Published on
January 30, 2023

What is DevSecOps? - A Comprehensive Guide

min read

With the unfortunate increase in data breaches, most of which can be attributed to human error, companies can no longer afford to compartmentalize security. The reason why the DevSecOps process is seen as a viable solution for firms looking for ways to improve their digital security efforts.

Automation and collaboration remain core elements of this cutting-edge approach, helping ensure speed in development processes while enhancing security deliverables. Data breaches cost millions, so detecting and mitigating them early becomes all the more important.

This guide will help you better understand the basics of DevSecOps - the practice of integrating security into your DevOps pipeline. We'll explore common challenges, highlight essential tools, and even provide practical examples to make it easier for you to tackle this shift.

So whether you're new to DevSecOps or looking for ways to put existing strategies into action faster, this guide has the info you need to get the job done.


What Is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps is a process that combines the collaborative practices of development and operations while also incorporating security measures. DevOps tools secure the development and operation processes, such as CI/CD pipelines and infrastructure-as-code. This process streamlines collaboration and reduces the risk of security issues in software deployments or applications.

Security is embedded in all stages of a DevSecOps process, ensuring that vulnerabilities are accounted for before deployment onto production systems. This proactive approach to security speeds up delivery while properly protecting products and users from potential threats.

Why Are DevSecOps Important?

The DevSecOps process is an increasingly important methodology for technology systems' development, security, and operations. It combines aspects of traditional software development and IT operations with the added layer of security from the DevSecOps team. The team is responsible for ensuring that a system is secure from any external threats and malicious actors.

By including DevSecOps at an earlier stage in the development process, organizations can streamline their efforts in building secure systems much more efficiently than relying on traditional software development workflows.

As a result, DevSecOps adds great potential to accelerate the time-to-market of applications and services while improving overall software quality. Making it an essential part of any successful technological initiative. Some industries that have benefited from the adoption of DevSecOps are:

1. Automotive

Automotive industry has a history of strong regulations and initiatives to priortize security in a proactive manner. Famously, Volvo made the three-point seat belt patent open to encourage security adoption across the industy.

DevSecOps is an important part of the automotive industry given the increasing amount of software-reliance in modern-day automotive vehicles. The DevSecOps process combines software development, security, and operations into a single continuous cycle. Resulting in a more secure foundation for releasing code quickly. It has what has enabled organizations like Tesla to securly ship critical over-the-air (OTA) updates for its cars.

DevSecOps helps to ensure that all applications are consistently set with expected performance levels and quickly deployed with high integrity and security. Automotive developers can easily identify vulnerabilities, apply fixes, and roll back changes if needed - protecting data from malicious attacks.

In addition, incorporating DevSecOps into a company's processes ensures that software products are tested properly and deployed correctly - reducing the risk of real-world safety errors within the automotive sector.

2. Healthcare

DevSecOps is an increasingly important process in the healthcare industry today due to its ability to streamline constantly adapting and evolving technological infrastructures. DevSecOps is a procedure that utilizes automation, security testing, and collaboration between IT operations, development, and security teams.

Due to the increasing reliance on technology for everything from patient care to record keeping, as well as strict regulatory requirements like HIPAA, DevSecOps has become essential for healthcare organizations to address cyber threats.

By creating DevSecOps protocols within healthcare organizations, cyber threats can be better anticipated and countered in a timely manner. Communication and workflow between departments can also be improved, which helps mitigate risk overall.

3. Financial, Retail, And Ecommerce

DevSecOps integrates security protocols into the development pipeline. A DevSecOps approach combines software development with security and risk management practices to help organizations proactively manage data and application risks. This is especially necessary when it comes to critical operations like financial transactions.

With DevSecOps in place, organizations are better equipped to provide users with secure solutions that meet necessary compliance requirements like PCI DSS as well as guidelines like the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) TRM. For success in today's FinTech world, DevSecOps can help financial, retail, and e-commerce sectors prioritize robust security and continuous innovation.

4. Embedded, Networked, And IoT Devices

DevSecOps is integral in ensuring the security of increasingly interconnected embedded, networked, and IoT devices. By combining the principles of DevOps with the added emphasis on strong security practices, DevSecOps accelerates and automates security processes without compromising their effectiveness.

