DevOps describes an approach to software delivery that integrates source code development with service deployment and operation. An effective DevOps approach lets you ship high-quality code more frequently without jeopardizing long-term maintenance requirements.
DevSecOps takes the methodology a step further by incorporating security as another fundamental component. Building security into your development system promotes a holistic view of your application’s threat surface. This reduces the risk of dangerous oversights that can occur when security is a checklist exercise at the end of a project.
Implementing a DevSecOps workflow usually requires new processes and tools. To maximize your effectiveness, these tools should be simple and robust. Tailscale is a zero-config VPN that lets you quickly create a secure corporate network to support your development routines. In this article, you’ll learn more about DevSecOps and how Tailscale can protect your business.
What is DevSecOps?
DevSecOps methodologies recognize security as a foundational element of modern software. While security may previously have been handled by a dedicated team, DevSecOps makes it a shared responsibility that permeates the entire process. Everyone involved with a project — developers, operations teams, managers, and system architects — should consider how their work affects the product’s final security posture.
Approaching security in this way makes it more likely that issues will be caught and addressed early, before they reach production. Thinking about security before you begin to write code can prevent problems from even entering the application in the first place. How would an attacker take advantage of the code you are writing? This kind of thinking enhances safety, unlocks more efficient delivery methods, and avoids the heavy cost of live-patching security issues.
Adopting DevSecOps requires changes to your workflow, tools, and broader environment. Here are a few specific situations to consider.
Security isn’t just about code: Deployment mechanisms and production servers need to be protected, too. DevSecOps acknowledges this relationship and works to guarantee the security of your running workloads.
Deployments can be secured by using automated tools to scan for vulnerabilities, identify compromised dependencies, and perform dynamic fuzz testing against live environments. You can run these as part of a continuous integration (CI) pipeline.
When you approve a deployment to sensitive environments like production, use a secured tunnel to issue commands and upload files. Agent-based mechanisms — where a service within the environment polls your repository for changes — should be preferred over opening ports inside the environment to external access. Instead of opening ports to the internet, you should use Tailscale to securely connect to internal services.
Corporate network security
DevSecOps practices aren’t confined to code and operations. Security is only ever as good as the weakest link, and shifting that link to earlier in your development cycle still leaves you open to attack from unguarded network entry points.
Properly securing your corporate network with a VPN solution allows you to control which devices can communicate with each other. Take the time to inspect your current network and question the connections it facilitates. Do developer laptops need direct, unrestricted access to your production servers? What should developers need to do to access production?
You should apply the most stringent restrictions you can in each situation. This can be instrumental in preventing an attacker moving from a low-value target to critical infrastructure.
Audit and document
Regularly auditing your environments will keep you informed of weaknesses and highlight opportunities for improvement. When you make changes, document them in a centralized location so everyone can gauge the organization’s security posture. The DevSecOps mindset empowers individuals to measure and contribute to the baseline. This enables iterative progression similar to how code is written.
You should choose tools that support this model. Look for automated systems that offer a policy-based approach, where you can define security rules as files in a versioned repository. This will help you and others on your team track changes and understand which protections are currently applied.
Using Tailscale for DevSecOps
Tailscale’s VPN platform can implement several aspects of a DevSecOps solution. Using Tailscale, you can quickly and easily set up a secured private network with automatic configuration.
Unlike other VPNs, Tailscale uses a mesh model, so your devices can connect to each other directly. Traditional VPNs send all traffic through a single, central node, creating a hub-and-spoke single point of failure. Tailscale lets your devices talk to each other without having to open up any firewall ports.
Once the Tailscale client is installed, your devices will automatically discover each other and apply any access rules you’ve set up in the Tailscale dashboard. This makes Tailscale much quicker to deploy than other VPN solutions. You don’t need to manually edit config files on a per-device basis. Your centralized settings will be pushed across your device fleet for you, without any extra effort.
Tailscale gives each device a fixed IP address that will stay the same, regardless of the physical network it’s connected to. It supports custom firewall, DNS, and access control rules, all of which can be controlled using the API. This makes it trivial to automate changing your network configuration.
How Tailscale’s WireGuard protocol protects your infrastructure
Tailscale is built on top of WireGuard. WireGuard is a modern, security-first VPN implementation which blends ease of use with state-of-the-art cryptographic protections. Tailscale offers a simple WireGuard deployment and management experience, dramatically reducing the complexity of setting up your own VPN.
