Over the last decade or so, we have seen organizations competing to rapidly launch products and new updates. This also often meant that information security lagged behind, as evinced by the fact that we have seen many companies facing major breaches and attacks over the last couple of years. The DevOps approach which focused on rapid development proved ineffective for robust security. This is where DevSecOps emerged.
In this article, we explore the concept of DevSecOps and the top ten DevSecOps tools.
What is DevSecOps? How does it work?
DevSecOps or "Development, Security, and Operations" is a way of using culture, mindset, development platform, and automation to make security an essential or integral part of the software development lifecycle. It can be considered a subset of DevOps.
DevOps, as you might know, came into existence to encourage better collaboration between developers and systems administrators. The idea was to bring together software development and IT operations so that the IT infrastructure is robust enough to support the software. With rapid software development and releases, there was a lack of proper communication which often meant service outages costing companies and affecting user experience. DevOps encouraged faster development, open and smooth collaboration, a transparent approach, and a fail-early-fail-fast approach.
But even then, IT security was an afterthought in most cases, something to be added on top of the software development process. It was often handled at the end of the development process by a different security team.
DevSecOps changed this, making security a part of the whole software development pipeline closely integrated with the CI/CD pipeline and a shared responsibility. It brings security into software development from the very beginning without slowing down the SDLC. It encourages using automation to ensure secure development practices. Instead of having a separate team look into security vulnerabilities and fix them at the end of the development process, developers are given the responsibility to write secure code and bake security right into the development process.
What are the benefits of using DevSecOps tools?
DevSecOps encourages using automation for security. This is important to ensure that incorporating security doesn’t slow down the software development or disrupt operations, particularly when DevOps is associated with fast and frequent development cycles. And DevSecOps tools are important for this.
For example, when security becomes a responsibility for all developers, they have to check their code for security vulnerabilities before merging them. This can add on a lot of time and that often means compromised security. But by adding an automated security check before the merge, developers can easily spot the issues without spending hours on them. DevSecOps tools reduce the workload and help the team keep up with the short development cycles that DevOps demands.
Another benefit is that these tools improve security. When crunched for time or resources, the team may often prioritize speed over security and skip over some checks that they deem unessential. Or they may simply miss them. And let’s face it, we may be quick to spot bugs in someone else’s code, but we may miss major issues on our own. Automation prevents this; it ensures that every line of code goes through all the tests and scans before it becomes a problem.
A common security problem with the software development process is that developers often use third-party plugins or solutions which may present unknown issues. It simply won’t be practical to test all of them in detail as that will throw out the main benefit of using plugins - faster development. But by simply scanning all the plugins using a software composition analysis tool, you can mitigate the risks without exacerbating the development time.
Overprivileged accounts, user roles, or third-party plugins are another major security issue in software development. Improper configurations and settings can allow bad actors to wreak havoc and disrupt services. This is another aspect that has to be looked into when integrating security into the software development lifecycle. And this can be mitigated to a large extent with automated security tools.
In short, DevSecOps tools help development teams rapidly develop applications without compromising security, disrupting the operations, or delaying the process.
What are the 10 very best DevSecOps tools?
Gerrit Code Review
Gerrit Code Review is a free web-based tool for code review. The tool lets team members collaborate and review each others’ code before merging with the code repository.
Gerrit is closely integrated with Git and comes with git-enabled SSH and HTTPS git-clients. It lets team members analyze and discuss code by highlighting the new changes. You can also extend the functionality of the tool by adding plugins. This tool can improve collaboration between DevSecOps teams and make code reviews more robust.
When implemented, Gerrit acts as the central source repository and creates a ‘pending changes’ section. When developers push a change, it goes to the pending changes section where other developers can review it. Once enough developers have reviewed it, the changes can then be pushed to the codebase. The solution also comes with its own access management system.
Since this is a free and community-based tool, you won’t get any VIP support, but the project is well documented, comes with training content, and has a vibrant community.
Aquasecurity has a range of products and solutions designed to automate container security. Their products are designed for DevSecOps with native integrations to CI/CD pipelines. They empower teams to bake in security controls and automated checks to their software development pipeline.
The solution scans containers for vulnerabilities or configurations and automatically sends actionable insights to the relevant developer through slack or other platforms. Once configured, it will constantly monitor the CI/CD pipeline to send alerts based on your security policies. The Aquasecurity platform scans and monitors container images from registries and pipelines and prevents malicious or vulnerable images from being deployed.
The solution comes with a vulnerability intelligence feed, which presents vulnerabilities according to the risks that they pose. Aquasecurity also has a suite of solutions for ensuring compliance throughout the software development lifecycle when working with containers and serverless functions.
Parasoft’s suite of tools is designed for automating software testing and works well with the DevSecOps approach. Parasoft leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer comprehensive software testing and deliver smart insights to improve your code. And the solution is designed to be integrated early on with the software development process.
Parasoft has a range of tools specifically designed for DevSecOps including application security testing(AST), API testing, and dynamic application security testing(DAST). Their application security testing tool works with many source control solutions, IDEs, containers, CI/CD tools, and cloud platforms. Their DAST solution helps QA testers ensure the safety and speed of their APIs. Parasoft’s static code analysis tools for different development environments can check for security backdoors, and vulnerabilities and even help ensure a uniform coding style among developers.
Parasoft's product suite is segmented into different development environments and specific use cases. For example, their SASTs are available for C/C++, Java, and Microsoft development environments.
