DevSecOps encompasses security, risk, compliance, and availability. And in this cloud era, this approach must extend to security. At the moment, companies seem to be scrambling to adopt DevSecOps while leaving it to chance that the techniques will be effective in practice.

DevSecOps Governance and Controls (GCCs) are essential to improving DevSecOps security. GCCs offer the necessary controls to improve DevSecOps security to reduce the risk of misconfigurations and inadvertent breaches.

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DevSecOps Critical to Application Security

It's easy to dismiss DevSecOps as a buzzword, but this article underscores the importance of DevSecOps for securing applications. Although many companies have abandoned application security efforts and have simply paid a ransom to gain access to a stolen server or database, DevSecOps can return this to a key focus.

Applications are prime targets for all manner of threats, from malware to hacking. Therefore, application security is a crucial aspect of DevSecOps.

The Principles of DevSecOps

Before looking at some of the ways companies can use DevSecOps to secure applications, it's helpful to define a set of principles that outline best practices for using DevSecOps and GCCs to improve application security. These principles are based on experience that has been gained by the SecDevOps Working Group (SDWG), which was established in 2013 to provide guidance to IT and security leaders to help them enable DevSecOps in their organizations.

Developing a DevSecOps framework and applying GCCs is only the first step. The most crucial step is to apply and continuously monitor it. The SDWG provides more details.

Cybersecurity and DevOps are finally merging. The chief difference between the two approaches is cybersecurity must happen inside the software delivery pipeline.

The SDWG and other experts have mapped out a framework for DevSecOps. DevSecOps includes security and risk management practices, such as programmable policies for building and deploying applications. It also includes a DevSecOps testing framework, a system for monitoring and securing software throughout the development and delivery process, and an integrated metrics framework for measuring and improving DevSecOps effectiveness.

Implementing SecDevOps in your organization will take some time and effort, but the benefits are significant and permanent. The SDWG provides more details on implementing DevSecOps and the major components of SecDevOps.

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Administrative Controls

DevSecOps requires an administrator who has enough time to devote to the role and the skillset needed to implement it. DevSecOps is not an easy task, especially when it comes to those foundational pieces, such as policies and processes, that govern the organization. Therefore, it is vital to appoint an administrator to oversee the implementation and ensure that policies and procedures are followed.

It's possible to define an entirely separate group responsible for enforcing these policies and processes within the company. The goal is to implement and enforce these policies and processes to ensure a higher level of security within the organization and compliance with legislation.

Management Controls

DevSecOps relies on IT and security leaders to implement controls that improve the security posture of applications. DevSecOps requires a well-structured program that incorporates a set of management controls. The goal is to reduce the security risk as much as possible by implementing these controls to secure applications.

For example, management controls include application inventory, program policy, requirements validation, testing, documentation, periodic and automated change control, code review, the system for reporting security breaches, operating system patching, etc.

Hire the Right Team

DevSecOps requires a security group that is very small in size but that carries out the basic management controls necessary to help the DevSecOps program function. The manager of the DevSecOps team will not be an application security engineer but a person who has the skills and the understanding to oversee the entire program.

A manager of the DevSecOps team must understand the importance of the security controls they are setting in place and understand the use cases in which these controls will be helpful. The DevSecOps team manager must also be a 'whole system' practitioner, meaning they must understand how the security program works at the system level and be able to implement processes and policies that optimize system security.

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DevSecOps requires skilled security professionals with an emphasis on software development. These individuals must have the necessary knowledge and skills to implement the controls relevant to their role correctly. The security professionals also need to be fluent with DevOps practices and software testing methods and be familiar with the ecosystem of DevSecOps practices.

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Support the Success of the Program

DevSecOps requires an organization to play an active role in developing and executing the program. An essential part of the DevSecOps program is providing regular status updates on the progress and challenges of the program to the appropriate security team. If the business cannot be convinced to share this information, a security audit will not improve security.

DevSecOps requires security teams to have the right mindset, build security into the development lifecycle and make security a top priority for all teams in the organization. DevSecOps does not simply involve re-using an existing security program but rather aims to drastically improve security within a DevOps organization by leveraging software development to help secure applications.

If you are familiar with cybersecurity and are seeking to deepen your knowledge of DevOps, consider the Caltech Post Graduate Program in DevOps. It covers the tools and skills you need to configure and manage DevOps effectively.

If you are a DevOps professional who needs a better understanding of cybersecurity, look into the Post Graduate Program in Cyber Security with content from MIT. This will help you integrate security into your DevOps to create a DevSecOps practice in your organization.

About the Author

Matthew DavidMatthew David

Matt is a Digital Leader at Accenture. His passion is a combination of solving today's problems to run more efficiently, adjusting focus to take advantage of digital tools to improve tomorrow and move organizations to new ways of working that impact the future.

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