DevSecops roadmap to adoption
DevSecops roadmap to adoption
DevSecops roadmap to adoption


DevSecOps Roadmap Adoption: Step-by-step approach to adopting DevSecOps

Introduction DevSecOps Roadmap

Remember when everyone was talking about DevOps? It was this cool new approach that made creating and deploying software so much faster and smoother. But as our digital world expanded, so did the sneaky cyber threats waiting to cause problems. That's why DevSecOps came onto the scene. Think of it like DevOps, but wearing a security hat! It's all about creating software quickly, but with safety checks at every step. It's like building a fast car that also has the best brakes and airbags!

Understanding the DevSecOps Landscape

You know how our online world is changing super fast? It's like a city that’s expanding really quickly. But just as a growing city might deal with more crime, our digital world is facing more cyber attacks. Did you know that, according to a 2021 report, there's a cyber attack every 39 seconds? That's crazy, right? So, while the old way of making software (DevOps) made things run smoothly, it's not enough anymore. We need to add security into the mix at every step. It’s like building a house: we don’t just want it to look good, we want it to be super secure from burglars too!

Relying solely on DevOps methodologies is not cutting it anymore. We need a comprehensive approach, where security is intertwined at every stage of development and deployment. We’re tasked with not just creating efficient software, but also ensuring it stands resilient against evolving cyber threats.

Cybercrime Statista


Step 1: Assessment of Current Security Posture

Step 2: Building a Cross-functional Team

Step 3: Continuous Security Training and Awareness

Step 4: Integrate Security into the CI/CD Pipeline

Step 5: Embrace Automated Security Testing

Step 6: Monitor, Log, and Respond

Step 7: Feedback and Iterative Improvement

Step 1: Assessment of Current Security Posture

Before embarking on any significant transformation, it’s crucial to understand where you currently stand. In terms of security, this translates to a meticulous review of existing protocols, systems, and potential vulnerabilities. It’s about confronting the realities of your current defenses and understanding the gaps that might expose you to risks.

For developers, it is a bit like code review but on steroids. It means thoroughly examining the software environment you're working in to identify all security measures already in place. Just as you'd comb through a codebase to understand its architecture, dependencies, and potential bugs, this assessment looks for strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities in your security setup. You're not just checking the lines of code but also things like server configurations, access controls, data flow, and so on.

how mature is your security posture

Let’s understand with the help of a case study.

Case Study: Legacy Code at ByteTech

ByteTech's dev team knew they had to go beyond just the surface. While readying for a major app rollout, they took a systematic approach to assess their security posture. As they inventoried and reviewed their software components, they stumbled upon a piece of deprecated API code. It was a relic, left behind from earlier iterations, but it posed a real threat. By identifying it, they could patch this vulnerability and move forward confidently with their update.

Step 2: Building a Cross-functional DevSecOps Team

In a DevSecOps environment, the mantra is "security is everyone's responsibility." Successful adoption of DevSecOps hinges on the expertise and collaboration of a multifaceted team. It is not enough to just have individuals who excel in their own domains. They must also function cohesively as a unit. This cross-functional team, composed of developers, operations experts, and security specialists, must share a unified vision and purpose: to create high-quality software that is secure by design. Building such a cross-functional team is critical for the seamless integration of security into the CI/CD pipeline.

In a DevSecOps team, the traditional roles of developers, security professionals, and operations engineers meld together, but with an added emphasis on security throughout the entire software development lifecycle. Here are the prominent roles in a DevSecOps team:

  1. DevSecOps Engineer: This individual usually has a deep understanding of both development and security practices and serves as a bridge between the two. They implement and maintain the tools and practices that integrate security into the CI/CD pipeline.

  2. Secure Software Developer: While every developer should be aware of basic security practices, secure software developers have specialized training or experience in writing code that's resistant to vulnerabilities. They're familiar with secure coding practices and often participate in code reviews to identify potential security issues.

  3. Security Architect: This role is about designing secure systems from the ground up. The security architect will develop the security strategy, design secure infrastructure and application architectures, and often guide the implementation of security controls.

  4. Application Security (AppSec) Engineer: This person is responsible for ensuring that applications are developed securely. They often perform tasks such as threat modeling, security testing, and code reviews.

  5. Infrastructure Security Engineer: Their focus is on the operational side of things – ensuring servers, networks, and other infrastructure components are secure. They’ll be involved in configuring firewalls, ensuring patch management is up-to-date, and monitoring for intrusions.

  6. Security Analyst: This role involves monitoring for and responding to security incidents. Security analysts will use a variety of tools to detect breaches, analyze them, and coordinate responses.

