DevSecOps – Everything You Need to Know

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In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, developing and deploying software applications alone is not enough. With rapidly escalating and evolving cyber threats, security integration has become essential to development and operations. This is where DevSecOps comes into the frame as a modern methodology to ensure a seamless and secure software pipeline.

According to GitLab’s 2022 Global DevSecOps, nearly 40% of IT teams follow DevSecOps practices, and over 75% claim to be able to find and resolve security-related issues early in the development process.

In this blog post, we dive deep into everything you need to know about DevSecOps, from basic principles to DevSecOps best practices.

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps is an evolution of DevOps practices that integrate security as a key component at every critical stage of the DevOps pipeline. Development teams plan, code, build, and test software applications, security teams ensure code is free of vulnerabilities, and operations teams release, monitor, or fix problems as they arise.

DevSecOps is a cultural shift that fosters collaboration between developers, security professionals, and operations teams. To this end, every team is responsible for implementing high-speed security throughout his SDLC.

What is a DevSecOps pipeline?

DevSecOps is meant to integrate security into every step of the SDLC, not as an afterthought. It’s a continuous integration and development (CI/CD) pipeline with integrated security practices, including scanning, threat intelligence, policy enforcement, static analysis, and compliance validation. By building security into the SDLC, DevSecOps helps identify and address security risks early.

Diagram of DevSecOps pipeline stages

DevSecOps pipeline stage

Key stages in the DevSecOps pipeline include:

1. Plan

At this stage, threat models and policies are defined. Threat modeling involves identifying potential security threats, assessing potential impact, and developing robust resolution roadmaps. Strict policy enforcement outlines security requirements and industry standards that must be met.

2. Code

At this stage, we use IDE plugins to identify security vulnerabilities during the coding process. While coding, tools like Code Sight can detect potential security issues such as buffer overflows, injection flaws, and improper input validation. This goal of integrating security at this stage is critical to identifying and fixing security loopholes in your code before proceeding downstream.

3. Build

During the build phase, the code is reviewed and dependencies checked for vulnerabilities.dependency checker [Software Composition Analysis (SCA) tools] Scan third-party libraries and frameworks used in your code for known vulnerabilities. Code review is also an important aspect of the build stage, uncovering security-related issues that may have gone unnoticed in previous stages.

4. Test

In the DevSecOps framework, security testing is the first line of defense against all cyberthreats and vulnerabilities hidden in code. Static, dynamic, and interactive application security testing (SAST/DAST/IAST) tools are the most widely used automated scanners for finding and remediating security issues.

DevSecOps is more than just security scanning. This includes manual and automated code review as an important part of fixing bugs, loopholes, and other errors. Additionally, robust security assessments and penetration tests are performed to expose the infrastructure to evolving real-world threats in a controlled environment.

5. Release

At this stage, experts ensure that regulatory policies are intact before final release. Transparent scrutiny of applications and policy enforcement ensures code complies with state-enacted regulatory guidelines, policies, and standards.

6. Deploy

During deployment, audit logs are used to track changes made to the system. These logs also help scale the security of the framework, as they help experts identify security breaches and detect fraudulent activity. During this phase, Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is extensively implemented to test applications in runtime mode with real-time scenarios, exposures, loads, and data.

7. Operation

In the final stage, the system is monitored for potential threats. Threat intelligence is a modern, AI-driven approach that detects even the slightest malicious activity and intrusion attempts. This includes monitoring your network infrastructure for suspicious activity, detecting potential intrusions, and formulating effective countermeasures accordingly.

Tools for a successful DevSecOps implementation

The following table provides an overview of the various tools used at key stages of the DevSecOps pipeline.

tool stage explanation security integration
Kubernetes Build & deploy An open-source container orchestration platform that streamlines deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.
  • Safe containerization
  • Micro-segmentation
  • Secure connections between isolated containers
Docker build, test, deploy A platform that uses OS-level virtualization to package and deliver applications as flexible, isolated containers.
  • Container signing Content Trust Notary to ensure secure image distribution
  • runtime security
  • Image, kernel, and metadata encryption.
Ansible operation An open-source tool that automates infrastructure deployment and management.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) Automated compliance reporting
  • Policy enforcement
jenkins Build, deploy and test An open-source automation server that automates building, testing, and deploying modern apps.
  • Authentication and Authorization
  • Robust access control policy
  • Secure plugins and integrations
  • SSL encrypted communication between nodes
GitLab Plan, Build, Test and Deploy A web-native Git repository manager that helps you manage source code, track issues, and streamline app development and deployment.
  • security scan
  • Access control and permissions
  • Highly secure repository hosting

Challenges and risks associated with DevSecOps

Below are some key challenges organizations face as they adopt a DevSecOps culture.

cultural resistance

Cultural resistance is one of the biggest challenges in implementing DevSecOps. Traditional methods run the risk of failure due to lack of transparency and collaboration. Organizations must foster a culture of collaboration, experience, and communication to address this.

Complexity of modern tools

DevSecOps uses a variety of tools and technologies and can be difficult to manage at first. This can delay an organization-wide transformation to fully embrace DevSecOps. To address this, organizations need to simplify their toolchain and processes by onboarding experts and training and educating their internal teams.

Poor security practices

Inadequate security can lead to a variety of risks, including data breaches, loss of customer trust, and cost burdens. Regular security testing, threat modeling, and compliance validation help identify vulnerabilities and ensure security is built into the application development process.

DevSecOps is revolutionizing the security posture of application development in the cloud. New technologies such as serverless computing and AI-driven security practices will become new building blocks for DevSecOps in the future.

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