DevOps vs DevSecOps: Navigating the Path to a Secure Software Delivery Pipeline
By Raimond Kempees
DevOps and DevSecOps methodologies have been adopted widely throughout the software development world, and there are various reasons why enterprises have adopted these methodologies over the years.
The DevOps paradigm has brought about a significant shift in how organizations approach software development and deployment with projections that by 2025, 70% of enterprises are expected to implement structured automation to deliver flexibility and productivity.
In this blog, we’ll look at the evolution of DevSecOps, the key distinctions between DevOps and DevSecOps, and explore how they have transformed the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a software development methodology that follows a set of development practices and uses automation to improve the speed and efficiency of software application delivery, while ensuring high code quality and reliability. It builds on close collaboration between software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) teams and often sees an evolution towards having both domains end up in one team or person – the DevOps engineer.
DevOps engineers automate software delivery processes so the team can release code into production environments at will, in a short timeframe and with high predictability and reliability.
This is enabled by adhering to and implementing the foundational DevOps principles of Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment and Continuous Monitoring. Building Test Automation, using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and continuously measuring and adhering to quality standards result in a solid DevOps culture that is able to create continuous value to the business.
Principles of DevOps
Continuous Integration (CI) refers to the practice of frequently and automatically integrating code changes from multiple contributors into a repository. This approach promotes regular small code updates that can easily be merged with other code updates, which helps to quickly detect any integration issues immediately, instead of encountering larger merge issues at a later stage and ending up in ‘merge hell’.
Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment (CD) refer to the structured automation of code deployment to runtime environments. This occurs after the code has passed initial tests, acting as quality gate, to ensure quality and enables teams to quickly deliver new features and software updates. A solid Continuous Delivery process ensures code is always in a release-ready state that can be manually or automatically deployed. In case deployments are also fully automated, the Continuous Deployment process is at work.
Continuous Monitoring is the ongoing analysis and reporting of performance, reliability, availability, and security. It enables DevOps teams to gather real-time data about running applications to address and respond faster to issues that may occur when an application is deployed to live environments.
Test Automation is the practice of using code and scripts to execute test cases and validate the behavior of the software. Through automated testing, DevOps teams have a reliable way to validate software functionality and can ensure that bugs are caught early in the development lifecycle.
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the practice of managing and provisioning infrastructure using code and automation rather doing this manually. IaC ensures consistency across different development environments and enables teams to replicate and scale infrastructure configurations easily.
Quality in DevOps refers to how well a software application meets the specified requirements and user expectations. It includes gauging reliability, performance, security, and user experience, as well as ensuring that written code adheres to industry standard quality and security guidelines, for example by using automation to scan code when that is pushed to a CI/CD stack that includes code quality scanning functionality as a step and quality gate.
Shift Left Approach places testing and issue resolution earlier in the software development lifecycle. This approach helps identify and mitigate code issues early in the development process – already at the Continuous Integration phase. By addressing issues earlier, changes are less costly and less complex to resolve, ultimately resulting in delivering more secure and resilient applications, with less cost and in a shorter timeframe.
Benefits of DevOps
Improved Collaboration and Breaking Down of Silos
Before DevOps, development and operations teams often worked in separate environments or teams, which led to communication challenges and delays. DevOps culture attempts to break down these silos by fostering a collaborative environment of cross-functional teams. These groups take a shared responsibility for software projects and releases and one team works to improve quality and speed of delivery end-to-end, from code generation to production releases.
Better Efficiency and Quality Through Automation
Through automation as well as continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, software deployment is more efficient and reliable. DevOps reduce human error by automating manual tasks and processes and allows teams to focus on revenue-driving activities. The DevOps paradigm further implements automated feedback loops that catch issues quickly and promote higher-quality code by using quality checks as actual quality gates.
What is DevSecOps?
DevSecOps is an advancement of DevOps and aims to address security (Sec) concerns within the software development lifecycle. Many developers and organizations wait until the end of the lifecycle or after the software has been pushed live before considering security. DevSecOps attempts to embed security as a collaborative responsibility throughout the software development lifecycle rather than as an afterthought.
The following DevSecOps principles enables organizations to reduce the risk of security breaches and encountering vulnerabilities by having them detected sooner in de development phases, so that teams can proactively fix them before any critical incidents occur.
Principles of DevSecOps
Security as Code (SaC) is the practice of creating security configurations and policies as code and embedding them in the DevOps lifecycle and ensuring that automated security tests and checks are done at the earliest moments in the development lifecycle. Security measures, such as access controls, encryption settings, and security checks, are defined and managed using code to ensure that security is correctly and consistently applied across environments.
Compliance and Regulatory Management ensure that security measures and software applications comply with relevant regulations like GDPR, HIPAA and ISO 27001, particularly relevant in highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance.
Code Analysis relies on automated tools and techniques to scan and analyze source code and its dependencies for potential security vulnerabilities and coding errors. It helps identify vulnerabilities before they are introduced to the production environment.
Threat Modeling is used to identify and evaluate potential security threats and vulnerabilities in a system so that they can be anticipated, mitigated, and resolved.
