DevSecOps Tools: 9 Ways to Integrate Security Into the SDLC

Learn about 9 common categories of DevSecOps tools and 7 great tools you can use today to start shifting security left.

Updated on December 6, 2023

What Are DevSecOps Tools?

DevSecOps is an extension of the DevOps model, in which developers, security, and operations teams work together closely through all stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and continuous integration / continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. 

DevOps introduced the use of automation and streamlined processes to increase development velocity and improve software quality. DevSecOps adds security to this equation—building security into the process and eliminating silos between development, operations, and security teams. It ensures that a DevOps environment incorporates security best practices and security testing, from planning and development, through testing, staging, and deployment.

Tools are a critical part of DevSecOps because, in a fast-paced DevOps environment, security must be automated and closely integrated with the CI/CD pipeline. 

DevSecOps tools have two main goals. The first is to minimize risk in development pipelines, without slowing down velocity, by detecting and fixing security vulnerabilities through continuous security testing. The second is to support security teams, allowing them to oversee security of development projects without needing to manually review and approve every release. 

In this article, you will learn:

9 Ways to Integrate Security Into the Development Cycle: Common Categories of DevSecOps Tools

DevSecOps is a new paradigm and does not yet have an established toolset. Here are 9 types of tools that are increasingly used by organizations to build security into their development, testing, and deployment processes.

Open Source Vulnerability Scanning

Most software projects contain thousands of external dependencies. Many of these are open source components which could contain security vulnerabilities, may have been created without security best practices, or which may have potential licensing issues once incorporated into a project. 

Open source vulnerability scanning – also known as software composition analysis (SCA) – analyzes open source components, libraries, and their dependencies present in the analyzed codebase. Any detected open source artifacts are identified by their version, distribution, source, common platform enumeration (CPE), and other distinguishing characteristics. 

They are then compared against vulnerability databases such as the NVD, software vendor security advisories, or other security resources. These resources can help evaluate the vulnerability’s severity, qualify the potential impact if it were to be exploited, and provide suggestions for remediation.

In a DevSecOps process, security risk analysis can be used during the planning stage to identify which components are most secure or free from vulnerabilities that would put the project at risk. Then, vulnerability scans occur at multiple stages of the development and build processes to ensure no new vulnerabilities are introduced after the initial planning stage. 

Some benefits to vulnerability scanning at different stages in the DevSecOps process are:

  • Scanning in development: Developers can automatically be notified of security issues in components they are including. They can then make faster, informed decisions on how to address or avoid introducing these risks.
  • Scanning in security testing: Any component with vulnerabilities that exceed a predefined risk threshold should raise an alert and be inspected before deployment to production. These alerts can trigger remediation activities from development teams or be reviewed and prioritized by security teams.
  • Scanning in production and pre-production: Any new vulnerabilities or risks that enter the application after security review can be detected, alerted upon, and addressed. This includes risks from artifacts that entered the project through means other than the SDLC or CI/CD pipeline, zero-day vulnerabilities, and malware.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

Static Application Security Testing allows developers to scan their source code for weak or insecure coding, identifying potential security issues that should be fixed. Each issue discovered has a severity level that can help developers prioritize remediation.

When SAST is integrated into the SDLC or a CI/CD pipeline, teams can define quality gates that identify how many issues and what level of severity should cause the build to fail, or prevent a component from being promoted to next stages of the pipeline. Integration into developers’ integrated development environment (IDE) will allow developers to see code weaknesses as they write code, helping them build security in from the start.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

Dynamic Application Security Testing tools can automatically perform security testing on running applications, testing for a variety of real threats without requiring access to source code. These tools typically test the HTTP and HTML interfaces of a web application. 

DAST is a black box testing method, which can identify application vulnerabilities from an attacker’s perspective, simulating common attack vectors recreating how an attacker may detect and exploit vulnerabilities. Because DAST is automated and easy to integrate with other DevOps tools, it is a great way to verify application security in testing or staging environments.

Image Scanning

DevOps teams commonly deploy components using Docker images and containers. In a DevSecOps environment, one of the primary concerns is identifying vulnerabilities in container images, since it is common for these to be pulled from public repositories or other non-trusted sources, and because container deployments can scale quickly, potentially scaling the attack surface as well. 

Docker images, and the base images they are based on, may contain many software components that may be outdated, unpatched, or may contain security vulnerabilities. Container image scanners verify that images contain only trusted, secure code and artifacts, and that they comply with secure configuration best practices. 

