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Home Guide What’s the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps?

What’s the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps?

By Shreya Bose, Community Contributor -

As the name suggests, DevOps is literally of the primary principles dominating development (Dev) and Operations (Ops) teams. The fundamental idea is to dismantle siloed teams – development, quality testing, IT operations, and security – so that they actively collaborate to create better software within less time. 

Adopting a DevOps culture (comprising specific practices and tools) equips teams and organizations to deliver better software that matches customer needs closely. It also helps deliver said software in smaller timelines, allowing you to leverage a best-of-both-world situation – better products in less time. Let’s try to understand and answer the question – What’s the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps?

DevOps Benefits

As per DevOps Statistics 2023, The Global DevOps Market size was estimated at $4,311.95 million in 2020. The compound annual growth rate of 18.95% is estimated to reach USD 12,215.54 million by 2026. Considering that, here are a few benefits of DevOps.

  • Facilitates cordial relations (professional and innovation-based) between different teams within an organization
  • Allows faster and more frequent software deployment. Faster time to market
  • Lowers failure rate of new software releases as the CI/CD pipeline requires multiple automated tests
  • Improves mean time to recovery

DevOps Best Practices

  • Start inculcating the DevOps mindsets within members of all relevant teams. Tools cost more and won’t help unless the people using them understand how to get the best out of DevOps tools and processes. 
  • Begin the implementation process by explaining to folks what DevOps is and why it’s good for them. 
  • Once you have the mindset, get the tools. Automation tools and frameworks, CI/CD tools in particular, are essential to achieving DevOps success.

What’s the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps?

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps expands the definition of security; it stands for development, security, and operations. It is similar to the DevOps strategy, except for introducing security early in the software development life cycle (SDLC). 

  • The idea is to continuously build security mechanisms across the SDLC so that the delivered software isn’t just well-coded but also well-fortified – without sacrificing time or quality.
  • By working in testing, triage, and risk alleviation apparatus as early as possible in the CI/CD pipeline, DevSecOps seeks to minimize the usually expensive inconvenience of fixing bugs post-production.
  • This approach, just like DevOps, is part of going “Shift Left” by allowing devs to run security tests and fix issues in real-time instead of leaving it to be handled at the end of the SDLC, or worse, when it affects actual users.
  • To work its magic, DevSecOps (again, like DevOps) requires implementation across the whole SDLC – planning, design, coding, testing, reworking, and release – punctuated with real-time feedback and corresponding improvements.

Importance & Benefits of DevSecOps

In general, internet users (or anyone using software) have become far more aware of information security, which is necessary. This is quickly becoming the case with non-technical users and those with practical or intellectual expertise in the development and digital process. 

In this scenario, the importance of DevSecOps lies in bringing security higher up on the list of development priorities. Not only does it cause devs to write code with security foremost in their mind (along with quality), but it also reduces costs otherwise expended in dealing with security issues after-release or too late in the SDLC. 

  • As with DevOps, implementing DevSecOps breaks silos, and requires teams/team members (development, security, operations) to collaborate productively and develop cross-team ownership of the product. 
  • This contributes to creating a healthy work ecosystem where intellect and productivity thrive.
  • Reduces development times by making extensive use of automation tools. This also ensures that compliance standards such as MISRA and AUTOSAR are met.
  • The focus on security ensures that software developed using DevSecOps complies with privacy regulations like HIPAA and GDPR. 
  • A security-first POV also allows the software to be created and fortified against threats listed on the OWASP Top 10 web application security risks, maintain PCI DSS data privacy standards, and avoid common yet dangerous errors, gaps, or loopholes. 
  • Cost-effective since it prevents large, complex bugs from escaping into prod.
  • As a process, DevSecOps is repeatable, scalable, and adaptable. 
  • With the right tools and consistently expanding/adjusting CI/CD pipelines to match the team or organization’s needs, you can leverage the benefits of DecSecOps long-term. It isn’t a one-hit-wonder. 

How does DevSecOps work?

While nuances of the process will differ based on the organization, team, industry and requirements, DevSecOps usually comprises the following 6 stages:

Plan -> Code -> Build -> Test -> Release -> Deploy 

The process emphasizes on incorporating and embedding security at every vital nerve junction in the CI/CD cycle, rather than depending of a single suite of security tests at the end of development. 

1. Plan: You require minimal to no automation at this stage. Team members (from multiple teams) and stakeholders confer, discuss, review and formulate a development strategy that prioritizes security. They also make decisions to organize processes for optimal benefits, such as when to run which test, the depth of scope of each test, etc.

Folks also have to analyze how many security controls an application requires, often through a risk/benefit analysis lens.

2. Code: Here, we code. As with every other stage, devs have to keep security controls at the forefront of their minds when crafting code at this point. It’s imperative to ensure this through verification practices like unit tests, code reviews, static code analysis, pre-commit hooks, etc.

3. Build: Once code is written and committed to the code repo, it begins to build. Here, automation becomes a mandatory requirement. CI/CD tools build and run the code through security practices (like static application testing, component analysis, etc.). It is common to scan external dependencies and third-party apps via source composition analysis to ferret out security glitches at this stage.

4. Test: This stage commences once the build artifact moves to the test environment. Multiple tests are conducted before this stage, but this is where you run a comprehensive test suite on a minimum viable product.

Expect this stage to be time-consuming, as it uses mechanisms like dynamic application security testing (DAST) to scan for flaws. Ensure that tests check for common threats like SQL and code injection risk, cross-site scripting attacks, buffer overflows, cross-site request forgery, authentication, and authorization, API endpoints, etc.

