Software drives our businesses today. It powers operations, transactions, communications – just about every facet of the digital organization. It follows that ensuring the security of applications and operating systems is a top priority for development and security teams. This is where DevSecOps plays a key role.
Development, Security and Operations
DevSecOps is short for Development, Security, and Operations. An extension of the devops software development model, it is about applying security measures throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC). DevSecOps calls on everyone involved in the development process to be aware of the need for security. As a model, DevSecOps encompasses a set of practices increase collaboration between security, development, and operations teams, with the goal of making software more secure.
Examples of DevSecOps practices include security design reviews, scanning code for security vulnerabilities, and fixing bugs that present legitimate threats. By introducing security earlier in the SDLC, DevSecOps ensures that the organization takes security seriously rather than treating it as an afterthought. Part of the effort to implement DevSecOps is to make the necessary process, cultural, and technological changes.
Why DevSecOps Matters
Software vulnerabilities can become entry points for cybercriminals to launch attacks, and these attacks can affect entire supply chains. A recent example is a vulnerability discovered in Apache Log4j in late 2021. Log4j, a Java package located in Java Logging Systems, makes it easier for Java applications to log data. It is widely used and widespread.
At the end of last year, engineers discovered a remote code execution flaw in Log4j that allows hackers to take control of systems and their data. The bug also puts millions of devices at risk. In fact, any internet-connected device running certain versions of Log4j is at risk of being affected by the bug. Given the ubiquity of Log4j, the threat is serious.
Log4j is just one example. Since digital businesses rely heavily on applications, ensuring software security is extremely important. DevSecOps is a model for doing this.
Jim Mercer, research director, DevOps and DevSecOps, at International Data Corp. (IDC), notes that application security and software supply chain security are getting a lot of attention due to high-profile vulnerabilities such as Log4j. Single-digit growth in DevSecOps tools market will continue through 2026.
Benefits of DevSecOps
Organizations can benefit in a variety of ways from adopting the DevSecOps model. Perhaps the most obvious is the enhanced software security. By implementing security controls in the early stages of development and then continuing to focus on security through production, development teams can deliver more secure products.
Another benefit is increased collaboration between development and security teams. These teams can sometimes be at odds due to their different goals. The resulting friction can impact productivity. Working together toward collaborative goals is one way to ease friction. For developers, it is also an opportunity to acquire new knowledge related to cybersecurity.
Another benefit is faster software delivery. DevSecOps encourages teams to assess, review, and test code at every stage of the development process, rather than postponing this part of the development cycle until later. Testing often helps teams avoid complex and time-consuming reviews to fix security vulnerabilities down the line.
Does DevSecOps replace devops?
DevSecOps is not so much a replacement for devops as an evolution of the model. DevSecOps evolves core DevOps concepts with a focus on security.
Devops is an approach to software development that emphasizes collaboration, communication, and tight integration between the software development and IT operations functions of an organization. In devops, the goal is to produce software faster and more efficiently. As the name suggests, DevSecOps adds a layer of security to the development and operations processes encompassed by devops.
There is considerable overlap between the two, for example, they both emphasize automation and team collaboration. But in the case of DevSecOps, collaboration is between development and security professionals, whereas in devops, it is between development and operations.
Organizations can deploy a number of technology tools to support their DevSecOps programs. These tools help minimize risk in software development pipelines without slowing down production. They do this by finding and fixing vulnerabilities through continuous security testing.
DevSecOps tools also allow security teams to effectively manage the security of development projects without having to manually review and approve each release.
An example of a DevSecOps tool is the Vulnerability Scanner. These tools automatically scan software at different stages of development for known vulnerabilities. Open source vulnerability scanning, or software composition analysis (SCA), identifies and compares the open source components of your software against vulnerability databases, software vendor advisories, and other security sources to detect flaws.
Another DevSecOps tool is Static Application Security Testing (SAST), which allows developers to analyze source code for weak or insecure coding. This type of testing can identify possible security issues that need to be addressed. Integrating SAST into the DevSecOps SDLC helps ensure that vulnerable components are patched before they move along the various stages of the pipeline.
How to Become a DevSecOps Engineer
One of the key roles in the DevSecOps arena is that of DevSecOps engineer. Tech career site Dice.com notes that the need for secure code is fueling increased demand for these professionals.
According to Dice, one of the most important skills for a DevSecOps engineer is the ability to test applications for security vulnerabilities. DevSecOps engineers should also be familiar with DevSecOps tools.
Other possible skills needed include knowledge of DevOps principles and an understanding of popular programming languages such as Java, Ruby, Perl, Python, and PHP. Additionally, engineers in these roles need to keep abreast of the latest cybersecurity threats.
These professionals must also have analytical skills to determine why the code works or does not work and what vulnerabilities may have appeared during the development process.
Obtain a DevSecOps certification
Developers working in software security can deepen their knowledge and potentially advance their careers by earning a DevSecOps certification.
For example, the DevSecOps Foundation offers certification programs through the DevOps Institute that cover topics such as why DevSecOps is needed and DevSecOps culture and management, general security considerations, identity management, and access, application security and operational security.
The program prepares individuals for positions such as project manager, site reliability engineer, devops engineer, software engineer, maintenance and support personnel, release manager, scrum master, and more.
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