What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps addresses security issues early on in the development life cycle by adding the missing security and team collaboration components.

What is DevSecOps Definition and Meaning?

DevSecOps is revolutionizing the IT and security landscape. So, what exactly is DevSecOps and why should IT management pay attention? DevSecOps, in short, is the collaboration of development, security, and operations teams with the key objective to automate the security integration process at every phase of the software development life cycle. The concept behind the DevSecOps methodology is to bridge the missing security gap in the DevOps delivery process.

DevSecOps differs from the traditional DevOps approach of quick delivery time and focuses more on preventing vulnerabilities from the onset of production. DevSecOps incorporates an agile framework and a shift-left security testing approach where quality is at the core focus and is performed early on in order to minimize costly errors in later stages of the software delivery pipeline. DevSecOps helps to automate security testing and improves an organization’s security compliance objectives.

Communication is essential. Developers and engineers must be fully aligned and share different responsibilities throughout each step of the delivery process. A successful DevSecOps approach requires an immediate culture shift and collaboration between development, security, and operations teams from initial design to final stage implementation. More and more organizations are quickly adopting the DevSecOps approach and for good reason. The DevSecOps market is on an enormous growth trajectory that is expected to reach a CAGR of 32.05% by 2028.

The concept of DevSecOps has been around for quite a while and glimpses of it could even be traced back to the Toyota Production System in Japan back in the 1950s. Toyota incorporated a similar critical problem-solving technique known as The 5 Whys.

Originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda, this philosophy was woven into the Toyota Production System with the primary objective of “asking why” five times to find the root cause of the problem, similar to the DevSecOps methodology of continuous testing and shared responsibilities. This lean approach has helped countless organizations reduce costs and eliminate errors throughout each phase of production. 

6 Pillars of DevSecOps

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) released a report which outlined the 6 Pillars of DevSecOps to ensure a secure cloud computing environment.

  1. Collective Responsibility – Everyone has their own responsibilities and must be aware of their own contribution to the organization’s security stance. Edge users and developers need to be not just “security-aware” but recognized as the first line of defense.
  2. Collaboration and Integration – Team collaboration is absolutely essential to the organization’s security framework. Each team member must be in sync with one another in order to detect any vulnerabilities. 
  3. Pragmatic Implementation – Pragmatic implementation is all about choosing the right set of tools for implementing application security within software life cycles. Since each life cycle differs, particularly in regards to its maturity, CSA suggests using a framework-agnostic security and privacy model focused on application development.
  4. Bridging Compliance and Development – The key to addressing this gap between compliance and development is to identify applicable controls, translating them to appropriate software measures, and identifying inflection points within the software life cycle where these controls can be automated and measured.
  5. Automation – Automation greatly increases production and helps reduce human-prone errors that occur in manual deployment. Processes that can be automated should be, and those that can’t should be considered for elimination.
  6. Measure, Monitor, Report, and Action – The results during software development as well as post-delivery must be measured, monitored, reported, and acted upon in order for DevSecOps to succeed. The metrics include deployment frequency, vulnerability patch time, percentage code automatically tested, and automated tests per application.  

These six principles are essential to protect and reshape an organization’s overall security posture and product life cycles.

What is a DevSecOps Pipeline?

A DevSecOps pipeline is a set of security practices with the aim of reducing the software development life cycle. Organizations looking to strengthen security infrastructure can greatly benefit by implementing an effective DevSecOps pipeline strategy.

These are the main phases of the DevSecOps Pipeline. 

Plan – The first part of the DevSecOps pipeline is a team collaboration and security analysis before production begins. Security teams discuss all the necessary steps and review them before the process begins. 

Code – Developers work together on pre-commit hooks and utilize CI/CD tools and other security testing plugins in Gitlab and other open-source code management platforms.

Build – Developers then commit to code in the source repository and begin with SAST (Static application security testing) to secure software by scanning and reviewing the source code for any vulnerabilities. 

Test – Security testing is conducted during this phase. Dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools are used to identify potential security vulnerabilities in the web application. The most common vulnerabilities include XSS scripting, SQL injection, and authentication errors. 

Release –  This phase focuses on the runtime environment and full configuration management analysis. Relevant security audits are performed on the application code before it can move further down the pipeline.  

Deploy – Once the review phase of the DevSecOps pipeline is successful, the application is then ready to be deployed. Organizations can benefit tremendously by following chaos engineering principles to experiment on a system in order to build confidence in the system’s capability to withstand turbulent conditions in production. Netflix engineers developed the Chaos Monkey protocol which incorporates the chaos engineering principles.   

Monitor – The final step in the DevSecOps pipeline consists of a late-stage security review and assessment known as a Compliance Check before the application heads into production. A set of compliance policies and standards should be implemented and key metrics such as deployment time, number of failed security tests, and remediation time should be tracked to monitor progress throughout development. 