DevSecOps processes involving containers must include image scanning and remediation at every stage of the CI/CD pipeline.

Infrastructure Automation Tools

DevSecOps strongly relies on automation, and modern approaches involve automating infrastructure configuration and security. Tools in this category automatically detect and repair various security vulnerabilities and configuration issues for various aspects of cloud environments. They range from event-based automation to configuration management, infrastructure as code (IaC), and cloud configuration management tools such as Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP).

Dashboard and Visualization Tools

DevSecOps teams need tools that make it possible to view and share security information between developers, operations, DevOps, and security teams in a single pane of glass or integrated with existing security risk management tools. 

Effective tools show trends and KPIs in a way that is meaningful to all stakeholders—for example, visualizing the growth or reduction in vulnerabilities for a  specific application over time. Custom dashboards can aggregate all relevant security data, log data, and other application monitoring stats visible to all members of the team. 

Threat Modeling Tools

Threat modeling tools help DevSecOps team to predict, detect, and assess threats across the entire attack surface. The goal is to enable teams to quickly make data-driven and proactive decisions to minimize their security risk exposure. There are many tools available with a wide range of capabilities, such as visual dashboards and solutions that can use data to automatically build threat models. 

Alerting Tools

Alerting tools help DevSecOps teams to quickly respond to security events. Ideally, an alerting tool notifies the team only after the anomalous event was analyzed and prioritized and deemed worthy of the team’s attention. This is critical to reduce noise in the system and avoid disrupting DevSecOps workflows. Once teams are notified, they can quickly investigate the event and apply fixes as needed.

7 Top DevSecOps Tools

GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions is an open source tool that can help automate DevSecOps workflows. It allows teams to build, test, and deploy code directly on GitHub, while performing actions based on GitHub events like pull requests, commits, or creation of new issues. 

GitHub actions provides a hosted runtime environment which provides a limited free plan and can be expanded on a pay-per-use basis. Supported actions include workflow functionality, log management, runners for major operating systems, and secrets management. You can define actions and workflows using a Github-provided YAML syntax.

Trivy

Trivy is an easy-to-use open source vulnerability scanner for container images. It is stateless, is easy to deploy, and can scan images quickly without needing to download vulnerability databases. Trivy detects vulnerabilities in operating system packages (Alpine, RHEL, CentOS, etc.) and application dependencies included in container images. It is highly suitable for DevSecOps pipelines, integrating with CI tools such as Travis, CircleCI, Jenkins, and GitLab.

Starboard

Many DevOps environments use Kubernetes to orchestrate clusters of containers. Starboard integrates security tools into the Kubernetes environment, allowing users to find and view risks associated with various resources in a Kubernetes native way. 

Starboard provides custom resource definitions and a Go module that can be used with existing security scanners and kubectl-compatible commands, making it possible to access security reports via native Kubernetes tools. You can activate Starboard security scans automatically as part of the CI/CD pipeline, or automatically, in response to change in the Kubernetes cluster.

OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

OWASP ZAP is a popular security tool designed to help developers practice better software security. The tool comes with several features, including an active scanner, which you can integrate into your CI/CD pipeline. To increase security, OWASP ZAP uses a proxy server through which it routes website traffic. You can use this tool to intercept web vulnerabilities.

HashiCorp Vault

Vault is a tool that enables secure access to secrets—API keys, passwords, certificates, and other sensitive information. Vault provides strict access control, records detailed audit logs, and provides a unified interface for all secrets across your infrastructure.

Vault can dynamically generate secrets for specific systems, such as databases or cloud systems, and automatically revoke them when the requesting service no longer requires access. It can also encrypt and decrypt secrets without storing them, allowing security teams to store sensitive data in their infrastructure without having to manage encryption. 

SonarSource

SonarSource is an open source tool that automatically performs code reviews. The tool attempts to detect vulnerabilities, code smells, and bugs in the source code. It currently supports almost 30 programming languages. You can integrate SonarQube into your devSecOps pipeline, to ensure all collaborators gain access to continuous feedback as it is generated by the tool. 

Aqua Security

Aqua provides DevSecOps tools to help automate the secure development and deployment of cloud native applications without increasing burden on existing DevOps pipelines. Aqua integrates comprehensive vulnerability management, cloud infrastructure security configuration scanning, Kubernetes security posture management, pre-production malware detection, and powerful policy-driven controls for full end-to-end DevSecOps security.