The DevSecOps Lifecycle: How to Automate Security in Software Development

May 2, 2023
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Historically, security has been bolted on at the end of the development cycle, often resulting in software riddled with vulnerabilities. This leaves the door open for security breaches that can lead to serious financial and reputational damage. According to the 2022 cost of a data breach report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9,440,000.

To mitigate these risks, organizations are increasingly turning to DevSecOps, a methodology that integrates security into the software development process from the very beginning, with the goal of delivering safer applications, faster.

In this blog post, we will explore the DevSecOps lifecycle, which software development lifecycle approach is most compatible with DevSecOps principles, and how to automate DevSecOps testing in your organization.


Steps in the Devsecops Lifecycle

DevSecOps is a software development methodology that emphasizes security and collaboration between development, security, and operations teams throughout the software development lifecycle. DevSecOps works best with teams that use CI/CD, or continuous integration and delivery process, meaning code changes are integrated and released as part of an automated process.

 The DevSecOps lifecycle can be broken down into the following steps, with the development, testing, and deployment stages often happening in a loop as software updates are made and new features are added:


1. Plan

In the planning phase, development teams work with security and operations teams to identify potential security risks and develop a security strategy. This includes identifying security requirements, defining security policies, and selecting the appropriate security testing tools.


2. Develop 

During the development phase, development teams both build and test the application. This includes integrating automated security testing into the development process, conducting code reviews, and ensuring that security requirements are met.

Since development and testing happen together in the DevSecOps lifecycle, less secure components, such as third-party code, can be tested as they are put into place. 

This is where the continuous integration part of the CI/CD process comes in. Code changes are automatically integrated into a shared repository on a regular basis, allowing developers to identify and address conflicts and issues early in the development process.

Optional: Test

Since testing happens during development, a separate testing phase is not necessary in a DevSecOps approach. When it is included, testing takes much less time than it does in a traditional testing process. 

During the testing phase, security teams test the application for security weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and threats using penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and other security testing techniques.


3. Deploy and Monitor

In a traditional process, the operation team would have deployed the application to production. However, the DevSecOps lifecycle follows the DevOps approach, which shifted the responsibility of deploying the application from operations teams to development teams. 

The process of deploying to production includes configuring and securing the infrastructure, implementing access controls, and monitoring the environment for security threats.  

Today, many development teams trigger deployments using continuous delivery. This involves the use of tools and processes to automatically build, test, and deploy code changes to production environments. 

After deployment, teams then monitor the application for security threats and respond to any incidents that occur. 

Benefits of Following The DevSecOps Lifecycle

Following a DevSecOps approach has many benefits. By integrating security directly into the software development lifecycle, organizations can proactively identify and mitigate security risks early in the development process, leading to:

  • Early detection of security vulnerabilities: Integrating security from the beginning of the SDLC helps detect security vulnerabilities at an early stage. This enables developers to address these vulnerabilities before they turn into major security threats.
  • Reduced time and cost: Integrating security into the SDLC reduces the costs associated with fixing security vulnerabilities at a later stage. Addressing security issues early in the SDLC helps avoid costly rework, saves time, and ensures that the software is secure from the outset.
  • Improved software quality: Integrating security into the SDLC improves the overall quality of the software. By identifying and addressing security issues early on, developers can ensure that the software is more reliable and less prone to errors.
  • Compliance with regulations: Many industries have regulations and standards that require software to meet specific security requirements. Integrating security into the SDLC ensures that the software meets these requirements, reducing the risk of non-compliance.
  • Increased customer trust: By helping teams find - and fix - application vulnerabilities before release - DevSecOps helps organizations deliver more secure, reliable software to customers to build trust


Which Software Development Lifecycle Approach is Most Compatible with DevSecOps?

There’s no prerequisite for adopting DevSecOps principles - you can shift security left no matter what methodologies your development team follows. That said, teams adopting agile principles in how they write and ship code often see the most benefit from DevSecOps practices, due to a similarity in the principles of the two. 


Comparing Agile, DevOps, and DevSecOps

Agile, DevOps, and DevSecOps are extremely similar approaches. The Agile methodology is an iterative approach that prioritizes customer satisfaction, collaboration, and working software as the primary measures of progress. It involves breaking down the development process into smaller sprints that deliver a working software increment, with an emphasis on continuous feedback and flexibility.

The DevOps methodology is an extension of Agile that focuses on the collaboration between development and operations teams. It aims to deliver software quickly and reliably by automating human operations tasks such as building and shipping code, as well as emphasizing continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous delivery. The DevOps methodology also includes a focus on monitoring and feedback, with the goal of identifying and resolving issues as quickly as possible. 

DevSecOps is an extension of DevOps in the same way that DevOps is an extension of Agile. It follows the DevOps methodology, focusing on security as an integral part of the development process. The DevSecOps process involves continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous deployment, with a focus on security at every stage.

Since DevOps already emphasizes the importance of collaboration between development and operations teams, it's easy to integrate security testing into the DevOps process. By breaking down the silos between these teams, organizations can ensure that security is not an afterthought, but an integral part of the entire software development process.

Both Agile and DevOps also emphasize continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD), which allows for rapid feedback and iteration. This is essential for identifying and fixing security issues early in the development process. By adopting a DevSecOps approach, organizations can build products that are secure, reliable, and of high quality.


Automate DevSecOps Testing 

Another key part of the DevOps and DevSecOps methodologies involves automating parts of the software delivery process to deliver software quickly. When transitioning to a DevSecOps approach, this methodology extends to security testing. 

Benefits of Using Automated DevSecOps Testing Tools

Using an automated security testing tool is the best way to automate security testing in your DevSecOps approach. There are many benefit of using an automated security testing solution in your development pipeline, including:

  • Save time: Automated security testing tools can quickly and efficiently identify vulnerabilities and security issues in your code, reducing the time and effort required to manually test and identify potential security risks.
  • Improved accuracy: Automated security testing solutions can help eliminate human errors that can occur during manual testing, ensuring that potential vulnerabilities and security issues are identified and addressed consistently and accurately.
  • Integration with existing processes: By integrating seamlessly into your existing development process, automated security testing can help ensure that security is considered throughout the entire development lifecycle, from planning and design to deployment and maintenance.
  • Allows developers to focus on value-generating activities: Manual security testing is a time-consuming process that requires specialized skills and knowledge. By automating security testing, developers can spend more time on developing new features, improving functionality, and enhancing user experience. 


Automate DevSecOps Testing in Your Organization Today

Integrating security into the software development lifecycle is crucial for any organization that wants to ensure the integrity of their applications. 

By adopting DevSecOps practices, organizations can ensure that security is not an afterthought, but an integral part of the entire software development process, ensuring the security and reliability of your software.

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