DevSecOps: 5 Key Security Components for Software Development

You’ve no doubt noticed that the IT infrastructure landscape has changed immensely over the past decade. We are now working on agile cloud computing platforms with shared storage and data. DevOps applications have brought us speed, scale and functionality and enabled us to race ahead of the competition. However, one element that these advanced solutions are often lacking is software security and this brings inherent risk to our organisations. Unfortunately, hackers are always on the lookout for new opportunities to infiltrate our systems, and that includes inserting malware during the software development process and taking advantage of unencrypted data in the development environment.

This is where DevSecOps comes into play, a way to bring cybersecurity into the loop of software development and ensure it is considered equally alongside development and operations. The idea is that any business involved in application development and distribution should make sure security is front of mind.

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps stands for Development, Security and Operations. And that is what it aims to do, bring all three arms of the business together to ensure that everyone is accountable for security. DevSecOps is a significant culture shift; it means that security decisions should be implemented at the same level, scale and speed as development and operations.

The rise in cloud computing has had a significant impact on how software is developed. Rolling releases and agile development enabling new features and code to be continually released. Meanwhile, the DevOps culture enables developers to provision and scale the infrastructure they need at a moment’s notice. DevSecOps aims to correct the problem by fully integrating security testing into the continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines. By having security embedded throughout the software delivery lifecycle, DevSecOps aims to reduce the cost of compliance and enable the software to be delivered and released more quickly.

Key Security Elements for Software Development

The only way to manage evolving security threats is to integrate security into the development process. There are some key security elements that should be included in the process to enable DevSecOps to be effective:

1. Benchmark Your Software Security Initiative

If you want to build secure high-quality software in today’s digital environment, you need a Software Security Initiative (SSI). Your SSI should enable you to measure, manage and evolve your security activities in a consistent way and to keep pace with dynamic development approaches. To gain visibility into the state of your SSI, you’ll want to use a benchmarking tool. This will allow you to see how your SSI stacks up against your industry peers and gives you evidence as to how your security efforts make a difference to the business.

2. Bridge the Gap Between Development and Security Teams

You need everyone involved in a project to be educated in security and up to date with development standards. By investing in training your development team, you will bridge the gap between them and your security team. This means that you can fully integrate security testing into continuous delivery pipelines. Your development team should be able to carry out security testing, raise issues and fix them. Ultimately, when you have truly achieved DevSecOps, there should be no need for a separate team.

3. Establish a Thorough Risk Management Process

When it comes to open source technology, security must be addressed. If developers are too busy to review open-source codes, then vulnerabilities can be introduced both in open source and proprietary solutions. That is why it’s vital for these risks to be identified and mitigation plans to be put in place. By developing a comprehensive risk management process, you empower teams to undertake risk analysis, prioritise work based on risk and gain real-time visibility into security vulnerabilities.

4. Schedule Architecture and Code Reviews

If you wait until the end of the development process to review your architecture and code, then it is going to cost you far more in the long run. By scheduling architecture and code reviews during development, you can identify and correct any flaws early on before software is deployed. With regular reviews, you will be able to assess the attack surface and identify gaps in security controls.

5. Implement Threat Modelling

Threat modelling enables you to identify software components which are under threat. It also allows you to ascertain the level of threat and identify potential solutions to mitigate them. With threat modelling, your development team has the power to locate glitches and make changes in application design. By implementing threat modelling and penetration testing before launch, your team will see how a product performs and how it responds to abuse cases. This gives you much more confidence in your software and your overall security posture.

The Benefits of Getting DevSecOps Right

The threat landscape is continually evolving, which means there is always vulnerability in our development processes. By embedding security right from the get-go, you can create a holistic security strategy. This means that the organisation can work seamlessly towards a shared goal while enhancing security compliance. Ultimately, the key benefit of DevSecOps is that it enables automation throughout the software development process, which eliminates mistakes, builds cyber resilience and reduces risk.

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