What is DevSecOps, and why is it so important to adapt its methodology into the development process?

Cybercrime, in its various forms, is expected to cost the world more than US$6 trillion per year by 2021. The global cybersecurity skills shortage is expected to grow in inverse proportion to this, with an estimate of over 1.5 million security jobs unfilled by 2019. When organizations suffer a data breach, companies do not only incur the cost of data damage and destruction, stolen money, IP theft, business disruption, and reputational harm. Other costs, such as legal and PR fees, drops in share price, interruptions to e-commerce, loss of customers, and competitive advantage, can also impact organizations affected by cybercrime.

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps is a new method that helps identify security issues early in the software and mobile applications development process rather than after a product is released.

DevSecOps methodology can reduce the costs associated with fixing security flaws, by building security into every stage of the development process, from the requirement stage onwards.

DevSecOps is the practice of developing safer mobile applications sooner by involving all required parties within the creative process and ongoing continuous improvement from high fidelity actionable feedback with context.

It is:

  • a mindset and a holistic approach
  • a collection of processes & tools
  • a tool for increasing security and compliance with software
  • a community-driven effort
  • and a strategy-driven by learning and experiments.

Responsible for DevSecOps:

1.     People:

A successful DevSecOps strategy brings together every individual along the length and breadth of the organization, including Managers, Chief Information Officers, colleagues, and peers. This allows security personnel to identify possible loopholes and prepare development and operations professionals accordingly to develop a secure product that improves sales and customer satisfaction. Security personnel training other DevSecOps teammates about the potential risks and safe practices also brings in a culture of safety and utmost quality across the cycle.

2.     Processes:

It defines the effectiveness of the product by ensuring everything, and everyone collaborates to deliver quality output. DevSecOps makes this possible by eliminating the siloed approach of working as individual entities and promotes the culture of collaboration.

Critical aspects of DevSecOps process include:

  • Integration of processes
  • Compliance
  • Security Architecture
  • Incident management
  • Read teams and Bug bounties
  • Security tooling CI/CD
  • Version control, Metadata, and Orchestration

Development and Operations maintain a scheme of former processes, thus saving DevSecOps specialists the time to recreate projects from the beginning. They also help keep a common reference point within the organization that is accessible to everyone involved and available at any given time. Likewise, DevSecOps increases the reaction time to security by creating short, feedback-based security loops.

3.     Technologies:

Technologies are designed and driven to ensure hassle-free operations.

Following are the critical implementations associated with the DevSecOps process:

  • Automation and configuration management
  • Secure coding practices/ Security as a code
  • Host hardening
  • Application-level Auditing and Scanning

DevSecOps combines people and activities from 3 areas and creates direct responsibilities for results and issues:

3.1.Development

  • Development activities include coding and testing of design artifacts 
  • Versioning of code artifacts and storage in the proper version control tool
  • An adequate level of code documentation
  • Execution of code reviews and unit/system test cases

3.2.Security

Security activities include enforcing high quality, penetration testing, and incident management

  • Advanced penetration testing
  • Enforcement of quality guidelines and approval processes
  • Vulnerability and security incident management
  • Offering tools and services

3.3.Operations

Operations activities include the implementation and management of production and non-production environments 

  • Covering both server infrastructure and network environments
  • Deployment activities to migrate code to production
  • Monitoring of infrastructure health (i.e., CPU utilization, connectivity, etc.)
What is DevSecOps?
Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

DevSecOps, three critical levers have to be addressed by organizations to ensure long-term success:

1.     Tool-set:

  • Building blocks for automated delivery pipelines
  • Standardized logging and security libraries
  • Minimum standards and guidelines for security (e.g., encryption)

2.     Processes:

  • Short feedback cycles
  • Decisions made by experts with technical knowledge
  • Direct responsibility for developments within the team
  • Reduction of manual approvals and intervention

3.     Organization:

  • Separation of penetration tests from release activities and integrate them directly into development procedures
  • Integration of cybersecurity SMEs into teams

The following list is a summary of what can be achieved by implementing DevSecOps best practices:

  • Cost reduction is achieved by detecting and fixing security issues during the development phases, which also increases the speed of delivery.
  • The speed of recovery is enhanced in the case of a security incident by utilizing templates and pet/cattle methodology.
  • Threat hunting can avoid bad publicity, and therefore can potentially increase sales. It is easier to sell a secure product
  • The immutable infrastructure allows companies to tear down infrastructure while managing an attack vector identified by scanning. If a node is compromised, it won’t remain compromised for extended, as it will be torn down and rebuilt with new credentials. Zero defects in the code are the ideal to aim for, although zero variations are the minimum requirement. 
  • Immutable infrastructure improves overall security by reducing vulnerabilities, reduces insecure defaults, and increasing code coverage and automation. It also encourages companies to move to the cloud instead of using depreciating and increasingly vulnerable hardware. 
  • Security auditing, monitoring, and notification systems are managed and deployed so that they can be continuously enhanced to keep in step with the frantic innovation intrinsic to cybercrime.
  • DevSecOps ensures the ‘secure by design’ principle by using an automated security review of code, automated application security testing, educating, and empowering developers to use secure design patterns. 
  • Creates targeted customer value through safe iterative innovation at speed and scale.
  • Everyone is responsible for security. 
  • DevSecOps fosters a culture of openness and transparency and does so from the earliest stages of development.
  • The ability to measure different things that can be seen by everyone.  This also enables a culture of constant iterative improvements.

DevSecOps is faced by some challenges including:

  • Unavailability of Skilled Professional
  • Organizations Reluctance to Adopt New Tools and Technologies

If you have not yet implemented DevSecOps processes in your organization (be it a startup or larger company), it is advisable to do this as soon as possible. Application and system security are some of the most critical components of an enterprise today.

With App-Ray, you can secure your applications by integrating vulnerability analysis into your building process. Our REST API provides an elegant and automatized way to trigger analysis whenever you need it, and trigger actions if issues are detected, to prevent faulty or vulnerable releases.

More features include:

  • Check your online services against to the highest security standards – our solution has proven to secure financial, telecommunication, e-commerce, and collaboration apps.
  • Export JIRA tickets for vulnerabilities and delegate issues for fast resolution, with ease.
  • Learn about vulnerabilities in your own, outsourced, or 3rd-party applications.

Our mobile application security testing tool can help you meet specific DevSecOps criteria for your organization.