to pinpoint and rectify potential security risks, ensuring code integrity from inception to deployment,
  • Vulnerability scanning – continuous scanning for vulnerabilities in the code or the environment, facilitating early detection and mitigation,
  • Dependency checking – systematic validation of third-party dependencies to ensure they are secure, up-to-date, and void of vulnerabilities that could be exploited,
  • Compliance monitoring – ongoing monitoring to ascertain compliance with prevailing regulatory and organizational security standards, ensuring adherence and documenting compliance for audit trails.

What are the components of DevSecOps?

The framework of DevSecOps rests on three pillars:

  • Culture – fostering a culture of shared responsibility and heightened awareness concerning security risks, ensuring every team member is invested in maintaining a secure development environment,
  • Strategy – a forward-thinking strategy that accords priority to security, ensuring its seamless integration early in the SDLC, a proactive approach often encapsulated by the phrase “shifting security left”,
  • Technical implementation – the meticulous adoption of sophisticated tools and best practices that facilitate the integration, automation, and vigilant monitoring of security protocols within the bustling development pipeline.

Above components collaboratively form a sturdy infrastructure, reinforcing the security principles central to DevSecOps, thus enabling a secure, efficient, and cooperative development environment.

What are the benefits of DevSecOps?

Merging security into the DevOps framework not only minimizes the security vulnerabilities but also reduces the cost of fixing issues, as they are identified early on. Picture catching a spelling mistake in the draft stage rather than post-publication. A few notable benefits include:

  • Early detection – security issues are detected at the nascent stages, reducing the rectification cost and time,
  • Compliance assurance – adhering to regulatory compliance becomes less cumbersome with integrated security checks,
  • Accelerated time to marketby automating security tests, it curtails human errors and prevents security evaluations from stalling the development journey,
  • Security-aware culture – fosters a heightened awareness of security best practices among software teams, promoting a proactive approach to identifying potential security threats,
  • Secure feature development – facilitates a cohesive collaboration between development, operations, and security teams, aligning on software security understandings, and utilizing common tools for automated assessments and reporting, all while keeping a sharp focus on delivering added value to customers without compromising on security.

Proactive integration of security measures significantly reduces the attack surface, ensuring a robust defense mechanism against potential security threats.

Why is DevSecOps important?

DevSecOps emerges as the linchpin that enhances the security posture of the development process. In an age of AI revolution, where security breaches are inevitable, making the integration of security into your SDLC is a requisite, not a choice.

The practice is gaining traction, as evidenced by a recent Gartner survey, which noted a 90% implementation rate in 2022, a notable rise from 27% in 2020. This upward trajectory underscores the growing recognition of DevSecOps as a pivotal practice in modern software development, embodying the essence of proactive security integration in the DevOps culture.

The emphasis on early security initiatives significantly minimizes the risk of cyber-attacks across various sectors:

  • Government – enhancing the resilience of applications handling sensitive governmental data, thereby substantially diminishing the risk of exploitations by malicious entities,
  • Healthcare – with the HIPAA compliance mandate, DevSecOps is becoming the preferred standard in healthcare application design, markedly lowering the chances of patient PII exposure or exploitation,
  • Finance – amidst the high stakes of financial data, adopting a DevSecOps model is instrumental in curbing the accessibility of sensitive information to cyber criminals, thereby fostering a more secure financial digital infrastructure.

What are the best practices of DevSecOps?

Embarking on the DevSecOps journey necessitates the adoption of certain best practices, each crucial for fostering a security-centric culture:

  • Shared responsibility – cultivating a culture where security is everyone’s responsibility,
  • Early integration of security (shift left) – incorporating security checks from the outset of the project,
  • Continuous security testing – regular security testing to identify and rectify vulnerabilities promptly,
  • Automation of security tasks – utilizing automation tools for routine security checks, thus freeing up resources for other critical tasks,
  • Monitoring and feedback – implementing continuous monitoring and feedback loops to ensure any security concerns are addressed promptly,
  • Security post-deployment (shift right) – concentrating on security post-application deployment to catch any vulnerabilities that might have eluded earlier checks,
  • Promote security awareness – infusing security awareness within the core values while building software, ensuring every stakeholder in application development shares the responsibility of guarding against security threats.

These practices are instrumental in curbing security risks and fostering a culture of proactive security engagement, aligning the organizational ethos with the tenets of DevSecOps framework.

What are the challenges of implementing DevSecOps?