5. Release: Post the above set of comprehensive tests, this stage pivots around examining the runtime environment infrastructure, detecting configuration management issues, and generally gaining insight into the static configuration of dynamic infra setups.

At this phase, you’ll have to change multiple aspects of the application via updates to your configuration management repo.

You’ll also have to recheck user control access, network firewall access, and data management. Don’t forget to audit API keys and access tokens to ensure robust role-based access control.

6. Deploy: Here, the testing artifact is pushed to production. Your main security concerns emerge from the live user environment at this stage. Teams will check and adjust the software to the main difference between the staging and production environments. A common example is validating the application’s Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) certificates. 

What are the components of DevSecOps?

The 4 key components of DevSecOps are as follows:

1. Collaboration

As with DevOps, DevSecOps requires the dismantling of silos between multiple teams. In its ideal manifestation, this approach will ensure that the goals of security and compliance teams are in harmony with development and operations goals.

Now, it’s not common for dev teams to resent security enforcements when you start off with DevSecOps. They might feel like it provides too much restriction from the outside or that it stands in the way of innovation.

However, this resentment can be assuaged by getting all teams on board with shared goals, which have been discussed and conveyed to all stakeholders before the pipeline begins. In particular, security teams can explain what they need and why they need it. Dev and Ops teams can then collaborate with security teams to explore efficient ways to incorporate security controls without disrupting workflows.

2. Meticulously Refined Processes

With more teams working together, there is a greater need for tracking, monitoring, and documenting all individuals’ access to systems and software. Controls must also be implemented to prevent unauthorized access, and spoofing of shared logins.

Don’t forget the principle of least privilege. Each user should have access to only the data they need to get their job done. Pair these controls with workflow traceability so that collaborating teams can easily understand who made what changes, at what time, and why.

3. Manage Data Access control from the get-go

Public concerns around data security is at an all-time high. When starting to code software, development must share similar concerns about data access controls.

Be mindful of using automated mechanisms that consistently check that such controls are in place throughout the SDLC. You’ll also have to ensure that devs and testers get realistic, updated data without exposing sensitive sides of said data (such as PII).

4. Build & Audit Secure Foundations

The foundational systems you’re implementing DevSecOps should be extremely secure, so pour your heart into research before purchasing. 

Your chosen DevSecOps solution should offer the industry-best service, security, and privacy. It should also meet industry regulatory standards such as ISO 27001, GDPR, HIPAA, EU/US Privacy Shield, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

Additionally, keep refining your company’s compliance and security controls by adopting evolving best practices. It is on you to maintain a tightly-controlled and secure environment. 

If feasible, why not conduct independent penetration tests of a DevSecOps solution to ensure its security, transparency, and communication (of the vendor’s support team).

Check if the tool provides a clear incident response process, and ask for their defense plan in case of system alerts and security breaches. Ask for crisis communication instructions that include details on how to inform your customers (those using your software) in the event of a large-scale incident. 

What is the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps?

Seeks to dismantle siloed teams, especially developer and operations teams.Seeks to do the same as DevOps, bringing security teams into the mix.
Increasing the frequency of deployments without compromising application stability or quality.Meant to fortify applications with industry-best security controls, while leveraging the advantages of DevOps.
Sole focus on delivery speed and quality.Augments speed with security.
Makes security the responsibility of a sole team.Makes security a shared responsibility of all teams.
Requires tools for CI/CD, software testing, configuration management, and continuous monitoring.Along with DevOps tools, this requires security tools for Static application security testing (SAST), Software composition analysis (SCA), Interactive application security testing (IAST), Dynamic application security testing (DAST), etc.

Does DevSecOps replace DevOps?

Absolutely not. DevSecOps does not replace DevOps but expands its scope and efficacy to deliver secure, higher-quality software. 

  • DevSecOps intend to prioritize application security as well as application quality, functioning, and UI. 
  • DevSecOps seeks to take the principles, approach, and mindset inherent in good DevOps and stretch them to apply to security considerations. 
  • Essentially, security teams are brought into the collaborative and automated model, with security considerations being discussed, debated, and finalized from the earliest development stages. 
  • Much like DevOps, the goal is to detect and dismantle security issues before they metastasize to become major bottlenecks that are difficult to remove because they affect integral parts of the application.
  • In other words, if you’re asking, “What’s the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps?”, the answer is “You add security and remove nothing from DevOps.”

The Role of Automation in Both

Automation tools are central to successfully implementing both DevOps and DevSecOps. To ensure the frequency of deployment these methods achieve, teams must make extensive and consistent use of automated tools for building, testing, reviewing, deploying, and monitoring code. 

  • The only difference in tooling between the two is that DevSecOps requires a set of security testing tools (or tools that also cover security modules) on top of the CI/CD tools required to succeed with DevOps. 
  • Depending on your tool usage during DevOps, you might have to upgrade existing tools or purchase new ones when shifting to a DevSecOps ecosystem. 

BrowserStack provides several integrations with popular CI/CD tools that help implement DevOps. This includes tools such as Jira, Jenkins, TeamCity, Travis CI, and more. It also provides a cloud Selenium grid of 3000+ real browsers and devices for testing purposes. Additionally, in-built debugging tools let testers identify and resolve bugs immediately.

  • Test all code, be it manual or automated testing (ideally, both).
  • Keep testing environments (staging, QA, production) as pristine as possible. 
  • Try to keep pace with innovations (of thought or tech) related to DevOps. One cannot afford to fall behind in the breakneck battlefield of software development.

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