DevOps Vs DevSecOps: Similarities and Key Differences

Posted by Prakash Donga · 12 Jul, 2022 · 18 Min read
DevOps Vs DevSecOps: Similarities and Key Differences

These days, companies and organizations find themselves reacting to the rapidly changing world of technology. There’s a demanding technical landscape and business environment.

The financial benefit of DevOps is clear. They solve problems faster and prevent them from happening to save time & money. However, despite being similar in concept and some functionalities, DevOps and DevSecOps aren't the same.

It should be clear which software we're talking about and what's unique or important about them when we talk about DevOps and DevSecOps.

In this blog, we look at what DevOps and DevSecOps mean, how they are similar, and the key differences between them.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is an approach to software development that emphasizes communication, collaboration, and integration between software developers and information technology (IT) operations. DevOps aims to improve communication and collaboration between software developers and IT operations professionals.

In 2021, 83% of IT decision-makers said that implementing DevOps practices is important to unlocking higher business value.

DevOps has been credited with improving many different aspects of IT environments by reducing the time required for new features to be deployed. It is used for:

  • Increasing system stability
  • Reducing costs through automation
  • Creating more secure networks
  • Establishing better relationships between departments
  • Speeding up deployment times for projects (including internal projects)
  • Increasing innovation and creativity in teams
  • Helping teams collaborate across multiple locations or offices. It enables them to share ideas quickly over video chat, email, etc.

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps, or DevOps Security, is a subset of DevOps that focuses on improving the security of software development and deployment processes. The Gartner Hype Cycle for Agile and DevOps, 2020, indicates that DevSecOps is in the early stages of mainstream adoption. According to Gartner, there is a modest 20-50% market penetration among DevSecOps' target audience today.

It's important to note that DevSecOops isn't an add-on to the traditional concept of DevOps. Its discipline with its skillset requirements. There's a lot more overlap between DevOps and DevSecOps than there are differences between them.

DevSecOps uses automation, monitoring, and enforcement to ensure that security practices are always followed. This can include automated testing and enforcement rules. It can even include automatic remediation of vulnerabilities found in code before they're released into production environments.

Similarities between DevOps vs. DevSecOps

At the core, DevOps and DevSecOps are very similar. Both focus on team collaboration, automation, and improving visibility into an organization's security posture.

Collaborative culture

The DevOps culture is one of collaboration between developers and operations. The DevSecOps culture is one of collaboration between developers and security. Developers work with security teams to build secure systems from the ground up, rather than working in silos and treating security as an afterthought.

Automation

Automation is a key component of DevOps and DevSecOps. It is the process of implementing scripts that can run regularly to automate routine operations. Automation can reduce the time and effort required to perform repetitive tasks, allowing you to focus on more important objectives. For example:

  • Automate your server builds, so you don't have to manually rebuild them every time code changes are pushed into production.
  • Automate security audits, so you don't have to assess your system for vulnerabilities manually.

Active monitoring

Monitoring is the process of gathering, analyzing, and acting on information about your systems. Monitoring is an essential part of any DevOps pipeline. It helps you detect when something goes wrong with your applications, making it a critical part of DevSecOps.

DevSecOps involves active monitoring so that you can detect threats and respond accordingly.

Infrastructure as code

Infrastructure as Code (IAC) is a tool that allows you to automate the creation and management of resources such as servers, networks, and databases. It will enable you to define these resources in code instead of manually creating them each time you need them.

It's used to automate computer infrastructure provisioning, deployment, configuration, and management. This can be especially useful when dealing with cloud environments. This is because it allows you to easily scale up or down depending on how busy your site is at any given time.

Key Differences between DevOps and DevSecOps

Key Differences between DevOps and DevSecOps

Philosophy

The DevOps and DevSecOps philosophies are quite different.

DevOps is a culture, while DevSecOps is a mindset. The core principles of the DevOps movement include:

  • Removing barriers to communication between development and operations teams
  • Promoting automation for speedier delivery
  • Providing more visibility into ongoing projects

This isn't to say that these concepts don't apply to security; they aren't the main focus of DevSecOps.

Instead, DevSecOps is all about thinking about cybersecurity in terms of continuous software development cycles. And then ensure you have all the right tools in place so your team can get things done quickly, efficiently, and securely. It also means embracing automation where possible so that every member of your organization can keep pace with these rapid changes.

