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What’s the Difference Between DevOps and DevSecOps?

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Summary
DevOps vs DevSecOps: Learn the similarities and differences of each agile methodology and the essential processes involved.

Looking to modernize your approach to application development? If the answer is yes, then it’s more than likely you’ll eventually have to decide between two different approaches you’ve probably heard a lot about: DevOps and DevSecOps. While the two sound extremely similar, there are critical differences that will impact IT and business efficiency, as well as your ability to move forward with the best application development framework for your business. 

[Learn where your organization falls on the scale of DevSecOps maturity.]

Think the distinction is inconsequential? Think again: Teams that can distinguish between DevOps and DevSecOps are equipped to make key decisions that increase the efficiency of their app development pipeline. What’s more, it also helps teams make necessary changes to their current process in order to focus more on speed, agility, and security. 

Ready to dig in?

What do DevOps and DevSecOps have in common?

Collaborative culture

A culture of collaboration is central to DevOps and DevSecOps in order to help achieve development goals like rapid iteration and deployment that doesn’t jeopardize the safety and security of an app environment. Both of these methods involve the convergence of multiple teams that were previously siloed (development and IT operations or development, IT operations, and security) in order to increase visibility across the application’s lifecycle –  from planning to monitoring.

Automation

DevOps and DevSecOps both have the potential to utilize AI to automate steps in the app development process. For DevOps, this is done through auto-completed code and bug-detection, among other tools. In the case of DevSecOps, automated and continuous security checks and anomaly detection can help proactively identify high-risk vulnerabilities and security threats, even within complex and highly distributed environments. This is of particular importance as applications run on distributed, multi-cloud infrastructures and the IT perimeter continues to expand.

Active monitoring

Data monitoring for the purpose of learning and adapting plays an important role in DevOps as well as DevSecOps. Continually capturing and analyzing application data to drive improvements is a key factor in both of these methods. Having access to real-time data is an essential part of optimizing the application’s performance, minimizing the app’s attack surface, and improving the organization’s security posture overall.

What makes DevOps and DevSecOps different?

DevOps focuses on collaboration between application teams throughout the app development and deployment process. Development and operations teams work together to implement shared KPIs and tools. The goal of a DevOps approach is to elevate the frequency of deployments while ensuring predictability and efficiency of the app. A DevOps engineer thinks about things like how he or she can deploy updates to an app as efficiently as possible with minimal disruption to the user experience. By placing a great deal of focus on optimizing the speed of delivery, DevOps teams don’t always prioritize the prevention of security threats along the way, which can lead to the accrual of vulnerabilities that can jeopardize the application, end user data, and proprietary company assets.

DevSecOps evolved from DevOps as development teams began to realize that the DevOps model didn’t adequately address security concerns. Instead of retrofitting security into the build, DevSecOps emerged as a way to integrate the management of security earlier on throughout the development process. Through this method, application security begins at the outset of the build process, instead of at the end of the development pipeline. With this new approach, an engineer of DevSecOps strives to ensure that apps are secure against cyberattacks before being delivered to the user, and are continuously secure during app updates. DevSecOps emphasizes that developers should create code with security in mind and aims to solve the issues with security that DevOps doesn’t address.

DevOps versus DevSecOps visual

What activities distinguish DevOps and DevSecOps?

The DevOps process involves practices like:

  • Continuous integration (CI) – merges code changes to ensure the most recent version is available to developers
  • Continuous delivery and continuous deployment (CD) – automates the process of releasing updates to increase efficiency
  • Microservices – builds an application as a set of smaller services
  • Infrastructure as code (IaC) – designing, implementing, and managed app infrastructure needs through code

 

Meanwhile, the DevSecOps approach includes the above practices, as well as:

  • Common weaknesses enumeration (CWE) – improves the quality of code and increases the level of security during the CI and CD phases
  • Threat modeling – implements security testing during the development pipeline to save time and cost in future
  • Automated security testing – test for vulnerabilities in new builds on regular basis 
  • Incident management – creates a standard framework for responding to security incidents

 

Converting from DevOps to DevSecOps checklist:

Shift Left

It’s important to get teams on board with the concept of DevSecOps before making any changes in your process. Make sure everyone is on the same page about the necessity and benefits of securing applications early on, and how it affects your application development.

Choose the right combination of security testing methods

There are lots of security testing methods out there, and it can be hard to know which ones are best suited for your organization. Here’s a quick overview:

SAST: Static application security testing helps identify shortcomings by examining your code.

DAST: Dynamic application security testing puts administrators in the perspective of an attacker to help identify gaps and vulnerabilities.

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

RASP: Runtime application self-protection uses real-time application data to detect and resolve attacks as they happen, independently of an administrator.

Establish coding standards for your team

Assessing the quality of your code is an integral part of DevSecOps. By making sure that your code is strong and standardized, your team will have an easier time securing it in future. If you don’t already have one, establish a system of educating developers on coding best practices and ensure that code changes can be implemented seamlessly.

Secure apps from the inside out

Protect applications that run on distributed infrastructures from the inside out, instead of trying to defend the expanding perimeter. This way, a built-in security approach from the inside is much easier on IT teams, and strengthens your security posture as a result.

 

According to a recent report from Gartner, 80% of businesses that fail to shift to a modern security approach will face both increased operating costs and a lower response to attacks by 2023. It’s clear — businesses that can’t keep up with modern security technologies are falling behind, especially in an increasingly remote workforce.

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, it’s crucial for businesses to adapt to the increased number of cyberattacks that threaten to compromise the security of applications every day. Organizations can’t afford to leave security as an afterthought, which is why it’s important to start integrating DevSecOps practices into app development now.

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Christy Maerz

Christy Maerz

Christy is a Content Marketing Manager at AppDynamics, where she focuses on bringing the AppDynamics vision for application security and business analytics to life.