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What is DevSecOps? | The Ultimate Guide

Parveen Bhandari | 28 September 2022


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Introduction to DevSecOps

Before exploring DevSecOps or its Tools, you need to know little about DevOps from where this term originated.

What is DevOps?

If you don’t know about DevOps then here is a short description of this emerging technology that has become an essential part of the software development process. DevOps Security Operations entirely focuses on securing applications and integrating the security in the DevOps processes. It helps to audit the existing IT Infrastructures, automate the security tools running in pipelines, and enable better collaboration and communication between development, operations, and security teams.

DevOps is a set of practices, which automate the build, test, and delivery processes making the processes faster and more reliable. It automates the processes between development and IT teams.

Promotes security engagement to a major or active part of the Software development life cycle (SDLC). Click to explore about, Its Role in CI/CD

What is DevSecOps?

It is an approach to providing security to applications and infrastructure based on the methodology of DevOps, which makes sure the application is less vulnerable and ready for users' uses. All things automated, and security checks started from the beginning of the application's pipelines. Selecting the right tools for Continuous Integration security achieves security goals, but the selection of tools is not enough, also needs security teams with the right tools to meet the required security. This blog is going to discuss it in detail.

Why it is Important?

In recent years, we have seen that cyber-attacks have increased many folds, and even the most prepared organizations can't deny the risk of undergoing a cyber-attack. It came into notice in the past few days that zero-day attacks compromised more than 65% of the total attacks, and the threats to cloud-based applications have significantly increased, which were previously negligible as more organizations are shifting towards cloud environments. 

Incorporating security is essential to the DevOps process as security can no longer be neglected or underestimated. Further, this increased level of threat has given rise to it.

  • Focus on the application's security from the beginning.
  • It finds vulnerabilities and encourages practitioners to build security processes.
  • It seeks to provide better results at greater speed same as DevOps.
  • Reducing vulnerabilities, and increasing code coverage and automation.

What are the challenges of it?

The shift from DevOps to it has created plenty of problems for developers. Let's take a look at the most common its challenges you're likely to face while adopting it.

Lack of Knowledge

Professional growth and education, in addition to cultural prerequisites, are critical. According to Security Compass's research, one of the most common its implementation issues is a lack of education/awareness on security and compliance, which was mentioned by 38 percent of respondents.

Complex Tool Integrations

Different companies make the majority of DevOps toolchains. Teams select source code management, continuous integration/delivery, build tools, binary libraries, code review, and problem monitoring solutions based on their individual needs. Adding security tools complicates matters even more. Insecurity analysis, static application security testing (SAST), software composition analysis (SCA), and some form of dynamic testing approaches are commonly utilized. Developers require a comprehensive picture of the issues. However, combining and reconciling results from diverse vendors' resources might be problematic.

What are the Myths?

It appears to attract its fair share of myths. As we head into 2022, it's time for the industry to work to dispel those myths for our potential customers, current customers, and internal stakeholders. Let’s take a look at some common myths and find out the truth behind them.

DevSecOps is enabled by Culture

It is frequently thought to be facilitated by culture. That isn't the case. It is, in reality, founded on and enabled by technology. Culture is the result of this. Attempts to prioritize culture over security usually fail because an appropriate AppSec foundation is required. We've seen corporations form its teams, train people in DevOps principles, recite mantras of continuous and secure releases, and then produce nothing.

Any AppSec Technology can be used with DevOps, making it DevSecOps

This fallacy causes DevOps practitioners to adopt the wrong AppSec technologies to transition DevOps into it — "conventional" AppSec technologies created in a pre era. As a result, the outcomes are frequently disappointing.

DevSecOps equals Automation

AppSec invocation and execution along the SLC need to be automated so that AppSec technologies can run automatically as part of the continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) process and that it is unachievable without AppSec automation. The truth is that automation is required in some AppSec technologies, but not all.

How does it work?

The fundamental goal of it is to secure the application by making security and operations team members practicing and co-operating with development from the very beginning of a project. Below is the overview of its work: Analysis of infrastructure and environments to get an idea of the challenges involves -

  • Applications and APIs.
  • Libraries and Frameworks.
  • Container and Cloud.
  • Network.
  • Secure: After analyzing, secure it, and choose the right path according to culture.
  • Automate Security Testing and verify it.
  • Detect Attacks and prevent Exploits, i.e. defend the system.

What are the benefits of adopting security in DevOps?

Below highlighted are the benefits:

  • Reduction of expenses and Delivery rate increases.
  • Security, Monitoring, Deployment check, and notifying systems from the beginning.
  • It supports openness and Transparency right from the start of development.
  • Secure by Design and the ability to measure.
  • Faster Speed of recovery in the case of a security incident.
  • Improving Overall Security by enabling Immutable infrastructure which further involves security automation.
An Operator is a means of packaging, deploying, and maintaining a Kubernetes application-coresOS. Click to explore about, Kubernetes Operators and Framework

What are the benefits of DevOps Security?

DevSecOps and its Tools aim at integrating security principles and standards in the DevOps cycle, i.e., implementing security controls at each level of the DevOps cycle, especially in the early stages of the software development lifecycle. It also helps create a ' Security as Code' approach by ensuring flexible collaboration between security teams and release engineers.

