What is DevSecOps and Why is it Important

If you've had any significant exposure to the world of software and app development, then you no doubt are familiar with the concept of DevOps. But what do you know about DevSecOps? As you might guess from the word's parts, DevSecOps is the intersection of DevOps and security. 

Read on and learn what is DevSecOps, how it's different than DevOps, and what learning about it can do for you and your organization. So, let's check out the definition of DevSecOps first.

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What is DevSecOps?

In defining DevSecOps, we need to begin by reacquainting ourselves with what DevOps is in the first place. DevOps, as many of us know, is a set of practices and tools that combine software/app development (Dev) with information technology (IT) operations (Ops). DevOps increases an organization's ability to deploy applications and services faster and provides many advantages for any company that wants to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced world.

DevOps has rapidly become the norm in application development, with more organizations adopting the model. Advances in IT, including cloud computing, shared resources, and dynamic provisioning has made DevOps a more accessible and consequently more attractive methodology to adopt.

DevSecOps extends the DevOps mindset, a philosophy that integrates security practices into every phase of DevOps. The DevSecOps methodology creates a ‘Security as Code’ culture with an ongoing, flexible collaboration between the app’s release engineers and the organization’s established security teams.

What About SecDevOps?

Yes, this is a thing, as well. At first glance, it seems that someone's just messing with us, but no, each of these is a separate thing. The best way to break down the differences is to say:

  • DevSecOps

    The DevSecOps model factors in security, but it's not the top priority. DevOps teams don't usually have the tools they need to implement front-to-back security measures, and in-house information security teams arrive too late to deal with security concerns.
  • DevOpsSec

    This term puts security at the end of the development process, figuratively and literally. First, the DevOps team develops and deploys the app; then information security fills in any gaps in security. While weak security is better than no security, this concept is close to useless if your goal is to ensure tight security throughout a product's development lifecycle.
  • SecDevOps

    This approach brings in security efforts into the continuous development and integration (CD/CI) pipeline, including considering security issues before development begins and at every step of the ongoing process.

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Why DevSecOps is So Important Today?

We talked earlier about how there have been many new advances in IT and how they make it easier to incorporate the DevOps methodology into app design, but these innovations come with a downside. Unfortunately, many compliance monitoring and security tools haven't kept pace with the new developments. 

As a result, many rapid application techniques are held back by inadequate security measures. When that situation arises, what's the use of incorporating a DevOps methodology?

Of course, companies could just bypass security measures for the sake of expediency, but that's a gamble that could backfire catastrophically. Do you want to risk your latest app rollout becoming compromised, primarily if the health of your company relies on a successful launch? Then there's the risk of numerous security issues arises after the product has been launched, creating an army of angry, dissatisfied users, many who will walk away from your product and company.

IT security is a significant issue in today's digital world, and the threats won't go away overnight. Cyber attacks and fraud are on the rise. Faced with this harsh reality, it's inconceivable that any organization today would neglect the security aspect of the DevOps methodology.

To briefly summarize the challenges of DevOps security:

  • DevOps teams see security as a nuisance
  • IT security teams can't keep up with the fast pace of DevOps
  • Many open-source and immature tools have inadequate security features
  • Inadequately managed privileged access controls result in more attack opportunities

You can compare many organization's attitudes toward IT security with people's opinions regarding health or car insurance. No one wants to pay for it because everything's running just fine right now, and who wants to spend money they don't have to? Everything's great! Why bother?

Then a crisis hits, and if you don't have the protection in place, you are in deep trouble.

That "why bother?" attitude is what DevSecOps proponents need to overcome. Failure to do so could spell problems for any organization, issues that could even result in the business going under.

The Advantages of DevSecOps

Considering the benefits of DevSecOps, it's still not being implemented widely. At least, yet. Let's dig deeper into the benefits of adopting DevSecOps:

  • Teams catch security vulnerabilities during development, instead of having the problems manifest after app release, where the public is affected, and the company's reputation takes a hit
  • A better return on investment (ROI) in the organization's existing security infrastructure
  • The process is automated, which means fewer mistakes or administration failure incidents, two things that could otherwise contribute to cyber-attacks and downtime
  • Automation means that cybersecurity architects aren't needed to configure security consoles, freeing up the security teams to handle other pressing issues, boosting their agility and speed
  • Better communication and collaboration between teams
  • Greater flexibility in managing sudden changes during the development lifecycle
  • More significant opportunities for quality assurance testing and automated builds

Implementing DevSecOps Measures

So, how can you introduce these measures in your organization?

