Secure Software Development: 5 Best Practices to Employ Now
With cyberattacks surfacing everywhere, authentication channels are frequently getting exposed to threats and under such circumstances, data remain at risk. Compromising secure software development can cost organizational integrity.
Building a secure application right from the early phases of the software development lifecycle ensures integrating security aspects into the IT network infrastructure. This offers higher security standards, compliance, and protection.
What is secure software development?
Secure software development is a practice to ensure that the code and continual processes involved in the design and development of applications deliver availability, quality, integrity, and confidentiality. The software development process includes a series of activities wherein coding and the development life cycle are built, keeping in mind the security of the application.
Secure development lifecycle (SDL) like Microsoft SDL is a convenient way to provide a controlled approach to the security of a product. Ready-made SDL methodologies offer a series of practices to enhance software development safety and conformity. However, development teams should engage in every stage of the development processes to achieve maximum security from possible third-party threats.
5 Best SDL Practices for Secure Software Development
Implementing the best SDL practices into your software development model is very crucial as cyberattacks happen all the time. Increased complications and security issues involved in frail software have made it compulsory for organizations to implement the best protection into one stage to another.
So before you put in place a software application that solves only a small portion of your risks, make sure you use a safe software strategy that includes these best practices.
1. Patch timely systems and software
Security issues and vulnerabilities associated with an old and outdated software project are usually exploited by attackers. Requirements for this stage include:
- Getting the most updated patches for all your systems
- Maintaining an inventory of software components (open source application)
- Ensuring licensing obligations of components and requirements
- Maintaining a software bill of materials (BOM)
2. Understand the technology of software
It is important to have a detailed understanding of the existing infrastructural components comprising network segregation hardened hosts, public key infrastructure, etc.
Why is it crucial to have a thorough knowledge of technological components and their relationship?
- It gives you an idea on the impact on security.
- It allows for support decisions as a whole.
- You can be fully aware of the security features and requirements the management wants.
It’s likewise crucial to make sure that the products you procure have complete implementation feasibility within your management.
3. Educate and train users
How can employee education achieve organization and information security?
- It creates a positive change to a well-managed security training curriculum.
- It ensures all project information and assets are protected well.
- It creates a compound effect on your organizational software security requirements and culture.
Make it a routine to conduct responsive training for all the employees and software engineering training for your developers. Best practices include:
- Carrying out a phishing test at each stage of your project
- Assisting your team to identify, review, and shut down social engineering risk
4. Design and develop software with secure features
It is imperative to integrate software development security features into your secure development process from the start until the end. Safety features should not be ignored while design requirements are put in place and are converted into syntax constructs. When all this is done, the fundamental tenets must be authenticated so robust software security is created through security code reviews and security testing.
To ensure effectiveness, some core practices include:
- Predefine enforcement mechanism for a security code review
- Mitigate the issues of configuration and tests
- Conduct other essential activities done by developers in the testing environment that follow the configuration of the production
5. Deploy software with secure coding
Secure deployment creates an environment where a deep defense mechanism is put in place. It helps ensure that the attack surface is not increased by improper release, alteration, or management in the configuration of the product. To be precise, secure coding practices refer to conducting an assessment from an attacker’s point of view and this assessment has to be done immediately upon deployment or before.
It’s noteworthy to be able to adapt to these practices:
- Ensure a proper source control code for the release management to stay away from software defects in successive releases.
- Advance the software to production after the bug (coding defect) is identified and fixed in the testing environment.
- Perform vulnerability assessment and penetration test in the pre-production environment stage. Follow a tight control testing in the production environment if need be.
Pro tip: Using static code analysis
Static analysis tools help in the coding and integration phase of the software development life cycle (SDLC). Continuous secure coding ensured in the development and maintenance phases majorly contributes to reducing the risks of security development and also saves costs.
Identifying and fixing the bugs while writing a product code is crucial because half of the security breach is brought in at the level of source coding. Static code analysis tools bring about knowledge and can well in time identify errors like memory leaks, arithmetic errors, navigation errors, access violations, etc.
- Constant source code excellence and security assurance
As a part of primary integration static analysis is repeatedly applied initially to a large codebase. The initial code quality and security baseline are recognized where it really stands out and each new code block (file or function) is written. The code block can be scanned by static analysis tools which in turn can be utilized by a team of developers to deal with the errors and warnings swiftly and resourcefully before inspecting code into the build system. The impact of tools is huge in detecting security vulnerabilities and maintaining secure code review standards.
- Tainted data discovery and analysis
Data analysis that runs through interfaces (sources) to syncs (where data gets used in a program) is significant in detecting possible vulnerabilities from tainted data. Input from a network connection or a user interface poses potential protection susceptibility if it is used unchecked.
There are several third-party attacks mounted into inputs fed through specially crafted data and these inputs are meant to destabilize the target system behavior. Data and information must be verified to be acceptable else it can be used to activate error conditions. The potential effect of these attacks is data leakage and code injection which can result in serious consequences.
Why is security important in software development?
To reduce the chances of security threats, organizations tend to adopt secure software development and prevent most security susceptibilities promptly. Adapting to secure software development provides numerous benefits:
1. Continuous monitoring ensures early detection of vulnerabilities and consequently helps in better software quality and reduces business risk.
2. Timely identification of security flaws tends to reduce the costs to execute security control. These expected security flaws are taken care of during the development cycle stage only instead of incurring huge costs on patching the software.
3. Secure software development offers opportunities not only to test and grab issues in application development but also creates a culture of application security throughout the organization.
4. Another advantage is that it promotes a reliable attitude as far as security vulnerabilities and regulations are concerned. Overlooking laws and regulations invite penalties even if your application is secure.
Cyber attacks are increasingly posing a threat—securing your IT infrastructures is integral to create a protected environment. As a key benefit, these best practices assist organizations to reduce their intrinsic business risk. Put in place a secure development lifecycle (SDL) to integrate security and safety standards for compliance without compromising on the development process of your organizational infrastructure.
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