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DevSecOps is a trending practice in application security (AppSec) that involves introducing security earlier in the software development life cycle (SDLC). It also expands the collaboration between development and operations teams to integrate security teams in the software delivery cycle. DevSecOps requires a change in culture, process, and tools across these core functional teams and makes security a shared responsibility. Everyone involved in the SDLC has a role to play in building security into the DevOps continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflow.

What is DevOps?

DevSecOps evolved to address the need to build in security continuously across the SDLC so that DevOps teams could deliver secure applications with speed and quality. Incorporating testing, triage, and risk mitigation earlier in the CI/CD workflow prevents the time-intensive, and often costly, repercussions of making a fix postproduction. This concept is part of “shifting left,” which moves security testing toward developers, enabling them to fix security issues in their code in near real time rather than “bolting on security” at the end of the SDLC. DevSecOps spans the entire SDLC, from planning and design to coding, building, testing, and release, with real-time continuous feedback loops and insights.

DevOps is an approach to software development that centers on three pillars—organizational culture, process, and technology and tools. All three are geared toward helping development and IT operations teams work collaboratively to build, test, and release software in a faster, more agile, and more iterative manner than traditional software development processes.

According to The DevOps Handbook, “In the DevOps ideal, developers receive fast, constant feedback on their work, which enables them to quickly and independently implement, integrate, and validate their code, and have the code deployed into the production environment.”

In simple terms, DevOps is about removing the barriers between two traditionally siloed teams. In a DevOps model, development and operations teams work together across the entire software application life cycle, from development and testing through deployment and operations.

How is DevOps different from DevSecOps?

Modern software development leverages an agile-based SDLC to accelerate the development and delivery of software releases, including updates and fixes. DevOps and DevSecOps use the agile framework for different purposes. DevOps focuses on the speed of app delivery, whereas DevSecOps augments speed with security by delivering apps that are as secure as possible as quickly as possible. The goal of DevSecOps is to promote the fast development of a secure codebase.

Core to DevSecOps is integrating security into every part of the SDLC—from build to production. In DevSecOps, security is the shared responsibility of all stakeholders in the DevOps value chain. DevSecOps involves ongoing, flexible collaboration between development, release management (or operations), and security teams. In short, DevOps focuses on speed; DevSecOps helps maintain velocity without compromising security.

What is DevSecOps? | Synopsys

Why is DevSecOps important?

Ultimately, DevSecOps is important because it places security in the SDLC earlier and on purpose. When development organizations code with security in mind from the outset, it’s easier and less costly to catch and fix vulnerabilities before they go too far into production or after release. Organizations in a variety of industries can implement DevSecOps to break down silos between development, security, and operations so they can release more secure software faster.

  • Automotive: DevSecOps reduces lengthy cycle times while still ensuring that software compliance standards such as MISRA and AUTOSAR are met
  • Healthcare: DevSecOps enables digital transformation efforts while maintaining the privacy and security of sensitive patient data per regulations such as HIPAA
  • Financial, retail, and ecommerce: DevSecOps helps ensure that the OWASP Top 10 web application security risks are addressed and maintains PCI DSS data privacy and security compliance for transactions among consumers, retailers, financial services, and so on
  • Embedded, networked, dedicated, consumer, and IoT devices: DevSecOps enables developers to write secure code that minimizes the occurrence of the CWE Top 25 most dangerous software errors

Which application security tools are used in DevSecOps?

To implement DevSecOps, organizations should consider a variety of application security testing (AST) tools to integrate within various stages of their CI/CD process. 

Code Build Test Operate
Software development begins, which includes designing the system in an IDE, writing and reviewing the code for errors. During the building phase, the team takes the requirements documented during the planning phase to build the software. The software is assessed by the testing team to determine whether it meets the necessary requirements. Software is deployed and monitored in the production environment.
Developer tool integrations
Secure code as quickly as you write it by placing risk insight, remediation guidance and secure coding education at the developer's fingertips. Learn more
Static analysis
Find security and quality issues in proprietary source code. Learn more
Interactive analysis
Identify and verify security vulnerabilities in running web applications. Learn more
Continuous security scanning
Perform continuous web application security testing in production. Learn more
Software composition analysis
Automatically discover open source and third-party components and their associated security and license risks in any application or container. Learn more
Real-time threat alerts
Get real-time alerts when new vulnerabilities are reported in your applications or containers. Learn more
Application security posture management
Streamline AppSec policies, test orchestration, correlation and prioritization of security issues across the enterprise to obtain a unified view of security risk. Learn more

How are AST tools integrated in DevSecOps?

Although AST tools are useful for identifying vulnerabilities, they can also add complexity and slow down software delivery cycles. Sorting through an overwhelming number of findings from siloed tools without the means to understand what needs to be done to prioritize them or when it is necessary to test can cause significant friction for security and development teams.

Optimizing testing tools and deriving meaningful insight from their data requires an application security orchestration and correlation (ASOC) solution. ASOC tools combine the capabilities of application security testing orchestration (ASTO) and application vulnerability correlation (AVC) tools to provide a management framework for AppSec tools, workflows, and prioritization of security activities. An effective ASOC tool is key to DevSecOps because it enables security and development teams to orchestrate testing intelligently, consolidate data from all AST tools, deduplicate any redundant results, correlate this data based on threat intelligence, and contextualize software risk to prioritize critical findings.

Explore how to build security into DevOps