The 6 Pillars of DevSecOps: Pillar One-Collective Responsibility

With the increased interest in DevSecOps, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and Software Assurance Forum for Excellence in Code (SAFECode) brought together a DevSecOps Working Group to identify and share best practices for the development and maintenance of a DevSecOps program. This working group identified and defined six focus areas critical to integrating DevSecOps into an organization; This article will focus on pillar one—collective responsibility

The Context of Security

When we look at security historically, we find that it has often been relegated as a secondary objective when compared to other primary objectives like releasing features to market quickly. The rationale is that if we don’t release fast, our competitors will get ahead of us. Unfortunately, that mindset is fraught with security risk as evidenced by the rising number of vulnerabilities in our software. Malicious actors can take advantage of these vulnerabilities to breach critical systems and exfiltrate sensitive data.

Let’s not be too hard on ourselves, however. Security in a DevOps world is not an easy problem to solve. As we continue patching vulnerable code, new flaws emerge just as quickly. In essence, the security landscape is dynamic and continues to evolve. Solving a complex problem like this requires diversity of thought. In other words, we need to include people with different perspectives in the security conversation. Essentially, we need to build a collective mindset rooted in security culture. Security then becomes a collective responsibility rather than the responsibility of a few people.

Now that we’ve agreed on the importance of collective responsibility, the logical question that emerges is, “How do I operationalize collective responsibility?” Pillar one addresses this question. We need to bring together our security and DevOps cultures. No longer can we talk about security or DevOps. It has to be both. This means security must be considered and addressed at every point in the software development and operations life cycles. Extending this further beyond the technical domain, security is fundamentally tied to business objectives, not left as an afterthought or considered a mere cost drain.

Building a security-supportive culture involves three broad phases:

  • Phase One: Gain executive support and engagement
  • Phase Two: Design an effective program
  • Phase Three: Sustain the program

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