This makes DevSecOps an ideal approach for fast-paced development cycles and ensures that security teams can protect every device on the network without getting adequately overwhelmed.

This involves fastidious monitoring, patching bugs quickly and efficiently, automated authentication protocols, encrypting and scrubbing data pathways, implementing secure software development lifecycles (SDLC), and relying heavily on automation.

Therefore DevSecOps provides an irreplaceable layer of protection for embedded devices connected on a local and global scale.


What Are The Components Of DevSecOps?

DevSecOps is an approach towards software development that focuses on incorporating security into the dev-ops process. It has three main components, namely Development (dev), Security (sec), and Operations (ops).

In dev-ops, the dev phase covers all activities related to coding and testing, while the sec is responsible for maintaining secure databases, policies, and procedures.

1. Code Analysis

DevSecOps incorporates code analysis as an integral part of its DevSecOps flow. Code analysis is used to identify any anomalous traits in the production environment that could compromise the system. It is done by analyzing the codebase in order to detect bugs or vulnerabilities that could lead to possible security threats before releasing the code into full production.

The result of code analysis helps development teams efficiently take corrective measures and strengthen their DevSecOps operations. In addition, it also helps to identify best coding practices while improving upon existing ones with regard to security standards.

2. Change Management

Change management is a key component of DevSecOps and is essential for successful deployments. It involves the systematic analysis of changes being made, especially when larger projects are taking place, in order to ensure that these changes have been correctly implemented at every step in the DevSecOps flow.

The basic idea behind DevSecOps changes management is that changes should be tested against performance standards or acceptance criteria before they can be deployed or published. This allows project teams to quickly identify and mitigate potential issues without disrupting the DevSecOps pipeline, increasing market speed and reducing risk levels.

3. Compliance Management

Compliance management is an essential component of DevSecOps flow. It helps ensure that organizations adhere to various regulatory frameworks & industry-specific requirements related to software development. Such as, the ability to detect and respond to security threats.

As part of DevSecOps, compliance management allows organizations to continuously monitor changes to their codebase for vulnerabilities. It also enables organizations to automate testing to detect any issues sooner rather than later.

This helps organizations remain compliant with the expectations set by the environments they operate in, allowing them to invest more resources into innovation went running secure solutions efficiently.

4. Threat Modeling

One important component of DevSecOps is threat modeling, which looks at how data flows throughout DevSecOps and how security threats can be identified and mitigated. Threat modeling occurs early in the DevSecOps flow, serving as a preventative measure to reduce or eliminate potential vulnerabilities or risks within the DevSecOps ecosystem.

It involves analyzing application design, architecture, and implementation details to assess cyber threats from external or internal sources, ensuring that best practices with regard to security are applied during development.

While human error or malicious behavior cannot always be prevented, DevSecOps threat modeling minimizes the risk of exploitation through security assurance checks and addressing weak points in the system before launch.

5. Security Training

Security training helps build stronger cyber defenses and guards against malicious actors' attempts to attack your organization. It should be part of DevSecOps from the start, beginning with educating team members on the DevSecOps process, tools, best practices, and security policies.

Additionally, security training can be used to reinforce DevSecOps principles as they evolve over time and create an ongoing culture of data privacy and cyber safety. Knowledgeable team members are better equipped to recognize potential threats in the DevSecOps flow before they become a problem.

Security training as part of DevSecOps will ensure your organization is up-to-date with the latest best practices and industry standards for protecting your data.

How Do DevSecOps Work?

DevSecOps is a development philosophy that integrates security into the DevOps process. By leveraging the DevOps flow, DevSecOps is designed to increase collaboration and speed of development while mitigating risks associated with security vulnerabilities.

It facilitates faster application delivery while ensuring robust security practices are in place early on in the dev process cycle rather than bolting it on afterward. Moving further, let's learn more about how DevSecOps work. Read more below:

1. Code

When it comes to DevSecOps, code is one of the very first steps in the DevSecOps flow. Code creates a construct that has both security and development capability. With DevSecOps, code is not just written for development but for security as well.

As part of DevSecOps, when code is deployed, it's also analyzed to ensure it meets security standards and its development objective. This two-pronged approach supports DevSecOps efforts, as developers can write secure code that helps protect the integrity and safety of applications and systems.