Ongoing continuous security testing and monitoring must be performed to check vulnerabilities within the live application. Tools such as Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) are designed to automatically detect and block potential threats in real-time using runtime instrumentation.  

Respond – Security teams are also armed with an arsenal of tools to help mitigate threats while the application is live in production. There are scanning tools such as Infrastructure Scan which assesses both the internal and external security flaws

The internal scan provides vulnerability details within an organization’s network access and an external scan assumes the role of an attacker outside of your security perimeter, more commonly known as a breach and attack simulation. 

It is crucial to secure your perimeters throughout the CI/CD pipeline and beyond. A Software-Defined Perimeter framework should be set up in order to restrict network access and secure all cloud environments.     

Teams need to be fully aligned throughout the DevSecOps pipeline in order to close the security loop and build a successful DevSecOps strategy. 

What Are DevSecOps Tools?

There are a wide variety of DevSecOps tools readily available to help security teams overcome the various DevSecOps challenges for each phase of the DevSecOps life cycle. Gartner estimates that by 2022, 90% of software development projects will claim to be following DevSecOps practices, including the implementation of a well-defined toolchain.

DevSecOps Toolchain

A DevSecOps toolchain consists of a set of tools from a variety of third-party DevSecOps vendors that fit an organization’s needs. They address technical and security issues, best policy practices, ensure rapid product delivery and automate development throughout the application life cycle. These tools cover all the components of DevSecOps and provide continuous feedback throughout the development life cycle.  

Implementing a DevSecOps toolchain can help automate workflows which translates to a faster runtime and more efficient product deployment process. Teams can collaborate on projects using continuous integration and planning workflows together.

For example, a team can open a commit in GitLab, use Jenkins for continuous integration (CI), move it over to Selenium for QA testing, publish it with Docker, and use Splunk for continuous monitoring.

DevSecOps Open Source Tools

Open source tools support a variety of security needs and allow teams to deploy changes instantly as they go further down the toolchain. Some of the most common DevSecOps open source tools include GitHub, Jenkins, Docker, Nagios, Snyk, DataDog, and JFrog. Each open-source tool has its own set of functions and guidelines. The image below will give you a better indication of which category and stage in the DevSecOps pipeline they fall under.

Breakdown of the categories in a DevSecOps pipeline: 

Pre-Commit Hooks – These tools protect sensitive information such as access tokens or keys which might accidentally leak into a public source code.  

Secrets Management – Enables admins to protect passwords, rotate database credentials, and API keys across various cloud services.  

SAST (Static Application Security Test) – A static analysis test or white box testing methodology is used to detect and analyze any security vulnerabilities in code prior to deployment. SAST is extremely important in that it provides developers with real-time feedback as they code and guidance on how to remediate security issues before they advance to the next phase of the software development life cycle.

DAST (Dynamic Application Security Test) – Dynamic Application Security Testing or DAST is a form of AppSec testing that simulates malicious attacks from a hacker’s perspective and tests an application for errors while in runtime. 

Some of the more common attacks include SQL injection, DDoS attacks, DNS Spoofing, XSS attacks, and other forms of social engineering which can have serious consequences if the application goes into production. DAST tools incorporate advanced forms of pen testing and scan your application to detect security vulnerabilities before anything goes into the final stages of production.  

Source Composition Analysis – An SCA is the process of automating visibility into the use of open-source libraries for the purpose of risk management. 

Security Infrastructure as Code – This is where Docker images from public repositories are scanned for vulnerabilities as containers become targets for malware.   

Compliance as Code – Automates compliance rules and policy requirements while minimizing human error in a machine-readable language.  

Vulnerability Management – These tools identify, evaluate, and remediate vulnerabilities in security systems.  

In addition to all the free DevSecOps open source tools is an open-source community called The Online Web Application Security Project or OWASP. 

OWASP is an amazing learning hub where diverse security professionals collaborate on projects together and is filled with all the latest DevSecOps techniques, tools, and articles, including a DevSecOps Guideline and other valuable resources.   

There are also Business VPNs that provide secure network access and integrate with cloud services. Organizations might want to consider switching to an OpenVPN alternative that secures network access without the complex and time-consuming configuration.

What Is The DevSecOps Flow?

One of the key advantages of implementing a DevSecOps into your security practices is that it increases process flow via automation without slowing down production. Developers can leverage valuable insights and intelligence such as threat modeling to reduce vulnerabilities, minimize the risk for human errors and identify security bugs early in the life cycle.

Human error is a major issue that can drastically hinder development and the entire production process. Hackers target employees and exploit vulnerabilities using a slew of phishing attacks and other well-designed social engineering attacks.

Researchers at IBM Cyber Security stated that 95% of all data breaches were attributed to human error. This is the reason why organizations must deploy an effective CI/CD pipeline. 