  1. Minimize vulnerabilities in applications.
  2. Helps to implement compliance into the delivery pipeline from day one.
  3. Maintain and ensure compliance.
  4. Provides the ability to respond to changes rapidly.
  5. Identify vulnerabilities in the early stages of the software development lifecycle.
  6. Offers more speed and agility to security teams.
  7. Helps to build a trustful relationship with organizations.
  8. Increase observability.
  9. Increase traceability.

The theory, or we can say the philosophy of adopting security practices with the DevOps process. Click to explore about, DevSecOps Pipeline - A Complete Overview

How to adopt it?

Nowadays the greatest obstacle to it is culture, not technology. Traditionally, security teams and dev teams work separately. To successfully move to a Desvsecops methodology, follow the DevOps methodology in both Sec. and Dev. Teams must make application security an integrated strategy and continue to encourage security awareness. Effective ways to adopt it:
  • Automate the process as much as possible.
  • Follow the DevOps methodology.
  • Train to code securely.
  • Evaluation of current security measures and concluding what to do to overcome problems.
  • Integrate the security.
  • By adopting the right tools.
  • Monitoring Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery.
  • Analyze code and do a vulnerability assessment.
  • Mandatory security at every stage.
Define a model that the organizations can adapt to implement it. For example which one of the below models is better for organizations -
  • Static Analysis Security Testing (SAST).
  • Dynamic Analysis Security Testing (DAST).
  • Software Composition Analysis (SCA).
  • Container security

How to know whether the adoption of it is successful or not?

Successful Adoption of DevSecOps depends upon -

  • Detection of threats, security defects, and flaws.
  • Deployment frequency.
  • Meantime to their repair and recovery.
  • Lead time.
  • Test coverage.

A methodology or an operating model that establish an Agile relationship between growth and IT operations. Click to explore about, DevOps and SRE on Google Cloud Platform

What are the best uses of it?

  • Integrate security throughout the DevOps process.
  • To train on secure coding.
  • Automate the whole pipeline from Continuous Integration to Continuous Deployment.
  • Choose the appropriate tools for the security check.
  • To move to Git as a single source of truth.
  • To know code dependencies.
  • Use an analytics-driven SIEM platform.

What are the best practices of it?

Organizations looking to integrate security with their DevOps pipelines should adopt practices and tools that bring together application development, IT operations, QA testing, and security teams under a common Umbrella.
Here are the best practices for organizations looking to implement it.

Automate your DevOps Security Processes and Tools

You have no hope of expanding security to DevOps processes without automated security solutions for code analysis, configuration management, patching and vulnerability management, and privileged credential/secrets management. Human error, as well as the resulting downtime or vulnerabilities, are reduced through automation.

Deploy automated tools first to discover potential risks, troublesome or susceptible code, and process and infrastructure concerns.

Enforce Policy & Governance

Communication and governance are critical for DevOps environments—or any environment—to achieve holistic security. Create transparent cybersecurity policies and processes that developers and other team members can easily understand and accept. This will assist teams in writing code that complies with security criteria.

Conduct Vulnerability Management

Before being deployed to production, vulnerabilities should be scanned, analyzed, and remedied appropriately across development and integration environments. Use penetration testing and other attack mechanisms to find flaws in pre-production code and suggest areas for improvement. DevOps security can perform tests and tools against production software and infrastructure to find and patch flaws and issues once products are launched into an operational environment.

Adopt Configuration Management

Scan for misconfigurations and potential faults and correct them. Use industry best practices to harden all configurations. Provide continuous configuration and hardening baseline scanning for physical, virtual, and cloud assets across servers and code/builds.

DevOps Secrets Management ensures Secure Access

Remove embedded credentials from code, scripts, files, service accounts, numerous tools, cloud platforms, and other places. This entails isolating the password from the code to be safely stored in a centralized password safe while not in use. Privileged password management solutions can require programs and scripts to use a centralized password safe by forcing them to call (or request) the password. You obtain access to scripts, files, code, and embedded keys using API calls. Then you may automate password rotation as often as your policy requires.

With Privileged Access Management, you can Control, Monitor, and Audit Access

Reduce the chances of internal or external attackers escalating privileged user permissions or exploiting faulty code by enforcing least privilege access rights. In practice, this means removing administrator access from end-user machines, keeping privileged account credentials securely, and mandating a simple check-out sequence.

DevOps vs DevSecOps

DevOps is a software engineering technique that brings together development and operations tasks to enable agile, continuous delivery. Teams who use DevOps principles generally see increased productivity, performance indicators, and higher-quality software. Other advantages include:

  • Reduced time-to-market
  • The application's stability improves
  • Increased responsiveness to competitive shifts

It adds security automation and additional security processes to the DevOps flow, in addition to the benefits of DevOps. The most basic solutions, for example, begin with adding its pieces to the CI-CD pipeline. When done correctly, it does more than add security aspects; it makes security an inherent part of the entire process, from start to finish.

Top 5 Integration Tools

Some best tools to integrate throughout DevOps Pipeline
  • ThreatModeler
  • Contrast Security
  • Continuum Security
  • Elastalert
  • Kibana and Grafana

Understanding Holistic Approach

DevSecOps, as discussed above is an approach to implementing security to applications and infrastructure based on the methodology of DevOps, that makes sure the application is less exposed and ready for user's use. All things automated, and security checks started from the beginning of the application's pipelines. To understand more about it, you are advised to look into the below steps: