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DevOps is a ubiquitous software development methodology that allows dedicated development teams to deliver applications at a higher rate by streamlining and integrating development and IT operations. Acting as a set of tools, practices and guidelines, DevOps has brought a cultural shift into the software development industry. However, the rapid nature of this approach oftentimes leads to oversights in the security department. Companies that lack security measurements carry risks associated with vulnerabilities in their digital products. Transferring bugs and errors into late stages of development may lead to significant costs and bottlenecks. With the ever-rising number of cyberattacks and public data leaks, it’s time to pivot and focus on security.

There are two primary concepts that incorporate security in conjunction with development and operations: DevSecOps and SecDevOps. Although they might sound pretty identical at first glance, these approaches differ at the core principle level. So, what is DevSecOps and SecDevOps? In this article, we’ll compare SecDevOps vs DevSecOps, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and try to pinpoint which method is suitable for your business. 

Why is Security Vital for Your DevOps Processes?

DevOps is a progressive software development paradigm that has been around for decades. Using this methodology, companies drive innovation, increase automation, and consistently deliver high-quality products. However, this approach lacks important security considerations to protect the integrity of your data. Before we move to the SecDevOps vs DevSecOps battle, let’s try to answer the question of why you should build security into the DevOps systems. 

Lower risks of data exposure: Data breaches are detrimental to any business, both financially and reputationally. Building a robust system that minimizes chances for a cyberattack will protect you and your customers from exposing sensitive data to people with bad intentions. 

Efficient Software Development Life Cycle: Security tools assist coders and testers in automating mundane tasks and detecting issues faster. Moreover, security DevOps offers policies and guidelines that streamline the workflow and accelerate the development process. 

Fewer resources: There are more developers on the market compared to seasoned security engineers. Integrating security activities into the pipeline early on allows you to eliminate a handful of issues with specialized tools. Meanwhile, experts can focus on more complex and pressing threats. 

To successfully utilize the DevOps philosophy in your business, you need to cover imminent security concerns. Otherwise, you will inevitably release an app with vulnerability and expose your customer data to people with bad intentions. 

What is DevSecOps?

DevSecOps was created to combine software product development with security and operations in order to optimize the software development life cycle (SDLC). As the abbreviation suggests, the primary focus of this methodology is development. The first step of the SDLC is coding, followed by functionality testing. If the application is approved by quality assurance experts, it gets passed on to the cybersecurity team to test bugs related to security. The issues identified by the security team are rectified by developers. The cycle repeats itself until cybersecurity experts find no further issues. It’s a DevSecOps engineer’s job to create a strategy that will not only deliver quality but also secure and resilient software applications. 

What is SecDevOps?

When it comes to DevSecOps vs SecDevOps, the former integrates security into the SDLC but puts development before security. However, in SecDevOps, security is the utmost priority. Before launching the development cycle, the cybersecurity team creates a blueprint for the entire process. During the SDLC, developers rely on the guidelines and principles to ensure the highest standard of security. 

The entire cycle is broken down into smaller modules. After completing the coding of each module, the project migrates into the hands of testers and security teams. The QA and cybersecurity experts run various tests to identify possible vulnerabilities. Assuming the coding practices have been followed by the developers, the application is free from common bugs and errors. 

Benefits of DevSecOps

Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages that play into the end product. The choice of SDLC method depends on a variety of aspects, including the project itself, available human resources, and business goals. Before we dive into comparing DevSecOps vs SecDevOps, let’s discuss the advantages of the concepts. In this part, we’ll focus on the primary reasons for choosing the former. 

DevSecOps vs SecDevOps

Proactive security:DevSecOps allows teams to combat security threats as soon as they occur, way before the production phase. Research shows that fixing bugs becomes increasingly more expensive down the pipeline, namely up to 30 times more expensive in the post-release phase. Moreover, solving smaller issues is significantly easier than dealing with complex long-standing outcomes. 

Shorter time-to-market: Serious security issues extend the development timeline. At first, your team needs to identify the root of the problem, then come up with a solution and implement it. Finally, the QA team develops test scenarios to make sure the bug is fixed. All of these processes waste your valuable time. DevSecOps aims to showcase potential vulnerabilities and risks as early as possible, thus saving you time and money. 

Sharing the responsibility with developers: Implementing DevSecOps is not only about the right tools and steps, it’s also about changing the mindset. One of the most vital steps of the adoption process is training. Developers will learn which common security issues impact the end result and how to mitigate these risks. The mindset of shared responsibility facilitates better communication between team members and allows them to deliver better products. 

Flexibility: Among other notable benefits of DevSecOps, the concept allows development teams to quickly respond to changing requirements. The world of technology is constantly evolving while development projects take months to complete. If a change is needed to make the product more competitive and attractive, this approach will enable you to rapidly adapt. 

Security automation: The entire DevOps concept is built on automation which remains true with DevSecOps. There are a plethora of tools that assist developers in creating clean and error-free code. From tools for scanning the source code to plugins for continuously checking the IDE for potential vulnerabilities, engineers can minimize the risks of security findings and bugs. 

