Embracing DevSecOps: An Approach to Enhance Software Security and Delivery
DevSecOps focuses on embedding security processes and mentalities into software throughout its development, ensuring a more secure solution.
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Veteran engineers likely remember the days of early software development, when software releases were delayed until they included all desired code complete features. This method resulted in extremely long wait times for users, not to mention security concerns and errors that were often treated as an afterthought and addressed through patches and updates. Worse, developers often released these updates on an annual or semiannual basis, creating significant delay between the recognition of an error and its resolution.
Agile development methodologies and continuous deployment (CD) have since arisen as the antithesis of slow, buggy releases. Agile development and CD enable faster updates with fewer errors by combining automation, continuous development, and integration to streamline the software development and delivery process.
However, initial approaches to Agile development and CD still sometimes neglected attention to security. From these concerns, we’ve seen a new software development process emerge, one that advocates for integrated security throughout the development lifecycle: DevSecOps. Unlike traditional approaches to development, DevSecOps focuses on embedding security processes and mentalities into software throughout its development, ensuring a more secure solution.
The result? Engineers have fewer updates and post-launch patches to worry about and more time for development. Additionally, the user experience improves as fewer security issues arise.
The Three Pillars of DevSecOps
DevSecOps is built on three essential pillars: collaboration, automation, and security.
Instead of sidelining security concerns, DevSecOps highlights them. As such, this approach integrates security specialists throughout the development process. By fostering collaboration, organizations gain awareness of the latest threats and trends, enabling the development of comprehensive test tools to protect their code effectively.
Automation plays a crucial role in DevSecOps. Manual testing is usually inconsistent, time-consuming, and ineffective. Automation, on the other hand, allows organizations to achieve consistent and efficient security testing, reducing manual efforts and improving the efficiency of software delivery.
Because DevSecOps treats the creation of a secure solution as paramount, every member of the development team must be security-aware. This mindset enables the design and implementation of secure code from beginning to end. By fostering a security-focused mindset, developers can identify vulnerabilities early in the development process, ensuring stronger overall security.
Together, these pillars form the foundation of DevSecOps, enabling organizations to deliver more secure software, reduce vulnerabilities and enhance the overall resilience of their applications.
Why Does DevSecOps Matter?
According to industry research, developers spend up to one-fourth of their time fixing bugs in production, and more than half of developers (62%) says bugs in the production environment are the costliest to address. It is no secret that bugs — security-related or otherwise — are the enemy of progress for developers. Yet security events can be particularly damaging to an organization’s reputation.
DevSecOps mitigates the risk of security events by addressing the limitations of traditional approaches. By incorporating security throughout the development process, DevSecOps-oriented organizations reduce the chance of releasing software with significant vulnerabilities. This proactive approach enhances customer trust, reduces costs associated with post-release fixes, and mitigates security risks.
Best Practices for DevSecOps
To maximize the benefits of DevSecOps, development teams should adopt a few key practices.
First, it’s important to use automation thoughtfully by strategically selecting processes and tests to automate at different stages of the development cycle. Teams that selectively and intelligently automate their process ensure maximum efficiency. Additionally, teams should regularly monitor their code dependencies, particularly those from open-source or third-party tools, to identify and address potential security flaws.
Another crucial aspect of a leading DevSecOps approach is the selection of reliable tools. Organizations should adopt tools that are trustworthy, provide accurate results, and minimize false positives.
If your team is new to DevSecOps, it’s wise to start small. Beginning with smaller projects allows teams to gain a deeper understanding of the DevSecOps process and make necessary refinements before scaling up to larger initiatives. This approach helps ensure a smoother and more successful implementation of DevSecOps practices across the organization.
Embracing DevSecOps is essential for enhancing software security and delivery. By prioritizing collaboration, automation, and security throughout the development process, organizations can deliver more secure software, reduce vulnerabilities and improve the overall customer experience.
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