The team must make sure that security is built into the app development from one end to the other to implement DevSecOps successfully in a strategy summed up as "shifting security focus to the left." The six vital components of any DevSecOps approach are:

  • Code Analysis

    Deliver code in small pieces, making it easier to spot vulnerabilities faster
  • Change Management

    Boost both speed and efficiency by letting any team member submit changes, then determine if the change helps or hurts
  • Compliance Monitoring

    Be prepared for an audit at any time by always staying compliant
  • Threat investigation

    Identify potential developing threats in each code update and respond quickly
  • Vulnerability Assessment

    Identify new vulnerabilities with code analysis, then determine the speed of the response and resolution
  • Security Training

    Train software developers and IT engineers with consistent guidelines for every routine

Here's a checklist of specific steps relating to the six components:

  • Automate and standardize the environment, minimizing unauthorized access
  • Centralize user identities and access control capabilities, tightening access control
  • Containers running microservices must be isolated from the network and each other
  • Data between apps and services must be encrypted
  • Implement more secure API gateways
  • Integrate security scanners for all containers
  • Automate continuous integration (CI) processes' in security testing
  • Include automated validation tests for security capabilities in the user acceptance test process
  • Automate security updates and patches
  • Automate audits, remediations, and system and service configuration management capabilities

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DevSecOps Skills and Tools

The world of DevSecOps offers a host of useful tools for security-minded teams. The following tools cover a range of security tasks:

  • Claire: Scans for vulnerabilities in Docker containers
  • HackerOne: Lets you effectively and efficiently triage and responds to vulnerability reports
  • Rapid7 Nexpose: Scans systems for vulnerabilities and manages the entire lifecycle of vulnerability detection
  • Snyk: Checks open-source code libraries for any known issues
  • Stethoscope: Helps you manage user-focused security; open-source
  • Suricata: Detects threats against networks; open-source

Security teams that want to implement DevSecOps should master the following skills:

  • Hands-on experience working in the field of DevOps
  • Understanding programming languages such as Java, Perl, Python, PHP, and Ruby
  • Strong communication and teamwork skills
  • Knowledge of risk assessment and threat modeling techniques
  • A solid understanding and knowledge of the latest cybersecurity threats, current best practices, and related software
  • Knowledge of programs like Aqua, Checkmarx, Chef, Immunio, Puppet, and ThreatModeler. As a bonus, it’s also useful to have an understanding of AWS, Docker, or Kubernetes
  • Although not mandatory, a well-rounded DevSecOps professional has knowledge of DevOps practices or a DevOps Engineer certification

The Future of DevSecOps

As this article points out, more organizations are embracing DevSecOps as the accepted means of project development. In other words, the prospect of more career opportunities is bright. As more organizations see the benefit of end to end security implementation, DevOps will either fade away or get absorbed into DevSecOps.

Furthermore, the more automation that's added to the process, the more organizations will adopt DevSecOps. Automation is a time-saver, and, coupled with offering better security, turns DevSecOps implementation into a no-brainer.

Do you have the right skill-set to begin your career in DevOps? Try answering these DevOps Engineer practice test questions and find out now.

Interested in Learning More?

In order to develop the key skills necessary to become a DevOps expert, you will have to master configuration management, continuous integration, deployment, delivery, and monitoring using DevOps tools. You can learn all of this in Simplilearn’s DevOps Engineer Master's Program which enables you to prepare for a career in DevOps, the fast-growing field that bridges the gap between software developers and operations. The program consists of the DevOps Certification Training, DevOps on AWS, and more in its learning path.

If you are considering making a career move to cybersecurity, or maybe just want to upskill, then consider the Cyber Security Expert Master’s Program. The program provides you with the skills needed to become an expert in this rapidly growing field. You will learn comprehensive approaches to protecting your infrastructure, including securing data and information, running risk analysis and performing mitigation, architecting cloud-based security, achieving compliance, and much more with this best-in-class program.

Don’t hesitate! Visit Simplilearn and see how you can become a successful DevOps or cybersecurity professional in no time at all.

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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