DevSecOps: Building a culture of security from day one

Johannesburg, 28 May 2024
A holistic approach ensures that security is an integral part of the development life cycle.
A holistic approach ensures that security is an integral part of the development life cycle.

In a recent research deep dive, Eblocks delved into the evolving landscape of DevSecOps, highlighting critical insights into integrating security into DevOps practices and the challenges and opportunities this presents.

The essence of DevSecOps

DevOps is an inclusive practice encompassing all aspects of developing and operating software. Instead of fragmenting the concept with terms like DevSecOps, it's better to see DevOps as integrating all essential components, including security, user experience and compliance. This holistic approach ensures that security is not an afterthought but an integral part of the development life cycle.

The need for security integration

While the ideal is an all-inclusive DevOps practice, security often needs to be more sidelined in many organisations. Integrating security into the development and delivery process has become more critical as the industry acknowledges the importance of protecting customer data and IT infrastructure. Security breaches can devastate businesses, ranging from financial loss to reputational damage. Therefore, security practices must evolve to keep pace with the fast-moving development environment.

Despite high-profile breaches and increased awareness, progress in integrating security into DevOps could be faster. Development teams are accelerating their processes, often outpacing the capacity of limited security resources. This disconnect and security's traditional siloed nature hampers effective integration. Organisations must shift from a reactive security posture to a proactive one, embedding security practices early and continuously throughout development.

Challenges of scale and speed

The challenge of scale is significant, as organisations, not just tech companies, increasingly rely on technology. Many security tasks remain manual and haven't adapted to the continuous integration/deployment (CI/CD) environments. This lag creates significant pressure on security teams to keep up with rapid development cycles. Additionally, the rapid adoption of cloud services, microservices and containerisation has expanded the attack surface, making traditional security measures insufficient.

Automation as a solution

Automation emerged as a recurring theme. Automating security checks is crucial to scaling security efforts across numerous teams and deployments. Automating security tasks ensures consistent application of security controls and reduces bottlenecks, allowing security experts to focus on more complex issues. Automation tools can perform repetitive tasks efficiently, such as vulnerability scanning, compliance checks and configuration management.

Effective automation can alleviate some pressures by integrating security tests into the CI/CD pipeline. Parallelising security tests with other pipeline activities avoids delays and maintains fast feedback loops for development teams. For example, integrating static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST) into the pipeline can catch vulnerabilities early, reducing the cost and effort of remediation.

Practical steps for teams

To enhance their security posture, development teams can leverage automated tools to identify common security defects, ensure secure configurations for cloud infrastructure, and avoid public repositories with unknown contents. These quick wins can significantly reduce vulnerabilities from day one. Additionally, implementing Infrastructure as Code (IAC) practices ensures that security configurations are version-controlled and consistently applied across environments.

Development teams should adopt a security-first mindset, incorporating security requirements into their backlog and treating security issues with the same priority as functional defects. This cultural shift requires continuous education and training, ensuring that all team members understand the importance of security and their role in maintaining it.

Building better relationships

Stronger relationships between development and security teams are essential for improving security practices. Collaboration and knowledge sharing empowers development teams to handle basic security tasks while integrating security considerations into their workflows. Security teams should act as enablers, providing guidance, tools and support rather than gatekeepers who impede progress.

One practical approach is embedding security champions within development teams. These champions act as liaisons, promoting best practices and ensuring security is considered throughout the development life cycle. Regular security reviews and threat modelling sessions can foster collaboration and secure people's minds.

Adopting a zero trust architecture

To further enhance security, organisations should consider adopting a zero trust architecture. Zero trust operates on the principle that no entity, whether inside or outside the network, should be trusted by default. This approach involves:

  1. Verifying identity and integrity: Continuously authenticate and authorise every user and device attempting to access resources.
  2. Implementing least privilege access: Restrict access to the minimum necessary to perform tasks, reducing the risk of unauthorised access.
  3. Continuous monitoring: Regularly monitor and analyse network traffic for anomalies, enabling rapid detection and response to potential threats.
  4. Segmenting networks: Break down networks into smaller segments to limit the spread of breaches and isolate sensitive information.

Zero trust strengthens security and aligns with the principles of DevSecOps by embedding security considerations throughout the development and operational processes.


As organisations strive to enhance their security posture, embracing DevSecOps principles becomes crucial. Integrating security into the development process, leveraging automation and fostering team collaboration can create a security culture from day one. Organisations can protect their assets by adopting a zero trust architecture emphasising continuous improvement and building more resilient and efficient software delivery pipelines.