DevSecOps: Integrating Security Across SDLC

Yogesh By Yogesh
DevSecOps

Security being quintessentially paramount across software development lifecycle (SDLC), DevSecOps shifts it to the left – that is the earliest phase of SDLC. It builds a holistic ecosystem of security and performance that improves accuracy and productivity while addressing the requirements at the speed that the business requires.

Software development life cycle (SDLC) has continued to take various forms since its evolution. The field has witnessed the application of diverse philosophies, each of which has brought its own set of improvements.

Each evolution brought a new outlook, as project managers continued to look for a one-stop approach for managing SDLC. This was until the developments culminated in DevOps.

Today, DevOps is a driving force in most software development projects. Amalgamating several practices and approaches, it stitches together project management, development, and IT operations, and tremendously increases software development velocity.

Integrating development tools and processes tightly, DevOps allows businesses to adjust to changing requirements, fix bugs, and incorporate new features easily and quickly. However, as security is not explicitly integrated in DevOps, security teams have to work separately from the development team. In short, security falls outside development and operations, and is addressed manually that disturbs the automated flow of the DevOps cycle.

DevSecOps overcomes this limitation of viewing security as a separate component of SDLC. It fills the gap by integrating security with development and operations, thereby optimizing the effort and cost of remediation. As we go ahead, we go into the details to understand more about DevSecOps and why the DevOps to DevSecOps transition is essential for managing the software development life cycle of the future.

What are the Security Risks in Software Development?

Security is paramount to any software development project, and each project is vulnerable to potential risks. Enterprise Strategy Group’s (ESG’s) research showed that 66% of enterprises found their application security tools protect less than 75% of their codebase. Security issues, thus, still persist in software development.

So, let’s take a quick look at some common security risks in software development. With DevSecOps, project managers and project owners won’t have to apply separate efforts to resolve them.

  • Improper governance and management of commercial and open-source components
  • Segregating security from other aspects of software development.
  • Unrestricted access to CI/CD pipelines and code repositories
  • Lacking mechanisms strong enough to manage sensitive data
  • Completely relying on in-house security expertise and solutions

By the Way, What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps embeds security in development and operations, and thus works as an extension of DevOps. This model of driving and managing SDLC encourages security-as-code ethics, imparting seamless flexibility to every stakeholder in the software development process.

DevSecOps ensures that security works in tandem with Agile and DevOps processes, and shortens the time in releasing code and products as compared to the traditional DevOps approach. It aims to break down barriers between the development, operations, and security teams, much like DevOps did for the conventional barriers between development and operations.

What is DevSecOps

What Does DevSecOps Bring to the Table?

In the first place, DevSecOps makes it clear that “security is a responsibility of everyone” while ensuring that the speed of development operations is maintained.

The DevSecOps philosophy encourages a cooperative system that provides access to tools and procedures which aid in security decision-making, together with dedicated security experts. It adds value to the system by giving it the ability to continuously monitor, identify, and address security issues. So, in a nutshell, security is not a part of the process, rather it’s a process itself that supervises every single step in development operations.

DevSecOps thus constitutes a strong wall that deters attackers. In this process, the need to have additional security professionals to reinforce the DevOps teams is eliminated. Everyone in the business ecosystem, including security staff, can contribute to iterative value generation. Adopting DevSecOps will allow enterprises to improve the application’s stability and shorten the development cycle time.

In traditional SDLC, security would be seen as a barrier to innovation and quick application development. With DevSecOps, the equation is altered and the test code is subjected to all security validations and inspections. Project teams are thus freed from the worry of addressing security instances like random attacks, breaches, and downtime.

In the process of making security-is-integrated-everywhere, DevSecOps brings some key advantages for its adopters which are:

DevSecOps:

  • Uses a set of testing procedures including integration testing, unit testing, etc. to prevent regressions and enhance the quality of each release, thereby saving a substantial amount of time.
  • Identifies vulnerabilities in each stage which reduces the project cost.
  • Works on the security by design principle that involves empowering developers with automated testing mechanisms.
  • Uses appropriate branching and tagging approach for source control management (SCM) and automatically generates release notes to give all stakeholders complete insight.
  • Ensures that every build is successful and that a consistent and effective resolution mechanism is in place in the event of failures, which encourages collaboration between various teams.
  • Gives room to team members to analyze KPIs and improve the DevSecOps process.
  • Makes use of blue-green deployment strategies to address changes rapidly.
  • Allows teams to seamlessly use the same processes and tools for applications, irrespective of the programming language in which they are written.
  • Shared responsibility towards security helps in building and releasing features and addressing fixes without any obstacles.
  • Helps avoid damage to reputation by preventing the likelihood of breach. Thanks to enhanced auditing and monitoring.