2. Build

The DevSecOps flow is a powerful approach that combines the roles of dev, security, and ops into one cohesive unit. It focuses on building better secure systems with an emphasis on collaboration, constant testing, and discovering potential vulnerabilities as software is built. In addition, the dev team works to develop the software with the proper features and functionalities.

At the same time, the security team ensures that all of the security checks are completed properly before it can move forward. Finally, the operations team oversees the entire process while keeping a close eye on any changes that may occur from start to finish.

This helps to ensure applications are built correctly and in a timely manner. A DevSecOps flow also eliminates many manual steps and increases overall productivity for each development project.

3. Store

The DevSecOps Store is a crucial part of this process; it provides resources to support the DevSecOps flow throughout its implementation. This could include pre-built policies, images, and scripts that allow developers to quickly follow DevSecOps best practices without starting from scratch.

It offers manual and automated controls against vulnerabilities, mitigating risks by ensuring DevSecOps is thoroughly applied while providing availability and security robustness across DevSecOps teams.

4. Prep

DevSecOps Prep is the essential first step in DevSecOps flow and focuses on creating a framework for security in order to ensure the software is secure throughout its entire life cycle.

This involves identifying weaknesses, recognizing potential risks and threats to the system, assigning roles and responsibilities, and coordinating security objectives with DevOps goals. The overall aim of DevSecOps prep is to develop secure applications quickly while considering compliance with regulations, such as data privacy laws.

With DevSecOps prep set in place, organizations can confidently pursue their DevSecOps objectives while ensuring their data remains secure - whether it be within development cycle or operations phase.

5. Deploy

The DevSecOps flow continues with the deployment step. This is where code and other assets are moved from development to production. This step involves testing and automated security scans to ensure accuracy and functionality before anything is released. Depending on the structure of DevSecOps, deployment can be handled either manually or by a continuous delivery process.

A key goal of DevSecOps is to speed up this process without affecting the accuracy or security of the content being deployed. Additionally, once the changes have been made and verified, DevSecOps ensures that they have been safely packaged for distribution in order to ensure their swift implementation into an environment.

6. Run

The DevSecOps flow runs by initiating the deployment of code applications and running tests in a continuous delivery process. During runtime, DevSecOps checks to see if any security threats have occurred.

From here, it allows Developers to make immediate corrections with automated fixes or manual changes in certain cases.

This saves time, as previously, application deployments were done periodically, making it difficult for developers to pinpoint security errors on the spot. With DevSecOps however, issues can be identified quickly, and responses can be easily streamlined into the deployment flow.

Which Application Security Tools Are Used In DevSecOps?

Introducing DevSecOps and the various cloud security tools it utilizes can be a daunting task. While there are many different tools to choose from, understanding how each tool relates to an application's overall security is the key.

This can range from real-time malware analysis, dependency tracking, runtime protection, and configuration scanning. So, let's learn more about these security tools used in DevSecOps.

1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a powerful tool used in DevSecOps, as it focuses on identifying potential security flaws within the source code of applications and software systems.

This type of security testing is essential for any organization that must comply with data privacy regulations. It can also be useful for anyone attempting to identify potential vulnerabilities or minimize their exposure to malicious attacks.

With SAST, the source code of an application is parsed, looking for various issues such as tampering, cross-site scripting, and dangerous coding standards. Once identified, these faults are reported to provide recommendations on how to resolve them quickly and safely. By using SAST prior to deployment, organizations can rest assured knowing that their applications will be less susceptible to attack.

2. Software Composition Analysis (SCA)

Software composition analysis

By combining the scanning capabilities of SCA with other security protocols, such as secure coding and continuous monitoring, organizations can greatly improve their overall software security. In addition, since SCA identifies vulnerabilities faster than manual scans, it enables organizations to react quickly when potential breaches occur.

3. Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) is an application security tool used in DevSecOps, complete with automation capabilities. This helps organizations stay ahead in their security needs, detecting web application flaws and fundamental programming errors in real-time as the software runs.

Furthermore, IAST integrates seamlessly with existing applications to identify vulnerabilities and help developers prioritize remediation efforts, providing automated functions that all but eliminate the manual overhead associated with evaluating systems for risk.