  7. Security Champion: This isn't necessarily a full-time role, but rather a designation. A security champion is someone embedded within the development or operations team, advocating for security best practices. They act as a liaison between their team and the dedicated security team.

  8. Operations Engineer with Security Focus: Traditional operations roles but with an added emphasis on deploying and managing secure infrastructures, managing secure deployments, and ensuring uptime while maintaining a security-first mindset.

Case Study: Team Synergy at SafeSync Solutions

SafeSync Solutions, a DevSecOps-centric company, once grappled with delayed software releases due to last-minute security discrepancies. Recognizing the need for better collaboration, they built a cross-functional team that blended development, operations, and security expertise. By doing so, security issues were flagged early by embedded security champions, and the collaborative efforts meant faster resolutions. The result? More secure software releases without the previously experienced delays.

Step 3: Continuous Security Training and Awareness

In the rapidly changing world of cybersecurity, what’s relevant today might become obsolete tomorrow. To stay ahead of emerging threats, it’s essential to foster an environment of continuous learning. Regular training schedules, workshops, and awareness programs ensure that the team remains updated. This also gives way to a team that has sharpened skills and broad knowledge. An informed team can proactively detect vulnerabilities, reducing potential risk. - you can see Forbes’ list of what they think are the top 10 cybersecurity certifications.

Here's a breakdown of how a DevSecOps team can institutionalize continuous security training and awareness:

  1. Scheduled Training Sessions: Organize regular training sessions that cover the latest threats, vulnerabilities, and best practices.

  2. Security Newsletters and Updates: Circulate monthly or bi-weekly newsletters that highlight recent cyber incidents, updates on new security tools, or any novel vulnerabilities discovered.

  3. Simulated Attacks (Red Teaming): Employ external experts or an internal team to simulate cyberattacks on your environment. This "red team" can help in understanding real-world vulnerabilities and how well the team responds to them.

  4. Hands-on Workshops: Instead of just theoretical sessions, conduct practical workshops where team members can get their hands dirty. This could include things like secure coding practices, penetration testing exercises, or incident response drills.

  5. Security Challenges and CTFs (Capture The Flag): Encourage team participation in security challenges or CTF events. These gamified environments can be both fun and educational, enhancing skills in a competitive setting.

  6. Tool-specific Training: As new tools are integrated into the CI/CD pipeline, ensure that the team is well-versed in their functionalities, especially from a security perspective.

  7. Feedback Loop: After any incident or breach, conduct a retrospective analysis. Understand what went wrong, share insights with the entire team, and ensure lessons are learned.

  8. Awareness Campaigns: Beyond formal training, awareness campaigns can be instrumental. This could be in the form of posters, reminders, or even informal discussions about the importance of security.

  9. Incentivize Learning: Recognize and reward team members who take extra initiatives in their security education, be it earning a new certification, discovering a vulnerability, or sharing valuable insights.

Case Study: Proactive Learning at SecurDevCo: SecurDevCo, a DevSecOps-oriented company, once faced a minor security incident due to an overlooked misconfiguration. Instead of just patching the issue, they turned it into a learning opportunity. They organized a workshop detailing the incident, dissecting how it happened, and how it could be avoided in the future. This proactive approach not only fixed the problem but also bolstered the team's knowledge, making them more vigilant for future challenges.

For DevSecOps advocates: Building secure software isn't just about tools or processes; it's fundamentally about people. Equip your team with knowledge, keep them updated, and foster a culture where security is second nature.

Step 4: Integrate Security into the CI/CD Pipeline

The CI/CD pipeline represents the heart of modern software development, promising swift and efficient transitions from code commits to deployed products. However, speed without security can be counterproductive. To truly harness the potential of a CI/CD pipeline, security checks must be embedded throughout its stages. It ensures that security checks and measures are automatically applied throughout the software development lifecycle, rather than being a separate or final stage.

Here's a detailed approach to achieving this:

  1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST): Automate the process of scanning source code for vulnerabilities during the initial stages of development. This helps in catching and rectifying potential security issues before they move further down the pipeline.

  2. API Security Testing:

    • Authorization & Authentication Tests: Ensure that APIs can only be accessed by authorized entities and that sensitive operations require appropriate authentication levels.

    • Data Validation: Check for vulnerabilities like BOLA, Broken authentication, SSRF, Injection and ensure coverage of OWASP Top 10.

    • Rate Limiting Checks: Test APIs to ensure they have proper rate limiting to prevent abuse.

    • Sensitive Data Exposure: Ensure that APIs do not leak sensitive data, either inadvertently or through misconfigurations.

  3. Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): Once the application is in a runtime environment, automate testing for vulnerabilities that manifest during operation. This helps in identifying issues like session management flaws or insecure server configurations.