DevSecOps CI-CD

CI/CD describes the best practice of combining both continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) into a DevSecOps pipeline throughout the app life cycle. Both developers and operational teams are able to overcome the communication barrier and work together to resolve any issues within the application code before heading to production. Teams can update releases at a much quicker rate with fewer incidents for security flaws. 

There are many automation tools that integrate with the CI/CD methodology. One of the more popular open-source automation tools is Jenkins. The DevSecOps Jenkins CI/CD tool makes it easier for developers to build, test, and deploy code effortlessly. Jenkins has tons of valuable plugins which are updated regularly and an interconnected community of like-minded developers ready to assist.  

Another popular DevSecOps CI automation tool is Heroku. Heroku is a container-based cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), used by developers to deploy, manage, and scale modern apps. Heroku CI builds and deploys code to a temporary app with minimal configuration.

Heroku also integrates with GitHub and Jenkins for continuous delivery. GitHub allows developers to commit to a shared repository while Jenkins comprises the continuous delivery component and integrated workflow of the DevSecOps CI/CD pipeline.

DevSecOps Security Tools

Devsecops Threat Modeling

Threat modeling is the process of identifying potential threats and devising countermeasures to mitigate against them. Threat modeling examines the main vulnerabilities during the design phase in which an attack might take place. Threat modeling was first introduced in 1994 by Edward Amoroso. Amoroso spoke about threat trees which showed how IT systems could be potentially exploited in a tree diagram. 

The concept has since evolved to protect smart and connected devices. Threat modeling should be incorporated into a DevSecOps pipeline to simplify the deployment journey. Threat modeling places more emphasis from the perspective of a hacker. Understanding the mindset of an attacker can help save organizations a great deal of time both on the actual product deployment and costs of remediation in the event of a major security breach.

DevSecOps Security Solutions for Cloud Providers

Organizations of all sizes are quickly migrating to the cloud. Cloud providers such as AWS, GCP, and Azure offer developers instant and flexible computing infrastructure, known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud or Platform as a Service (PaaS).

These security solutions provide developers with all the tools and resources needed to grow at scale without a major investment.  

Organizations will also have to implement DevSecOps best practices in order to reap the full rewards from their cloud security solution providers. Here are the six fundamental steps that can take your cloud security to the next level when implementing DevSecOps in the cloud. 

  1. Code Analysis – Client satisfaction is a top priority. Development teams will need to adopt an agile approach and methodology throughout the cloud migration process. Scrum is an agile framework used by agile teams to manage product development in the shortest time. Scrum is often paired together with Kanban (real-time workflow boards for team communication) in the agile development process to give security teams transparency when building and analyzing code early on in the SDLC. 
  2. Automated Testing – The key factor in the entire DevSecOps methodology is automation. Automated testing simplifies as much of the testing effort as possible with a minimum set of scripts. Automated testing should be performed at each stage of the development cycle to reduce any potential errors in the code. 
  3. Change Management – Encourages teams to collaborate together on projects in the cloud with tools and security training to neutralize threats before they escalate. Mission-critical security changes must be addressed in a timely manner to prevent any vulnerabilities early on. 
  4. Compliance Monitoring – Organizations shifting to the cloud must adhere to compliance regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, and SOC 2 Type 2 in order to safeguard critical data and prevent attacks from occurring. It is crucial to have secure compliance regulations in place to keep you prepared for audits and reports.  
  5. Threat Investigation – Continuous monitoring such as routine security scans, code reviews, and threat investigations must be performed to identify potential vulnerabilities throughout the software development life cycle. Changes to code must be applied before anything can go into production.   
  6. Security Training for Employees – Empower your personnel with continuous security training and education. There are many security conferences and certifications available such as (ISC)² which is an international, nonprofit membership association for information security leaders. Another highly recommended organization is The DevOps Institute. You can view their DevSecOps certification here and the (ISC)² certifications here

What is DevSecOps Methodology and Process

DevSecOps Security Checklist

Once an organization has implemented a collaborative DevSecOps strategy, the next step is to develop an effective DevSecOps security checklist. This five-point checklist highlights the best DevSecOps practices. 

  1. Embrace Automation – Speed is the key accelerant that helps drive the automation process forward and the standard requirement for continuous testing and continuous integration. Security tools such as Dynamic application security testing (DAST) scans for vulnerabilities in real-time and can identify configuration errors as well. 
  2. Risk Management in Third-Party Tools – Code dependency testing is essential.  Having an OWASP utility check will ensure that the code is vulnerability-free is these codes from open source projects. Vulnerabilities can easily pass through code undetected and wind up in production unless these issues are remediated on the spot. 
  3. Security Management Process – Developers must work in unison and have a single repository where they can report bugs and fix them as code moves forward. Code is then modified in a single place while avoiding any potential confusion through many different repositories. The security team can then execute the authentication testing protocol.  
  4. Integrating Bug Tracker in Application Security System – Fixing bugs should be a top priority for all security and development teams. Integrating a bug tracker will fire up detailed bug reports automatically. Developers will know exactly how to treat each issue before going into the next step of the production and deployment environments.  
  5. Threat Modelling – Pinpointing potential glitches and other security flaws is the final piece of the security puzzle and DevSecOps security checklist. Threat modeling addresses the risk analysis of each threat which will help teams identify threats in software components with counteractive security measures. 

