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What is DevSecOps? Everything You Need to Know on the What, Why & When

DevSecOps

Publish Date

May 13, 2021

Written by

ZeroNorth

Tagged with

  • Continuous Security
  • Application Security
  • DevSecOps
  • DevOps
  • Digital Transformation
  • AppSec
  • Secure DevOps

The most basic definition of DevSecOps is found in the abbreviation itself. As a combination of development, security and operations, the term DevSecOps is about ensuring these three functions are fully and continually integrated through the software development life cycle (SDLC).  It enables the development of secure applications by automating security at every phase of the SDLC—from the initial design phase through integration, testing, deployment and delivery. The goal of DevSecOps is to align Security with DevOps, which strives for fast, efficient and reliable software delivery through production.

As a natural and important evolution, DevSecOps is a practice, a cultural strategy for organizations looking to unite security and development teams under the shared goal of building better, safer software. In the past, security was “bolted on” near the end of the development cycle, almost as an afterthought, by a separate security team and then tested by yet another group tasked with quality assurance. But as software developers began to adopt Agile and DevOps practices, looking to reduce these cycles down to shorter intervals, this traditional process created untenable congestion and delay.

DevSecOps promotes better application and infrastructure security by seamlessly integrating it into existing processes and tools. That means security issues are addressed before production, as they emerge when they are easier and less costly to take on.

Challenges of DevSecOps?

Despite offering the promise of better software, implementing DevSecOps is not without its challenges. Misalignment and friction between development and security teams can seriously impact businesses looking to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. When un-secure software is launched into production, organizations (and their customers) can face serious consequences like digital breaches, compliance violations, soaring security budgets, and loss of reputation and revenue. Here are some of the main problems facing the implementation of DevSecOps today:

  • Developer Knowledge Gap & Pipeline Friction: Oddly enough, secure code practices are often not part of a natural development process, as many software engineers do not have the knowledge or training to undertake security on their own. While most developers today recognize the need for better application security, they are typically not incentivized to take it on. Rather, they are primarily concerned with maintaining the flow, agility and velocity of their pipelines. Traditional AppSec tools do not move at the speed of modern business. It’s not enough to just build security into development pipelines; AppSec testing must take place throughout the SDLC and run automatically without human intervention. By automating SAST, SCA, and other AppSec scanning tools within their workflows, developers can focus on the highest risk and report back with integrity.
  • Problems with AppSec Tool Integration: Most organizations use several AppSec tools to test code and scan assets, from the beginning of a build all the way through production. But because most toolchains are comprised of disparate tools from multiple vendors, including open source, developers lack the consolidated, real-time view of security risk. Security analysis usually requires a combination of static application security testing (SAST), software composition analysis (SCA), and some type of dynamic application security testing (DAST), which means the results from these different tools must be pulled together into a clear, actionable view for developers. Otherwise, there is no way to decipher the loads of vulnerability data generated through these tools, many of which have different formats and taxonomies.
  • Cultural Divide: The core of DevSecOps lies in team unity. Although security and DevOps teams must work cooperatively to achieve this goal, it’s not always easy. The process of bridging the cultural divide between teams happens gradually, as people must adopt new, unfamiliar methods of working over comfortable, familiar ones. A fundamental agreement on how to integrate security more effectively throughout the development process is key to success, as businesses face considerable risk when AppSec is not a shared responsibility.

Benefits of DevSecOps?

When development, security and operations teams share the responsibility for DevSecOps practices, siloed thinking is replaced with better communication and collaboration. This unity helps businesses deliver better, more secure software faster and more affordably. Here are some key benefits to remember:

  • Greater Speed and Agility: When DevSecOps practices are not implemented, security problems can lead to major delays, as finding and fixing code issues can be a time-consuming and expensive process. The quick and secure delivery of DevSecOps saves time and minimizes expense by reducing the need for repeat processes around security problems. Integrated security cuts this duplicate work and results in a better, safer product that is released on time.
  • Proactive Security Response: DevSecOps ensures code is reviewed, audited, scanned and tested for security issues throughout the SDLC, which can then be immediately addressed through remediation. This practice reduces the time it takes to deal with vulnerabilities when they are discovered later on and frees up security teams to focus on more important tasks. Automated security testing is compatible with modern development and allows for continuous integration, a development process that analyzes code more frequently. Because DevSecOps lends itself to a repeatable and adaptive process, it allows organizations to mature along with the AppSec programs and security postures. A mature implementation includes solid automation, configuration management and orchestration.
  • Better Team Collaboration and Communication: The DevSecOps philosophy brings the goals of DevOps and security together so both teams are working toward the same goal of quick and secure software deployments. Security is no longer viewed as an obstacle or an afterthought, while developers are empowered to innovate while simultaneously addressing security concerns throughout the build.
  • Cost Savings: Fixing security issues sooner and with fewer resources means less money is spent on problems during development. Remediation after the fact take more intensive effort and drains budgets. Fixing errors after deployment is an even bigger financial concern, not to mention it impacts overall revenue.

How Can ZeroNorth Help with DevSecOps?

ZeroNorth seamlessly embeds AppSec scanning within existing and familiar DevOps toolchains and processes to make security a natural part of software development. Its automation and orchestration capabilities remove the complexity of managing AppSec scanning tools to give developers the clear, real-time view of risk they need to action critical data and remediate vulnerabilities quickly and well. Other top features of the ZeroNorth DevSecOps platform include:

  • Support of leading commercial application scanning tools with embedded, ready-to-run open source capabilities
  • Centralized management and orchestration of scanning tools to align teams and remove complexity
  • Ingestion, correlation and compression of tool data to remove produce streamlined tickets to developers
  • A trail back to source code where developers can begin effective remediation work

Organizations no longer need to choose between speed and security. With the ZeroNorth DevSecOps platform, companies can increase the efficacy of their AppSec program by making its functions transparent and friction-free or developers trying to maintain velocity and innovation in equal measure. With the visibility of the ZeroNorth platform, developers can meet security expectations and corporate standards without changing their workflows or grappling with complex tool data. In short, ZeroNorth is an enabling platform for a successful journey toward DevSecOps practices.

 


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The ZeroNorth DevSecOps platform offers options for your DevSecOps journey—getting started with AppSec, needing enterprise AppSec visibility or to fully integrate AppSec into DevOps.