The Journey from DevOps to DevSecOps

The Journey from DevOps to DevSecOps

Digital transformation, improved security, and compliance are the key drivers pushing corporations and government agencies to adopt DevSecOps. Some organizations will experience a journey from DevOps to DevSecOps, depending on their DevOps maturity. 

Defining DevOps and DevSecOps for your Organization

There’s a growing list of definitions for DevOps and DevSecOps out there. Some come from vendor marketing, and a few of the definitions come from new perspectives about bringing together development, security, and operations teams.

For the purposes of this blog post, DevOps combines cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increase an organization’s ability to deliver software and services at high velocity. DevOps enables teams to develop and improve products faster than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes.

DevSecOps — by definition — brings cybersecurity and security operations tools and strategies such as container scanning automation into your organization’s existing or new DevOps toolchain.

In the next few years, it’s a safe bet that the definition of DevSecOps will subsume the DevOps definition as corporations and public sector agencies continue to increase their security focus across the software delivery life cycle.

Moving from DevOps to DevSecOps: Step by Step

When you move from DevOps to DevSecOps, it’s another step in your DevOps journey for many reasons. Your development and operations teams are taking another step left and bringing along their colleagues in security for the trip.

  1. Start with a Small Proof of Concept Project

Starting with a small proof-of-concept project is always the best way to help your teams prepare for any technology or process changes. Choosing a small pilot project for DevSecOps lets you test adjustments and additions to your tools and processes. Your small pilot project could take one of the following forms:

  • A solution architect or small project team building out your current or creating a new DevOps pipeline with additional security tools such as Anchore Toolbox or, even better, Anchore Enterprise at each stage to support automated scanning of your containers. This pilot project is ideal if you must show additional security features to your management and project stakeholders, such as your customers.
  • A small project team is running an application development project through your sparkling new DevSecOps toolchain. An example of such a small project is an update to a small not-business critical project that your organization uses internally.

Pilot projects such as these require little startup investment if you use open source tools. However, suppose your organization has to build and maintain applications that must meet compliance. In that case, you’ll probably have to consider using open source security tools that provide you with the reporting capabilities that your auditors require.

  1. Go Agile to Deliver Code in Iterative Releases

Delivering your software code using agile methodologies in small scope iterative releases helps your DevSecOps teams check for code and container vulnerabilities through quality assurance gates embedded across your development life cycle.

  1. Implement Automated Testing across your Toolchain

Automation is integral across a DevSecOps delivery process, especially with testing. Test automation shouldn’t replace human testers. Running automated testing and dependency checks enable your testers to focus on the most critical issues preventing you from achieving compliance.

  1. Invest in Upskilling your Developers and Testers

Part of shifting security left with DevSecOps is training your developers and testers in security principles. These days that means online training from a vendor or other training providers. It also means letting your developers attend industry conferences. With national and regional technology and security conferences online, this is easy to do.

Another way to invest in upskilling is to support your developers pursuing DevSecOps, DevOps, and cloud-focused certifications. For example, there’s a Certified DevSecOps Professional Certification from Practical DevSecOps and a DevSecOps Foundation Certification from the DevOps Institute.

  1. Involve your Developers in Security Discussions

Just as you bring your development and operations teams out of their silos, you need to get your developers into the security discussion. A move to DevSecOps shifts security left, so it sits throughout your software development life cycle versus being the last step before product release.

Everybody on the project team is accountable for security in a DevSecOps environment. Your organization can only reach this accountability level when you empower your teams with expertise and resources to respond to and mitigate security threats within the toolchain and before the threats hit production.

  1. Treat Compliance like another Team Member

Failing compliance audits means an expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes litigious process to return systems to compliance. DevSecOps gives you the methodologies, framework, and tools to help your organization’s systems achieve continuous compliance at every stage of your delivery life cycle.

  1. Adopt Regular Security Practices across your Teams

DevSecOps practices mean using regular scans, code reviews, and penetration tests to ensure your applications and cloud infrastructure are secure against insider and external threats.

Final Thoughts

Taking the journey from DevOps to DevSecOps is the ultimate story of shifting security left for commercial and public sector enterprises. Some organizations will seek DevSecOps first, leaping a traditional waterfall software development life cycle. Others will mature and strengthen their DevOps processes to become more security-focused during their delivery life cycle.