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How DevSecOps is Changing the Game in the Technology World

More than just a buzzword, this security approach can improve business agility.

June 14, 2022 | By Adam Cavnar

devsecops strategy

Companies face a growing demand for better experiences and faster delivery. With more competition and technology evolution comes more cybersecurity threats. The solution? Consider security from the start with DevSecOps.

Let’s get started with the following questions:

  • What is DevSecOps?
  • How does it differ from DevOps?
  • What are the benefits of adopting this approach?

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps (development, security and operations) is an approach that folds security into each phase of the software development life cycle (SDLC). This model aligns development, security, operations and testing teams and processes for true collaboration and efficiency. Think: continuous integration, continuous deployment, continuous feedback and continuous security.

DevSecOps vs. DevOps and Security

DevOps changed the game. Bringing together development, operations and even testing teams nurtured cross-functional coordination and built a shared language. The result? The ability to move efficiently and react to market realities with speed never seen before. But for many companies using this approach, security was still an afterthought.

DevOps helps teams work in a way that keeps the company flexible and nimble. But that momentum comes to a stop when security comes in at the last phase. A DevOps approach with security added at the end does not honour the true purpose of DevOps.

That’s why this security approach has become popular in recent years. More applications are hosted in off-premises environments like cloud, containers or serverless. Laying a foundation of security becomes even more important.

Benefits of DevSecOps

When done well, this security approach can help you get back what we all wanted from DevOps in the first place: help teams move with efficiency to make business more flexible.

1. Increases Speed to Market

Leaving security to the final step slows down your application development cycles and creates re-work. Instead, build security into the foundation of the process at every step along the way.

By identifying and addressing security issues each sprint cycle, developers encounter fewer security issues later in the application development process. Imagine if the team can knock out a key vulnerability and fix bugs in each sprint. By bringing security to every step of the SDLC, developers may even start to consider security implications as they build. This practice will speed up your time to market, be less disruptive over time and improve quality.

2. Improves Quality

By infusing dynamic and static application security testing in the CI/CD pipeline throughout the SDLC, teams can address vulnerabilities earlier in the process. How does this concept come to life? Your security operations centre (SOC) team can be running a threat hunting programme on the application in progress. When the security team finds problems, developers close the loop and address those through coding.

Developers have the chance to ask, “While we’re addressing the security concern, can we also optimise the code? Can we add a new functionality?” Your teams can make the most out of the remediation time with a continuous work stream.

3. Boosts Application Security

Application security has become crucial, since so many attack surfaces are available to bad actors. Develop applications with a security-first mindset. Review and refactor your legacy and older applications.

Consider how many legacy applications need updating. As developers go through refactoring code, security teams should be threat hunting as well.

4. Integrates Compliance into the Development Process

In a working model where security is ever-present, wrapped around the entire working process is compliance. Does this meet your compliance requirements? Are you hitting all the controls you need to, including corporate controls? Companies must be able to demonstrate and verify that applications do meet compliance controls—and compliance requirements may vary between industries. This approach provides an audit trail that compliance is met.

Compliance may not pop up until an application is ready to hit the market. The application needs a security certificate or a formal annual audit. Audits are costly and time-consuming for everybody involved, so why not solve for that while developing? By bringing in compliance earlier, your teams already have the datasets and the audit trail to verify that an application has been built to compliance standards.

5. Supports Security Culture

Adopting this approach makes security a shared responsibility within the company. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, security risks expanded with the surge in remote work. Company leaders saw that security teams could no longer be relegated to the background. Security is not meant to be a bottleneck or a hindrance. It's integral to business operations. In companies with a security culture, security can even enable business growth.

Consider companies that foster a security-first mindset across every team in their company. Those companies are best poised to react in a security event. With more security champions, these companies are better prepared for any situation, cultivating cyber resilience.

DevSecOps is not a one-size-fits-all model, and it will take different companies more or less time to make this shift. Now is the time to start with a security-first, security-always strategy.