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What Is DevSecOps, and Why Is It Important To Your Business?

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By: Cybrary Staff

October 4, 2021

The rapid adoption of digital technologies has changed business rules, necessitating a security-first application development and deployment approach.

Digital transformation is now well underway across virtually all industries. Still, major challenges remain when it comes to upholding the demands of security, privacy, and compliance during a period of rapid change. While the need for performance and efficiency is as strong as ever, the need for robust cybersecurity has never been greater.

DevOps refers to a range of practices that combine software development and IT operations. The overarching goal is to shorten the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and ensure the continuous delivery of business-critical IT services. To that end, it is closely tied with agile software development.

That being said, in an era of constant cyber threats, DevOps can no longer happen in a bubble where security is addressed as a separate entity. Instead, all software applications should be secure by design, which means security must be baked in from the outset and throughout every stage of the software lifecycle. This is where DevSecOps comes in.

In many ways, DevSecOps is the new DevOps. It refers to a change in the way applications are developed and implemented, with an integral focus on security. This process begins with driving an organization-wide culture change that prioritizes integrating security features, automating routine tasks, and enhanced visibility over digital assets.

The business case for DevSecOps

For business leaders, the ability to respond quickly to market changes and deliver a superior customer experience is top of mind. They not only mean speeding up the development of cutting-edge software solutions but also ensuring that those solutions are secure, resilient, and adequately controlled.

Today’s business leaders care profoundly about the security of their systems and operations simply because they must. However, the responsibility to bridge the gap between leadership and development teams typically falls to specific roles like CISOs, CTOS, or CIOs. They must be advocates for security, albeit without standing in the way. Instead of spending their routines chasing software bugs and potential security vulnerabilities, they should be in a position to promote a security-first culture in which security features are embedded from the moment the first line of code is written.

Perhaps the biggest challenge today’s security leaders face is that many teams still view them as the department leader of ‘no.’ Security should be seen as a critical driver of digital transformation and better user experiences.

This is why it is often necessary to advocate a cultural change, which essentially comes down to training. Any software development team should encompass a wide area of expertise, and that includes security. At the very least, senior software developers should be fully aware of the Fundamentals of DevSecOps. This will help them navigate the distinct security challenges associated with custom software development.

Automating cybersecurity at scale

The traditional approach to application security typically involves adding security features later on in the development lifecycle. Because these features and functions are tacked afterward, there is a much higher chance of zero-day vulnerabilities. The result of this dilemma is a constant need for rework to iron out those vulnerabilities in a series of critical security updates and larger patches. This approach also hinders the user experience and, in some cases, causes widespread disruption. One example many business leaders will be familiar with is the constant stream of mandatory security updates for Windows.

DevSecOps revolves around uniting speed, efficiency, and security priorities in a single development environment. However, having security embedded into the development pipeline is just the beginning - it can also help teams automate security practices at virtually any scale. For example, security policies and procedures, like encryption and multifactor authentication, might be baked into any new software project from the outset rather than being added later in the form of additional features. Another huge advantage of security automation is that it can make compliance and governance a breeze. It standardizes critical security processes and features and implements security by design and default.

Who should learn the fundamentals of DevSecOps?

Businesses can never have too many security people in their ranks. Everyone should have a reasonable level of awareness of security risks and issues simply because everyone is a potential target. In the context of DevSecOps, this means teams need to be trained in concepts like secure coding, zero-trust security, and continuous feedback loops.

DevSecOps is built on the belief that everyone is responsible for security. Thus, the goal is to incorporate security into all stages of the SDLC instead of just the final stages. For businesses that already have DevOps teams, it should not be too hard to transition towards DevSecOps. After all, DevSecOps is just an evolution of DevOps, following many of the same core concepts and delivery models.

Given their increasingly important role in SDLC, DevSecOps engineers are highly sought after, which means they can be hard to come by. Candidates must have a broad range of both hard and soft skills. Technical proficiency, such as a strong understanding of modern programming languages, is essential. Just as important, however, is a thorough knowledge of the practices and principles of DevSecOps.

Security leaders, such as CISOs, are responsible for championing security throughout their organizations, and software development is no exception. They must communicate the fact that security is a shared responsibility and that the entire team understands common threats and vulnerabilities.

Incorporating just-in-time learning via a flexible cloud-based training platform can also help elevate development teams’ preparedness for tackling new and emerging threats and security standards. After all, change is the only constant in cybersecurity and technological advancement, so implementing a culture of continuous learning is a must.

Cybrary for Teams provides an accessible way for organizations to keep employees up to speed with the latest information security and digital transformation standards. Create your account today to get started.

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