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What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps, which stands for Development, Security, and Operations, is a software development practice that emphasizes integrating security considerations throughout the entire development lifecycle, from initial design to deployment and ongoing maintenance.

7 minutes read

DevSecOps integrates security practices into the DevOps process, representing a pivotal shift in how we approach software creation and delivery. This brief definition, however, only scratches the surface of DevSecOps’ profound implications and the benefits it brings to software development.

To truly appreciate the significance of DevSecOps, it's essential to understand the journey of software development methodologies. From the waterfall model to agile to DevOps, each evolution has been about increasing efficiency, improving collaboration, and speeding up delivery. But with this accelerated pace, security often lagged behind, treated as an afterthought or a separate phase of the software development life cycle. Vulnerabilities and costly delays were the result.

Figure 1: Security as a separate operation

Enter DevSecOps. Forget about adding security tasks to the DevOps checklist; DevSecOps is a fundamental rethinking of how security is woven into the fabric of the entire development process. By integrating security from the start, DevSecOps ensures that security goes hand in hand with smooth, efficient, and secure software delivery.

Figure 2: Security integrated with Dev and Ops

In this blog post, we’ll explore DevSecOps’ significance in modern software development before taking a look at methodologies. You’ll come away with a deep understanding of the DevSecOps framework, its benefits, and how to confront its challenges. First, let’s dive into the differences between DevOps and DevSecOps, highlighting how the latter improves on the former.

DevOps vs. DevSecOps

The key difference between DevOps and DevSecOps? DevSecOps takes a proactive approach to security. In a DevSecOps environment, security considerations influence every single decision, from design to deployment. This approach mitigates risks and streamlines the development process by identifying and addressing security issues early, reducing the need for time-consuming fixes later.

Automated tools are a crucial part of DevSecOps, offering security scanning, continuous monitoring, and compliance checks. Leveraging tools ensures that security is consistently and efficiently maintained throughout the development life cycle without sacrificing the speed and agility of DevOps.

The importance of DevSecOps

DevSecOps is a response to the increasing complexity and frequency of cyber threats in today's digital landscape. And as threats evolve, integrating security into the DevOps process is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. According to the reports, cyberattacks have been on the rise, with organizations facing an ever-increasing risk of data breaches and other security incidents. In this context, DevSecOps serves as a crucial shield, making security an integral part of the software development process instead of an afterthought.

Let's explore why DevSecOps is crucial and the benefits it brings to the table.

DevSecOps’ benefits

The DevSecOps philosophy creates a viral loop between runtime and development time, enhancing the security and efficiency of software development processes. The benefits of DevSecOps can be summarized as follows:

  • Improved security posture: By integrating security from the start, DevSecOps helps identify and mitigate not just vulnerabilities but also misconfigurations, exposed secrets, and malware, significantly reducing the chances of security breaches.

  • Faster recovery times: In the event of a security incident, DevSecOps practices enable quicker identification and response, minimizing the impact on operations.

  • Enhanced compliance and risk management: With regular security audits and compliance checks, DevSecOps ensures that software complies with regulatory standards, reducing legal and financial risks.

  • Better collaboration and communication: DevSecOps fosters a culture where security is everyone's responsibility, strengthening collaboration between development, operations, and security teams.

  • Increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness: As previously mentioned, by catching security issues early in the SDLC, DevSecOps reduces the costly and time-consuming efforts needed for late-stage fixes.

The following sections examine the inner workings of DevSecOps, providing practical insights into its implementation and tools. First, let’s look at how to overcome DevSecOps’ challenges.

DevSecOps’ challenges

While integrating security into DevOps offers numerous benefits, it's not without its challenges. Understanding these hurdles is crucial for organizations transitioning to a DevSecOps model effectively:

1. Balancing speed and security

One of the primary challenges in DevSecOps is maintaining the balance between rapid development and deployment (a hallmark of DevOps) and the need for thorough security measures. This balance requires a shift in mindset where security and speed are not seen as opposing forces but as complementary elements of the development process.

2. Cultural and organizational hurdles

Adopting DevSecOps necessitates a significant cultural shift within an organization. It requires breaking down silos between dev, sec and ops teams, creating a cooperative atmosphere where security is a collective duty. Such a big cultural change can be challenging and requires strong leadership and a clear vision.

3. Complexity in implementation

Integrating security into the existing DevOps processes can be complicated, especially for organizations with established workflows. Selecting the right DevSecOps tools, training teams, and modifying existing processes to include security can be daunting.

4. Keeping up with evolving security threats

The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, so new threats emerge on a regular basis. Keeping up with these changes and continuously adapting security measures to counter new threats is a significant challenge in DevSecOps.

Despite these challenges, the adoption of DevSecOps is crucial for the development of secure and reliable software. With the right approach (which we’ll cover next), mindset, and tools, these hurdles can be overcome, paving the way for a more secure and efficient development process.

