Ultimate Guide to DevSecOps

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What is DevSecOps? 

DevSecOps meaning (Development, Security, and Operations) primarily aims to automate security in each part of the software development lifecycle.

This modern approach to the way software development companies integrate security is a far cry from the past when security was often an afterthought.  Furthermore, software security was implemented and tested by an external team, creating a disjointed process.

Today, DevSecOps seamlessly integrates application and infrastructure security into Agile and DevOps tools and processes.  It identifies problems when they appear, in a state that makes them simpler and cost-effective to fix.  Moreover, DevSecOps ensures a shared responsibility between IT teams, security and development.  This enables a mindset that everyone is responsible for the safe distribution of security at speed and scale.  

How does DevSecOps work? 

By improving automation at each phase of the development lifecycle; mistakes are removed, cyberattack risks are reduced, and downtime is decreased.  But how does DevSecOps work?   

To help understand the process, we can look at a typical DevOps and DevSecOps workflow:

  1. The developer writes code using source control management (SCM).
  2. An additional developer gets the code from the SCM and evaluates the static code to check for security weaknesses. 
  3. Following on from the creation of the environment, the application is deployed and security settings are applied.
  4. The application is subject to a test automation suite. 
  5. Application deployment can go ahead if it passes all the tests. 
  6. Finally, the production environment is continuously checked to identify any security risks.  

As you can see, automated testing plays a pivotal role in the development environment, with a shared responsibility of improved code quality and security.  

Why is DevSecOps so important for organisations? 

Software applications face an increased risk of attacks.  Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to penetrate anything less than robust software.  Unlike the old days, when security could be effectively ‘tacked on’ at the end of development, applications today require a complete, end-to-end approach.  

Customers themselves are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of poor security and how their personal information is being protected.  Furthermore, compliance regulations, such as GDPR, place greater pressure on companies to incorporate better security practices.

In the same way that DevOps was created to address bottlenecks in development, DevSecOps also saves a huge amount of time.  Application security is constantly being assessed, meaning code can be delivered faster.  Fortunately, in the case of DevSecOps, faster code doesn’t mean low reliability.  In fact, one of the main benefits of automation is its ability to reduce or eliminate human error.  

What is the difference between DevSecOps vs DevOps? 

Although it may feel obvious to describe the key difference between DevOps and DevSecOps by saying the latter focuses on security, your choice over which framework to use for your application development has significant impacts on IT and business efficiency.   

Whilst DevOps and DevSecOps are sometimes explained as opposites to one another, the distinction is more complicated than that.  Although you can’t simply exchange between them both, DevSecOps can often work together with DevOps, with optimal outcomes.  

Before we discuss some of the differences between these two frameworks, let’s explain what they have in common.  

First, a culture of collaboration is imperative for achieving fast development without compromising security, and both frameworks work towards this goal.  Both DevOps and DevSecOps are a result of multiple teams that have converged into single frameworks to cover each phase of the application lifecycle.

Another commonality DevOps and DevSecOps share is their ability to use AI to automate phases in the development lifecycle.  Tools such as anomaly detection can be used for DevOps, whereas DevSecOps can benefit from automated security scans that continuously look for weaknesses and high-risk threats. 

Now, let’s move on to the key question; what are the differences between DevOps and DevSecOps?

We know that DevOps goal is to improve communications across teams to achieve faster development, whereas DevSecOps by definition focuses on security across the whole development lifecycle.  

Below are some other key differences between DevOps and DevSecOps:

DevSecOps 

DevOps 

Saves time and money through continuous security testing.  Early detection prevents future issues.  

Communication gaps are avoided through continuous delivery, resulting in faster processes.  

If weaknesses are found during automated security testing, reports are generated.    

Automation allows team members to understand code changes.  Report notifications are less essential, as they can easily inspect the releases and logs.   

Incident management is used to manage security issues.  

Application infrastructure is controlled through codes.  Management of codes and design can occur in the same platform. 

Best Practises for DevSecOps 

Businesses can come across several challenges when making the transition from DevOps to DevSecOps.  

To make the move a smoother experience, consider these quickfire best practices:

  • DevSecOps is about shared responsibilities, automation and learning.  Given this, it’s a good idea to start with a team that appreciates these key attributes.  
  • Adjusting to a different mindset is challenging, but especially so when you don’t have the correct tools, methods and processes.  Ensure your team is trained on activities such as threat modelling and architecture reviews, for example.  
  • Remember that automation is at the heart of both DevSecOps and DevOps.  But first, you need to understand what can be automated and what can’t.  SAST tools, for example, can be automated.  But this isn’t the case for threat modelling and pen, which requires some manual intervention.  
  • Changing to DevSecOps can be overwhelming to begin with, so it’s best to start in small steps and as early as possible.

What DevSecOps Tools should you consider using? 

There are many DevSecOps tools you can incorporate into your DevOps pipeline, but which ones should you choose?  Here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular tools around:  

  • SonarQube – An open-source project created by SonarSource, this tool helps developers with automation.  Offering continuous code inspection, SonarQube is perfect for a wide range of sized companies.
  • Acunetix – This web security scanner provides a complete package, allowing developers to discover code weaknesses earlier. Best suited to companies with a significant online digital presence, this tool is easy to use and enables high-speed scanning.  
  • Aqua Security – Enabling container security across the DevSecOps pipeline, Aqua allows complete flexibility thanks to its cloud capabilities.  
  • XebiaLabs – Having been around since the very beginning of DevOps, this trusted platform helps companies accelerate their releases.  Best suited to large organisations, the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform seamlessly fits into the DevOps pipeline.  

DevSecOps is designed for today’s world of software development, where security takes a more prominent role across the entire lifecycle.  Its foundations in shared responsibilities and automation provide the stepping stones for safer delivery of code, as well as bridging the gap between IT and security.  

Learn more about Application Security Tools

WHO IS ULESKA?

Uleska helps security and development teams manage application security at scale by automating and orchestrating their preferred security tools within CI/CD.

With Uleska, teams can confidently start an AppSec program using open-source, commercial, and custom tools and then quickly change, add or scale tools as the technology and business needs evolve. Uleska also brings speed and scale when integrating into development tools, and reporting of metrics and risk.

By bringing security, DevOps and development teams together, we help reduce manual tasks so application security takes less time, cost and can scale, allowing teams to focus resources on the issues and metrics that matter.

 
The DevSecOps Toolkit - A guide to scaling AppSec testing



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