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DevSecOps - A Quick Intro
7 min read
As the speed and frequency of releases increase, traditional application security teams cannot keep up with the pace of releases to ensure each release is secure.
To address this, organizations need to build in security continuously across the SDLC so that DevOps teams can deliver secure applications with speed and quality. The earlier you can introduce security into the workflow, the sooner you can identify and remedy security weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This concept is part of “shifting left,” which moves security testing toward developers, enabling them to fix security issues in their code in near real time rather than waiting until the end of the SDLC, where security was bolted on in traditional development environments.
Through DevSecOps, organizations can integrate security seamlessly into their existing continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) practice. DevSecOps spans the entire SDLC from planning and design to coding, building, testing, and release, with real-time continuous feedback loops and insights.
DevSecOps by definition:
DevSecOps stands for development, security, and operations. It's an approach to culture, automation, and platform design that integrates security as a shared responsibility throughout the entire IT lifecycle.
In a simplest way, DevSecOps automatically bakes in security at every phase of the software development lifecycle, enabling development of secure software at the speed of Agile and DevOps.
DevSecOps integrates application and infrastructure security seamlessly into Agile and DevOps processes and tools. It addresses security issues as they emerge, when they're easier, faster, and less expensive to fix (and before they are put into production). Additionally, DevSecOps makes application and infrastructure security a shared responsibility of development, security, and IT operations teams, rather than the sole responsibility of a security silo. It enables “software, safer, sooner”—the DevSecOps motto–by automating the delivery of secure software without slowing the software development cycle.
DevOps versus DevSecOps
DevOps isn’t just about development and operations teams. If you want to take full advantage of the agility and responsiveness of a DevOps approach, IT security must also play an integrated role in the full life cycle of your apps.
Why? In the past, the role of security was isolated to a specific team in the final stage of development. That wasn’t as problematic when development cycles lasted months or even years, but those days are over. Effective DevOps ensures rapid and frequent development cycles (sometimes weeks or days), but outdated security practices can undo even the most efficient DevOps initiatives.
Now, in the collaborative framework of DevOps, security is a shared responsibility integrated from end to end. It’s a mindset that is so important, it led some to coin the term "DevSecOps" to emphasize the need to build a security foundation into DevOps initiatives.
DevSecOps means thinking about application and infrastructure security from the start. It also means automating some security gates to keep the DevOps workflow from slowing down. Selecting the right tools to continuously integrate security, like agreeing on an integrated development environment (IDE) with security features, can help meet these goals. However, effective DevOps security requires more than new tools—it builds on the cultural changes of DevOps to integrate the work of security teams sooner rather than later.
Why is DevSecOps important?
Hackers are always looking for the best ways to deploy malware and other exploits. Imagine if they were able to insert malware into an application during the build process, and that this malware was not discovered until the application had been distributed to thousands of customers. The damage to both the customer system and company reputation would be huge, especially in a world where bad news goes viral within moments.
Making security an equal consideration alongside development and operations is a must for any organization involved in application development and distribution. When you integrate DevSecOps and DevOps, every developer and network administrator has security at the front of their mind when developing and deploying applications.
DevSecOps was introduced into the software development lifecycle to bring development, operations and security together under one umbrella.Ultimately, DevSecOps is important because it bakes security into the SDLC earlier and on purpose. When development organizations code with security in mind from the outset, it’s easier and less costly to catch and fix vulnerabilities before they go too far into production or after release. Organizations in multiple industries can implement DevSecOps to break down silos between development, security, and operations so they can release more secure software faster:
- Automotive: to reduce lengthy cycle times while still meeting software compliance standards such as MISRAand AUTOSAR
- Healthcare: to enable digital transformation efforts while maintaining the privacy and security of sensitive patient data per regulations such as HIPAA
- Financial, retail, and e-commerce: to help fix the OWASP Top 10 Web Application Security Risks and maintain data privacy and security compliance with PCI DSS payment card standards for transactions among consumers, retailers, financial services, etc.
- Embedded, networked, dedicated, consumer, and IoT devices: to write secure code that minimizes the occurrence of the CWE Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors
Benefits of DevSecOps
The two main benefits of DevSecOps are speed and security. Development teams deliver better, more-secure code faster, and, therefore, cheaper.
Rapid, cost-effective software delivery When software is developed in a non-DevSecOps environment, security problems can lead to huge time delays. Fixing the code and security issues can be time-consuming and expensive. The rapid, secure delivery of DevSecOps saves time and reduces costs by minimizing the need to repeat a process to address security issues after the fact.
This becomes more efficient and cost-effective since integrated security cuts out duplicative reviews and unnecessary rebuilds, resulting in more secure code.
Improved, proactive security DevSecOps introduces cybersecurity processes from the beginning of the development cycle. Throughout the development cycle, the code is reviewed, audited, scanned, and tested for security issues. These issues are addressed as soon as they are identified. Security problems are fixed before additional dependencies are introduced. Security issues become less expensive to fix when protective technology is identified and implemented early in the cycle.
Additionally, better collaboration between development, security, and operations teams improves an organization’s response to incidences and problems when they occur. DevSecOps practices reduce the time to patch vulnerabilities and free up security teams to focus on higher value work. These practices also ensure and simplify compliance, saving application development projects from having to be retrofitted for security.
Accelerated security vulnerability patching
A key benefit of DevSecOps is how quickly it manages newly identified security vulnerabilities. As DevSecOps integrates vulnerability scanning and patching into the release cycle, the ability to identify and patch common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) is diminished. This limits the window a threat actor has to take advantage of vulnerabilities in public-facing production systems.
Automation compatible with modern development
Cybersecurity testing can be integrated into an automated test suite for operations teams if an organization uses a continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline to ship their software. Automation of security checks depends strongly on the project and organizational goals. Automated testing can ensure incorporated software dependencies are at appropriate patch levels, and confirm that software passes security unit testing. Plus, it can test and secure code with static and dynamic analysis before the final update is promoted to production.
A repeatable and adaptive process
As organizations mature, their security postures mature. DevSecOps lends itself to repeatable and adaptive processes. This ensures security is applied consistently across the environment, as the environment changes and adapts to new requirements. A mature implementation of DevSecOps will have a solid automation, configuration management, orchestration, containers, immutable infrastructure, and even serverless compute environments.
DevSecOps Best Practices
Organizations that want to unite IT operations, security teams and application developers need to integrate security into their DevOps pipelines. The objective is to make security a core component of the software development workflow, rather than retrofitting it later during the cycle.
Here are just a few best practices that will make the DevSecOps process run smoothly:
- Automation is good - DevOps is all about speed of delivery, and this doesn't need to be compromised just because you are adding security to the mix. By embedding automated security controls and tests early in the development cycle, you can ensure fast delivery of your applications.
- Use DevSecOps for efficiency - You are only adding security to your workflows. By using tools that can scan code as you write it, you can find security issues early.
- Carry out threat modeling - Threat modeling exercises can help you to discover the vulnerabilities of your assets and plug any gaps in security controls. Forcepoint'sDynamic Data Protection can help you to identify the riskiest events occurring across your infrastructure and to build the necessary protection into your DevSecOps workflows.
While there is still some consensus on what DevSecOps really means for business, it is plain to see its value in a world of rapid release cycles, evolving security threats and continuous integration.
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