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What Is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps Definition

What is DevSecOps and how can you define it in a useful and applicable manner? You need to break down the phrase to really get to its root. DevSecOps stands for development, security, as well as operations. At its core, it is a concept where security is a shared responsibility across all of IT. The DevSecOps definition revolves around automatically making security a top priority as part of any software development lifecycle, with that continuing after development ends.  

How To Integrate Security into a DevOps Framework

To integrate DevSecOps into the DevOps workflow, you have to systematically incorporate security design and checks and balances throughout the development process. In this way, DevSecOps also represents a significant cultural shift. 

In a traditional application development structure, the DevOps team would rely on the security team to find vulnerabilities. They would then take the security team’s feedback and incorporate it into the next round of changes to the application. By combining forces with the security team early on, security becomes part of the original solution, and developers have a better chance of producing a secure application within the first few iterations. 

The integration process involves the following:

  1. Automation: Many security processes can be automated, preventing time-consuming, repetitive, manual entry.
  2. Code analysis: The code developers write can be analyzed by security experts to identify potential vulnerabilities.
  3. Regular threat assessments: As the application’s development progresses, the threats it is vulnerable to are bound to change. Regularly assessing potential threats enables the team to incorporate security at one stage before moving on to the next. This also prevents the team from going back and changing a foundational element of the application, which, in some cases, could necessitate altering subsequent facets of the program.
  4. Configuration tracking: If the configuration of an element of an application or how the application interacts with others changes, it has to be known and tracked. This is because each configuration change could result in vulnerabilities.
  5. Security training: While many developers have a basic understanding of security principles and techniques, more in-depth training is necessary. Knowledge of the inner workings of security threats and solutions will help them better integrate security into the development process.

Application Security Tools Which Are Used in DevSecOps

The process of DevSecOps is not something that can be done without some assistance from tools. There are a variety of tools, inclusive of SAST, SCA, IAST, and others that enable DevSecOps as a concept and process to be as valuable as possible.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

SAST tools are most common to be put into place during the coding process of a system development lifecycle. Following coding, SAST will also review that code as part of a build and deployment process. SAST tools are powerful in that they can scan proprietary or custom code for any type of design flaw or coding error.

Software Composition Analysis (SCA)

The concept of an SCA tool is for it to scan source code, as well as binaries, to see if vulnerabilities exist. Known vulnerabilities are present far too common during the lifecycle of an application. Open source and third-party components may house these vulnerabilities, creating opportunities for exploitation by cybercriminals. The SCA tools will allow for integration as part of a continuous deployment pipeline to identify known vulnerabilities continuously.

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)

Testing is critical as part of any system development lifecycle. With IAST tools, you are deploying tools that will work along with manual or automated functional tests. The tools analyze the runtime behavior of a web application and in doing so, can identify vulnerabilities, providing developers with access to the source of the problem.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

DAST is a type of automated testing technology that is unique in its application. Through the use of a DAST tool, it will act as if it was a cyber criminal as it works its way through an API or web application. Looking at how the application renders on the client side, over a network connection, can help to identify vulnerabilities requiring correction. DAST is not only useful for a web application, but also web-connected devices such as IoT devices, back-end servers, and more.

Benefits of DevSecOps

DevSecOps enables a development team to deliver and deploy code quickly without sacrificing security. This results in several auxiliary benefits.

Save Time

Delivering code quickly is fairly easy. A DevOps team could write the code and release it—often without noticing or even ignoring—potential security issues. However, over time, the vulnerabilities that were not addressed in the development process may come back to haunt the organization, the development team, and those the application is meant to serve. This would likely result in the developers having to waste time going back and addressing security issues.

With development security operations as an inherent part of the process, vulnerabilities are addressed at each design phase. Therefore, the development team can release a more secure iteration of the program faster.

Reduce Costs

Security issues can cause expensive, time-consuming delays. The person-hours necessary to develop an application greatly increase when developers have to go back and redo much of the coding to address vulnerabilities. Not only does this involve more time invested in a project but also keeps those same professionals from working on other projects that could benefit the organization’s bottom line.

If an organization uses a DevSecOps lifecycle, on the other hand, the need to go back and make changes can be significantly reduced, conserving person-hours and freeing up the development team to engage in other work.

In addition, this could lead to a better return on investment (ROI) for your security infrastructure. As the security team fixes problems upfront in the design process, their work precludes many future problems. This not only results in a more secure application but also reduces the number of issues your security infrastructure will have to deal with down the road.

Proactive Security

Vulnerabilities in code can be detected early if you implement a DevSecOps approach. The DevSecOps model involves analyzing code and performing regular threat assessments. This proactive approach to security enables teams to take control of an application’s risk profile instead of merely reacting to issues as they pop up—particularly those that would have been detected during threat assessments.

Continuous Feedback

DevSecOps creates a continuous feedback loop that interweaves security solutions during the software development process. Whether your DevOps is done using on-premises servers or you use cloud DevOps, developers get constant feedback from the security specialists on the team. Likewise, the security team obtains continuous feedback from developers, which they can use to design solutions that better fit the application’s infrastructure and function.

Continuous feedback also improves the development of automated security functions. The security team can gather information about the application’s workflow from the development team and use that feedback to design automation protocols that benefit processes specific to that exact application. 

Furthermore, continuous feedback allows the team to program alerts signaling the need for adjustments in the design of the application or tweaks to its security features. Knowledge regarding what each team needs to be aware of and how that affects the process of building the application can be used to decide the various conditions that should trigger different alerts. With well-designed secure DevOps automation, the team can produce secure products in less time.

Build Collaboration Between Teams

A more collaborative environment is one of the cultural benefits of a DevSecOps approach. Throughout the entire development lifecycle, communication is enhanced because team members must understand how each facet of an application interfaces with the necessary security measures. As the different teams combine minds to solve this puzzle, collaboration is increased, and in the end, you get a more cohesive organization and product.

Learn what the benefits of DevSecOps are

How Fortinet Can Help

Fortinet is in a position to assist in your deployment of sound DevSecOps processes. With the FortiDevSec product, you are in a position to enable the detection and remediation of vulnerabilities continuously. Automating application security testing and the detection of security threats in open source, third-party libraries, and throughout development is crucial to the success of any system development lifecycle.