DevSecOps - Opportunities and Challenges

It has become a standard operational practice for many of the leading software development companies to merge software development (Dev) with information technology operations (Ops). This is done mainly to create products and services that are of higher quality in a shorter period of time.
This practice, known commonly as DevOps, is focused on improving collaboration between IT professionals having various specializations.
For the last four or five years, however, security has become one of the major concerns in software development. This has given rise to a security-focused approach in software development known as DevSecOps.

What Is DevSecOps?

Just like the more common DevOps method, this novel approach to creating software products utilizes agility and continuous integration along with continuous delivery.
The key difference here is that instead of a security team coming in after the product has been completely developed, DevSecOps approach makes security a part of the development process.
As a result of all that, the success of any software development project with DevSecOps approach depends on the coordination between the security, IT, and development departments.
But why is there a need for using DevSecOps approach? Hang on, we’ll explain everything!

Why Is DevSecOps Needed?

The main reason for incorporating security into the DevOps process is to prevent security-related problems in the later stages.
On the very basic level, the focus of DevSecOps is to let the security team carry out application security testing and identify and mitigate any potential security risks and vulnerabilities while the software is still in the development phase.
This does not only save the countless hours that are wasted on testing and mitigating security issues at later stages, but it also makes the software inherently more secure.
It can be said that in DevOps, security is an afterthought but in DevSecOps, it is a part of every stage of the SDLC.
DevSecOps appears to be a perfect approach to developing software that is inherently secure.
However, like anything else in the world, DevSecOps is not perfect. There are upsides and downsides to it.

Benefits that DevSecOps Offers

It must be made clear that there is no guarantee that software developed using the DevSecOps methodology will be 100% safe from all sorts of malicious attacks. However, this approach does make the product considerably stable and less vulnerable.
The reasons that make this approach to software development beneficial include:

  • Enhanced communication and collaboration between all teams make it possible for IT professionals from different departments and having different skill sets to pool their experience and knowledge and work together to move towards the goal: a secure and stable product.
  • The speed and agility of development teams are increased because DevSecOps is focused on swift reactions from the team members throughout the SDLC. All the vulnerabilities are detected and mitigated in earlier stages which is crucial with the needs of the market for fast delivery and impeccable quality.
  • Quality control and threat detection are improved when using the DevSecOps approach. While the DevOps approach might consider the time spent on security and quality control to be a source of delay, this is not the case here. Security is so neatly intertwined with the development that they both coexist and progress in parallel in a way that neither the deadline nor the security is compromised.
  • Software vulnerabilities are detected and mitigated early which ensures the speedy delivery and reliability of the product.
  • The product can be modified according to the needs of the customer/client. As DevSecOps focuses on the development, security, and deployment in parallel, any feedback/complaint/suggestion from the client can be entertained and made a part of the development process from the very early stages.

With all that said, DevSecOps does come with its own downsides. The main drawbacks of using this approach are as follows.

Drawbacks of DevSecOps

It is not possible for DevSecOps to address all the issues, especially the ones related to individual team members. One of the main issues firms trying to implement this approach face is that of employees and team members not willing to shift to this methodology.
Other things that make DevSecOps not a 100% perfect approach include:

  • It does not work without open communication. One of the very basic requirements for DevSecOps to be successful is that of the collaboration between the teams from software development, IT, and security. If any of these teams do not open up completely and hold back information, this approach will not work as intended.
  • Everyone on the team needs to be in on the new method because when it comes to DevSecOps, collective effort is the name of the game. If a team has members with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mindset, this approach will just not be feasible. The whole team needs to be progressive and open to accept changes for this approach to fully work.
  • The management needs to be willing to adopt this approach. Sadly, security is still something that needs to be taken care of after the development of the software for most of the managers. Even if the team is willing to adopt this new approach, if the managers are not feeling like it, it won’t work.
  • DevSecOps cannot work with web application firewalls (WAF). This is because WAFs can only function by taking into account the requests from real users. This can only be achieved in production environments and cannot resolve the issues arising during DevSecOps workflow.
  • DevSecOps relies a lot on automation which means that the manual penetration testing tools that an organization might already be using will no longer be effective.


To Sum It Up

It is the need of time to integrate security into the software development lifecycle to make sure that the product is delivered on time and is fully secure and stable.
DevSecOps is an approach focused on making that possible. While it does promise excellent opportunities for software developers, it does come with its own limitations and drawbacks.