Purpose

DevSecOps is about using the DevOps principles and moving fast, but it's also about doing it with security in mind. DevOps is designed to help organizations move at a speed that lets them outpace their competitors. It ensures that your company doesn't get beat by its employee errors or external attackers who may be trying to harm.

It's not just about avoiding mistakes but also about ensuring you're doing everything right. The idea here is that you should bake the security into your processes, not just bolted onto them after you implement them.

In other words, if there's an issue with one process in your DevSecOps pipeline, then it affects all other processes in your pipeline. It’s because they were built on top of this faulty component.

Goal

DevOps is a software development process that emphasizes communication, collaboration, and integration between software developers and other IT professionals. DevOps aims to improve business agility through increased automation, enhanced monitoring, faster release cycles, and better deployment strategies.

DevSecOps is an extension of DevOps that includes security testing as part of the continuous delivery pipeline. It uses security automation tools to automate manual tasks such as vulnerability scanning or credential management to reduce risk. It goes on finding vulnerabilities earlier in the development cycle.

Emphasis

DevOps is more focused on the development and operations team, while DevSecOps is more focused on the security team.

With a focus on speed and efficiency, DevOps puts a lot of emphasis on automation and collaboration between teams. It's all about getting things done quickly. On the other hand, with its focus on security, it makes sense that DevSecOps would place greater importance on manual processes such as change management or code reviews than its predecessor.

Team skillset

There are some critical differences between how these teams should be structured. The most significant difference is that you need DevOps and DevSecOps team members to fill out the DevSecOps team. If your company doesn't have a dedicated team for both areas yet, you'll need to add them to start implementing DevSecOps practices.

One of the main differences between a DevSecOps professional and a traditional security expert is their knowledge base—the former must understand both domains. At the same time, the latter only needs knowledge of their area of expertise.

DevOps engineers are Linux system administrators with experience in scripting. They should also know multiple DevOps tools and technologies. In comparison, DevOps engineers must work to build security into their cloud. Their skills include:

  • Solving problems and creating solutions.
  • Coordinating with multiple departments.
  • Defining technical standards.
  • Establishing overall security policies.

Security begins

DevSecOps is not just about security. It's a practice that takes into account all of the moving parts of developing and deploying applications, including things like:

  • Security from the beginning
  • Monitoring and detection of vulnerabilities
  • Automated remediation processes

So, DevSecOps is not just about DevOps. It also requires collaboration between groups that might not have worked closely together in the past—such as developers and IT operations. Security is an ongoing aspect of DevOps and begins at the onset of development in the pipeline.

Challenges

When looking at DevOps challenges, one will find that many are related to security. Challenges include infrastructure to microservices, changing well-defined processes to more efficient ones, and limited customer feedback.

For DevSecOps, there is a lot of overlap in concepts, such as numerous tools needed for testing instead of development. The knowledge one needs as a developer would also show a sizable knowledge gap at times. What's more, there wasn't much integration happening with Appsec tools. Then you have pipeline friction, and there's also developer overload.

The transition from DevOps to DevSecOps

With today's software systems' ever-increasing complexity and associated regulatory requirements, security has become a top priority for DevOps teams. But it's not enough to have a secure application; you must have a fast development process.

This checklist covers the key steps for transitioning from DevOps to DevSecOps in your development organization. It's intended for organizations with experience with DevOps principles and practices but wants to take them further with security.

Make the correct combination for security testing methods

This is a list of the most common security testing techniques:

SAST: Static application security testing examines your code to help you identify shortcomings.

DAST: Dynamic application security testing simulates real-world hacking attempts to help identify gaps and vulnerabilities in an app's defenses.

IAST: Interactive application security testing combines both SAST and DAST. It uses software instrumentation (active or passive) to monitor application performance.

RASP: Runtime application self-protection uses real-time data from an application to detect and resolve attacks as they happen. This feature works independently of an administrator or other processes.

Conclusion

DevOps and DevSecOps seem to be opposites, but they're complementary. Both are trying to make life easier for developers and support teams, and both perspectives are valid in different situations.

The key is identifying which mindset is best in each of these situations. That's where the friendly approach comes in. Instead of forcing a solution on their team, teams can consider what's best for them and their situation. They must view DevSecOps as an enhancement rather than a strict definition of all security operations.

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