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4 min read

DevSecOps fundamentals

Melissa Hales
Melissa Hales
22 November 2021 DevOps

Stop sidelining security and shift left with DevSecOps – the smarter way to build fast without compromise.

DevSecOps puts security front and centre in your DevOps model, but what’s it all about? How does it differ from plain ol’ DevOps and why is it so important? Here, we’ll get you up to speed on this revolutionary approach to IT security and explore the many benefits adopting it can bring to your organisation.

What is DevSecOps? 

DevSecOps stands for development, security, and operations. It applies security policy and technology to DevOps, transforming your software development life cycle (SDLC) in the process. Where DevOps has helped speed up software development and delivery through collaboration, automation, and continuous assessment, DevSecOps takes that thinking a step further, embedding security more deeply in the process. 

Before DevOps came along, the focus was always development, and security checks would typically take place at the final stages of the SDLC. That meant new products or features would make their way through almost all the other stages before security engineers got a look in. 

Not prioritising security has huge drawbacks. If a threat is found late in the game, it could mean reworking a significant amount of code. That’s usually costly and takes a long time. Rather than delay delivery further, inadequate and short-term patching became the norm. Hence the arrival of DevSecOps. 

With DevSecOps, security issues can be identified much earlier in the process, rather than after a product is released. This way, testing, monitoring, and reporting are part of the CI/CD pipeline, and your security standards are hard-wired into your infrastructure. Fast feedback loops ensure you always stay on top of security and remediation happens quickly.

DevSecOps is not a one-size-fits-all solution or a box-ticking exercise but more an approach to culture, automation, and software design and development that has security at its core. It means shifting left, integrating security practices throughout your pipeline, and requires an organisational mindset whereby security becomes everyone’s concern – not just security engineers’.

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DevOps vs DevSecOps

DevSecOps was a natural evolution of DevOps thinking. Lengthy development cycles in the past weren’t impacted by traditionally siloed security teams. But DevOps demands rapid and frequent cycles that are easily thwarted by cumbersome security efforts. It’s become very clear that security needs to be fully integrated too for DevOps to thrive.

DevOps and DevSecOps have lots in common:

  • They require a collaborative culture where multiple teams come together to help rapid integration and deployment happen.
  • They embrace automation to speed things up, such as integration testing or threat detection.
  • They monitor data to learn and drive improvements across the SDLC.

But while DevOps focuses more specifically on deploying updates quickly and efficiently with minimal user disruption, which means preventing threats is not prioritised over deployment frequency, DevSecOps addresses security at the outset. That way, engineers ensure a more secure product before it gets to the user.

DevSecOps adds some new practices to the mix too, such as incident management so there’s a standard protocol for handling security incidents, common weaknesses enumeration to improve code quality, automated security testing to scrutinise new builds regularly, and threat modelling to test security during the development pipeline.

Why is DevSecOps important?

While IT tools have advanced significantly in the last ten years, those that help with compliance monitoring haven’t kept up with the pace of change. That means that security engineers can’t test code at the same rate developers can build it. And keeping up with developers isn’t the only concern – cybercrime is on the rise too.

The financial and reputational impact from a cyberattack can be devastating, and with the rise in open source software, vulnerabilities are even more widespread. Last year 24 percent of developers confirmed or suspected a security breach tied to open source. Security ensures software is safe and fit for purpose. Without adequate measures, organisations are at risk of serious breaches. These can lead to the abuse of intellectual property, loss of revenue and unforeseen costs relating to the breach, not to mention reputational damage.

Implementing DevSecOps–a security-focused, continuous delivery SDLC–has a direct impact, helping manage these challenges and prevent catastrophes. Not only does it make security a priority from the outset, it ensures developers have the motivation and training they need to code more securely in the first place. It enhances your organisation's credibility and builds trust with your customers too.

What are the benefits of DevSecOps?

There’s lots to love about DevSecOps. Here are just some of the big wins you stand to gain from switching up your approach to security.

Increased sales

More secure software means more customers. By identifying vulnerabilities much earlier in the pipeline and keeping on top of threats with continuous monitoring, you’ll improve security overall. A secure product is much easier to sell.

Lower costs

By identifying and fixing problems earlier in the SDLC, you save your organisation money. With greater accountability, teams work together to come up with efficient and effective response strategies, which have a positive financial impact.

Faster delivery

With security bottlenecks significantly reduced or eliminated completely, product delivery speed increases, and with clear security strategies and templates in place, post-incident recovery is much faster too.

Easier compliance

DevSecOps helps ensure your software meets industry regulations, such as GDPR. It gives managers greater visibility of which measures are in place, providing a strong framework for compliance.

Improved responsiveness

With a more agile approach, your organisation can respond to change and needs much more efficiently. And with security systems managed with a continuous approach, it’s much easier to keep on top of cybercrime innovations too.

Better collaboration

DevSecOps builds a more open and transparent culture, where security is everyone’s responsibility. In turn, this leads to better cross-team communication and collaboration.

More flexibility

With a part-automated, less time-consuming security strategy in place, your people will be freed up to focus on higher-value work. This will ensure you stay steps ahead of cybercriminals and your competition.

Secure your pipeline’s future

Interested in implementing DevSecOps but aren’t sure where to start? Speak to our expert team to find out how we can help.

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About the authors

Melissa Hales

Melissa Hales

Senior Partner Marketing Manager