What Is DevOps Security? A Guide With Best Practices

Jan 20, 2022

In the past, software development was heavily siloed. DevOps engineers took care of software creation, and security teams were responsible for testing and analysis at the end of the development life cycle. There was little communication or cooperation between the two sides. Subsequently, it was very difficult to produce secure, high-quality software at scale. 

This approach is changing. By and large, more and more teams are shifting left and integrating security throughout all aspects of the software development process. 

As a result, DevOps security—or DevSecOps—is now a top need for companies heading into 2022 and beyond. Companies that can successfully merge DevSecOps into their operations can lower the time and cost of software development. At the same time, they can also create applications that have fewer bugs and vulnerabilities, driving user satisfaction and engagement along the way. 

This post serves as a basic guide to DevSecOps. Before we dive into the benefits, challenges, and best practices of DevSecOps, let's take a step back and get our definitions straight. 

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What Is DevSecOps?

On balance, the standard DevOps model focuses primarily on development and operations. While it’s certainly a step up from traditional software development, DevOps alone still fails to account for security. And this is a problem—especially in today’s market, where cyberthreats are increasingly sophisticated and dangerous. 

DevSecOps builds on the DevOps model by integrating security and making it a core part of software planning, testing, and development. DevSecOps is a set of methodologies and tools that DevOps teams use to securely and efficiently create software. 

In a DevOps security culture, all team members play an active role in securing software. It allows teams to test early and often throughout the software creation process. This enables them to analyze their software as they build it, reducing the likelihood they release buggy software. 

The Benefits of DevSecOps

Now that you have a better idea of what DevSecOps is, let’s examine some of the major benefits your team will experience by embracing a DevSecOps strategy. 

Lower Costs

In general, security testing gets more expensive the further you go in the software development process. Waiting until the very end to run security tests can require extensive rework, which can significantly drive up production time and costs. 

To this end, DevSecOps aims to lower costs by reducing rework throughout development and solving problems as they arise. This, in turn, prevents expensive rework on the back end. 

Improve Culture

If you want to attract top DevOps talent, you need to demonstrate that your department is using the latest and most innovative strategies. Otherwise, these individuals will find opportunities with an organization that does. 

By combining DevOps with security, you can show that your company values agility, efficiency, and the leading edge of innovation. This makes your business an attractive environment in which to work and build software on the whole. 

Reduce Vulnerabilities

Developers and security teams often wind up sweeping vulnerabilities under the rug when creating software and deal with these issues post-production. Teams often do this to meet production deadlines. 

Unfortunately, this method creates a scenario where insecure software goes to market—which ultimately requires more patching. 

With a DevSecOps strategy, it’s possible to catch vulnerabilities as they arise and prevent faulty and insecure software from going to market. 

Enhance Collaboration

By integrating DevOps and security, you can break down barriers between developers and security teams. This can enable teams to work more closely together while also resulting in a greater understanding of the end-to-end development process. 

As time goes on, teams can start developing with greater intuition about potential security challenges and vulnerabilities. This can lead to an environment that continuously improves and becomes more efficient. 

Top Challenges of DevSecOps

Of course, DevSecOps is not without its challenges, which we’ll examine in this section. 

Gaining Developer Buy-In

Switching to a DevSecOps model can be a big change for developers and security teams alike. And despite the clear benefits that it offers, not all team members may be on board with the decision at first. 

As such, it’s a good idea to ease into the transition. Teams often conduct lunch-and-learn sessions to answer questions, demonstrate the benefits, and explain why the decision makes sense. Educating developers and security personnel can help reduce potential pushback and turnover. 

Managing the Learning Curve

Chances are your security team is using legacy tools that are built for traditional workflows. These tools are more time-consuming and out of touch with fast-paced, agile DevOps workflows. 

For this reason, you should consider abandoning outdated and inefficient tools. Instead, you should adopt cutting-edge solutions that make it possible to develop secure software at a faster pace. 

Creating New Workflows

Moving to a DevSecOps model requires careful planning from security and DevOps managers. Before you make any adjustments, you need to determine who will be responsible for various workflows and processes. 

Through careful planning and orchestration, you can eliminate potential conflicts and make it easier for team members to adjust to the new system. 

Best Practices for DevSecOps

Migrating from DevOps and traditional security development to DevSecOps can be a big undertaking—and teams aren’t always successful in their effort to transform operations. 

That said, it’s possible to ease the process and maximize results by employing the following DevSecOps best practices. 

Make DevSecOps a Cultural Movement

DevSecOps isn’t just a technology change. It’s a cultural shift—and a great opportunity to transform your department into a leaner, more agile, and more productive place. 

By switching to DevSecOps, you can build a culture of innovation. This can inspire team members to keep learning and trying new strategies—and looking for better ways to make software. 

Try Experimenting With DevSecOps

As you’re starting out, you could try running small DevSecOps experiments and then scale if the experience is positive. This strategy can make it easier for team members to learn, adapt, and provide a safe zone for experimentation. 

At the same time, running DevSecOps on a small scale can provide valuable data and help to streamline a larger, department-wide migration. 

Automate Wherever Possible

DevOps is typically a fast process, as teams try to quickly make, test, and deploy code. Through continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), companies can release more software and keep workflows moving. 

On the other hand, security is typically much slower and more painstaking. If you want to integrate security into DevOps, you should ideally strive to expedite your processes. 

And this is where automation can come in handy. Automating security testing throughout all stages of development can expedite production and avoid acting as a barrier to DevOps. 

Integration Is Key

Above all else, you want to avoid a situation where DevOps and security teams are constantly handing off work to each other due to a lack of integration. 

Rather, the security tools you use should seamlessly integrate with your DevOps software. This can enable teams to work together and minimize disruptions. 

Consider Threat Modeling

Threat modeling is a strategy that involves identifying threats and taking measures to mitigate them. 

Building threat modeling into a DevOps workflow can be time-consuming and challenging. But it can also provide a good opportunity to help teams understand potential vulnerabilities and work to avoid them. 

Use Plutora to Enable DevSecOps

One of the best ways to streamline DevSecOps is to use a platform that brings together all the various stakeholders and processes. 

One way to do this is with Plutora’s Value Stream Management platform, which serves as a one-stop shop for DevSecOps governance and engineering

With the help of Plutora, your department can achieve end-to-end visibility into your development workflows, with strong governance and user-friendly workflow management functions. Plutora also makes it easy to manage software development risk through continuous compliance and activity tracking. 

At the end of the day, DevSecOps doesn’t have to be a difficult or strenuous migration. With the help of Plutora, your company can implement DevSecOps in a way that is fast and easy. 
To experience what Plutora can offer for your team, try a demo today.

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