In addition, it allows organizations to minimize the amount of vulnerability management effort needed for testing, giving an accurate representation of security risks in the environment and what can be done to mitigate any issues before they become problems.

4. Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) forms an important part of application security in DevSecOps. It is a process used to detect vulnerabilities within applications in development and production cycles, allowing organizations to ensure that their software is secure before any malicious actors can exploit it.

In addition, DASTs usually require no access to source code or even knowledge of the system's inner workings, making them a great value-add for DevSecOps teams that may lack more specialized expertise.

Unlike SASTs, which are often used while developers are still working on the code, DAST tools can be used continuously during both pre- and post-deployment phases. This helps catch any potential threats that a single scan might miss at the end of development. Overall, dynamic application security testing helps DevSecOps teams ensure a higher degree of application security with minimal effort.

DevSecOps Vs. DevOps

DevSecOps is a process that integrates security into the software development cycle. During the design, engineering, testing, and deployment phases of development, developers can maintain secure coding over time as they continue to modify it.

This process makes discovering new flaws easier while minimizing existing ones throughout the full development span.

On the other hand, DevOps is a portmanteau of the term "development" and "operations". It denotes a computation and software engineering approach that emphasizes collaboration & communication between software developers and IT operations professionals. This concept enables organizations to deliver systems, services, and products at high velocity in order to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Difference Between DevSecOps vs. DevOps

1. DevSecOps combines Development, Security, and Operations, whereas DevOps is just Development and Operations.

2. The main aim of DevSecOps is to ensure that the applications are secure and free from any vulnerabilities from the development stage itself. Whereas the main aim of DevOps is to speed up the development and deployment process.

3. DevSecOps automates the security testing and development, and deployment processes. DevOps only automates the development and deployment process.

4. In DevSecOps, security is given more importance than just speed. In DevOps, speed is given more importance than security.

5. DevSecOps is a relatively new concept, whereas DevOps has been around for quite some time.

What Are The Challenges Of Implementing DevSecOps?

DevSecOps is a concept that helps bridge the gap between security and development, advocating for security to be considered early and throughout the software delivery lifecycle. While DevSecOps has been gaining traction in recent years, the process of implementing it poses unique challenges. Let's find out more about challenges and how they can affect you.

1. Security Concerns

One of the primary challenges of implementing DevSecOps is that it can introduce new security concerns. For example, if developers and operations staff work together more closely, it may be difficult to track who has access to the information. Additionally, automated processes may make it easier for malicious actors to access sensitive data or systems.

2. Cost

Another challenge of implementing DevSecOps is that it can be costly. In order to implement DevSecOps effectively, organizations need to invest in tools and training for their staff. Additionally, they must have procedures and processes to ensure that all data is properly secured.

3. Change Management

A third challenge of implementing DevSecOps is change management. DevSecOps requires a significant change in how organizations operate, and this can be difficult for some staff to adjust to. Additionally, changes to procedures and processes may need to be made in order for DevSecOps to be effective, which can also be challenging for some organizations.

4. Staffing Issues

A fourth challenge of implementing DevSecOps is that it can require additional staffing. For example, organizations may need to hire new staff with expertise in security or DevOps in order to implement DevSecOps effectively. Additionally, existing staff may need additional training in order to be able to work effectively under a DevSecOps model.

Benefits Of DevSecOps

With far-reaching benefits across the development team and other areas such as Risk Management and Compliance departments, DevSecOps helps businesses create more secure software while staying competitive in a rapidly changing market. Therefore, below listed are some ways in which DevSecOps benefits you. Check them out below.

1. Enhanced Application Security

DevSecOps is gaining traction in the field of software development due to its potential to provide enhanced security for applications. This system utilizes a DevOps workflow with added emphasis on ensuring that security considerations are integrated into the process from the beginning, rather than addressing them after development is completed.

As the lines between development, operations, and security roles become increasingly blurred, well-written code and properly configured systems are crucial for providing secure applications and enhanced protection against cyber attacks.

DevSecOps allows organizations to benefit from an improved defense throughout their application development lifecycle by leveraging automation and collaboration between teams.