  4. Dependency Scanning: Regularly scan third-party libraries and dependencies for known vulnerabilities. Tools can be set up to automatically check if the versions of the libraries being used have any known security issues.

  5. Container Security: If you're using containers like Docker, ensure they're securely configured. Scan container images for vulnerabilities and ensure runtime security.

  6. Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Security: For teams using IaC tools like Terraform or Ansible, it's vital to scan the code for misconfigurations or practices that could introduce vulnerabilities.

  7. Secrets Management: Automate the detection of hard-coded secrets or credentials in codebases. Use tools that manage and rotate secrets to prevent accidental exposure.

  8. Security Gateways: Introduce automated gates in the pipeline where, if a certain security criterion is not met (e.g., a critical vulnerability is detected), the deployment is halted until the issue is resolved.

  9. Continuous Monitoring & Feedback: Post-deployment, continuously monitor applications and infrastructure for anomalies. Any suspicious activities should trigger alerts, and feedback should be looped back to the development team for improvements.

  10. Documented Security Policies: Codify security policies, ensuring they are integrated and automatically applied during the CI/CD process. This can include policies related to access controls, encryption standards, and more.

Case Study: Shift-Left at PipeSecure Inc. PipeSecure Inc., a DevSecOps-driven enterprise, was keen on detecting vulnerabilities early in the development process. By integrating API security testing tools right into their CI pipeline, they began identifying and rectifying issues almost immediately after PR submitted. This "shift-left" approach meant that developers received instant feedback on their application’s security, reducing the number of vulnerabilities that reached the production stage. It led to more secure software, reduced remediation costs, and faster release cycles.

For DevSecOps enthusiasts: Remember, it's not just about finding vulnerabilities but fixing them in real-time. The aim is to weave security so seamlessly into the CI/CD process that building secure software becomes a routine, not an afterthought.

For example, below is an example from AWS showing one way that you could build a DevSecOps pipeline!

DevSecOps Pipeline

Step 5: Embrace Automated Security Testing in DevSecOps

In our digital age, where software complexities escalate and the volume of code increases, manual security checks are becoming increasingly untenable. To effectively safeguard against vulnerabilities, automation is the next logical step. Automated security testing tools not only enhance efficiency but also offer a level of thoroughness that manual testing might miss with obscene amounts of human resources. By integrating automated security testing tools, DevSecOps teams ensure that security checks aren't just thorough but also timely. Having a platform like Akto can significantly augment this process.

Here's how to embrace automated security testing with Akto:

  1. Seamless Integration with CI/CD: Integrate Akto smoothly with your CI/CD pipeline. This means security scans and checks are run automatically every time PR is committed.

  2. Real-time Feedback: Akto will provide instant feedback to developers on every PR committed if any vulnerabilities are detected.

  3. Comprehensive Scanning: Using Akto, you can cover all of OWASP Top 10 and also add your own complex testing cases by creating custom tests.

  4. API Security: Create automated inventory of APIs with Akto to make sure you don’t miss testing any API.

  5. Scheduled Scans: Beyond the CI/CD-triggered scans, schedule regular deep scans with Akto to catch lingering vulnerabilities or misconfigurations.

  6. Dashboard & Reporting: Use Akto’s dashboard to get a holistic view of the your API posture. Regular reports can help in understanding patterns, recurrent issues, and areas that need more attention.

  7. Continuous Updates: Ensure that Akto is regularly updated to detect the latest vulnerabilities and threats. Akto has the largest API Security vulnerability library which keeps on updating as new threats emerge.

Case Study: API Security at a SaaS company A SaaS company, faced challenges balancing rapid releases with security. With the adoption of Akto, they transformed their security testing approach. Every PR commit triggered automated scans, and developers received real-time feedback. The number of API vulnerabilities reaching the production environment dropped significantly specially those concerning authentication and authorization.

Check out Akto’s documentation to start with API Security!

Step 6: Monitor, Log, and Respond

Even with the most stringent security measures in place, the dynamic nature of digital environments requires constant vigilance. Monitoring systems around the clock makes sure that unusual activities or potential threats are detected in a timely manner. Logging these activities creates an invaluable record, aiding in diagnostic activities, and future threat prevention. But detection alone is not enough. The true mettle of a robust security system is in its ability to respond quickly and effectively to any possible threats, neutralizing them before they escalate.

