Posted on: 19 04 2024.

Understanding & Implementing a DevSecOps Pipeline

The DevSecOps Pipeline is a software development lifecycle that incorporates security practices into its development workflow. By implementing security practices into the development workflow, organizations reduce security risks and time for applications to arrive at production.

Understanding the DevSecOps Pipeline

What is the DevSecOps Pipeline?

The DevSecOps Pipeline is a DevOps pipeline that integrates security practices into continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) stages.

With the DevSecOps pipeline, we can quickly identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities early in development. Addressing security issues early in development is significantly more cost-effective than retroactively fixing vulnerabilities post-deployment. Some security issues can mandate application redesign, which is much easier to do in early development. Integrating stricter security practices allows applications to pass industry regulatory requirements.

Behind the scenes, the DevSecOps pipeline consists of five key components:

  • Infrastructure as Code
  • Continuous Integration
  • Continuous Deployment
  • Automated Security Testing
  • Security Monitoring and Incident Response

Components of the DevSecOps Pipeline

Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as Code is the process of managing and provisioning computer resources through human-readable definition files. Those files can then be used to automatically set up the necessary environment for the application to work. The application’s environment can be version-controlled, tested, and deployed along with the application, ensuring that environment configuration is consistent across all environments.

Tools like Terraform and AWS CloudFormation are popular Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools used in DevSecOps pipelines to automate the provisioning and management of infrastructure resources.

Terraform is the most popular IaC tool because of its easy integration on any cloud platform.

The second most popular IaC tool is AWS CloudFormation, which can only be used on AWS. However, AWS’s huge cloud market share of 33% makes AWS Cloud Formation one of the top-used tools.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment

Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) are essential for the DevSecOps pipeline.

Continuous Integration is an automated process run while software is being built. It involves testing software whenever new code changes are implemented so that any new issues that may have been introduced can be identified and addressed before deployment.

Continuous Deployment takes code changes that have successfully passed Continuous Integration and deploys them on various systems. The changes don’t have to be deployed directly to production; rather, the changes are deployed on a few systems that run separate sets of tests. Only after passing these various tests are the changes deployed into production using the preferred deployment strategy.

Automated Security Testing

Automated Security Testing is a critical aspect of the DevSecOps pipeline and differentiates it from the DevOps pipeline. It helps identify potential security risks and weaknesses in code, dependencies, and configurations before they reach production. By incorporating security testing early in the pipeline, teams can address security concerns before they become problematic.

There are two types of automated security testing:

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST): SAST is a type of security testing performed on the source code or application’s binary before it is executed. The test analyzes the code’s structure and logic and detects possible security flaws, such as buffer overflow, injection flaws, data exposure, input validation, code quality, and design flaws. SAST is done in the Continuous Integration stage after the application is built. For some programming languages, applications must be built with different build flags so that the analyzer can examine the code more deeply.
  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): DAST simulates real-life attacks on applications that are already running. These simulated attacks include injection testing, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, authorization testing, and API testing. DAST is done in the Continuous Deployment stage but, unlike SAST, is executed at the beginning of the stage by deploying the software directly into the test system. If all tests are passed successfully, the application is then deployed into production.

Stages of a DevSecOps Pipeline

The DevSecOps Pipeline consists of seven stages that repeat until the application is finished. Each stage has its own set of tasks.

  • Plan: In the planning stage, teams define application requirements, user stories, and development tasks. The team also needs to identify possible security requirements and find solutions for issues found in the monitor stage.
  • Build: In the building stage, the team develops new features and functionalities based on project requirements. Developers need to follow code guidelines, go through code reviews and Static Application Security Testing, and fix all code and security issues introduced with new changes.
  • Test: In the testing stage, an application’s functionality and code quality are tested using unit tests, integration tests, and Dynamic Application Security Tests. The application must pass all tests to move to the next stage.
  • Deploy: With automated deployment pipelines, applications are deployed into staging and production systems. In this stage, we also rebuild and test the environment if IaC definition files are changed.
  • Monitor: In this stage, the application and infrastructure are constantly monitored for security threats and performance issues. Security monitoring tools analyze logs and metrics to detect and respond to security concerns in real time.

Challenges of Implementing a DevSecOps Pipeline

Implementing the DevSecOps pipeline into an organization that is not used to working with this workflow is challenging. Some of the challenges include:

  • Cultural resistance
    Some developers prefer how they’re used to doing things and are hesitant to do anything new. They would rather stick with the old “reliable” method than learn something new, even if it is better.
  • Legacy Systems
    Some applications were written before DevOps existed or are in maintenance mode, and the cost of implementing the DevSecOps pipeline outweighs the benefits.
  • Technical Debt
    Some applications that rush to production can have a lot of technical debt. Implementing the DevSecOps pipeline before fixing technical debt can block new code from getting into production.
  • Tooling and Automation complexity
    Investigating various tools and automation frameworks necessary for implementing an effective DevSecOps pipeline can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Lack of Security Expertise
    Many development teams need more security knowledge and skills to implement effective security measures.

Best Practices when Building a DevSecOps Pipeline

Building a robust DevSecOps Pipeline requires following best practices to ensure that security is a top priority. Here are some of those practices:

Collaborations between Development, Operations, and Security teams
Every team needs to work together to create a strong DevSecOps pipeline. They all share the goal of developing robust applications, and for that to happen, they need to communicate effectively and help each other. Regular meetings and feedback loops between teams can help solve issues that occur during development. Security teams should constantly investigate and learn about new security threats and educate other teams about best practices against those threats.

Adopting Infrastructure as Code
Implementing tools like Terraform or AWS CloudFormation for resource management allows you to apply configurations consistently across environments and track changes more effectively. Organized and consistent change tracking eliminates random errors caused by badly set environments and allows developers to focus on other things.

Adopt Automation
Manual testing takes a lot of time, and switching to automation can speed up the testing process to mere seconds. Implementing it can be challenging and requires finding the right tool for the job.

Implement Secure Coding Standards
Getting used to using secure coding standards can sometimes be hard, but it is essential for building secure applications. By providing developers with best practices and guidelines, organizations can ensure that code is secure from the start.

Provide Security Training
Security training for developers and other team members can increase security awareness. By educating their employees, organizations can reduce the risk of security incidents.


Implementing the DevSecOps pipeline can reduce the monetary and development time costs of building a new application. Issues will be found during integration or deployment stages with SAST or DAST and will be fixed before getting into production. Implementing it is not always easy, and you can run into cultural resistance or a lack of security skills, but the benefits almost always outweigh that. The DevSecOps pipeline requires great communication between development, operations, and security teams to ensure that everyone’s secure coding standards are on point and that issues found are solved by consolidating with other teams. To explore how Comtrade 360 can enhance your DevSecOps initiatives and help overcome these challenges, learn more about our comprehensive DevSecOps services.