A few simple DevSecOps best practices

Successful implementation of DevSecOps begins with an understanding of its mechanics. To seamlessly integrate DevSecOps, follow these essential practices from the planning phase all the way through coding, building, testing, release, deployment, and operation:

  • Design a roadmap for the implementation of DevSecOps practices: This should include software pipelines scanned, actions when a policy violation is detected, code repositories covered, and threat types detected. A clear roadmap ensures a structured and phased approach to integrating DevSecOps practices.

  • Secure your continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines: Augment CI/CD pipelines with security checks. By leveraging code analysis for vulnerabilities, configuration management, and compliance monitoring, you’ll have peace of mind that every release is secure.

  • Automate security testing: Automation is a key component of DevSecOps. Tools that automate security testing can significantly reduce the time and effort required to identify vulnerabilities.

  • Establish security baselines: To ensure that DevSecOps practices are indeed improving your security defect rate and the speed issue resolution, it's essential to establish security baselines. These baselines serve as a benchmark to measure the effectiveness of your DevSecOps initiatives over time.

  • Implement real-time security monitoring: Continuous monitoring of the application and infrastructure enables immediate detection of and reaction to threats.

  • Monitor, log, and respond to threats: Beyond implementing real-time security monitoring, it's essential to have a comprehensive strategy for logging and responding to threats. This includes defining how incidents are managed and ensuring that there are clear procedures for addressing and mitigating threats.

  • Conduct regular security audits and compliance checks: Scheduled audits and compliance checks help you adhere to security standards and regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance.

  • Incorporate a feedback loop into the DevSecOps process: A feedback loop from operations back to development ensures that lessons learned from the operation phase inform future development efforts. This continuous feedback mechanism is vital for the iterative improvement of security practices and processes within the DevSecOps life cycle.

Pro tip

Looking for more best practices? Check out guide on the 8 Essential Best Practices for DevSecOps

DevSecOps tools

Choose the right tools to navigate the challenges of DevSecOps, and you’ll reap all its rewards. Effective tools not only automate and streamline security processes but also provide consistent application of security practices across the development life cycle.

DevSecOps tools can be broadly categorized into automation tools, security scanning and testing tools, and compliance and monitoring tools. Each category plays a vital role in embedding security into the DevOps pipeline:

CategoryTool examplesFunctionality
Automation toolsJenkins, GitLab CI, CircleCIAutomate the integration of security checks within CI/CD pipelines, facilitating early vulnerability detection and continuous security integration
Security scanning and testing toolsSonarQube, Fortify, VeracodeAutomatically scan code, dependencies, and applications for vulnerabilities, providing real-time feedback and reducing time to fix security issues
Compliance and monitoring toolsSplunk, Nagios, New RelicContinuously monitor applications and infrastructure for security breaches or compliance drifts, ensuring ongoing adherence to security standards

Fostering a DevSecOps culture

Successful implementation of DevSecOps goes beyond integrating tools. You must also cultivate a security-centric mindset across your organization. The shift to a DevSecOps culture starts with acknowledging that security is a shared responsibility. It's crucial for every team member—not just the security team—to be aware of and committed to the security aspects of the products and services under development. Strategies for the successful implementation of DevSecOps culture include:

  • Training and awareness: Regular training sessions and workshops can keep teams informed about the latest security protocols and help them grasp their responsibilities in upholding security.

  • Collaboration between teams: It's essential to foster open communication and collaboration between development, operations, and security units. Encourage joint planning sessions, shared goals, and cross-functional teams.

  • Learning from incidents: When security incidents occur, conducting post-mortem analyses can help improve processes and prevent future breaches.

  • Fostering DevSecOps from the top down: Leadership plays a pivotal role in driving the cultural shift towards DevSecOps. Leaders must advocate for the importance of security, allocate resources for training and tooling, and create an environment where security is prioritized.

How Wiz empowers a DevSecOps culture

Platforms like Wiz can significantly enhance DevSecOps practices. By integrating Wiz into the DevSecOps framework, organizations can empower their teams to build more secure applications. Wiz provides features that streamline security processes, offer comprehensive visibility into security postures, and facilitate continuous compliance:

  • Secure code: Wiz for code security helps teams ensure the security of their codebase from the earliest stages of development, integrating security directly into the development process.

  • Secure IaC: Wiz's infrastructure as code (IaC) security solutions enable teams to secure their infrastructure provisioning by identifying and mitigating risks in IaC templates.

  • Secure supply chain: Wiz's supply chain security solutions protect against vulnerabilities and threats across the software supply chain, maintaining the integrity and security of third-party components and services.

By focusing on these key areas, Wiz supports a comprehensive approach to building a DevSecOps culture that prioritizes security at every stage of the software development life cycle.

For those looking to embark on or enhance their DevSecOps journey, consider exploring tools like Wiz that can bolster your DevSecOps practices. Schedule a Wiz demo to see firsthand how our industry-leading platform can transform your approach to security. Remember: DevSecOps is not just a process; it's a journey towards a more secure and efficient software development culture.

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