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From DevOps to DevSecOps: understanding the challenges of integrating security into DevOps

Securing applications and platforms on the cloud is one of the top concerns for enterprises, which is echoed in this recent IDG State of the CIO survey. While this increased awareness around the need to increase cybersecurity makes DevSecOps paramount, organisations often face several challenges that “make it or break it” when it comes to rolling out a successful DevSecOps strategy.  

  • Security an afterthought: challenges of integrating security for Dev teams 
    • The first challenge is that in most software development lifecycles, security comes in very late: usually, when the product is going to production or is ready to be rolled out to the market. At this point, going back to fix the problems is too time-consuming and expensive. The traditional approach to security testing cannot be integrated into this new development life cycle.  
    • While DevOps teams stress on speed and quicker time-to-market to remain competitive, the security teams need time to run tests and discover vulnerabilities. 
    • This clash between speed and security can be challenging and needs to be addressed if cloud strategies are to be implemented widely. 
  • Periodic audits do not tell the whole story  
    • In the traditional approach, security testing usually happens after the development and staging test. These reviews happen once every three to six months to identify the problems to be fixed and generate reports. Although a good practice, it is not completely efficient as this approach assumes that the level of compliance is steady and that these periodic checks are enough to validate the constant level of compliance. 
    • In reality, we only know the actual level of compliance when we test for it. It leaves the windows open to risks in-between the periodic audits where the product is susceptible to security attacks. Furthermore, it also leaves the company highly vulnerable. DevSecOps can help organisations mitigate this challenge. From the conventional method, we need to shift to a continuous compliance model. In this approach, compliance tests are done at every stage.  
  • Language barriers hinder efficiency   
    • There are three different teams in charge when it comes to securing systems, each with their own specific perspectives and tools. The compliance team adheres to regulations, while the security team uses scanning tools to validate things. The DevOps team then fixes the problems.   
    • However, as the different teams use different languages, it increases the time taken to resolve a problem and makes it expensive to fix as the messages have to go through several loops. 
    • Everyone in the organisation needs to have a common language and set of tools to ensure security and compliance can be codified and automated. It makes the process simpler, more consistent and straightforward. It also helps teams know when they are non-compliant, and there are no surprises.  
  • Rolling out a Successful DevSecOps Strategy   
  • We need to look at compliance and security as something that needs to be done as core. Teams must evaluate and use tools and applications that allow for security as a core model.  
  • We have seen how the successful integration of security practices into every stage of development helps businesses address security issues early on and improves compliance. 
  • DevSecOps requires not only a change in the tools and processes used but also a change in mindset and work culture. Teams that worked in silos will now have to integrate operations and collaborate in real-time. Organisations planning to roll out their DevSecOps approach will need a holistic approach that looks at the tools, processes and teams. 

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