Benefits of DevSecOps
Faster Incident Response
DevSecOps include automated alerts and notifications that incorporate security practices into every stage of the software development lifecycle. This proactive approach allows faster responses to security incidents to minimize their impact.
Reduced Time to Market with Fewer Security Breaches
Whereas security testing can sometimes be a bottleneck that prevents software from being released quickly, DevSecOps alleviates this issue and reduces time to market by already testing for security issues early and automated and so tries to avoid last-minute delays by identifying and addressing security issues late in the release cycle.
Proactively identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities by integrating security into every phase of development, significantly reduces the likelihood of security breaches and can result in cost savings. Organizations with high DevSecOps standards and culture have an average data breach cost that was $1.7 million lower than those without a solid DevSecOps operation in place.
DevOps vs DevSecOps
Given that DevSecOps builds on DevOps, the difference between each approach and when to use each one isn’t always apparent.
Use of Automation
Automation is a cornerstone of both DevOps and DevSecOps. Teams rely on tools and scripts to automate manual tasks and reduce the likelihood of human error while ensuring speed and reliability. Basically, everything is expressed in code, so that automation is fully possible.
Use of Monitoring
Both DevOps and DevSecOps leverage monitoring to continuously track and analyze performance metrics. Continuous monitoring in this way helps detect issues in real time so that teams can respond to issues quickly.
Importance of Culture
While various tools are critical to DevOps and DevSecOps, both practices are reliant on building an open and collaborative culture within the organization practicing them. For the approaches to be successful, it requires frequent communication and collaboration between departments, domains, and roles.
While there are several similarities between DevOps and DevSecOps, there are also some key differences.
Principles and Processes
DevOps principles include continuous integration, delivery, automation, monitoring, and a culture of collaboration, a shift-left approach and shared responsibility. DevSecOps adds and incorporates security practices, including security as code, threat modeling, compliance management and code analysis.
DevOps relies on tools to help with automation, containerization, continuous integration, and deployment. This includes the likes of Docker and Kubernetes. DevSecOps builds on that and adds testing and scanning tools like SonarQube to help monitor security by adhering to OWASP recommendations.
DevOps emphasizes cross-functional teams where developers and operations professionals work together. For DevSecOps, security professionals are added to the mix.
Where to Start
When starting from scratch or from older development methodologies, building a DevOps foundation will be the best starting point. Once a foundation is in place and has proven itself, focus can be shifted toward DevSecOps. This is especially important for:
- Regulated industries such as finance and healthcare with strict compliance and security requirements for data and software applications.
- Government organizations where security and compliance must be embedded in every action.
- Companies in industries where cyber threats are more common, such as those in finance, energy and utilities, and education.
Implementing DevSecOps in Practice
Ultimately, every company should strive to create a DevSecOps practice or evolve their existing DevOps practice into one that incorporates a deeper focus on security via DevSecOps. Here are some steps to accomplish this:
Foster a Security Focused Culture
Building a successful DevSecOps practice requires companies to have the right culture in place, meaning stakeholders need to place emphasis on security at all stages of the software development lifecycle and often involves training on security topics.
Additionally, ensure that security teams are involved from the design and planning stage of any project. Building relationships between security personnel and developers will allow developers and operations teams to view the CISO as a partner in the development process rather than a box to check at the end.
Perform Security Audits on Current Infrastructure
Businesses should perform security audits to understand how secure their current processes and tools are and what they need to do to improve. Here, teams can rely on threat modeling to help them think like hackers and see how much the system can withstand attacks.
Implement Automated Security Testing
Implement automated security tests to perform testing when new features are added. As a minimum, Static Application Security Tests (SAST), Software Composition Analysis (SCA) and Dynamic Application Security Tests (DAST) are added to workflows.
Get Always-On Support
Whether you want to build a new SDLC strategy from scratch or enhance what’s already there, creating a collaborative culture and building the right processes is essential.
Content Bloom can enhance and support your DevSecOps strategy and set you toward continuous improvement. If you need our expertise as part of your larger infrastructure team or take full ownership to manage your development, staging, and production environments, we can provide you with managed IT services.
For one of North America’s largest banks with over $1.4 trillion in assets, round-the-clock support was necessary to ensure compliance and improve security. Content Bloom provided a customized managed services solution for their CMS and application infrastructure. With our support, they achieved 100% SLA compliance and received monthly reports on ongoing issues.
What is the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps?
DevOps focuses on speed and quality of software development and delivery. DevSecOps adds to this by prioritizing security and integrating automated security practices throughout the development lifecycle rather than waiting for the end.
Does DevSecOps include DevOps?
DevSecOps is the evolution of DevOps and goes a step further by adding security to the mix.
How to go from DevOps to DevSecOps
Moving from DevOps to DevSecOps requires a shift that instills the importance of security within the organization and the SDLC and by implementing security quality gates in the CI/CD stack.
Rewrite to ‘Where to start’. Everyone should get to DevSecOps eventually.
This is pretty much every industry..
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