Benefits of SecDevOps

An approach that practically forces everyone involved in the development to become a security expert, SecDevOps has gained some popularity in recent years. This updated DevOps extension changes the way teams approach the development process. Before comparing DevSecOps vs SecDevOps in more detail, let’s investigate the most important benefits of SecDevOps. 

DevSecOps vs SecDevOps

Security before anything else: SecDevOps implies the adoption of security policies and standards before the SDLC process even begins. As opposed to continuous monitoring to remove bugs once they occur, SecDevOps aims at making everyone accountable for clean code. To implement this best practice, you need to train your coders to become somewhat security experts. 

Reduced costs of development: This approach will drastically lower the number of bugs that will occur during the development stage and as good as eliminate any errors in production. As discussed above, errors in code become exponentially more expensive when they move down the pipeline. As a result, you can reduce development costs associated with bug revision. 

Process automation: In SecDevOps, teams can also take advantage of specialized software to automate repetition. Although some elements require human revision, common bugs and errors can be easily detected using a machine. 

Talents with broader expertise: Training your developers to acquire secure coding skills will provide you with a team of qualified multifaceted specialists. Especially if you’re working with an in-house team, you’ll be winning in the long run. Developers who have solid security understanding will be able to use it in future projects and consistently deliver safe apps with high performance. 

Enhanced customer experience: Having a weak security system might eventually result in data breaches which will dissuade customers from using your product. Robust tools with resilient data protection will minimize the possibility of a successful cyberattack and improve user satisfaction. 

Drawbacks of DevSecOps

Although a revolutionary approach to software development, DevSecOps does have some room for improvement. shared a survey that pinpoints the biggest obstacles companies face when implementing DevSecOps. The majority of respondents (60%) state that the approach is technically challenging. Other prominent reasons for opting out are high cost, lack of education and skills pertaining to DevSecOps as well as insufficient time for implementation. Now that we know the benefits of DevSecOps, we’ll explore the disadvantages of this concept. 

DevSecOps vs SecDevOps

Delays in deployment: In DevSecOps best practices, teams focus on security testing after the coding cycle is complete. Dividing the process into these rigid phases may delay the deployment as a DevSecOps engineer has to make sure the application is free of vulnerabilities. 

More mistakes in the code: The lack of security policies in the coding phase results in a larger number of potential bugs and errors. Due to this, security specialists are tasked with a heavy workload in the testing phase. Without secure coding regulations, teams have to spend more time on polishing the code which requires a lot of expertise and effort. 

Business logic vulnerabilities: Although security automation can eliminate common threats, vulnerabilities associated with business logic require more time and expertise. These issues stem from flaws in design and architecture and open a door for potential cyberattacks. Since errors in business logic oftentimes cannot be detected using automated tools, there is a high chance of missing them completely.

Drawbacks of SecDevOps

Although a prominent SDLC approach, in SecDevOps vs DevSecOps, the latter remains a leading practice. In this part, we’ll look at the downsides of this concept and try to identify the common obstacles companies face. 

DevSecOps vs SecDevOps

Mindset shift: The transition to SecDevOps is a complex process that requires significant financial investments as well as a cultural shift. Some companies aren’t ready to spend their resources on security training, which is an integral part of the methodology. 

Recruiting difficulties: Not only is it challenging to train your in-house developers to become security buffs, but also hiring specialized SecDevOps engineers is a highly strenuous task. There are by far fewer security engineers than coders in the market. This might lead to a serious knowledge gap which can disrupt the adoption of the methodology. However, this obstacle can be overcome by hiring an outsourcing vendor specializing in SecDevOps methodology. 

Prolonged planning stage: The SecDevOps approach requires a lengthy planning process involving the creation of policies. To ensure a bug-free development cycle, cybersecurity experts can define guidelines to assist developers in writing clear code. While this stage is essential to a successful SecDevOps implementation, it can extend the project duration. 

SecDevOps vs DevSecOps: Which Should You Choose?

To illustrate the difference let’s use airport security as an example. Passengers are often asked to remove their shoes when they go through security checks. This process is in place to ensure everyone’s safety even though it extends the wait time. A solution to this can be twofold—1) a SecDevOps engineer would develop more advanced threat detection mechanisms to accelerate the scanning, and 2), a DevSecOps team would restructure the process to enhance the planning and increase capacity. 

This illustration exemplifies the core difference in DevSecOps vs SecDevOps: business-based vs security-based. Both have advantages and downsides that should be taken into consideration case by case. In SecDevOps, companies have the tendency to hyperfocus on vulnerability counts without looking at the context. The amount of bugs without a proper investigation into each of them doesn’t mean anything. It’s important to evaluate them and prioritize allocating resources to deal with high-risk issues. Comparing SecDevOps vs DevSecOps, the latter can be easier to adopt and benefit from. 

If you aren’t ready to invest resources into transforming developers into security experts, consider opting for DevSecOps best practices. Our engineers at NIX can help you further understand which approach is suitable for your company. Get in touch with us to identify your needs and develop a strategy for implementing security measures that will keep your data safe. 


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