The software development industry has a particular property: it’s in an overwhelming state of constant change. New programming languages and development frameworks appear day after day. Proof of this is the existence of multiple software development methodologies, over 700 programming languages, and a myriad of tools out there. 

However, despite this massive amount of options, there are only a few that stand out. This is the case of DevSecOps – a culture shift aimed to enhance the development cycle. Are you ready to dive in? In this article, we talk about what it is, its pros and cons, and the challenges you may face introducing or using it. Let’s get started. 

What is DevSecOps?  

To put it simply, DevSecOps automates the implementation of security into every stage of a traditional software engineering cycle, from ideation through design to delivery. Security used to be an isolated process at the end of the development pipeline performed by a separate team. This mindset promotes a general shift to a “Security as Code” culture that ensures faster and more cost-efficient delivery, enhanced product reliability, and more adaptive processes.   

DevSecOps vs DevOps: what’s the difference? 

As the term suggests, DevOps merges software development and operations. This approach has proven to be much more efficient than a traditional software development process in multiple areas, including software product quality, team collaboration, time management, and others.  

If DevOps brings such benefits, why is DevSecOps important? As stated before, security is a process that is usually left for last. Subsequently, any issue or vulnerability has to be escalated back to the dev team, thus hindering the procedure and compromising deadlines. This innovative practice can help companies avoid the problem since security is now seen as a shared responsibility present at every stage of a software development lifecycle (SDLC).

From DevSecOps meaning to practice: adoption 

Even though security hasn’t been fully integrated into software engineering processes of most organizations, several reports and surveys reveal that its penetration in the market is inevitable. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Agile and DevOps 2020, DevSecOps will have a 20-50 percent market penetration within two to five years. In line with this, GitLab’s Mapping the DevSecOps Landscape 2020 survey reports that 13 percent of companies grant developers access to DAST (Dynamic Application Security Tests) results, meaning that security is being carried on along the development pipelines.  

The growth of this culture is proportional to the rise of cybersecurity threats. According to Data Bridge Market Research, the global DevSecOps market is expected to grow from $1.47 billion in 2018 to $13.63 billion by 2026. 

Integration of DevSecOps: what to consider?

Now that we’ve covered what this mindset is about, the adoption it has had in the market, and its advantages and disadvantages, it’s essential to finalize by talking about the challenges of using it.  

Firstly, implementing a DevSecOps model requires the entire team’s involvement. Working in silos, where software engineers focus only on their specialties, is not how this approach works. In this order of ideas, engaging your organization to explore the unfamiliar and avoid being reluctant to integration is vital for success.  

Another challenge is merging three teams (Development – Security – Operations) under one unique system or way of working. By doing so, many tools and practices that used to work before may not be a good fit. Take time to research the best tools for your team and company in general.   

Adopting DevSecOps for the first time is a bumpy road, so be prepared for that. Positive results will come with time, so document processes and outcomes. These data will be of great value to refine and enhance its effectiveness in the long run.  

Finally, it is common that software engineers are not familiar with implementing security into their code. As part of your DevSecOps strategy, invest time in educating them on basic secure code practices. Doing so will bridge the gap between devs and security managers, bringing more efficiency and smoothness to the SDLC. 

DevSecOps tools to bring security into development 

Since under this practice, security is everyone’s responsibility, software vendors have designed developer-friendly solutions with automation capabilities. Below we present five common categories of DevSecOps tools:  

  • Alerts and notifications: report software engineers of any potential vulnerabilities, anomalies, or defects so they can be fixed on the spot.  
  • Automation: automatically scan, detect, and fix vulnerabilities.  
  • Dashboards: deliver data insights within a visually friendly layout.   
  • Threat modeling: identify, predict, and even create models of threats using the information provided by users.   
  • Testing: recognize security flaws before they can be exploited. 

Advantages and disadvantages of a DevSecOps model  

This term is relatively new to the software security ecosystem. Some may say it was born as a “hotfix” to the existing DevOps practice and obvious security flaws. And that’s why DevSecOps practices are important. However, since it’s a cultural transition away from the traditional way of developing software that implies changes in tools and processes, it may generate resistance in its implementation. Should this nuance prevent you from shifting? — Let’s list all pros and cons to make your choice easier.

Final thoughts

In today’s fully digital world, the benefits that this ideology has to offer are meaningful. Having security embedded from the very beginning of your application development is, by all means, a smart strategic move. It empowers you to not only keep up with all the compliance requirements but also protect your sensitive data, streamline development flow, and finally de-risk your company.   

Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that the efficiency of any transitions in your company depends on the security measures you integrate. With that said, promoting a security-first culture is a must. Similar to any change, resistance may occur, and we recommend elaborating a holistic strategy to ensure gradual implementation that fosters communication between software engineers and security officers.   

Finally, take into consideration that not every tool is suitable for every occasion. Don’t drastically switch to DevSecOps just because of the hype around it. Take time to assess its relevance, budget, and implementation timeframes. If you have any questions regarding DevSecOps definition, adoption, or tools, contact us for more information. Our experts will share valuable insights and best practices to make your implementation as smooth as possible.