The Crucial Role of DevOps Security in the Success of Early-Stage Startups

Kaustav Chakraborty
5 min readMar 2, 2024


Are you ready to dive into the dynamic world of early-stage startups? Picture the scene: a few passionate engineers gathered at a co-working space, fueled by coffee and the thrill of bringing their disruptive ideas to life. It’s an exhilarating ride but one that’s not without risks, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. From data breaches that can cripple a startup’s reputation to regulatory fines that can drain its resources, the dangers are real and daunting.

But fear not, my friend! In this blog post series, we will explore the exciting and essential world of DevOps security and how it’s the key to safeguarding the success of early-stage startups. We’ll take a deep dive into the unique challenges these startups face, the potential consequences of neglecting security, and the actionable steps they can take to mitigate risks and thrive in an ever-evolving market. So, let’s grab a cup of coffee, buckle up, and join me on this thrilling journey where innovation meets safeguarding and where startups can unlock their full potential while staying one step ahead of the game. Let’s go!

What is DevOps Security?

DevOps security, often called DevSecOps, is a crucial aspect of any early-stage startup’s operations. With the integration of development and operations teams (DevOps), security becomes an inherent part of the entire cycle rather than an afterthought. This approach allows startups to innovate rapidly while minimising the potential risks associated with cybersecurity threats. This balance is crucial in today’s digital age, where data breaches and cyber threats can cause significant damage to a company’s reputation and resources. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the importance of DevOps security in the landscape of early-stage startups.

Principles to secure product environments.

Collaboration, automation, and continuous monitoring enhance an organisation’s security posture.


Collaboration integrates security considerations into every stage of software development, reducing overlooked vulnerabilities. Infrastructure experts and products need a solid partnership to handle all critical and significant security issues, i.e., password strength for authentication, access control on a cloud provider, security key accidentally pushed on VCS, etc.


Automation speeds up processes, minimises errors, and enables early detection of vulnerabilities by incorporating security checks and tests into the development pipeline. One of the best and minimalist examples is Dependabot issues on GitHub. The first step to take this leap would be fixing them as soon as they arise.

Continuous monitoring

Continuous monitoring allows for ongoing assessment of vulnerabilities and immediate response to issues, minimising opportunities for attackers.

These DevSecOps principles strengthen defences, mitigate risks, and contribute to a startup’s success.

Story Time: Challenge faced by an early-stage startup

A few years back, I was collaborating with a startup in the Healthcare space. They were not early in the business but were a young engineering department. This company (Let’s call this Meditech INV*- It is an artificial name and not related to any past or existing company*) built an extremely modern analytics and reporting SaaS platform. This platform caters to hospitals in a government program that provides healthcare benefits to a selected patient group. The market already has veteran players with relatively old-age tech. Meditech INV wanted to establish itself as a cutting-edge SaaS provider in its TAM.

On a fine morning, a news burst that one of Meditech INV’s competitors & market leaders experienced a data breach. In healthcare, different countries have different lawsuits for such data breaches. This destroyed the competitor’s reputation, and in the next few days, they started losing existing clients. This was an opportunity for Meditech INV to acquire those clients almost free (without any CAC). However, this incident changed the market’s mood as clients now worry about their patient’s data. They needed these SaaS platforms to demonstrate their security practices, and based on that, they would move forward with the contract. Even after 6 months of being in the market and working with 5–6 big hospitals, the product & infrastructure didn’t have enough security observability. That means even if we had any data breach, we would barely know what had happened (however, we had pretty strong network rules in place since the beginning). This means we may lose all of these businesses that were organically coming our way.

It was a great weekend challenge. My phone rang. After 30 min, I was in front of my laptop to hack around security. We were setting up our first security modules after 6 months of going live. I remember our only principal engineer & I spent the precious Saturday setting up security tools on our AWS infrastructure (having 6 AWS accounts back then) and polishing them up Sunday. We were trying to rush for the new opportunities, with a baggage of fear that we may lose our existing clients if we couldn’t show them some visualisation, which may result in us being out of business and closing the offices with ~30+ engineers and 400+ other roles working there. Scary right??????

The Impact

This situation created a panic among the senior leadership. Full of excitement but stressful days, I think that’s what happens when you delay your security practices. We have taken these three primary measures,

  • Audit every activity across AWS as a preventive measure.
  • We are introducing compliance checks across all AWS accounts.
  • We are guarding AWS so that we know when a malicious activity has happened.
  • An informative dashboard with a security score that we can present to our existing and new clients to gain their trust.

Over a few weeks, the veteran company went out of business, and here we are with $400M+ revenue and 30+ new clients. We are looking forward to acquiring a renowned company. This incident teaches us a few exciting things,

  • Security practices are vital from the beginning, not at the end of your feature development.
  • Allocate some budget in every sprint to improve current security conditions. You don’t know when opportunity will knock on your door.
  • When a tech organisation grows with more than 2 products at scale, you need dedicated security experts. It can be in the same Platform team or a separate team.
  • Most importantly, in a startup, and when you are in some answerable position, don’t keep any advance plans for weekends :P.

The Conclusion

Early-stage startups must prioritise security from the get-go. As they navigate the complexities of DevSecOps, seeking guidance from experienced professionals can be immensely beneficial. By doing so, startups will foster a security-first culture that will protect their venture and boost its credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of stakeholders and customers. So, always appreciate the power of security.

Originally posted on my official blog on 2 March 2024.

I help startups with DevOps, Security & Leadership. If you are interested / have requirement in any of them, or starting a startup and want a quick conversation, let’s book time on my calendar or don’t hesitate to contact me at

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Kaustav Chakraborty

I help early stage startups to set their infrastructure practices, Sr. Software Engineer @ HelloFresh (