Application Security

Security in DevOps

In recent years, the DevOps movement has gained prominence in the software development scenario, promoting a culture of collaboration between development and operations teams. The agile, customer-centric approach to DevOps provides a faster, more seamless development cycle. However, amidst this evolution, it is essential to recognize and address the importance of process security in DevOps.

The DevOps Movement

For a better understanding of where security can (and should) fit into the DevOps culture, first it is necessary to detail a little more about what DevOps proposes to be.

According to Amazon definition on the page, “DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity…”. Historically, the software development areas of companies work in isolation from other areas that are equally essential for the existence of the application, such as the infrastructure area, or operations, for example.

In this context, the definition of Amazon is quite pertinent and didactic, since the term DevOps comes from the combination of the two areas mentioned, Development and Operations and preaches a more collaborative work model between the areas, using tools and practices that aim to form an agile development culture.

Key DevOps practices include:

  • Automation – use of tools that perform tasks with the least possible human interference in processes between development and operations teams;
  • Continuous Delivery – software development practice that uses automation to accelerate code release, through a process where changes made by a developer to an application are pushed to a code repository or containerized application registry;
  • Infrastructure as Code– IaC (infrastructure as code) consists of using technology that allows you to define and deploy infrastructure, such as networks, virtual machines, load balancers, and connection topologies, through code;
  • Continuous Integration – practice used by development teams to automate, merge and test code;
  • Microsserviços  – applications are broken down into smaller and independent components that, even when separated, work together to perform tasks;
  • Continuous Monitoring – have complete, real-time visibility into the performance and health of the entire application stack.

When properly deployed, DevOps makes teams work in a more collaborative and integrated way, allows for increased speed in the development and delivery of features/software, makes the development cycle more reliable, less susceptible to human error, and allows scaling environments easily when needed.

Despite all the benefits mentioned, the DevOps culture does not guarantee, by itself, that the applications created are secure. Just as the development and operations areas did not “speak to each other”, in the DevOps model, initially, security was “left out”, as it continued to be implemented only at the end of the development cycle or reactively, when a problem was discovered. vulnerability.

Just like development and operations that, in the DevOps culture, coexist throughout the software development cycle, security needs to be present in all phases of this cycle so that it is possible to identify weaknesses and/or vulnerabilities from application design to Deploy in a production environment.

Benefits of including security in DevOps

The integration of security in all phases of the DevOps development cycle, among other benefits, allows:

  • Early identification of vulnerabilities: By embedding security at every stage of the development process, you can identify and resolve security issues at an early stage, minimizing the impact of potential attacks and avoiding costly rework later on.
  • Greater efficiency: Adding security from the ground up allows development teams to avoid interruptions and workflow delays. Security issues are addressed in conjunction with development, resulting in a more efficient and productive process.
  • Customer trust: Security is a growing concern for users of applications and systems. By demonstrating a commitment to security and providing safer products and services, organizations earn customer trust, enhance their reputation, and stand out in the marketplace.
  • Cost reduction: It is estimated that fixing software vulnerabilities in the later stages of the development cycle costs between 60% and 90% more than when done earlier in the process.

Challenges of including security in DevOps

While adding security to DevOps has clear benefits, there are some challenges to overcome. Some of the main ones are:

  • Conflict of priorities: Development teams are often focused on delivering features and functionality quickly. Security can be seen as an obstacle to speed of delivery, which can lead to resistance or neglect of security measures.
  • Lack of knowledge and awareness: Not all developers have extensive knowledge of security practices. Lack of awareness of security risks and best practices can lead to resistance to or inadequate implementation of security measures.
  • Technical complexity: Integrating security into a DevOps environment can be complex. It may be necessary to update the software architecture, adopt new tools and establish additional processes. These changes can be seen as technical overhead and may require specialized security knowledge.
  • Automation and security tools: Automation is a core component of DevOps, and that applies to security as well. However, selecting and properly configuring automated security tools can be challenging as there are so many options available. It is important to identify the right tools that integrate well into the DevOps environment and meet specific security requirements.

It’s important to note that these are just a few factors that can influence the resistance or challenges that developers may face around security in DevOps. Awareness, education, and collaboration among developers, security teams, and other stakeholders are critical to overcoming these challenges and ensuring the effective integration of security into DevOps.

Cultural Change

The evolution of software development processes has highlighted the need to integrate security into all stages of the development lifecycle. The more organizations recognize the risks and consequences of not adequately considering security in their projects, the more it has become important to promote a true cultural change.

The inclusion of security in DevOps processes is crucial to ensure the protection of data, systems and users. Security can no longer be an afterthought or an isolated requirement, should be an integral part of software development. Cultural change in this regard is essential for several reasons:

  • Preventing security breaches: By taking a security approach early in the development process, organizations can identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before they become significant security holes. This reduces the risk of attacks and data breaches.
  • Improved reliability and quality: Security is directly linked to the reliability and quality of a software or system. By integrating security practices, issues are identified and corrected earlier, resulting in more robust and reliable products.
  • Compliance with regulatory and legal requirements: Many industries are subject to stringent security and data protection regulations. The cultural shift around DevOps security allows organizations to meet these requirements and avoid fines, sanctions, and reputational damage.

This cultural shift towards security in DevOps must be driven on several fronts:

You can start by educating and making team members aware of the importance of security and providing specific training in security practices. This includes sharing information about security risks, best practices, available tools and resources.

It is also important that collaboration is promoted between development, operations, and security teams. Regular meetings, knowledge sharing, and joint participation throughout the development process help align security objectives with business objectives.

Security must be built into every step of the DevOps pipeline. This includes conducting security-focused code reviews, automated security testing, vulnerability analysis, and ongoing monitoring.

Initiating and Applying the Security Process in DevOps

When starting to apply security to a DevOps process, it is important to follow certain steps and adopt best practices that will help ensure the effectiveness of these security measures.

Before starting to implement security measures into a DevOps process, it is essential to understand project-specific risks and the associated security requirements. Perform a complete risk analysis, identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities relevant to the environment in question. Also, consider the regulatory security and compliance requirements applicable to your industry.

Security in a DevOps process is a shared responsibility across the entire team, including developers, operations, security, and other stakeholders. It is critical to involve all parties from the beginning and ensure that there is effective collaboration between them. This can be achieved through regular meetings, open communication and knowledge sharing.

Ensure staff are properly educated and trained in security practices relevant to the DevOps process. Provide specific training in application security, vulnerability identification, security testing and other relevant areas. This will increase staff awareness of security risks and empower developers to adopt secure practices in their daily work.

Security shouldn’t be left to the end of the DevOps process, but built into every phase of the development lifecycle from the beginning, before there’s even a line of code. From planning to deployment and ongoing operations, security measures must be considered and applied. This includes security-focused code reviews, vulnerability analysis, automated security testing, and ongoing monitoring.

Automation plays a key role in effectively enforcing security in a DevOps process. Use automated security testing tools to identify vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and other threats in your code and infrastructure. This allows for quick detection of security issues and helps prevent them from being introduced into the production environment.

It should be noted that the actions listed above are just examples, and may vary according to the reality of each organization or team.


After effectively implementing security in the DevOps process, the term gains a new nomenclature and definition and becomes DevSecOps.

The first record of the use of the term DevSecOps was in research conducted by Gartner and published on January 16, 2012. At the time Gartner called it DevOpsSec and thus defined:

“Security must become an integral part of the DevOps vision, yet remain true to DevOps’ agile underpinnings.”

You can say since this is the summary of the topic addressed here, apply security to your DevOps processes and evolve into a culture DevSecOps.

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