Topics in this article

Embarking on a DevSecOps journey can be daunting. It’s a paradigm shift in software development, as it integrates security into every phase of the development lifecycle.

The concept is simple yet effective, paving the way for the delivery of high-quality, secure software products and enabling continuous monitoring and automated security checks.    

In this guide, we explain what DevSecOps is, why it is essential and how it can reshape your software development. 

DevSecOps defined

DevSecOps was born out of the need to introduce security early in the DevOps cycle – not as an afterthought. This fundamental shift toward “security as code” involves embedding security in every part of the software development and deployment process. 

It promotes a culture of security being everyone’s responsibility, blurring the lines between your development, security and operations teams.

This fosters a more proactive approach to security, with ongoing security and quality checks rather than reactive patching and fixes. 

Why DevSecOps is essential

In software delivery, security can no longer be relegated to a final checkpoint or hurdle to clear before release. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent, and the cost of failure is high. This requires a shift in the perception of security: it must be considered from the inception phase of a project and be accounted for at every stage. 

DevSecOps brings this focus to the early stages of application creation and carries it through to deployment and delivery.

By integrating security into your organization’s DevOps pipeline, you can identify and address vulnerabilities earlier, better protect your applications and data, and meet compliance requirements more efficiently. 

Security as a shared objective

DevSecOps culture is all about breaking down silos and promoting collaboration between development, security and operations teams. This differs from the traditional view of security being the responsibility of security teams only – or a bottleneck holding back software development. 

Now, security is promoted as an integral part of the full DevOps pipeline. Every team member – from developers and testers to operators and security teams – shares the responsibility of maintaining both the security and the quality of the software product. It also encourages transparency, shared ownership and regular communication among stakeholders. 

DevSecOps follows a “shift left” approach, which refers to introducing security aspects earlier in your software development lifecycle. The goal is to catch vulnerabilities and issues as early as possible, reducing the cost and effort needed to fix them later. 

This approach is not about adding a new layer of processes, but rather shifting security considerations “to the left” in your DevOps pipeline. This enhances the security posture of applications and speeds up development by identifying and addressing security issues in real time. 

4 key principles of DevSecOps

DevSecOps is built on four key principles that guide the integration of security into the DevOps pipeline. These principles provide a framework for implementing and operating DevSecOps effectively in your organization, making security much more than a tick-box exercise. 

1. Security as code

This principle is at the heart of DevSecOps. It means that security practices are embedded into your DevOps pipeline, using code to automate the implementation of security controls and processes. In this way, security is built into the application rather than being tacked on at the end. 

This reduces the potential for human error, speeds up security checks and ensures that security standards are applied consistently across projects. It fosters a mindset where security becomes part of every decision and action in the development process. 

2. Continuous security and compliance

This principle implies that security is a consistent and continuous part of the DevOps pipeline. Security checks and tests are integrated into development, testing, deployment and operations workflows in an automated, repeatable and reliable way. 

Continuous security includes automated security scanning of code, automated security testing, continuous monitoring for security threats, and continuous compliance checks.

In this way, any vulnerabilities or instances of noncompliance are identified and remediated promptly, reducing the potential risk for your organization. 

3. Shared responsibility for security

Because everyone involved in the software development process shares the responsibility for the security of the final product, there’s greater collaboration, transparency and accountability in the process – which leads to better security outcomes. 

4. Open communication and collaboration

This principle promotes transparency and cross-functional collaboration among all the stakeholders involved in software development. This extends beyond the development, security and operations teams to include business and system owners, risk and compliance teams, and even external auditors and other third parties. 

Open communication and collaboration fosters shared understanding, shared ownership of security risks, faster decision-making and more effective security actions. It reduces the potential for misunderstandings or missed security issues. 

DevSecOps in action

Understanding DevSecOps in theory is valuable, but seeing it in action is even more enlightening. Here are two examples of how organizations are applying DevSecOps principles in the real world:

  • A common use case for DevSecOps is in continuous integration and delivery pipelines. Here, every code commit triggers a series of automated tests, including security checks. So, security issues are identified and remedied as part of the regular development cycle, not as an afterthought or separate process. 
  • Another use case is in the realm of cloud infrastructure. With the rise of infrastructure as code (IaC) practices, security can be embedded into infrastructure provisioning and management processes. This includes automated security scanning of IaC templates, automated configuration management to comply with security policies, and ongoing monitoring of infrastructure for threats. 

Challenges in implementing DevSecOps

Implementing DevSecOps comes with its share of challenges. These include resistance to change, limited skills and the need for new tools and technologies – and can be addressed with the right approach and resources. 

Resistance to change can be overcome by fostering a culture of learning and improvement, conducting regular training and awareness sessions, and providing clear communication and support from senior management. 

To address any skills gaps, you can invest in training and upskilling existing staff, or hiring or partnering with experts in the field.

The need for new tools and technologies can be met by adopting a phased approach, starting with the most critical areas and expanding over time. 

Take the next step

By adhering to the principles of DevSecOps, you can dramatically enhance the security, quality and speed of your software delivery. The benefits it offers in terms of risk reduction, compliance assurance and improved efficiency make it a worthwhile investment.

Working with a skilled partner will help you apply the principles and practices of DevSecOps and transform your organization’s approach to software security. 


Read more about NTT DATA’s Cloud Services to see how cloud can enable your business outcomes, including security.