Transitioning to a DevSecOps model can be challenging due to several factors:

  • Culture shift – overcoming resistance to change, especially in organizations with a deeply ingrained traditional structure, can be challenging. To get over it, encourage a culture of continuous learning and improvement, possibly through training programs and highlighting the benefits of DevSecOps,
  • Technical challenges – incorporating security measures within existing systems and workflows could disrupt current processe. Employing a phased approach to integration, supported by robust testing and feedback loops, can help mitigate disruptions,
  • Resource constraints – allocating necessary resources for the new security measures, both in terms of manpower and finances, is often a hurdle. However, demonstrating the long-term cost savings and security benefits of DevSecOps can help secure necessary resources,
  • Skill gaps – ensuring the team has the necessary skills to implement and manage the new security protocols can be done by providing training, or bringing in external expertise, which can help bridge any skill gaps and drive the successful implementation of DevSecOps.

What are common DevSecOps tools?

The ecosystem of DevSecOps is enriched by a variety of tools, each catering to different facets of security and development. Some notable DevSecOps software include:

  • GitLab – named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for DevOps Platforms, for their pioneering approach, and full integration with a software lifecycle process,
  • AWS CodePipeline – a robust addition to the DevSecOps toolkit, AWS CodePipeline is a fully managed continuous delivery service that streamlines your release pipelines for rapid and reliable application and infrastructure updates. Its seamless integration with other AWS services, such as AWS CodeBuild for compiling source code and running tests, AWS CodeDeploy for automating software deployments, and AWS CloudFormation for infrastructure as code, makes it a one-stop solution for automating multiple steps in your release process,
  • AWS Security Hub – offers a comprehensive overview of security alerts and compliance status across your AWS accounts. By aggregating, organizing, and prioritizing alerts from a range of AWS services, such as Amazon GuardDuty for threat detection, Amazon Inspector for automated security assessment, and Amazon Macie for data privacy, this service enables a unified, actionable security dashboard that simplifies compliance checks and reduces the complexity of managing multiple security services,
  • SonarQube – an automatic code analysis and review tool detecting bugs, vulnerabilities, and code smells. It offers Static Application Security Testing (SAST), which provides a detailed examination of the code and a list of all the bugs that might not be obvious but are making an application vulnerable,
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud – offers features like automatic detection of potential security vulnerabilities at code review stage, security of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) templates, container image scanning, and the ability to prioritize remediation of critical issues in code.

Each of these tools offer a comprehensive DevSecOps platform with a unified interface for data storage, permissions model, value stream, and deployment to any cloud. It integrates security controls within the DevOps workflow via CI/CD pipelines for early identification of bugs and vulnerabilities, as well as provides container scanning, vulnerability management, and advanced security testing.

These tools are also pivotal in automating security checks, managing vulnerabilities, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. They not only facilitate the seamless integration of security protocols but also provide a conducive environment for collaboration among development, security, and operations teams. 

They are indispensable for organizations aspiring to adopt the DevSecOps model, providing the necessary infrastructure for implementing security measures throughout the software development lifecycle. Each tool brings a unique set of features and capabilities to the table, catering to different aspects of DevSecOps, ensuring both code quality and security are well maintained.

DevSecOps vs. DevOps

DevSecOps vs DevOps is a comparison that highlights a significant advancement in the realm of software development, transitioning from a focus on speed to a more holistic approach that pairs speed with security assurance. 

DevOps laid the foundation for enhanced collaboration between development and operations. So what is DevSecOps? It takes it a notch higher by embedding security into the equation. The evolution from creating software quickly to creating software quickly and securely epitomizes the essence of DevSecOps, fostering a culture of proactive security integration in the DevOps ethos.

Unlike DevOps, which chiefly centers around facilitating collaboration between development and operations teams to establish streamlined processes and shared milestones, DevSecOps extends this collaborative spirit to include security teams from the outset. This proactive inclusion transforms security from being an adjunct to a core component of the development process, thereby reducing vulnerabilities and fortifying your software development lifecycle against potential security threats. 

The difference between DevOps and DevSecOps lies not only in the fact that the latter enriches the DevOps model, but because it morphs it into a more resilient and security-conscious paradigm that is DevSecOps. Security is no longer a separate entity but a fundamental aspect of the development and operational processes.

How can RST support your DevSecOps implementation?

As RST Software, we offer a suite of services that can significantly bolster the implementation of DevSecOps in your organization. With expertise in Cloud & DevOps, we provide the requisite infrastructure and technical prowess to integrate security seamlessly within your development and operational processes. 

Our experienced team can assist in automating security checks, managing vulnerabilities, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, thereby providing a robust foundation for a secure, efficient, and streamlined software delivery mechanism. 

Reach out to us and let's discuss how RST can help you to develop your app in a secure and effective way.

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