DevSecOps Vs DevOps – Where’s the Edge With DevSecOps?

As per Chris Wysopal, the founder and chief technology officer at Veracode, most business enterprises are attempting to automate security scans. However, he finds that it is “security debt” that keeps the enterprises from immediately achieving the results. This debt is an outcome of vulnerabilities that continue to mount into production as developers don’t fix them.

Veracode’s 2019 state of software security report analyzed scans on 85000 applications only to find that it would require an astonishing period of 171 days to fix vulnerabilities. The security debt keeps on accumulating, ultimately resulting in financial dept. This is what can happen when you don’t integrate security in DevOps.

Though DevOps has been a sought-after approach to achieving scale and speed, and driving innovation, managing security is a challenge with it. The constant fear of data loss, system and business disruption, and IP theft continue to haunt project managers. DevSecOps arrives here, taking DevSecOps a step ahead, and applying security functions to monitor risks and vulnerabilities throughout the SDLC to safeguard the collaborative process.

Here is how DevSecOps takes DevOps to the next level.

An Ordinary SDLC Workflow

An ordinary SDLC workflow

DevOps

DevOps

DevSecOps

DevSecOps

Yes, DevSecOps is Advantageous – But Not Without These Best Practices

The thought of applying DevSecOps might have started enticing you. However, implementing the philosophy requires combining multiple approaches and moving away from the traditional outlook. Summarized here are some best practices to implement DevSecOps.

Things start from the beginning

Start by focusing on security right from the beginning of the SDLC. As mentioned, your SDLC must function within a security ecosystem. Unlike DevOps, where security was considered at the testing stage only, DevSecOps brings security into the picture in the earliest phases itself.

Embrace the essential principle

Security-as-a-code is vital to the core of DevSecOps. This idea rests on implementing security policies and driving vulnerability scanning to impart a robust character to the SDLC. So, you build a consistent and scalable security framework.

Know what matters

In order to derive the benefits of DevSecOps, you must have the knowledge of the right tools and possess familiarity to integrate them with DevOps. Interactive application security testing (IAST), static application security testing (SAST), and dynamic application security testing (DAST) aid in the early identification of vulnerabilities throughout the SDLC.

Identify every opportunity

In order to build a fully secured pipeline, the first step is to bring in automation at every key junction. Manual processes are slow and prone to errors, and so automation is a prerequisite to establishing DevSecOps.

Say no to silos

DevSecOps is finally an extension of DevOps, so streamlined communication and coordination are what it demands. Make sure that you involve all stakeholders in decision-making, prioritizing security and making sure that team members are aware of their individual roles.

Each one counts equally

DevSecOps calls for a shared responsibility to manage and handle security aspects. Right from the development, quality assurance, and project management to C-suite executives, each stakeholder must participate actively in the project.

Don’t be static

DevSecOps teams comprise members from diverse practices, though each member is involved in the security side of the project. Educating team members from time to time is key to ensuring that team members give justice to their security responsibilities.

Responsiveness is the key

Incident management with a proactive mindset helps keep security risks at bay. As a result, ensure that you are ready with action plans and workflows to resolve incidents. With a continuous responsive mechanism, you can minimize the occurrences of major security incidents effectively.

Tools to Implement DevSecOps

Tools to implement DevSecOps

DevSecOps – The Next Frontier for Managing Your SDLC

Infusing security across every stage of software development lifecycle (SLDC), DevSecOps helps prevent catastrophic security breaches and fosters a culture of transparency. DevSecOps renders a new dimension to an enterprise’s development culture and helps it to discover a fresh outlook, which is characterized by secured development operations.

Organizations must thus see in DevSecOps an opportunity to generate real outcomes. In order to capitalize on its potential, they must concentrate on making automation, collaboration, and rapid development integral to security management practices.

Security is at the top of the agenda for CIOs today, and with DevSecOps, they can strengthen their position in building a solid security framework for enhanced customer experience. As time runs fast and competition intensifies, CIOs need to embrace and implement DevSecOps to achieve agility at scale, by making development and operations work under the parasol of security.

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