DevSecOps – The What, Why and How

Agile, DevOps, and DevSecOps have all been trending for over a decade in the app development landscape. DevSecOps is, in many ways, like the upgraded, more secure version of DevOps, using Agile principles and practices to optimize development while keeping security front and center from the beginning and not as an afterthought. Here’s a breakdown of how DevSecOps came on the scene, what it involves, and how it can work for your organization.

DevSecOps – The What, Why & How

Here’s the what, why, and how of the DevSecOps world.

The What

DevSecOps involves integrating security throughout the development process from its early stages by bringing security engineers onto a DevOps team.

The Why

This development movement was necessary to reduce the cost and time of deployment of applications that need to focus on—or are impacted by—security features. The only other choice would be to retroactively integrate security considerations, which take time, cost money, and effect delivery timelines. An equally problematic alternative would be to allow users access to vulnerable applications until security risks are identified and mitigated.

The How

To use DevSecOps, a project manager will bring security professionals into the DevOps process at its early stages. Then, as multiple iterations are developed via sprints, the security team member plays an integral role in design decisions.

The Rise of DevSecOps

DevSecOps rose to prominence because dev teams needed to find a way to seamlessly integrate security features in the development lifecycle from its early stages. In this way, they can prevent wasting many work hours trying to implement security facets after a product has been finished and then take it through complete test cycles all over again. This is also known as a Shift Left model, where we embed security from the beginning and take it through a common test cycle, in order to be cost-effective, and quickly turn around the product.

For example, suppose a web application has to meet stringent requirements on throughput to adequately serve customers. But end-users will frequently interact with the app through a firewall with limited throughput. In a DevSecOps environment, team members with a background in security can provide feedback to application design and infrastructure engineering teams to account for firewall impact and help build a solution that meets security requirements. In that way, the end-user experience isn’t hindered by security features that would otherwise affect throughput.

DevSecOps Best Practices

Here are some best practices to ensure you get the most out of a DevSecOps environment:

  1. Commit to DevSecOps early instead of transitioning from DevOps to DevSecOps partway through the dev lifecycle.
  2. Only choose security professionals with a genuine commitment to the process. They shouldn’t be overly distracted by other cybersecurity projects, for example.
  3. Foster a culture that emphasizes equity between team members. Your security experts shouldn’t feel like an extra appendage; they’re an integral part of the team’s circulatory system.

How DevSecOps Supports a Smooth CI/CD Pipeline

CI/CD stands for continuous integration and either continuous delivery or continuous deployment. CI/CD powers the software development lifecycle by enabling automation in builds, and performing various tests, and deployments. Such deployments could be frequent, well tested, and introduce small changes to existing applications in the production.

DevSecOps, for many projects, is one of the most important elements contributing to a smooth CI/CD pipeline because it prevents the dev team from having to stuff security into the process as if it’s a round peg going unfit for a square hole.

As a simple example, consider the effect of incorporating automated testing that searches for security vulnerabilities throughout the dev process. Instead of waiting for a security vulnerability to be revealed after the alpha or beta release, you can sniff it out early on. Also, as each vulnerability is discovered, you have cybersecurity experts on the team to confer with regarding how to maintain app functionality while mitigating cyber risk.

i-Link Solutions, as an ISO-certified developer, incorporates DevSecOps practices to ensure clients get secure apps that meet and exceed end-user expectations. Whether for the federal government, state government, or commercial applications, i-Link Solutions’ CMMI Level 3 service provides clients with proactive and secure development, customized to meet their business goals. Connect with i-Link Solutions today to learn more.