What Is Development Security Operations (DevSecOps)?

Development Security Operations (DevSecOps) is a practice in app development designed to better integrate security into a continuous development pipeline.

With an increasing focus on quality and security, organizations must update and refresh applications and other code regularly. Yet, basic rapid development methods, such as DevOps, are not always adequate.

That’s where DevSecOps comes in. It proposes a “shift-left” approach where developers take responsibility for security from requirements gathering and analysis all the way to architecture design, implementation, and testing.

Let’s explore this definition in more detail.

What Does Development Security Operations Mean?

The term DevSecOps is short for development, security, and operations. The framework is designed to automate security into every aspect of the software development lifecycle. This includes initial design, coding, testing, management, deployment, and software delivery.

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As software development processes become more complex — often spanning teams and companies — the need to streamline processes becomes more considerable. Security vulnerabilities lead to many problems, from bugs affecting usability and performance to raising the risk of a breach or malware infection.

In the past, software updates and delivery took place only once or twice a year. Today, rapid development cycles increase the pressure on teams to refresh and update everything from mobile apps to major enterprise applications frequently, sometimes in a matter of days.

DevSecOps makes security a shared responsibility that’s linked across development, security, and IT operations groups. Rather than viewing security as a discrete process — or worse, an afterthought — DevSecOps addresses issues preemptively and as they emerge.

Not only does this approach reduce the frequency and severity of security issues, but it also cuts costs.

How Does DevSecOps Work?

DevSecOps involves more than a product or technology. It’s a strategic framework that extends to all aspects of software development, including areas such as application programming interfaces (APIs), cloud containers, and microservices. It requires tight integration and strong collaboration among teams, which may work separately and even scattered across different parts of the world. Consequently, DevSecOps is all about automation.

It's essential to have systems and tools in place to address all the various components within a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, which includes building, testing, and deploying code. This typically incorporates tasks such as compiling code, unit tests, static and dynamic code analysis, security, and the creation of binaries. It can also involve code packaging in containers and in microservices.

Typical focus areas include standardization, authentication, encryption, reducing API exposures, and isolating containers running microservices. CI/CD process security focus areas typically revolve around security scanners for containers, automating testing in CI, establishing a mechanism to manage updates and patches, and developing controls for configuration management.

A DevSecOps framework requires multiple tools and solutions from different vendors. An organization must integrate these tools into the DevSecOps framework and ensure that teams use them consistently and correctly in every phase of the development process.

How Do DevOps and DevSecOps Differ?

Although DevOps and DevSecOps share similar principles, they are not the same thing.

DevOps is designed to facilitate agile development, introducing the idea that development processes are a shared responsibility. By incorporating continuous monitoring, rapid automation, and other process improvements, DevOps makes it possible to connect teams so that they can work more effectively in a collaborative setting.

DevSecOps adds security to the mix. It extends DevOps beyond development and operations teams. It broadens processes to include applications and infrastructure in the entire development lifecycle.

The goal is to:

  • Improve code quality through best practice security methods
  • Include security testing in all phases of the development pipeline
  • Automate testing
  • Establish standardized processes to respond to incidents.

What Are the Benefits of DevSecOps?

The primary advantages of DevSecOps revolve around two key areas: speed and security.

Organizations that use DevSecOps effectively can streamline a variety of processes. The result is an ability to handle complex coding tasks faster and better.

Organizations that rely on conventional software development methodologies often encounter time delays as teams wait for code to be fixed. This slows development and escalates costs. Instead, DevSecOps removes manual processes, eliminates redundant reviews and processes, and builds a framework for integrating changes across the organization.

Moreover, since security is baked into processes and extends across the development lifecycle, there’s a consistent framework for reviewing, auditing, code scanning, testing, and deploying software. This improved collaboration contributes to a more consistent and streamlined approach to software development and patching.

In the end, quality increases while costs go down. It’s also easier to get new projects off the ground and ensure that they’re headed in the right direction. No less important: if an enterprise requires a change to a DevSecOps process, it’s possible to seed the change immediately across teams. As a result, a modern development CI/CD pipeline takes shape.

DevSecOps Best Practices

There are three key requirements for a successful DevSecOps framework:

  1. A shift-left orientation. The term shift left refers to adjusting and adapting security tasks and processes so that they take place earlier in the software development cycle. This makes it possible to spot coding problems and security vulnerabilities earlier and correct them before they spread.
  2. A robust monitoring and management framework. A successful DevSecOps initiative uses technology tools and processes to improve traceability, auditability, and visibility across the development lifecycle and across teams.
  3. Security training and education. Developers face intense pressure to churn out code faster than ever. While they may recognize the value of security, it isn’t necessarily their top priority. Successful DevSecOps initiatives offer training and awareness of basic principles promoted by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) and others.

Implementing a DevSecOps Practice with Low-Code

As organizations look to build a faster and more efficient pipeline for software development, DevSecOps is critical. It integrates security into all aspects of the development and software delivery processes and across teams. A shift-left approach that includes automated testing and other controls integrates security deeper into the fabric of the enterprise. It helps an organization ensure that it is producing the highest quality code at the lowest possible cost.

As we saw, a successful DevSecOps practice requires changing mindsets, training, and the right technology. And that’s where OutSystems low-code platform can help.

Here’s why:

  • Unlike other low-code platforms, OutSystems generates code that can be scanned by security testing tools
  • Apps built with OutSystems are protected by default from the top security threats identified by OWASP (both OWASP Top 10 Most Critical Web Application Security Risks, and the OWASP Top 10 Mobile Threats).
  • The platform automatically applies more than 200 (and growing) risk and security controls.
  • OutSystems performs dynamic and static code analysis for 100% of the applications created thanks to the implemented DevSecOps principles, including a decoupled architecture supported by a compiler mentality instead of an interpreter mentality.
  • For cloud users, the platform offers Sentry with extra security, risk management, and monitoring for SOC2 Type II.
  • For mobile, OutSystems offers AppShield, an add-on that automatically adds additional layers of security during deployment to make applications more resistant to intrusion, tampering, and reverse engineering.
  • Finally, OutSystems undergoes regular verification of security and compliance controls.

Explore all OutSystems security capabilities and what makes it the CSOs/CISOs’ choice in our Security page and Evaluation Guide.