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The Role of DevSecOps in Software Outsourcing

DevSecOps is a philosophy, a culture, a practice. It seamlessly integrates Development (Dev), Security (Sec), and Operations (Ops) into a unity, ensuring that security isn’t a mere afterthought but is engraved into the entire software development lifecycle.
Daniel Zacharias

Ygor Ribeiro

November 17, 2023

Here’s food for thought: Have you ever wondered why your grandma insists on checking the locks twice before going to bed? 

It’s the same reason DevSecOps is crucial in software outsourcing — It’s that double-check that makes everything secure and in order. But, of course, it’s a bit more complex than that.

The ABCs of DevSecOps in software outsourcing

Imagine you’re building a building. Now, instead of calling a security company and installing all kinds of biometric, top-tier security tools after the building is finished, you’re integrating them from the get-go during the construction process.

In that example, the building is the software and the top-tier security tools are the traditional security protocols. And all of that is DevSecOps in a nutshell. 

DevSecOps is a philosophy, a culture, a practice. It seamlessly integrates Development (Dev), Security (Sec), and Operations (Ops) into a unity, ensuring that security isn’t a mere afterthought but is engraved into the entire software development lifecycle.

Here’s how the new way of “building” looks like:

  1. Development. This is where the magic begins. Developers write the code, creating the architecture of the software.
  2. Security. Security experts step in to add extra armor to the architecture, safeguarding it from potential threats and vulnerabilities.
  3. Operations. The operations team ensures that the armored architecture moves and functions smoothly, overseeing the deployment and maintenance of the software.

Business Insight: Companies that embraced this type of security reported a 25% reduction in security breaches and half those who didn’t scrap for pennies to cover up their “holes in the armor”.

Software outsourcing: The double-edged sword

If you’re just starting out with software outsourcing, you’re certainly feeling like you’re navigating through a thick, unpredictable fog.

At first glance, the idea of outsourcing sounds bulletproof: you’re reaching your destination (project completion) faster. Yet, there are some risks, especially because of the unpredictably low visibility (control) that might have you going straight into the roadblocks (security risks). 

That’s how most of the team leaders are feeling about software outsourcing. 

Software outsourcing is certainly one of the most powerful assets available when it comes to cost-effectiveness, access to a global talent pool, and flash-like, high-performance software delivery.

The dark side: While software outsourcing is wonderful, it’s a double-edged sword that’ll cut you deep if you’re not careful enough. Communication gaps, lack of quality assurance, and the fact that developers can’t code and take care of essential security protocols at the same time are the second edge that’ll do the cutting. 

Isn’t traditional security enough?

Even if you’ve communicated explicit security guidelines, done the regular monitoring procedures, built a collaborative environment between your in-house and outsourcing teams, and gone with the best outsourcing strategy available, it still won’t cut it!

In today’s digital age, traditional security measures simply don’t make sense. Just because they are simple, familiar, and easily controllable won’t save you tons of money you pour into fixing post-launch bugs and data leaks. 

Not to mention, the traditional security ways were designed on the reactive mindset – if something breaks, the team will fix it then, otherwise, the team won’t touch anything. This stance only leads to an increase in vulnerabilities and, if you add outsourcing into that mix, you have a wildfire that’s hard to control and put out.

Business Insights:  Post-development security measures can increase project costs by up to 3,000%.

The insider’s tip: Marrying DevSecOps with outsourcing

Think of integrating DevSecOps into outsourcing like creating a perfect marriage – miracles do happen! It requires understanding, communication, and commitment from both parties.

These are the steps that worked for me that’ll push you to achieve those elements:

  1. Embrace time zone differences.  Instead of seeing time zone differences as a challenge, use them to your advantage. Create a 24-hour development cycle, ensuring that work goes on even when your in-house team is off the clock.
  2. Localized security protocols. Every region has its unique security challenges. Understand the local threats faced by your outsourced team and tailor security protocols to those challenges.
  3. The “coffee chat” initiative. Create channels to have informal talks and have some fun with the entire team. This is a great way of gathering key insights from a member of your outsourcing team and building a personal bond and trust. Use it wisely!
  4. Gamify security training. Gamify your security training sessions. That doesn’t just make learning fun but also ensures better retention and application of security protocols (with an emphasis on the latter).
  5. Create your “Security MVP.” Each month, recognize and reward a member of the outsourced team who has shown exceptional adherence to security protocols or that has contributed in any way to evolve them. That little effort goes a long way!
  6. Open-door virtual office hours. Keeping closed doors and a firm boundary between your in-house and outsourcing team is a highway to DevSecOps hell. And you don’t want to go that route, trust me. Dedicate a couple of hours each week where the outsourced team can virtually “walk in” and discuss any concerns, ideas, or feedback directly with you, promoting open communication.
  7. Localized beta testing. One way of preventing a global software catastrophe is by running a localized beta test. This could be within your outsourced team region and having them as the first responders. You’ll get invaluable feedback from a local perspective that’ll adjust your global approach. A recipe for success!

But isn’t this all a bit overkill?

You might be wondering: Doesn’t all of this sound a little bit too much? To that, I say — would you wear a helmet after you crash your bike? Probably not.

DevSecOps isn’t overkill. It’s foresight. It’s about anticipating challenges and being proactive, rather than reactive.

I’ll agree on one point with you — DevSecOps demands too much initial groundwork in software outsourcing and slows down the development process. It’s also resource-intensive and has a steep learning curve, especially if your in-house team isn’t familiar with the right DevSecOps practices.

But even in the light of that, you have to question yourself — Is your business and project going to be another one that falls into the “scrambling to fill in the gaps after a breach” statistic, or you’re going to minimize your reactive measure by being proactive about your security from day ZERO?

Business Insights: While it sounds like a hefty price to pay upfront, DevSecOps is actually a cost-efficiency in disguise. You might be allocating a lot of resources upfront, but with software outsourcing, you’re running a sprint, but rather a marathon. If you thought otherwise, you might wanna change the industry!

Conclusion: DevSecOps-grandma style

DevSecOps isn’t about preparing for a doomsday scenario every time. It’s about being ready and resilient the moment your “building” gets its software architecture ready.

It’s a mindset shift from reactive to proactive, from firefighting to fire prevention. So, next time you think of software outsourcing and DevSecOps, ask yourself: “Is my software as secure as grandma’s house?”

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