DevSecOps versus Cybersecurity
by Omkar Hiremath
Both DevSecOps and cybersecurity are gaining a lot of interest and demand in the IT industry. With everything going digital, security has become one of the main focuses of every organization. And DevSecOps and cybersecurity are the supreme practices to achieve high security.
Despite having a lot of differences between them, people are confused about where to draw a line between DevSecOps and cybersecurity. This confusion is mostly because cybersecurity is a part of DevSecOps and vice versa. In this post, we’ll clear up this confusion. We’ll start by defining and understanding DevSecOps and cybersecurity. And then we’ll look at the common differences between them.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a practice of protecting and securing computer systems, networks, and applications. It involves various technologies, processes, and strategies depending on what we need to secure and what we need to secure it from. The main goal of cybersecurity is to achieve and maintain confidentiality, integrity, and availability. We call this the CIA triad.
The CIA Triad
Confidentiality refers to keeping data private and accessible only to authorized users. Organizations have different kinds of data. And not everybody is supposed to see or operate on all data. Confidentiality is the aspect of cybersecurity that restricts what users can do. It deals with authentication, authorization, and privacy.
Integrity refers to making sure that data is reliable. This involves ensuring that data at rest and data in transit isn’t unintentionally altered or corrupt.
Availability refers to making sure that data or a service is available when it’s supposed to be available. In other terms, you can consider availability as uptime of service.
A common opinion is that people use cybersecurity only to protect their assets and network from hackers or malicious actors. But that’s not completely true. Cybersecurity aims at maintaining the CIA triad irrespective of whether the attempt to violate the CIA triad is intentional or unintentional (accidental). This involves external actors from outside the organization and internal actors who are a part of the organization. Most commonly, external threat actors are hackers who want to get access to data or bring the service or network down. And internal threat actors are people who have access to an organization’s data and/or network and they misuse their access.
Types of Cybersecurity
Based on where we apply cybersecurity measures, you can categorize cybersecurity into different types. Let’s touch base on three of the most prime categories.
Wherever you have digital data, you’ll have networks. Because of this, networks become a valuable target for malicious actors. Network security is the part of cybersecurity that deals with securing the hardware and software parts of a network. You can implement network security by using policies, network rules, and specialized hardware.
There are different assets that make up a network—perimeter devices, endpoints, routers, etc.—and network security has to take care of security for all these assets. You can implement network security using hardware and/or software. Hardware network security involves devices such as firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). And software network security involves software such as antimalware, vulnerability managers, etc.
Cloud security is the part of cybersecurity that deals with securing data stored on the cloud. It involves techniques and processes to secure both the cloud environment and the data stored on it. Cloud service providers take care of most of the security measures and implementations. But when you’re storing data or running a service on the cloud, cloud service providers leave a lot of features for you to configure. And when doing so, you must take care not to introduce any security weaknesses into the architecture.
This part of cybersecurity focuses mostly on identifying and fixing vulnerabilities and security weaknesses in application and data security. An application consists of various components. With an increase in the size of the application and components involved, the attack surface increases. Application security is the process of checking how secure both the components of the app and the application as a whole are. And because applications deal with data, data security is also a major part of application security. You can implement application security by building secure models and logic and with the help of tools such as pentesting tools, vulnerability assessment suites, data compliance suites, etc.
Now that we’ve learned what cybersecurity is and the various aspects related to it, let’s move ahead to understanding DevSecOps.
What Is DevSecOps?
Before getting to DevSecOps, let’s go through what DevOps is. DevOps is the practice of bringing together the development and operations involved in product development. DevOps promotes collaboration between developers and operators to optimize the software development life cycle (SDLC). The aim of DevOps is to deliver faster products with high quality.
When DevOps first came into use, security wasn’t an integral part of it. The DevOps team completed their tasks and developed the product or feature and then sent it to the security team for testing. But this created certain bottlenecks. Firstly, because security was a different process, it added extra time to the SDLC. Secondly, if security professionals found bugs, vulnerabilities, or security weaknesses in the product, the product might have had to go through major changes. That meant extra work for developers. To avoid these issues, DevOps evolved into DevSecOps, where security became an integral part of DevOps.
DevSecOps is the practice of bringing together development, security, and operations to produce a high-quality and secure product. Therefore, we can consider DevSecOps the enhanced version of DevOps. When we use the DevSecOps approach, we have to keep security in mind in every step of the SDLC, from planning and design to testing and deployment. This helps us identify and fix security issues in the earlier stages of software development and also test security for different components and the software as a whole.
There are a couple of things you need to consider when using DevSecOps. To develop a product, you need to know what data the product would deal with. You can either use original data while developing or you can use data similar to original data. For example, you can generate a dummy database with customer names and cities. This data needn’t be true. But applications these days deal with custom data, and it’s difficult to generate large amounts of dummy data. And there’s also making sure that the product works with actual data. This also applies to product testing.
To avoid unnecessary switches between data and encountering bugs in production, you can use the original data securely while developing and testing. But there are risks when you use original data: privacy, insecure handling, etc. Hence, it’s important to consider the security risks. If you want to make things easy and not start from scratch, you can use data compliances suites like Enov8’s that take care of these data-related risks. Some of the features of such suites include the following:
- Automated profiling based on your data and risks
- Data masking and transformation methods
- Secure testing and validation
- Compliance with coverage reports and audit trail
- Integration of data and risk operations into your CI/CD toolchain
DevSecOps versus Cybersecurity
After learning what cybersecurity and DevSecOps are, we can see it’s clear that we use both of these to implement security and maintain the CIA triad. You can think of DevSecOps as a combination of cybersecurity and DevOps. The difference is how and where we use them.
Cybersecurity is huge, and it involves a lot of domains. Whereas DevSecOps is limited to the SDLC. Cybersecurity has multiple categories; as mentioned previously, you can use various tools, techniques, approaches, etc. On the other hand, DevSecOps is a way of thinking, a practice that focuses on implementing security in all stages of the SDLC. Cybersecurity comes into play at various points in different scenarios—planning, designing, implementing security, post-incident, forensics, etc. for applications, networks, and architectures. But DevSecOps is limited to use only during the development and revamping of the software in the SDLC.
We previously read about application security. You can consider DevSecOps as an implementation of application security in the SDLC by making it an integral part of the software development process.
DevSecOps and cybersecurity are two sides of the same coin. DevSecOps is a part of cybersecurity, and cybersecurity is a part of DevSecOps. Though DevSecOps and cybersecurity both focus on enhancing security, the main difference between them lies in their scope and the way we use them.
Cybersecurity can be used wherever there is digitalization, whereas we use DevSecOps mainly while building a product. With cyberthreats increasing day by day, you need to make sure that your organization, its assets, network, and data are secure. And both DevSecOps and cybersecurity are important to have maximum security.
This post was written by Omkar Hiremath. Omkar is a cybersecurity analyst who is enthusiastic about cybersecurity, ethical hacking, data science, and Python. He’s a part time bug bounty hunter and is keenly interested in vulnerability and malware analysis.
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