An Overview to DevSecOps7 min read

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What Is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps is the process of introducing security at the early stages of software development. Specifically, it’s a subsystem (more of an upgrade) of the DevOps design philosophy (which you should read about first). And it focuses on synchronizing the demands of different production parties.

Most software is designed for business reasons. It is either a compliment to an already existing service or it’s the main service/product itself. As a result, there’s a ton of consideration that goes into software development. There are the “business plan demands” and “customer demands” to synchronize before releasing the end product. This is where software testing services play a vital role. As the final product goes through many stages of testing, monitoring, and quality checks.

Balancing Business and Client Needs.

From a client perspective, all that matters is the user experience. Clients want a product that lives up to their expectations. It has to deliver the promised experience with minimal errors, all while keeping their personal information safer.

As for business, the software producers want faster and cost-effective delivery, and within a budget. That is, they want a quick software development cycle. And this is where DevSecOps comes in. This approach helps balance the demands of parties involved in developing and using the product. It ensures quick and affordable product development (for business goals), without failing to provide quality (for user experience).

Providing Structure to Work Teams.

The structure is important in software development. Because software development isn’t just done by a handful of individuals. There are many departments involved in development. So, there needs to be a way of structuring communication and work processes between different departments.

Basic Example.

Let’s say you have a new developer working with you on a project or, maybe you’re a new member of a team. You need a “set of protocols” to help you interact with the other teams. It’s like a language that streamlines software development. Those protocols are called “tool chains.” They speed up the development of the software. And they ensure no miscommunication throughout the process.

In-Depth: Explaining the Term “DevSecOps.”

Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to break down the definition. DevSecOps is made up of THREE parts, describing the different demands.

To give you an idea,

  • (Dev) – Refers to the software development process, and all the coding work involved.
  • (Sec) – Refers to integrating “security practices” into coding for safe-to-use software.
  • (Ops) – Refers to IT and business management, in addition to future business plans.

As you can see, this design philosophy attempts to balance the demands of THREE parties,

  • Software developers.
  • Security teams.
  • IT and business management departments.

Emphasizing the “Security” Aspect.

As we mentioned before, the DevSecOps philosophy is an offshoot of the DevOps. It focuses more on security. The reason is, many software design lifecycles relegate security checks to the final stages of development. When developing software, many developers focus on performance. And they forget to safeguard the application from malicious use. With DevSecOps, security testing is done early in the design stage.

Let’s explore the DevOps development lifecycle for a second. Normally, there are 7 to 8 stages in software development. And an important mid-stage is “testing.” This is immediately done after coding. And here, usually the functionality of the software is tested. With the introduction of DevSecOps, security tests are heavily performed during the mid-stage. They are done even before the launch of the final product.

Why Not the End of the Development Cycle?

In the DevOps model, “monitoring” is the final stage. This is done after deploying the software for public use. Here, developers wait for feedback on user experience. They check to see different problems in functionality. However, security testing cannot be relegated to this stage. The reason being is, security is a vital part of software use. If not set up properly, then users may distrust the entire project giving it a bad review. And this can lead to project collapsing. It prevents the development cycle from continuing, where massive business costs are paid to patch up the software’s reputation.

What Are the Requirements for DevSecOps Security Tests?

One of the pros of DevSecOps protocols is ease of application. “Special coders” aren’t needed to execute its lifecycles. Instead, existing programmers can be trained for that job. This means a business can change its operative structure to DevSecOps, without needing to hire outside help.

What is Required of DevSecOps Coders?

Skills with certain tools are necessary. Those tools include Puppet, Checkmarx, ThreatModeler, and Chef. Also, it is ideal to seek a developer with knowledge of the DevOps philosophy. That way, it is easier for a business to introduce DevSecOps to coders, without needing excess time to train them.

Finally, updated knowledge of cyber-security assessments is necessary. This applies to security threats, risk assessment, etc. People with security testing certification is a necessity since they are more likely to perform well in security assessments.

Learning secure coding can save developers time fixing mistakes during security assessments. It’s necessary to find coders with knowledge on secure coding. This reduces the time required to test and fix security problems. Plus, it ensures a reduced likelihood of security issues!

Application of DevSecOps Philosophies.

Let’s start with browser-based and online software. Such programs need to be frequently updated. And this is done with downloadable updates, which address common complaints by end-users. Quickly responding to user complaints is done through a faster lifecycle. And essentially, it is a business requirement. Without it, a business risks losing customers due to a perceived lack of response on issues within the programs.

What About Offline Software?

The offline softwares do receive frequent updates. However, there is more leeway, since release dates for updates tend to be wider. Those include programs installed by CD and USB Drives. They also include “one-time” downloadable apps. Updates for those tend to arrive every few weeks (maybe months), with newer features and uses. Those apps tend to exist for productivity reasons – or they ease the use of other computer/android functions. While those software systems tend to be updated online (with downloadable patches), there’s usually a large timeframe available.

Summary

DevSecOps isn’t just a single process. It’s a string of steps that help software developers communicate better. It provides common ground in the production and updates life cycle of software. And it makes releasing updates faster and timelier. Plus, it brings in an element of security. It doesn’t stray away from the foundations of good software production – making it a useful framework. It is fundamental in software design philosophy. It is a defining trait that lets users trust software more.

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