Success In DevSecOps Requires Manpower, Not Just Technology

7 min readSep 5, 2021


What is Development Security Operations (DevSecOps)?

DevSecOps, a relatively new phrase in the application security (AppSec) community, is about incorporating security early in the software development life cycle (SDLC) by expanding the DevOps movement’s close collaboration between development and operations teams to include security teams. It entails a transformation of the culture, processes, and tools used by the key functional teams of development, security, testing, and operations. DevSecOps essentially implies that security is a shared responsibility and that everyone participating in the SDLC has a role to play in integrating security into the DevOps continuous integration and delivery workflow.

As the speed and frequency of releases rise, traditional application security teams are unable to keep up with the release pace and assure the security of each release.

To solve this, businesses must include security consistently across the SDLC, enabling DevOps teams to produce safe apps quickly and with high quality. The sooner security is integrated into the process, the sooner security flaws and vulnerabilities may be identified and remedied. This notion is part of the “shifting left” movement, which pushes security testing closer to developers, allowing them to address security concerns in their code in near real-time rather than waiting until the end of the SDLC, as security was traditionally tacked on.

Organizations may effortlessly incorporate security into their existing continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) practises using DevSecOps. DevSecOps encompasses the whole software development lifecycle, from planning and design to coding, building, testing, and release, with continuous feedback loops and insights in real-time.

What precisely is DevOps?

DevOps is a philosophy built on three pillars — organizational culture, methodology, and technology and tools — that enables development and IT operations teams to collaborate on software creation, testing, and delivery in a more flexible and iterative way than traditional software development methods.

Developers receive rapid, continuous feedback on their work in the DevOps ideal, enabling them to independently implement, integrate, and validate their code, as well as having the code pushed into the production environment.

In a nutshell, DevOps is about dismantling the walls that have historically separated development and operations. Development and operations teams collaborate across the full software application life cycle, from development and testing to deployment and operations, under a DevOps paradigm.

DevOps vs. DevSecOps

Almost all modern software firms today employ an agile-based software development lifecycle (SDLC) to expedite the creation and delivery of software releases, including upgrades and fixes. Different development techniques, such as DevOps and DevSecOps, make use of the agile foundation. DevOps focuses on application delivery speed, whereas DevSecOps combines speed and security by delivering as secure an application as feasible as fast as possible. DevSecOps’ objective is to accelerate the creation of a secure codebase.

According to the DevSecOps philosophy, businesses should include security in all phases of the DevOps life cycle, including conception, design, build, test, release, support, and maintenance. Security is a shared responsibility throughout the whole DevOps value chain in DevSecOps. DevSecOps is a term that refers to the continual, flexible collaboration of development, release management (or operations), and security teams. In summary, DevSecOps enables you to sustain a high rate of development without jeopardising security.

Why do we think that “DevSecOps requires People, not just Technology”?

DevSecOps is fundamentally a technology-driven discipline: tools, automation, and procedures.

However, it is also a matter of people. After all, it is humans that build and operate the technology that creates and executes software.

Additionally, it is individuals who must interact if DevSecOps is to succeed. They are dispersed among three teams that have previously operated separately and frequently viewed one another with suspicion.

Numerous practitioners have noted that the cultural change toward DevSecOps is still occurring. Certain businesses are already doing this more successfully than others, cultivating a culture in which development, security, and operations are not truly distinct teams. Rather than that, they are all working together toward the same goal: producing secure, high-quality software faster. They simply have distinct responsibilities to play in doing that.

While this is not a clear analogy, nobody would argue that in football, the offence, defence, and special teams units are on “separate” teams. They just have distinct responsibilities to play in order to attain a common objective: win the game.

While Development may have historically prioritised speed, Security has historically prioritised security, and Operations has prioritised quality, the objective now is for those responsibilities to overlap in an atmosphere of collaboration, coordination, agility, and shared accountability.

As previously said, certain companies are more mature than others in terms of enjoying the advantages of DevSecOps without the drawbacks associated with frequent team conflict. How are they able to accomplish this? Here are a few critical success factors:

Peace, love, and understanding

To be fair, you could extract the word “love” from that old ’70s hippy phrase. DevSecOps does not have to be cosy. And you should definitely start with “understanding,” as understanding promotes both peace and productivity.

