Almost 36 percent of software developers use a DevOps or DevSecOps methodology, making them the most popular methods of software development in the world. This isn’t surprising, as they speed up the software development life cycle (SDLC) for faster delivery of a higher quality product. But while they are often referred to interchangeably, there are key differences.
DevOps integrates your development and operations teams. DevSecOps, however, takes the methodology a bit further.
Let’s take a closer look at what DevSecOps is and why it’s necessary.
What is DevSecOps?
A combination of development, security, and operations, DevSecOps is the practice of integrating security throughout the entire SDLC. It relies on collaboration between development and operations teams to integrate security teams into every part of the life cycle, from build to production. As such, it requires a cultural shift so that security processes and testing become a shared responsibility across all teams.
Why DevSecOps is important
With the old waterfall method of software development, teams would test for security issues only at the end of the development cycle. The result was that issues got fixed after the development was complete. This was time-consuming and slowed down delivery and final release.
In the last decade or so, however, software development has evolved into a more agile practice with development and operations teams working together for faster delivery. This means the approach of testing security at the end of the cycle is no longer sustainable, as by the time a security team analyzes new source code, it’s likely already outdated. For DevOps to be truly effective, security teams must be active throughout the SDLC. By identifying issues early on, they can remediate them quickly.
There’s also the fact that the attack surface is ever-expanding. Many security measures are becoming obsolete due to the sophistication of cybercriminals, according to the World Economic Forum. Embedding security throughout the SDLC will help teams create a product that’s more resilient to threats.
How to apply DevSecOps
Once your entire organization is on board to integrate security into your SDLC, you can start implementing DevSecOps across your organization. Let’s take a look at some crucial DevSecOps practices:
1. Shift left
Baking security into your software development means you can identify and fix vulnerabilities sooner. It will also mean you can codify it for repeated and consistent use. There’s the added advantage that the earlier you find issues, the cheaper remediating them will be as any changes to the software design should be small.
There can be pushback from development teams about this approach, as it does temporarily slow down production. Remind any naysayers that temporarily is the operative word, and that the alternative could be a lot worse.
2. Make secure coding standard
DevSecOps isn’t just about testing regularly. Part of the whole strategy is making the code more secure from the very start.
Carrying out threat modeling at the beginning of your development cycle is key. It will enable you to identify emerging threats and take measures during the software design to protect against them. Additionally, having clearly defined policies and procedures will ensure that everyone is following the best practices to ensure the security of the code.
Secure coding isn’t always at the forefront of developers’ minds, however. Sometimes it can require retraining, which will need buy-in from stakeholders. But the resulting resilient software will mean that it’s time and money well-spent.
3. Use Automation and ML
An effective SDLC will have teams pushing multiple versions of code to production at regular intervals. So for security teams to keep pace, they need a helping hand.
Automate static security analysis. AI tools will enable teams to perform code reviews frequently so that teams can spot bugs and make any necessary changes early in the process.
Deploy ML. Establish a baseline of acceptable behavior among your teams, then train a Machine Learning program to scour your audit logs. It will then alert you to any abnormal behavior within your organization, and enable the prevention of breaches in real-time.
Automate container scanning. Images getting pushed to registries at such a fast rate means security teams can have a hard time keeping up. Automated scanning will flag any bugs before they go into the CI/CD pipeline.
Automate security updates. Automation will enable you to scan and identify threats faster, as well as create a repeatable process for even more speed.
Put the “Sec” in DevOps
Many organizations are already on board with combining development and operations. But to deliver high-quality software faster, embedding security early on is key.
The DevSecOps methodology ensures that security isn’t an afterthought. Instead, it integrates it into the SDLC from the very beginning. Meaning, that creating secure and valuable products will become second nature.
That said, it can take some adjustment to go from a purely DevOps approach to DevSecOps. It takes a change in mindset, not just from your teams, but across your entire organization. It also requires specialist knowledge of the tools and processes that will speed up your delivery cycle for a secure and successful end product that everyone can get behind. If you need further guidance, just reach out.