What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps stands for Development, Security, Operations, and the goal of this development approach is to integrate security into every stage of the software development and operations lifecycle, rather than consigning it to the Testing phase of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

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The Importance of the DevSecOps Approach

The DevSecOps movement is coming to prominence due to the growing costs of vulnerabilities in production software. In 2021, the number of newly discovered vulnerabilities increased over the previous year, and 2022 is on track to beat 2021’s numbers. These vulnerabilities can be exploited to breach sensitive data, infect systems with malware, or achieve other malicious goals.

The later that a vulnerability is detected in the SDLC, the greater the cost to the organization. Some estimates put the cost of fixing a vulnerability in production as 100x higher than if the same potential vulnerability was identified and addressed in the Requirements stage of the SDLC.

DevSecOps is designed to reduce these costs and risks. By “shifting security left” or integrating security earlier into the SDLC, companies can reduce the cost of remediation. Additionally, identifying vulnerabilities before they reach production reduces the probability of expensive, damaging security incidents.

DevSecOps vs DevOps

DevOps practices are designed to speed and streamline development processes through collaboration and automation. By creating a tighter integration between development and operations teams, shortening development cycles, and automating where possible, DevOps provides significant benefits compared to traditional development methodologies.

DevSecOps differs from DevOps in that it brings the security team into this collaboration earlier in the SDLC. In the past, security was largely relegated to the Testing phase of the SDLC, when development was largely complete and the cost of fixing problems was high. Integrating security from the start reduces the cost of remediating vulnerabilities and improves the chances that security is integrated, rather than “bolted on”.

DevSecOps Best Practices

Implementing DevSecOps requires implementing very different processes and philosophies than traditional development methodologies. Some best practices that can help to improve the success of a DevSecOps program include:

  1. Shift Security Left: One of the problems that DevSecOps was designed to solve was the fact that security commonly only entered the picture during the Testing phase of the SDLC. Shifting security left by integrating security into the process as early as possible helps to reduce the costs of strong security.
  2. Automate Where Possible: Manual processes are slow and error-prone, and relying on manual security processes increases the probability that they will be ignored to speed development and release timelines. Integrating vulnerability scanning, configuration management, and other security processes into automated CI/CD pipelines improves the quality of security and reduces its impact on development timelines.
  3. Adopt Security as Code: Security as Code involves implementing vulnerability scanning, security policies, validations, and other security processes as code. This makes it easier to ensure that strong, consistent, and scalable security practices are implemented across the entire organization.
  4. Integrate the Right Tools: Automating security requires access to the right tools and integration of these tools into automated CI/CD pipelines. Application security (AppSec) tools such as static application security testing (SAST), dynamic application security testing (DAST), interactive application security testing (IAST), and source composition analysis (SCA) solutions help to identify vulnerabilities early in the SDLC. With the rise of containerization, image assurance, intrusion detection, and runtime protection for these containerized applications are also invaluable tools in development pipelines.
  5. Share Responsibility: Collaboration between the development, security, and operations teams is one of the founding principles of DevSecOps, but it isn’t enough. An effective DevSecOps program requires buy-in and support across the entire organization, including in the C-Suite.
  6. Communicate: A DevSecOps program thrives on eliminating communication silos and building collaboration between teams. To be successful, a DevSecOps program should involve all stakeholders in key decisions and ensure that all parties prioritize security and are clear about their responsibilities.
  7. Educate: While the development, security, and operations teams are the ones that are named in DevSecOps, they are not solely responsible for security, and the success of a DevSecOps program can be impacted by factors outside of their control. Education is key to ensuring that DevSecOps teams are supported and that other stakeholders properly prioritize and handle their security duties.

DevSecOps Tools

Adopting the mindsets and philosophies of DevSecOps is an important step towards shifting security left. However, a DevSecOps program is only effective if developers and security personnel have access to the right tools.

Some of the key tools that can dramatically improve the effectiveness of a DevSecOps program include:

  1. Static Code Analysis: Static code analysis tools such as SAST analyze the source code of an application and do not require an application to be in a runnable state to be analyzed. This allows them to search for vulnerabilities in software much earlier in the SDLC. Integrating SAST solutions into automated CI/CD pipelines makes it possible to prevent code containing certain types of vulnerabilities from being committed to the codebase.
  2. Automated Dynamic Analysis: DAST solutions complement SAST solutions, identifying certain types of vulnerabilities that can’t be identified with static analysis. Automating black-box testing against applications in the CI/CD pipeline enables these vulnerabilities to be detected as soon as applications in the pipeline are in an executable state. This reduces the cost and technical debt associated with remediating these vulnerabilities.
  3. IAST for Security Scanning: IAST solutions combine the attributes of SAST and DAST solutions. IAST solutions use instrumentation to gain visibility into a running application, enabling it to better identify where issues are in the code and tailor dynamic security tests to an application. Integrating IAST solutions into CI/CD pipelines provides more streamlined and robust detection of vulnerabilities in development.
  4. Supply Chain Security: SCA solutions are designed to identify the third-party libraries and dependencies that applications rely upon and potentially inherit vulnerabilities from. Integration of SCA functionality into CI/CD pipelines enables developers to identify and remediate vulnerable dependencies while minimizing the impact on the codebase and development processes.

Simply having these tools is not enough. Organizations also need to integrate these solutions into their automated CI/CD pipelines, train developers on their use, and ensure that processes are regularly audited to ensure that they are both effective and secure against modern threats.

Empowering DevSecOps Culture

Culture is essential to the success of a DevSecOps program. One of the main reasons why security is often relegated to the Testing stage of the SDLC is that manual security processes can slow down development processes. For development teams where an on-time release is the top priority, security can be seen as a burden and a roadblock to success.

The first step in building a successful DevSecOps culture is getting the development and operations teams on board. Properly implemented, security can be an enabler to DevOps success, not an inhibitor. By eliminating vulnerabilities early in their lifecycles, DevSecOps reduces the time and costs associated with fixing them.

An effective DevSecOps program has security champions in each team and in management. This approach ensures that each team has the resources that it needs to do its job, and management support empowers the security champions to fulfill their role.

DevSecOps with CloudGuard

Implementing DevSecOps can improve the quality and security of an organization’s applications. Building security into code from the start reduces the cost of fixing potential issues and ensures that security is integrated into the design rather than bolted on at the end.

An effective DevSecOps program is one where the team is empowered and has the tools that they need to effectively build security into their processes. Check Point CloudGuard provides the capabilities that development teams need to implement DevSecOps in the cloud, including:

  • Support for automated and common CI/CD pipelines
  • Wide support for cloud tools and environments
  • Easy integration with existing environments
  • Contextual AI for accurate threat identification with minimal false positives
  • Threat prevention focus to minimize vulnerability impact and costs

Access to the right tools is essential to the success of a DevSecOps program. Learn more about what to look for in this buyer’s guide to cloud DevSecOps solutions. Then, learn how CloudGuard can improve your cloud DevSecOps processes by signing up for a free demo today.

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