It’s also an excellent place to start because the most frequent complaint from any of these teams is that the other team “doesn’t understand it.”

Security teams frequently lament that developers lack an understanding of security. Developers say that security professionals are unfamiliar with their work and the difficulties they encounter.

They are both true.

“Security learns to sprint: DevSecOps,” Thus, soft skills, or interpersonal abilities, are equally as critical as technical abilities.

“Modify the way we develop software such that the simplest method to do a task is also the most secure approach.”

“Dev, Sec, and Ops despise one another because they don’t understand or communicate with one another,” the leaders of the teams should bring individuals to the table and create a “psychologically safe” environment for them to speak, which will provide their teams with a “chance to succeed.”

Automate everything!

To solve the (perceived) lack of communication between development, security, and operations teams, the security team should automate.

Security testing performed manually is incapable of keeping up with the current rate of software development. However, security teams that look for automated testing solutions demonstrate a grasp of current development techniques.

For instance, the majority of code in modern applications — often more than 90% — is not authored but rather built from third-party and open-source components, APIs, and libraries, some of which have numerous dependencies. It’s tough to track these components manually; cross-referencing them with vulnerability databases is much more challenging. However, a competent software composition analysis (SCA) tool can automatically identify known vulnerabilities in all open source components, their dependents, and their dependencies’ dependencies, and so on, revealing security flaws that may exist many layers deep in a codebase.

Three new activities that demonstrate how businesses are attempting to align the pace of software security with the rate at which they bring functionality to market:

  • Integrate software-defined lifecycle governance, which automates conventional human- and document-driven procedures.
  • Monitoring automated asset generation enables engineering teams to retain awareness of the virtual assets they are creating.
  • Automated security verification of operational infrastructure helps guarantee that virtual assets meet security standards not just when they are produced, but over time.

We are the conquerors

Security teams cannot accomplish everything. They are overwhelmingly outnumbered. According to some projections, there is only one security team member for every ten employees in operations and 100 in development in a DevSecOps setting.

Therefore, what better approach to increase security’s numerical strength and close the knowledge gap between Dev and Sec than to establish “security champions” inside the development team? Who better than a developer to understand development?

Creating a security champions programme is a rising and beneficial trend, all the more so because it is not intended to be forced on anybody. Champions are volunteers who want to improve their skillset and marketability. It is a stride forward in one’s profession.

As a result, they volunteer for sophisticated software security training to assist their teammates — developers, testers, and architects. Security advocates are typically more successful in communicating with them than a security “outsider.”

When a team member has a question or is having difficulty resolving a vulnerability, a champion can act as both a mentor and a peer.

What are the best practices for DevSecOps?

Collaboration between security and development teams

The aim of DevSecOps is to improve collaboration between development and security teams. DevSecOps entails incorporating security checks into the DevOps pipeline, which results in bottlenecks when teams are unable to convey the correct information. That is why fostering a culture of openness and cooperation across teams is critical to the success of many businesses’ DevSecOps initiatives.

Emphasis on observability and quantifiability

When you have insight into the continuous integration and delivery stages of deployment, DevOps becomes more dependable. This visibility may be achieved by integrating logs and metrics with security event data, which reveals critical information about the impact on application performance and simplifies security solutions.

Utilise artificial intelligence to your advantage

Automation is a key component of the most advanced DevSecOps systems. Automating security tests, for example, helps accelerate the development process and increases developer efficiency by making it easier to discover possible vulnerabilities in code. (Static application security testing [SAST] is one of four methods of application security testing that assists in identifying these holes by examining the program’s source files for the root cause.)
Educate developers on the fundamentals of coding — and enforce a coding standard.

Utilize threat modelling to determine where gaps exist.

Teams that take on the role of an attacker are better able to detect code flaws. This is where dynamic application security testing (DAST) comes into play — scanners can be rapidly and simply implemented into a development pipeline to provide an additional layer of protection for your apps.

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