Updated: Jun 20
The U.S. federal government continues to modernize legacy applications and embrace a high-level approach to drive cloud adoption into Federal agencies as highlighted in its Cloud Smart strategy. The increased demand for modernization has caused the software development life cycle (SDLC) to migrate from a traditional "Waterfall Methodology" to a more "Agile framework". This has allowed development teams to shorten the delivery time frame and deliver more features at a greater velocity.
Historically, security teams were involved in the post-development phase as part of the "Authority" that issues the Authority To Operate (ATO). This results in delayed roll-outs and a significant amount of rework for both developers and security teams. In light of all the recent hacks and security vulnerabilities introduced in the application layer, security continues to be an integral piece of the puzzle. One solution that puts security at the forefront is the implementation of DevSecOps practices within the Agile framework.
The DevSecOps Manifesto has been around for several years and those in federal security environments have recently started tracking the benefits of adopting a DevSecOps culture to improve the rollouts of complex applications for both Military and Civilian sectors. So what does DevSecOps mean? In a nutshell, it is bringing security into all phases of development and adopting a culture where everyone involved in the life-cycle is responsible for security.
Different from traditional development and operations (DevOps), DevSecOps involves creating a ‘Security as Code’ culture with ongoing, flexible collaboration between release engineers and security teams. The DevSecOps movement is focused on creating new solutions for complex software development processes within an agile framework by weaving security standards throughout all aspects of development including infrastructure, data, and network to ensure that applications provide secure, reliable, and transparent solutions.
In reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) the Department of Defense (DoD) needs to improve cyber hygiene and the adoption of DevSecOps was identified as one of the practices to help protect networks and systems against the techniques that adversaries most frequently use. DOD published a comprehensive Enterprise DevSecOps Reference Design and the image below is from the reference design publication that highlights the process in greater detail.
Below are 6 Reasons why the Government is ready for the integration of DevSecOps to improve security posture:
Reduction in Costs - achieved by detecting and fixing security issues during the development phases which also increases the speed of delivery.
Faster Recovery -Security testing is integrated it the development pipeline. So when there is a security incident, the process enables faster detection and remediation of the problem.
Overall Security Improvement - Organizations experience a reduction in security vulnerabilities and security auditing, monitoring and notification efforts are increased.
Effective Security Auditing - Security monitoring and notification systems creates an automated audit trail throughout the software development life-cycle and facilitates compliance reporting
Secure Design - DevSecOps implements the ‘secure by design’ principle by using automated security review of code and automated application security testing
Agile Iterations - Continuously monitoring security metrics allows development teams to consistently improve their security decisions and stay on top of the game providing the tools and methodologies necessary to make meaningful adjustments.
To reduce the chance of avoidance, DevSecOps blends security functions into development in a transparent manner that includes elements of application security testing, platform compliance with configuration specifications and preconfigured gateways. When federal agencies make security functions transparent, developers are more likely to embrace implementing the practices instead of avoiding or ignoring them. At Key Cyber Solutions, we have a proven track record of providing secure applications that are designed to ease security concerns and ensure consistency of built-in security features by providing common services for people, machines and interfaces.