Shift-Left Security: Integrating Security and Testing into Software Development Early on

Shift-left security is an approach to software development that integrates security and testing into the development phase as early as possible. It aims to create a culture of shared responsibility and transform security into a value-add [1] [4].


However, implementing shift-left security can be challenging for organizations due to the differing goals and skill sets of developers and security teams. To effectively shift security left [2], organizations should focus on aligning and communicating with both security and development teams [1], measuring progress against security goals [1], enforcing and automating security practices [1], and sharing and improving security knowledge [1]. Trust between security and development teams is crucial for successful implementation [1].

Best practices for shifting security left include conducting assessments on software creation [2], implementing security fixes during code development [2], and ensuring visibility for all teams [2]. Top-down buy-in and effective communication are critical for success [4] [5]. Measurement of goals and constant monitoring of metrics are also important to align development cycles with security goals [4]. Implementing tools that identify and prioritize attacks can expedite security cleanup [4].

By incorporating security early in the development pipeline [2] [3], teams can detect and fix issues quickly, avoiding time-consuming and expensive remediation efforts that may arise from security [3], performance [2] [3] [5], and availability issues discovered after product release [3]. DevSecOps [3], which combines DevOps and security teams [3], is often used to achieve this [3]. Automation can help integrate security into the development process without slowing it down [3].

Notable organizations like United Airlines and Fox have successfully implemented shift-left security by following these best practices [1]. These include aligning and communicating with all teams, measuring security goals and performance [5], implementing and automating security practices [1], and sharing and improving security knowledge [1]. By following these best practices [1] [5], organizations can successfully integrate security into the early stages of software development [5].


Shift-left security has the potential to significantly improve the security of software development by addressing vulnerabilities early on. By implementing best practices and fostering collaboration between security and development teams, organizations can enhance their security posture and reduce the risk of costly security issues. As technology continues to evolve, it is crucial for organizations to prioritize and invest in shift-left security to stay ahead of emerging threats and protect their systems and data.