Shift left: Beyond the cybersecurity buzzword – Security Magazine




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Shift left is one of the most popular terms within modern cybersecurity, used heavily in vendor marketing campaigns and as a headlining topic at industry conferences worldwide. As a result, the core objective and best approach to shift left has become unclear. While shift left has increased in popularity in recent years, it’s important to recognize that it is not a new concept. 

Years ago, organizations utilized the waterfall method of development, kicking off a project, scoping requirements, then designing, building, testing, and deploying software. Using this model, flaws and bugs made it all the way to the testing phase before they were identified, ticketed and sent back to development teams to fix. This method made it costly to resolve flaws. Through the gradual evolutions of DevOps and the creation of CI/CD tools, the process of fixing bugs naturally evolved to earlier in the release cycle — the founding of shifting left.

By integrating testing measures sooner in the life cycle, developers were enabled to fix issues faster as teams were immediately notified about problematic code. Code could also be pushed to production faster as teams no longer wait on manual review, and testing policies were consistent throughout. This was a huge win for productivity. 
But what does shift left mean when applied to security testing? Security testing is unique, as it usually does not take place until the code is live in production. Shifting security left is utilizing the same principles that improved efficiencies in quality testing and applying them to how teams find and fix security flaws. Shifting security left makes testing frequent, automated, and consistent. 

There are many benefits to shifting security left. This includes:

Now that we’ve explored the benefits of shifting security left, let’s delve into how organizations can begin (and continue to sustain) such a process: 
This article originally ran in Today’s Cybersecurity Leader, a monthly cybersecurity-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.
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Scott Gerlach is CSO and co-founder at StackHawk.
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