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DevSecOps: Why It’s Important and How To Achieve It

DevOps is a cultural movement that has taken software development by storm over the last decade. The idea of DevOps is to encourage increased collaboration between software developers and IT operations through automation, tools, and best practices. The core aim of DevOps is to shorten software development cycles, leading to more frequent software releases. An important flaw in the original DevOps movement is that software security remains an afterthought. This article overviews an updated approach–DevSecOps–in which security is embedded throughout the software development process. You will also find some useful best practices on how to effectively embed security in DevOps teams.

What Is DevSecOps?

In essence, DevSecOps is a refinement of the original DevOps concept that puts more emphasis on the importance of application security. Many cybersecurity incidents are the result of security flaws in an application’s code. There is a strong argument that the DevOps movement’s focus on faster software deployment acts as a barrier to developing secure software.

Software security teams are tasked with ensuring that vulnerable code is not released into production. Traditionally, security teams implement rigorous testing to verify the integrity and security of applications. However, security testing takes up valuable time, and time is of the essence in DevOps teams. There is a clear conflict between the goals of security teams and the ideals of the DevOps movement.

Security tests and checks are carried out at the end of development cycles in DevOps, however, there is often simply not enough time to properly audit code. The DevSecOps movement advocates embedding security practices and tools in the design of an application. In DevSecOps, security requirements are considered from the outset, which helps to better ensure watertight software security.

DevSecOps Best Practices

There are several opportunities to ingrain security into the workflows of DevOps teams. The general goal is that software security requirements should be met without compromising the fluidity and speed inherent in DevOps development cycles. Consider the following best practices for achieving alignment with a DevSecOps mindset.

Security Test Automation

Automation is a vital aspect of the DevOps philosophy because it speeds up development by automating repetitive tasks. Security teams can speed up their testing through increased automation, and it is prudent to introduce these tests as early as possible in each development cycle.

Emphasize Supply Chain Security 

A number of high-profile cybersecurity incidents in recent years have arisen due to open source vulnerabilities. Developers often use libraries and frameworks from open source projects as part of the development of applications. The infamous Equifax data breach occurred as a result of using a vulnerable version of the open-source Apache Struts web framework.

Security teams must create policies that emphasize software supply chain security. Developers need to be encouraged to properly source the libraries and frameworks they use. Patches should be applied as soon as possible, and build automation tools can provide visibility into vulnerable software components that require patching.

Facilitate Speed and Precision

Security teams need to remember that heir tests and checks must be completed both quickly and accurately. Security tools suited for DevOps teams would ideally be able to identify vulnerable code as it is being written because this facilitates immediate action to rectify those vulnerabilities.

Train Developers in Application Security

A surprisingly high number of developers are never taught how to securely code software. Third-level computer science courses typically emphasize the logistics of programming and instruct developers on how to build functional code.

Infosec teams need to convince stakeholders at organizations to invest in training for developers on application security. Security teams could run these courses, and they would equip developers with a level of knowledge that would lead to long-term benefits in achieving a secure DevOps culture.

The Time for DevSecOps is Now

DevSecOps is a crucial evolution in the DevOps movement. Make sure everyone at your organization understands the costs and risks of releasing vulnerable software into production. Make changes to embed security into DevOps teams and leverage some of the aforementioned best practices.