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How to Implement DevSecOps Process and Culture in Your Organization

Updated on January 29, 2024
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    What is DevSecOps?

    What is DevSecOps, you may ask? It stands for Development, Security, and Operations. DevSecOps by definition is the next step beyond DevOps, a cultural change that brings security into DevOps rapid release cycles. The shift left movement that DevSecOps offers can be vital to securing software build environments. 

    DevSecOps at its core is a term that indicates sharing the responsibility of security across development and operations teams. It involves empowering development, DevOps, and IT personnel with security information and tools to identify and eliminate threats as early as possible. In a DevSecOps environment security is viewed as a partner helping guide other teams while trusting them to implement security features and practices.

    DevSecOps is built for agility and velocity. It relies on a range of open source tools to automate the software build cycle. It’s also not uncommon for organizations to put their own spin on DevOps and DevSecOps to meet their unique security and compliance requirements. 

    DevOps vs. DevSecOps

    To get at the core of the two terms, let’s dive into DevOps and DevSecOps differentiators to lay the groundwork and highlight the differences between each. 

    First, DevOps is a journey for many in the IT industry. It takes time and investments in staffing, tools, processes, and security to move from a traditional waterfall-driven software development life cycle (SDLC) to DevOps. DevOps depends on gates between each stage. Managers, stakeholders, and even entire development organizations can justify these gates because they provide a sense of security for troubleshooting, halting delivery, or stakeholder inquiries into the project.

    In contrast, DevSecOps brings with it cultural changes to software development that can almost be more important than the tooling because it brings security concerns into the software development lifecycle. Instead of a DevOps approach that makes security the last stop before an application hits production, DevSecOps incorporates security across the entire development lifecycle. 

    With DevSecOps, transparency yields trust with sharing between the DevOps and security teams inside enterprises and federal agencies. Plus there are shared goals and metrics with DevOps and security teams cooperating to achieve the desired metrics to achieve compliance and security in software development.

    Benefits of DevSecOps

    The primary benefit of DevSecOps security is to find and fix security bugs early to keep the software development moving – this benefits the team, organization, end user, and everyone. Instead of security being a step at the end of development, security is a part of every stage in the development lifecycle There are other additional benefits for organizations or federal agencies who want to move to DevSecOps, here are a few to consider:

    1. Moving straight from a waterfall SDLC, enables teams to skip traditional DevOps, and move right to DevSecOps.
    2. Moving from DevOps to DevSecOps through upgrading the CI/CD toolchain with a range of security automation tools, shifting security left, and bringing security team members into the development cycle
    3. The ability to move from gated processes to shared responsibility. DevSecOps substitutes mutual accountability for those gates. Mutual accountability comes about through process changes and improving collaboration between your development, security, and operations teams through cross-functional teams supported by the proper technology tools and executive sponsorship.
    4. With DevSecOps it is no longer “Us vs. Them.” Today consumers and enterprise customers want rapid updates and app stores. DevSecOps dismantles the vestiges of “us vs. them” and makes security a priority in your application development from project kickoff. 

    Best practices for implementing a DevSecOps model

    There’s no “right” way to implement a DevSecOps program. Every organization has a unique development model, tools, languages, people, and technology used as part of its development program. There are countless resources available that explain some of the ways an organization can begin the DevSecOps journey.

    Focus on automation

    A useful and important aspect of DevSecOps is to put a focus on automation. While in the traditional DevOps program there will be a heavy focus on Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, in the DevSecOps space there is room for automating security. Technologies now exist to detect certain security errors. For example, open source dependencies can now be scanned for security vulnerabilities. You can learn more about that here.

    Remember the goal

    However, it’s decided to implement DevSecOps practices it should be remembered that the goal is to reduce friction and increase development speed. The key is to ensure the security tooling complements development, not get in the way and slow things down. The sooner security issues can be found and fixed the less trouble they can cause in the future.

    How to build a DevSecOps culture

    Culture can be the most essential but also the most misunderstood portion of DevOps transformation. As the old saying goes, “you can’t buy DevOps.” The same goes for DevSecOps. The security and compliance implications of DevSecOps make it, so you need to go further with your security outreach and communications to help push cultural transformation forward.

    It’s likely the developers are hesitant to embrace security due to bad experiences in the past. Security teams are not known to have been cooperative or understanding in the past. As such, you cannot expect development teams to automatically embrace security ideas. Trust must be earned, and the value of security must be shown. Concepts and ideas that worked at other organizations may not work at yours, part of the DevSecOps mindset is being able to adjust to new problems quickly.

    While you’ve probably made steps to strengthen your development and operations to embrace the concepts and tools that drive DevSecOps security, there’s going to be more work to do to transform your culture to embrace DevSecOps fully. Be clear with your team about the overall importance and role DevSecOps will play in software supply chain security. Be ready to answer hard questions, be prepared to be patient with teams as they grow and adjust, and be ready to change tactics to support the team.

    Automate DevSecOps with Anchore Enterprise

    Rather than require manual changes to tools or processes, Anchore Enterprise automates vulnerability scans at each step in the development lifecycle, including source code repositories, CI/CD pipelines, container registries, and Kubernetes platforms. Since it integrates with your existing environment, Anchore Enterprise can easily check the security posture of your applications and surface the most critical issues at every stage of development. 

    Anchore Enterprise enables a “shift left” DevSecOps software approach which ensures issues are identified as early as possible and flagged with the appropriate teams. As software moves from development to CI/CD, to runtime, Anchore Enterprise catalogs the components at every stage and ensures that insecure software is never put into production. 

    Whether looking for known vulnerabilities, secrets, malware, or insecure configurations, Anchore Enterprise searches continuously for issues and enables security teams to triage, remediate, and report more efficiently.

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