DevSecOps: Embedding a Security Practice into your DevOps Approach

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It’s a no-brainer that the element of security cannot be compromised even to the smallest of extents in today’s competitive, fast-paced, modern technology-driven IT infrastructure. However, to keep up with the rapid developments of other processes in this agile world, security is often given relatively less importance and in some cases, even left behind. As the term suggests, DevSecOps is primarily concerned with the incorporation of security in the DevOps pipeline.

The intended primary function of DevSecOps is to help overcome the aforementioned barrier by extending the conventional framework of DevOps and inculcating security testing by means of various security tools. This article attempts to explore the significance, characteristics, benefits and challenges involved in DevSecOps implementation and practice.

Why DevSecOps Matters

Since the rate of cybercrime over the past few years has been increasing at a significantly high rate, the need for adoption and implementation of DevSecOps is also intensifying. An analytical study from Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that the damages incurred from cybercrime will be as high as $6 trillion annually by the year 2021, double the $3 trillion in 2015. As the benefits reaped from implementation are linked directly to the reduction in cyber attacks, DevSecOps is becoming the center of attention of IT decision-makers.

Breaking Down DevSecOps

The following factors constitute the core of the DevSecOps approach and are the key to a successful implementation:


While the concept of DevOps revolves around automating the build, test and deployment sections, DevSecOps additionally focuses on automating security. Automation is crucial as the security—besides being able to be scrupulous and comprehensive—also has to catch up with the much faster release cycles driven by DevOps. The target of DevSecOps is automating all of the security controls, thus eliminating the need for manual interference.

People, Process and Technology

The trio of people, process and technology is the pillar and it directly influences the extent of success of any DevSecOps approach and practice. The People—considered as the weakest link of the three—are the security specialists and integration of the security team with the development team. Appointing “security champions” who form a cross-functional team to work on the application security, is a key element of the People practice. The Process involves standardizing the workflow, documentation and execution of the same to make sure that the security is transparent with other processes in the workflow. The Technology refers to the various facets deployed in DevSecOps such as the automated vulnerability management, automated compliance scan, etc., whose applications are directly involved in the implementation.

Different Tools for Different Functions

There are a number of security tools that specialize in various aspects of the DevSecOps approach, including testing, secrets management, attack modeling and red team. Selecting the right tool for the right function is paramount and it is not always easy since many of them are still in the emerging phase.

With DevSecOps, You Get …

Enhanced overall security: The overall security of the infrastructure is strengthened by identifying and reducing vulnerabilities as and when they occur. In case some minor breaches happen, the rate at which the recovery happens is also escalated.

Total Cost Reduction: Unlike the conventional approach, in DevSecOps the security issues are identified and dealt with in the development phase itself. Consequently, this leads to reduced overall costs incurred in the development and security of applications.

Accelerated delivery speed: The implementation of DevSecOps consistently strives to detect and eliminate the security bottlenecks at various stages of development. This, in turn, increases the speed at which the product is delivered.

Besides the above-mentioned benefits, DevSecOps also nurtures an environment of transparency and helps in increasing the customer value.

But, Implemention is not a Piece of Cake

Comprehensibly, there are many challenges that lie ahead before DevSecOps implementation. The availability of sufficiently skilled cybersecurity professionals is one of them. This is because the extent of expertise needed in cybersecurity is underrated when compared to other business units. Unlike the traditional environment, a DevSecOps methodology means that the various internal teams of the business unit such as the development and security teams need to work in unison, which might not always go smoothly. The fact that building secure code is time-consuming can frustrate developers, as it hampers their speed of delivery. Many mid- and low-level organizations are skeptical about security as, economically, it is viewed as more of a liability rather than an asset.

In my next article, I will be applying a templated approach to shortlist tools that would be suitable for your organizational needs. For illustration, a series of webinars that cover the various aspects of the implementation of DevOps can be found here.

According to the WhiteHat Security Application Statistics Report, “The average customer takes 174 days to fix a vulnerability found when using dynamic analysis in production. However, those who have implemented DevSecOps do it in just 92 days. If we look at vulnerabilities found in development using static analysis, an average company takes 113 days, while the DevSecOps companies take just 51 days.” It is evident that, in the long run, the benefits reaped from DevSecOps outweigh the challenges. A successful approach drastically reduces the chances of succumbing to cybercrimes while being agile and revolving around the mindset, “Everyone is responsible for security.”

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