DevSecOps vs DevOps: What’s Different and How to Make the Move

Oliver Moradov

What Is DevOps?

What Is DevSecOps?

DevOps promotes communication, collaboration, automation, and integration between software developers and IT operations. The goal is to improve software delivery speed and quality by releasing software updates frequently and continuously.  
DevOps teams strive to create consistent development environments and automate the delivery process. They aim to ensure the delivery remains efficient, sustainable, secure, and predictable. 
DevOps gives developers more control over production infrastructure and a better understanding of the production environment. Additionally, it empowers team members by providing them with the freedom to build, validate, and deliver applications. 
DevSecOps promotes collaboration between development, security, and operations teams. The goal is to ensure that software products are released securely. 
DevSecOps makes security a shared responsibility across the entire development lifecycle. It reduces the probability of vulnerabilities resulting from security bottlenecks. 
It was created in response to pipelines that performed security at the end of the cycle, resulting in longer production times due to the need to rewrite flawed code, or pressure to release insecure software. 
The DevSecOps model provides operations and development teams with tools and processes to help make security decisions. The security team adapts these processes and tools in response to operations and development to maintain an agile work environment. 

In this article:

DevSecOps vs DevOps: Similarities

Here are key similarities shared by DevOps and DevSecOps:

  • Automation—DevOps and DevSecOps employ artificial intelligence (AI) to automate development steps. DevOps typically involves using auto-complete code and anomaly detection. DevSecOps involves automating security checks and employing anomaly recognition to detect vulnerabilities and security risks proactively.
  • Continuous monitoring—DevOps and DevSecOps need to capture and monitor application data to drive improvements and fix issues. Monitoring real-time data helps improve performance, limit the attack surface, and tighten the overall security posture.
  • A culture of collaboration—DevOps and DevSecOps require a culture of collaboration to accomplish development goals. Both approaches need to achieve quick iteration and development without risking the quality and security of the environment. It requires teams to expand visibility across the development lifecycle, collaborating throughout all phases.

Related content: Read our guide to DevOps testing

What Makes DevOps and DevSecOps Different?

DevOps involves collaboration between application development and operations teams, which work closely throughout the software development process. DevOps teams share the same goals, tools, and key performance indicators. DevOps aims to facilitate shorter development cycles, allowing for frequent releases while maintaining the software’s quality, resilience, and predictability. 

DevOps engineers focus on finding the best way to deploy application updates efficiently while minimizing the disruption to the end-user’s experience. This emphasis on fast software delivery means that DevOps teams often overlook security considerations. The relegation of security to the end of the DevOps pipeline often accumulates vulnerabilities jeopardizing an organization’s assets, end-user data, and applications. 

DevSecOps is an evolution of DevOps that prioritizes security. It emerged because DevOps teams understood that the conventional DevOps approach was inefficient without incorporating security processes into the pipeline. Rather than applying security at the end of the build, DevSecOps integrates security management early in the development and deployment process. 

With DevSecOps, the application security processes are an inseparable part of the overall build process, right from the start of the pipeline. This security-driven approach allows DevSecOps engineers to ensure that applications are secure before delivering them to the end-user and exposing them to potential attacks. DevSecOps teams work continuously to secure the application during updates, emphasizing safe coding practices and addressing complex security issues where standard DevOps practices do not.

How to Shift from DevOps to DevSecOps

Integrate Security Into Existing Work Patterns

The most common reason developers bypass security tests is because they are inconvenient or require manual work. The DevOps mindset aims to reduce the administrative burden of software development and deliver code to production quickly. This same approach can make security efforts effective when migrating from DevOps to DevSecOps. 

The goal is to help developers by simplifying security testing. Tools should be as automated as possible and the results should be easy to interpret. Tools should report issues directly to the issue tracking system, which developers are already using to track software defects, making it a seamless part of their existing work process.

Select DevSecOps-Compatible Tools

To automate tasks and deliver results that are easy to interpret, leverage tools designed for DevSecOps workflows. Find tools with full-featured APIs and flexible reporting options. Even if there are existing testing tools currently used in the pipeline, be open to exploring new tools that can enable faster and more automated security testing that does not disrupt existing workflows.

Related content: Read our guide to DevSecOps tools

Educate Developers on Security Foundations

Developers have to understand security issues in order to participate in a security process. They need a solid understanding of cybersecurity issues and the corresponding secure coding practices. A developer must know how to avoid common vulnerabilities and why a specific coding style or method can lead to an attack.

Security training should not only be the responsibility of the information security team or other internal staff. Keep in mind that they have other priorities and need to get their own work done. Leverage outsourced security experts or training programs that can provide effective, continuous training for developers on secure coding practices. 

Training should first focus on the basics. The most common insecure coding problems are SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS). It is important to focus on the most common issues first—which can provide immediate value because developers will stop making these common mistakes—and then move on to advanced concepts.

Zero Trust Architecture

The key to solving problems like supply chain attacks is ensuring that the technology stack is not compromised by security breaches. If a malicious attacker manages to obtain login credentials, database access, or an IP address within the network, they should not be able to gain access to the entire network. Zero trust is another pillar of DevSecOps because it secures development, testing, and production environments against inside and outside threats.

Organizations must adopt a zero trust approach to security. The zero trust model recognizes that the traditional network perimeter, in which entities inside the perimeter were implicitly trusted, is not sufficient for modern IT environments. Zero trust technology enforces the principle of least privilege, and provides the ability to automatically segment networks to prevent lateral movement and ensure any internal connection is verified before being trusted. 

Zero trust automation makes it possible to grant dynamic, fine-grained permissions to users and service accounts. It grants legitimate users sufficient access to do their jobs, while ensuring that malicious or suspicious access can immediately be blocked. 

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