Organizations looking to transform their overall security posture will have to implement and follow strict DevSecOps requirements before reaching a DevSecOps maturity model which ticks off every box in a security checklist. 

DevSecOps is an ongoing process of continuous testing and deployment. It creates a culture of shared responsibilities among security and development teams which ultimately leads to a significant cost reduction and a speedier delivery in the production life cycle. 

With an abundance of DevSecOps security testing tools and cloud security integrations readily available, developers now possess all the resources needed to thwart potential threats and close the missing security loop in their organizations.

Highlighting The Benefits of Perimeter 81 for DevSecOps

Minimize Application Vulnerabilities
DevSecOps significantly minimizes vulnerabilities from the onset through continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) throughout each phase of the software delivery life cycle.

Better Cloud Service Deployment
Integrating with major cloud security providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud offers developers all the tools and resources needed to grow at scale with minimum investment.

Improve Team Communication
The core principle of DevSecOps is a shift-left approach that tests earlier in an application life cycle and emphasizes a culture shift in team communication among developers and operational teams.

DevSecOps FAQs

What is DevSecOps?
DevSecOps is short for development, security, and operations. It requires a culture shift within an organization and a shift-left approach to security testing. DevSecOps is a methodology that addresses the missing security gap early on in the software development life cycle (SDLC) by bringing security teams together, minimizing the potential for vulnerabilities, and speeding up production. 

DevSecOps places a strong emphasis on shared responsibilities among development and operations throughout each stage of the SDLC. DevSecOps best practices such as continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) must be integrated into a DevSecOps pipeline to deploy code faster and more efficiently.
What is the Difference Between DevOps and DevSecOps?
DevOps is the combination of software development and IT operations with the objective of reducing the systems development life cycle. DevOps places more emphasis on speed of delivery, whereas DevSecOps focuses more on the security aspect of the development process.

DevSecOps focuses on threat modeling and identifying vulnerabilities early in the CI/CD pipeline before heading to production. Security testing such as SAST (Static application security testing) and DAST (Dynamic application security testing) provide critical insights from the perspective of a hacker. Security teams are then able to identify and remediate vulnerabilities.
What is the Difference Between SecOps and DevSecOps?
SecOps is the combination of IT security and operations teams that integrate security tools and processes to safeguard an organization. DevSecOps integrates security into the application development cycle with a focus on collaboration between security teams, whereas SecOps maintains security and compliance for the IT systems on which those applications live.

DevSecOps also focuses on automated testing in each step of the SDLC. SecOps prioritizes incident tracking whereas DevSecOps rely on more automated testing tools and efficient workflows to speed up the delivery process while minimizing human error.
DevSecOps vs Agile
There’s nothing you can do with two firewalls that you can’t do better with one. A single firewall should be enough for any network, no matter how large or disparate, and if it’s served over the cloud as a FWaaS this is especially true. Consumption from the cloud and easy integration with all network resources (both local and cloud) means only one solution is ever necessary.

Agile software development is a set of frameworks that focus on iterative development cycles and incorporates team collaboration throughout the project life cycle. DevSecOps incorporates Agile best practices such as continuous integration and continuous delivery. The key difference is that Agile is a mindset while DevSecOps emphasizes a culture shift within an organization. 
DevSecOps vs SDLC
The SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle is a framework used to produce high-quality software in a cost-efficient manner and focuses on speed of delivery. The SDLC is broken down into six phases. These phases include planning, defining, designing, building, testing, and deployment.   

DevSecOps introduces the missing security component early on in the life cycle stage and focuses more on security as opposed to the speed of delivery. Security testing is stringently enforced in a team collaboration effort with the aim of minimizing human error and securing code before it passes to the next stages of production.
Application Security vs DevSecOps
AppSec or Application Security is the process of finding, fixing, and preventing security vulnerabilities at the application level, as part of the software development processes. DevSecOps is more of a culture shift and philosophy of integrating security into the development life cycle from the beginning. 

DevSecOps ensures that security policies are followed throughout an organization. Vulnerabilities are quickly discovered and fixed before application code can move further into production. 

Team members have all the security tools needed at their disposal and work together to build and deploy code faster while eliminating threats. AppSec tools such as SAST and DAST allow developers to identify and eliminate security vulnerabilities in the software application.

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