Step 7: Feedback and Iterative Improvement

Continuous improvement is the cornerstone of DevSecOps. As with any process, there are bound to be areas of enhancement that become obvious over time. Feedback, both from internal teams as well as external users, provides invaluable insights into these areas. Harnessing this feedback ensures that security processes do not remain static, but instead evolve as needed, adapting to new challenges and staying ahead of emerging threats. This iterative approach will make sure that security measures are always at their peak efficacy, reflecting the current demands and challenges of the digital landscape.

Feedback and Iterative Improvement

Here's how to integrate feedback and foster iterative improvement:

  1. Feedback Loops: Establish feedback channels that allow different teams (development, operations, security) to communicate seamlessly.

  2. Post-Incident Reviews: After addressing a security incident, conduct a thorough review to understand its root cause. Document the findings, lessons learned, and preventive measures to avoid recurrence.

  3. User Feedback: Engage end-users and gather their feedback on application performance, usability, and potential security concerns.

  4. Metrics and KPIs: Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of DevSecOps processes. Monitor metrics like frequency of security incidents, time to detect and respond to threats, and user-reported issues.

  5. Automated Testing Feedback: Integrate feedback from automated security tests into the development cycle. If a vulnerability is detected, developers should be notified immediately, allowing for swift remediation.

  6. Continuous Refinement: Encourage a culture where processes, tools, and methodologies are continuously revisited and refined. The idea is to remain adaptive to the evolving threat landscape and technological advancements.

  7. Collaborative Platforms: Use collaborative platforms and tools that allow team members to share feedback, annotate, and discuss areas of concern in real-time.

  8. Stakeholder Engagement: Regularly engage with stakeholders to gather their feedback and perceptions. Their insights can offer a broader view of the system's security posture.

  9. Iterative Security Policy Review: Periodically review and update security policies based on feedback and changing organizational needs. This ensures that policies remain relevant and effective.

Case Study: The Evolutionary Approach at AdaptTech Inc. AdaptTech Inc., a DevSecOps-centric company, once faced a series of user-reported issues hinting at potential security vulnerabilities. Instead of viewing this feedback defensively, they embraced it as a learning opportunity. They established a task force to address the highlighted concerns, revamped parts of their application, and held workshops to educate their teams on the discovered vulnerabilities. This feedback-driven approach not only remediated immediate concerns but also fortified their application for the future.

The Role of API Security in DevSecOps

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have emerged as pivotal components in modern software architectures, allowing disparate systems to communicate seamlessly. However, this integration capability also presents potential entry points for malicious actors. Ensuring the security of APIs is paramount in the DevSecOps framework. It’s essential to recognize the unique vulnerabilities that APIs present and implement tailored security measures to protect them. Vigilant monitoring, rigorous authentication protocols, and thorough testing are integral to safeguarding these critical connectors from potential threats.

OWASP released their 2023 version of the top 10 security risks to APIs. This provides an excellent starting point for any organization trying to improve their API security posture. Also check out our Black Hat Arsenal presentation showing how Akto can help organizations with their API security!

Challenges in the Roadmap to DevSecOps Adoption

Transitioning to a DevSecOps model is a commendable pursuit, but it’s not without its hurdles. Organizations often face a spectrum of challenges, ranging from technological roadblocks to cultural resistance. Some teams might grapple with the integration of new tools into existing processes, while others may face reluctance from personnel resistant to changing established workflows. Moreover, the constant evolution of cyber threats requires an ongoing commitment to training and staying updated- a challenge in its own right. Addressing these challenges head-on, with a strategic and patient approach, is crucial to ensuring the successful and sustainable adoption of DevSecOps.

Advantages and Challenges in DevSecOps


DevSecOps is not just another industry buzzword.; it represents the cutting-edge in secure software development for our rapidly evolving industry. As cyber threats continue to diversify and intensify, the integration of development, operations, and security becomes not just advisable, but essential. Embracing this model not only positions organizations at the forefront of cybersecurity but also unveils a world of promising career avenues for security professionals. In this realm, experts don’t just find jobs. They find vocations where they are at the heart of guarding everyone’s digital future!

For those passionate about technology and security, DevSecOps offers unparalleled opportunities for growth, innovation, and impact. It is a domain where every challenge surmounted translates into a safer digital space for businesses and consumers alike.

But recognizing its potential is just step one. The true journey is just beginning. To every aspiring security professional and organization aiming for excellence: dive deep into DevSecOps. Explore its facets, champion its principles, and be an architect of our more secure tomorrow. The path may have its challenges, but the destination makes every hurdle worth it.

Learn more about DevSecOps below:

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Gartner estimates that by 2025, less than 50% of enterprise APIs will be properly managed.

Gartner estimates that by 2025, less than 50% of enterprise APIs will be properly managed.

Protect your APIs from attacks now

Protect your APIs from attacks now

Protect your APIs from attacks now