DevSecOps, the evolution of security in projects

Previously, we talked about how DevOps culture culture consolidated to revolutionize development and operations departments. This made the two go hand in hand and learn together to improve business processes. Nowadays, there is a third essential component in this equation: IT security. This is known as DevSecOps (short for development, security and operations).

In the past, security played an isolated and secondary role. It was not until the end of the development stage of a product or service that it was implemented. With the evolution of the DevOps methodology (where development cycles started to become more agile), the premature incorporation of security began to be valued. It was observed that, many times, when implemented at the end, there were errors that formed bottlenecks and even reversed the efficiency of DevOps initiatives.

Therefore, nowadays, many companies know that, for optimum performance, both the development and systems departments must also collaborate with the security department.

What is DevSecOps?

“DevSecOps is the working philosophy that automates the integration of security into every phase of the software development lifecycle, from initial design through integration, testing, deployment and software delivery. It represents a natural and necessary evolution in the way development organizations approach security.”

IBM

What is the difference with DevOps?

The main difference, of course, is the inclusion of security from the first phase of the entire DevOps process. In other words, all phases of planning, programming, testing, packaging, etc., involve a security review or application process. In this way, programmers will be in contact with the security and operations teams to work together to achieve a more secure code and application.

Why is it so important?

If we start applying security from the first planning phase (in this case threat modeling), what we do is prevent and control the appearance of security problems in the code of our application from the very moment it is created. In short, we are programming and deploying it securely.

In addition, the joint work of these three areas from the first minute avoids later communication or deployment problems, which can affect delivery times or malfunctions.

Benefits of DevSecOps

  • Delivering software quickly and cost-effectively.
  • Improved proactive security (greater speed and agility in security enforcement).
  • Early identification of vulnerabilities in the code.
  • Accelerated patching of security vulnerabilities.
  • Increased and improved collaboration and communication between teams.
  • Ability to respond to changes and requirements in less time.
  • Automation compatible with modern development.
  • A repeatable and adaptive process.
  • Security awareness and learning among team members.
  • Security personnel are freed up and can devote themselves to tasks that provide greater business value.

Introduction to the approach

The DevSecOps philosophy helps companies address security threats more effectively and in real time. It is important to emphasize that we must view security equipment as a valuable asset that helps prevent slowdowns, not as a hindrance to agility.

As an approximation, let’s learn about six important components of a DevSecOps implementation approach:

  1. Code analysis: delivers code in small fragments so that vulnerabilities can be quickly identified.
  2. Change management: increases speed and efficiency. It allows anyone to submit changes and then determine whether the change is good or bad.
  3. Compliance monitoring: be ready for an audit at any time. Which means being in a constant state of compliance, including collecting evidence of GDPR compliance, etc.
  4. Threat research: identify potential emerging threats with every code update and be able to respond quickly.
  5. Vulnerability assessment: locate new vulnerabilities with code analysis and then analyze how quickly they are responded to and remediated.
  6. Security training: trains software and IT staff with guidelines for established routines.

Conclusion

It is essential that all companies that have (or will have) development departments implement security from the moment a project is started. This approach is so important that Gartner has shared a series of recommendations for successfully tackling DevSecOps. Among them:

  • Adapt tools and processes to developers, not the other way around.
  • Do not try to eliminate all vulnerabilities during the development cycle.
  • Identify and eliminate known open source vulnerabilities first.
  • Train developers, but do not expect them to become security experts.
  • Adopt a “Security Champions” model (a group of security specialists distributed throughout the rest of the departments) and implement a simple tool for collecting security requirements.

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