Does Linux help DevSecOps grow or is it DevSecOps that helps software development with Linux better? The relationship between Linux and security-fortified DevOps is as complex as the chicken-and-egg casualty dilemma. It is difficult to pinpoint which serves as the tool to advance the other. Some would say that Linux development accelerates and becomes more efficient by integrating DevSecOps, but some say that the former helps bolster the latter’s adoption.
However, what is clear is that both of them benefit from each other. DevSecOps and Linux share a symbiotic and deeply intertwined relationship. As an Oracle-published white paper puts it, Linux plays a crucial role in the progress of DevSecOps. With its open-source nature, Linux provides a good staging ground for DevSecOps adoption. Conversely, DevSecOps amplifies the existing pros of software development with Linux.
To better understand DevSecOps as it relates to Linux, it helps to get acquainted with the different advantages of software development with Linux. Aside from being widely and easily accessible because it is open-source, Linux also affords the following benefits.
- Scripting and streamlined automation – Linux is well-known for its command-line interface, which comes with robust scripting capabilities that help streamline the automation of DevSecOps tasks, from orchestrating security scans to automating deployment pipelines and infrastructure management.
- Containerization – Kubernetes and Docker are popular tools on Linux, and they demonstrate the operating system’s commitment to the containerization movement. Containerization is preferred nowadays because of the consistency they bring to development, testing, and overall production.
- High performance and efficiency – The lightweight kernel of Linux makes it resource-efficient. This makes it possible to develop a wide range of software for various kinds of hardware, including low-resource ones like IoT, IIoT, and embedded systems that are already becoming commonplace in modern enterprises.
- Affinity for collaboration and information sharing – Linux makes collaborative development and knowledge sharing easy. It has a massive global community of developers willing to share new information and insights. DevSecOps teams can greatly benefit from the vast wealth of expertise, best practices, and security-related knowledge in the global Linux community.
- Strong DevOps foundation – Before DevSecOps became the norm, the Linux development community had already established a strong foundation for DevOps practices. As such, embracing the DevSecOps philosophy is unlikely to be difficult for Linux developers.
- Agile development – Linux is also notably well-suited for agile development. The operating system’s ecosystem and features are in line with the principles of agile development, which emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and iteration.
The agility advantage of Linux is particularly important because of how fast-paced modern software development has become. With growing numbers of organizations, institutions, and even households increasingly using computers and smart devices, the business of software development has only become more hectic. Agility is necessary to keep up with the growing need for more software in digitally-transformed societies.
Ensuring both security and agility
The rise of more aggressive and sophisticated cyber threats, however, makes it crucial for agility to be paired with security. Ever-evolving cyber attacks persistently put IT assets at risk, and these risks grow dramatically as organizations prioritize agility at the expense of security.
Traditionally, software security has been a separate phase or, in some cases, mostly an afterthought. The development team builds the software and another team takes over to test its security and implement the necessary changes or improvements to address security issues. Under DevOps principles, this setup has been accelerated while maximizing the benefits that are inherent in the Linux ecosystem.
However, with the rise of DevSecOps, security is no longer a separate phase, let alone an afterthought. It is now integrated into every step of the development process. Security testing is undertaken whenever applicable while the development is still ongoing. This makes it easier to spot security concerns and apply the necessary remediation.
The question is, does this new paradigm slow down the development process? Does it not infuse too many additional steps along the development process and expand the traditional development time?
The good news is that this is not exactly what is happening as DevSecOps and Linux intertwine. The proactive security approach in DevSecOps maintains agility while enabling security mainly through the following ways.
Shift-left security – While it is true that the addition of security measures during the earlier stages of the development process expands the development completion time, organizations can offset the added time by eliminating the need for separate security review, testing, and improvement. It also results in prompt and more effective security remediation because complications are avoided and it is easier to diagnose and resolve problems while a system is still being built instead of waiting for everything to be completed.
Security testing automation – Automation plays a big role in DevSecOps, and Linux is compatible with a wide range of tools that support security validation automation. This automation also makes it possible for security tests to be conducted continuously. Also, it ensures that there are no bottlenecks created, allowing developers to focus their attention on writing code instead of watching out for bottlenecks and resolving the issues.
Continuous integration and deployment – Linux-based systems are usually employed in continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, something that DevSecOps can leverage to automatically conduct security tests in every build and ascertain that code changes are security-cleared before a software project is deployed.
Security-as-code – With DevSecOps, security is usually made part of the code as much as possible. Security policies, configurations, and defensive mechanisms are embedded into the code, which makes them continuously and consistently enforced. This significantly lowers the possibility of configuration drift and other similar security problems, which ensures both security and agility at the same time.
Immutable infrastructure – As mentioned, Linux supports containerization and DevSecOps enables automated and continuous security testing. This combination aligns with the establishment of an immutable infrastructure, wherein the entire application stack is treated as code and deployed across environments rapidly and consistently. It also makes rollbacks easier. These result in enhanced security without a significant impact on agility.
Culture of security – Overall, DevSecOps promotes security-centered mindsets and habits. It compels everyone involved in the development process to take security repercussions into account in the process of building the software. This entails adequate cybersecurity awareness and education programs, effective communication and collaboration, and preparations to make sure that security incidents are addressed promptly. It also means having a system for continuous compliance and security auditing.
Conjoining security and agility
The Linux and open-source development landscape constantly evolves and demand for apps and other software keeps increasing. This scenario calls not only for agile development but for enhanced security that is integrated into the development process. The traditional way of securing software no longer works, as cyber attacks have become more persistent and rapidly evolving.
DevSecOps and Linux are an excellent combination in striking a balance between agility and security. They both leverage the advantages of automation, collaboration, continuous monitoring, code-baked security, and the benefits of immutable infrastructure. Also, they all promote the establishment of a security-centric development culture. They move towards a future where open-source projects thrive not only because of easy access but also because of the assurance of robust security.