WireGuard is purposely designed to provide secure and performant connections between your devices. One way it achieves this is through its narrow focus on simplicity and ease of use. WireGuard can be thought of as SSH for VPN connections: Tunneling to a new device relies on a simple key-pair exchange. WireGuard handles the rest, setting up an encrypted communication channel that’s secured with algorithms such as Noise, Curve25519, and ChaCha20.
WireGuard is used for all the connections you initiate through Tailscale. This means that Tailscale cannot intercept or decrypt your traffic, even when using one of the relay servers. Although a Tailscale data breach could expose information about your network, it wouldn’t allow an attacker to view your activity. WireGuard private keys never leave the devices they originate from.
Tailscale doesn’t offer its own identity service; you don’t have a Tailscale sign-up email address or password. Instead, the platform integrates with your existing SSO provider. Tailscale currently supports logins with the following services:
- Google (e.g., Google Workspace or G Suite)
- Microsoft (e.g., Azure Active Directory or Office 365)
- Your own OIDC or SAML provider
This model further improves the security of your network. Signing in with an account you already have means Tailscale automatically inherits your existing rules and policies, such as requiring periodic login renewals and 2FA enforcement. It also prevents Tailscale from being yet another manual step in onboarding and offboarding. Once you log in to a Tailscale client app using an SSO provider, the client will automatically exchange connection details with the other clients you’ve added to your network.
DevSecOps is a method of software development and delivery that recognizes security as a fundamental tenet. It promotes including security as a primary concern at the start of the process, elevating it to a shared responsibility and eliminating some of the cracks where vulnerabilities can slip in.
This article has explored what DevSecOps is and how it’s more than just source code scans and production-server firewalls. You’ll get the best results from the DevSecOps model when you view it as a mentality, then work to infuse it throughout your organization. Your internal network, deployment routines, and basic security hygiene all contribute to your overall protection.
For securing devices with private communications, Tailscale’s VPN balances installation simplicity with fine-grained access controls that put you in charge of your network. You can limit inter-device traffic to precisely orchestrate network activity. Although DevSecOps is much more than a single tool, getting the basics right will help you scale your security model to fully protect your applications and their users.
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Frequently Asked Questions
DevSecOps can be opaque to newcomers. Because it's a methodology defined as best practices rather than hard rules, some differences between implementations are normal. Here are a few questions that are commonly asked by developers and managers.
How many DevOps admins should my team have?
There’s no hard and fast rule for the number of DevOps admins a team should have. Generally, it’s a good idea to keep this number low: Compromise of an admin account could be disastrous. In smaller organizations, a single DevOps admin will often suffice, perhaps supplemented by a junior aide with restricted permissions.
In larger organizations, more admins may be needed, ideally in a hierarchy that’s controlled by logical boundaries such as division, business unit, or product.
Is my IT admin my DevOps admin?
DevOps admins and traditional IT admins usually have distinct responsibilities. An IT admin tends to focus on user support, system maintenance, and hardware provisioning; a DevOps admin is more concerned with software-based controls that define and implement specific workflow processes. You’d usually go to your IT admin if you were having problems logging in or accessing a specific internal system.
A DevOps admin would be the better choice when you can’t deploy to production or you’re struggling to set up a development environment. The line is vague, though: Especially in smaller teams, the two roles may be held by one person or informally assumed on a collective basis.
Who’s in control?
One of the aims of DevSecOps is to foster a collaborative approach to security. This sometimes clashes with the intrinsic need for a few empowered administrators to ultimately apply and manage security policies. In organizations that aren’t fully prepared, this can create tensions between development, operations, and the perceived distinct security team. You can address this by designating one person as the security lead, while clearly documenting how others can suggest changes. Using documentation and agreed-upon policies provides a framework for team members to request adjustments or exceptions to the rules.
We're already doing security: What's different here?
DevSecOps isn’t meant to diminish teams that are already practicing good security standards. It is possible to deliver secure software without consciously adopting a DevSecOps approach. The difference lies in purpose, intent, and timing. Making a commitment to DevSecOps and considering security right from the beginning demonstrates to your entire team that it’s a priority. When everyone’s working with this mindset, it’s less likely that vulnerabilities will creep in or need to be hurriedly patched up late in a project.