2. Cross-Team Ownership

One of the key benefits of DevSecOps is the encouragement of cross-team ownership, where multiple teams work hand in hand to create, secure and deploy applications quickly and securely. DevSecOps enables project owners to have greater visibility into the development process, which leads to faster application delivery times, increased automation processes, and improved security protocols. It also encourages everyone on the team to be on the lookout for new opportunities and collaborate with each other more effectively, thereby bringing better business outcomes. As a result, DevSecOps teams can develop secure and reliable software solutions much faster than before by taking a hands-on-deck approach.

3. Streamline Application Delivery

Modern software development teams must strive to quickly deliver resilient, secure, and compliant applications with industry standards. DevSecOps is a practice that allows organizations to streamline their application delivery by combining security into the DevOps pipeline. This can be achieved through automation and embedding security measures throughout the process. It also responds to today's need for security risks and vulnerability transparency.

By embracing DevSecOps, software teams can introduce effective continuous risk assessment strategies and make sure that vulnerability is addressed proactively rather than reactively. This increases organizational flexibility while reducing overhead costs associated with slowdowns or regulatory demands within traditional software development models.

4. Limit Security Vulnerabilities

Most organizations now have a DevSecOps strategy that allows the teams to review product designs and build automated processes into their development stages. This technique helps identify and address any possible security issues before their products become available on the market, thus limiting the chances of vulnerabilities being exposed.

Furthermore, it means any security breaches can be pegged down quickly and without causing much disruption to operations. These compelling benefits make DevSecOps an integral part of cybersecurity strategies.

What Are The Best Practices Of DevSecOps?

With DevSecOps, teams move away from simply testing software to having a continuous identification, prioritization, and remediation process so that security considerations are integrated throughout the development lifecycle.

The best practices of DevSecOps include automating tasks through code reviews, static & dynamic vulnerability scans, and much more. In short, DevSecOps makes process-driven DevOps more secure, but how? Let's discover more below.

1. Foster A Pervasive Security Mindset In DevOps Teams

DevSecOps is about meeting organizational security compliance standards and fostering a secure culture of collaboration between developers and operations staff. By establishing best practices of DevSecOps within DevOps teams, an organization can ensure that security is always at the forefront of its processes and procedures.

This comprehensive approach to problem-solving has been shown to promote highly effective teams who can work efficiently while ensuring security standards are met. With continued guidance and diligence in upholding these best practices throughout a DevOps team's journey, the result will be one of success where applicable cybersecurity solutions are employed seamlessly.

2. Start Early, Start Small

The introduction of DevSecOps into the software development process is well advised for any company looking to enhance its security throughout the entire lifecycle. Two of the most important best practices when implementing DevSecOps are starting early and small. By starting early in their software development process, companies can ensure that their products are secure by design and built with security in mind from beginning to end.

In addition, starting small allows organizations to gain experience and gradually add complexity as they continue on in DevSecOps - understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the system as they go. With these two critical best practices, organizations can better leverage DevSecOps as a powerful tool for giving them an even greater level of security throughout the entire software production lifecycle.

3. Automate Early, And Automate Often

One of the best practices in DevSecOps is to automate early and often. Building automation into the process early on helps ensure each layer of the DevSecOps is secure and working properly.

As technologies evolve, organizations should look at automating more processes across all three departments. Automating processes brings consistency in operations, reducing miscommunications and human error and mitigating risk behind a secure system.

In addition, automating often helps avoid potential issues by providing an automatic queue for updates. Doing so enables organizations to keep up with changing trends, quickly document incidents, and minimize potential data breaches without interrupting or relying on manual tasks.

4. Don't Pursue Perfection

DevSecOps aims to enable rapid, secure product delivery without compromising quality. However, this doesn't mean that pursuing perfection in the process is the way to go. One of the best practices of DevSecOps is knowing when to let "good enough" be good enough.

Organizations can maximize efficiency by iterating quickly and learning from errors early in the cycle while ensuring satisfactory end products. On the other hand, perfectionism can be restrictive and ultimately prevent progress from being made at a reasonable pace.

Final Words

DevSecOps is an approach to making DevOps processes more secure through automation and collaboration between developers, operations teams, and security personnel. As a result, organizations can efficiently ensure their products are secure throughout the entire software production lifecycle by starting small, automating early and often, and not pursuing perfectionism.

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