Red hat Ansible Automation Platform
The Red hat Ansible Automation Platform is an enterprise IT automation platform. The platform offers end-to-end automation for IT operations from the cloud to the edge.
With the solution, you can automate building, provisioning, and managing applications across cloud, containers and other environments, manage your IT network processes, and deploy and manage applications. DevSecOps teams can also use the solution for deploying and managing containers, respond to threats, and provision cloud instances.
The Ansible Automation Platform comes with an automation controller with which users can manage how automation is used and scaled across an organization. It comes with CI/CD integrations, role based access control, and a workflow visualizer.
Using the Red hat Insights tools, you can also understand how automation is deployed across the organization, how effective they are, and comes with an ROI calculator that shows the time and resources the platform has saved.
WhiteSource has cutting-edge SAST and SCA tools. Their software composition analysis tool works with a vulnerability database containing around 11 billion source files in over 200 languages and 100 million libraries.
The vulnerabilities are associated with associated components to look for the same in plugins or other third-party components in your code. And by matching the two, it shows up any vulnerabilities or security issues. The solution comes with a prioritization tool that can help you focus on the important issues.
Their SAST solution integrates with developers’ workflow and the CI/CD pipeline. It supports more than 27 programming languages and covers OWASP 10 and CWE 25 in various environments.
Veracode has a set of DevSecOps tools for automatically analyzing code for security issues. These tools fit directly into the software development lifecycle and enhance security without slowing down the process. They provide feedback to the developers while they’re writing the code so they can fix them on the go.
The tools promise a false positive of less than 1.1% and even help developers improve their coding skills with immediate feedback through their IDE integrations. The tools come with more than 45 integrations and Veracode offers a security lab where developers can improve their coding skills.
Veracode’s SAST solution integrates into the CI/CD scan with a median scan time of 90 secs; you can even set up the solution to break builds if it finds an issue. They also have a software composition analysis solution that empowers to utilize open source solutions for faster development and delivery without the increased security risk.
Stackstorm is a DevOps automation tool trusted by the likes of NASA and Netflix. They have built the solution on an If-This-Then-That model (IFTTT); sensors detect a trigger, which is then mapped to actions by a set of rules. Sensors are python plugins that essentially detect events or triggers. And actions are what’s performed automatically, it could be a REST call or integrations. The rules check conditions before performing different actions.
Stackstorm also offers an audit trail, which logs every action, trigger, and how the actions played out. They offer many integrations to link this to analytics tools.
An interesting feature of Stackstorm is the Stackstorm packs, which are essentially a set of triggers, actions, and workflows for particular applications. You can create your own packs or get them from Stackstorm exchange which has packs for everything from security to keeping track of the people who owe you beer.
Sonarqube offers a set of development tools that helps you improve the code quality as you write them. Their tools are available for 29 programming languages including Java, Kotlin, C++, and more. The static application security tool spots vulnerabilities and security hotspots in the code and lets you set standards for code before merging them.
For example, if your code uses inputs from untrusted users to take decisions before checking them, it can create SQL-injection vulnerabilities. Sonarqube points out these issues and lets you fix them and ensures that data from untrusted users are sanitized before it reaches critical systems.
Besides marking the issues within the code, Sonarqube also shows how good the code is, not just if it passed the quality checks, but also on how much you can improve. The enterprise edition also comes with a security dashboard that shows how secure the code is across the organizations against the major vulnerabilities in OWASP top 10 and CWE 25.
Threatmodeler is a tool that creates continuous automatic visibility into the flaws in your infrastructure and code. It can show how the attack surfaces and visualize how an attacker may move through your systems.
With automated threat modeling in application design, Threatmodeler can help DevSecOps teams can bring in security from the start in software development lifecycles. The solution works in the cloud, mobile, and IoT platforms and using its Intelligent Threat Engine, identifies applicable threats to components of the system.
The solution comes with an automated threat intelligence framework that automatically updates threat data and alerts users of potential threats.
They also offer a Cloudmodeler and an IAC-Assist solution. Cloudmodeler is for validating and controlling security for AWS and IAC-Assist is for detecting flaws in application design.
Checkmarx AST platform
Checkmarx AST platform is a DevSecOps security solution designed for the cloud. The solution integrates into the SDLC and brings security into app development from the scratch. Their SAST tool helps lets developers scan and check for vulnerabilities in code early in the development phase, and their SCA tool empowers developers to use third-party code, solutions, and plugins to their development process without any additional security risk or challenges.
Besides scanning code and looking for security vulnerabilities, Checkmarx also offers a Codebashing, a training platform for developers. They also offer KICS or Keeping Infrastructure As Code Secure, an open-source platform for scanning IAC, check configurations, set API design standards, and it fits perfectly well into your development pipeline.
Frequently asked questions
What is DevSecOps?
DevSecOps or Development, Security, and Operations bring in security as an integral component in the software development lifecycle, instead of a separate element added on at the end. It makes application security a shared responsibility and encourages developers to write secure code, instead of making it the responsibility of a separate cybersecurity team.
What is the difference between DevSecOps and DevOps?
DevSecOps can be considered as an enhanced version of DevOps, which brings security into the Development and Operations mix. It encourages collaboration, transparency, and visibility like DevOps. DevSecOps emerged with rapid and short development lifecycles which often meant security lagged behind. DevSecOps attempts to solve this by sharing responsibility for secure products with the developers.