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What Exactly is DevSecOps: Meaning and Definition for Cloud Teams

Author: Eric Kedrosky | Date: December 3, 2021
Read Time: 4 minutes
Skill Level: Learner
Skill Level: Learner
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DevSecOps Definition

What is DevSecOps? It is short for development, security, and operations and it automates the integration of security at every phase of the software development lifecycle, from initial design through integration, testing, deployment, and software delivery. DevSecOps mandates that teams make decisions for code, applications, and data with a security mindset while meeting the necessary speed and scale demands of the cloud.

A DevSecOps framework with automated tools ensures security is built into its operations, applications, and development rather than as an afterthought. By ensuring that security is present during every stage of the SDLC, you can experience continuous integration, faster software releases, reduced compliance cost, and reduced risk.

Bringing development, operations, and security together under one function, with security in equal consideration, significantly reduces the risk for any enterprise leveraging the public cloud. Security is now a core component of the software development workflow, rather than retrofitting it later during the SDLC.

DevSecOps represents a natural and necessary evolution in the way development organizations approach security. In the past, security was 'tacked on' to software at the end of the development cycle almost as an afterthought by a separate security team and was tested by a separate quality assurance (QA) team. This was manageable when software updates were released just once or twice a year. But as software developers adopted Agile and DevOps practices, aiming to reduce software development cycles to weeks or even days, the traditional 'tacked-on' approach to security created an unacceptable bottleneck.

DevSecOps integrates application and infrastructure security seamlessly into Agile and DevOps processes and tools. It addresses security issues as they emerge when they're easier, faster, and less expensive to fix (and before they are put into production). Additionally, DevSecOps makes the application and infrastructure security a shared responsibility of development, security, and IT operations teams, rather than the sole responsibility of a security silo. It enables “software, safer, sooner”—the DevSecOps motto–by automating the delivery of secure code without slowing the SDLC.

Best Practices for DevSecOps

DevSecOps should be the natural incorporation of security controls into your development, delivery, and operational processes.

Shift Left

Agile practices, being adopted almost universally, necessitate faster and earlier testing in the SDLC. Bringing development and testing together early is commonly referred to as ‘shifting left’.  Shifting left means getting everyone on the delivery team engaged in testing activities. Testing needs to change from being a scramble right before releasing to something your team talks about and does every day. Read our ebook to gain insights on how changes to your testing processes could be a continual, holistic testing approach that improves your teams’ output. An organization that uses DevSecOps brings in their security architects and engineers as part of the dev team. Their job is to ensure every component, and every configuration item in the stack is configured securely. Shifting left allows the DevSecOps team to identify security risks and exposures early and ensures that these security risks are addressed immediately. Not only is the dev team thinking about building the product efficiently, but they are also implementing security as they build it.

Security Education

Everyone involved with the delivery process should be familiar with the basic principles of application and cloud security, application security testing, and other security engineering practices. Developers need to understand threat models, compliance checks, and have a working knowledge of how to measure risks, exposure, and implement controls. Organizations should form an alliance between the dev engineers, operations teams, security teams, and compliance teams to ensure everyone in the organization understands the company's security posture and follows the same standards.

Security Culture

Good leadership builds a good culture that promotes change within the organization. Marrying security and development can provide valuable opportunities to promote security awareness and education among technical teams. In doing so, team members can achieve a greater understanding of how certain processes impact outcomes. This can lead to tighter collaboration and more efficient development strategies. The hope is that, over time, developers will be able to create code that is inherently more secure from the outset. 

Risk Mitigation 

When security is separated from software development, vulnerabilities can easily slip through undetected and emerge after a product goes to market. This can result in costly security issues and force emergency patching or even recalls in certain situations. With a robust security solution built into the CI/CD pipeline, teams can create checkpoints or guardrails that can prevent software from moving forward when company policies are violated.

DevSecOps and Sonrai Security

With this evolution, we must reinvent how we govern and secure the cloud. The old control points of IT, firewalls, and endpoints simply don’t cut it in the blazing fast world of cloud development. Today, cloud providers look after the infrastructure and for enterprises, the new control points now center around identity, data, and the workload itself. This is why Sonrai Dig graphs each and every interaction we see between identities (people and non-people), data, and workloads in order to uncover risk and unusual activity. But even that is not enough.

A move toward greater automation should start with areas that are most at risk. You can then scale and optimize for other processes, applications, and other areas of your organization. Working with Sonrai Security, you’ll have access to our Governance Automation Engine. Automate the discovery and routing of problems to the teams and individuals responsible and automate remediation with the Sonrai engine. Effective automation involves much more than writing a lambda "bot." It means automatically identifying, classifying, and prioritizing problems with machine learning and graph analytics. The point is to automatically involve all teams in the security process. 

To effectively support this, a shift is needed where security issues are sent directly to the teams (not just the security team but also devs, cloud, and even audit teams) that are responsible for them as opposed to a centralized queue. Not only does this reduce alert fatigue and/or missed alerts but also enables your business to run its operations at the speed of the cloud. It involves early enforcement that prevents problems with "prevention bots" or code promotion blocks. And of course, it includes remediation bots to automatically fix issues that have slipped by approved CI/CD pipelines and into production. 

The objective of all this work by our teams is to help enterprises not just to manage risk and security for public clouds like AWS, Azure, GCP, etc. It is to fundamentally alter how it is we perform these functions so that governance and security of technologies in the future is far superior to anything possible in the “old-world” data center and enterprise network world.

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