Best practices for secure software development projects

As of today, everyone uses software so that cyberattacks can affect anyone. With a rising number of cyberattack events, there is a necessity for safe and secure software development. What does secure software development mean? How will it help to tackle cyberattacks? What are the best practices to achieve secure software? Let’s see.

Men's hand holding the word passwords with a clampAs the world is moving towards having more IT infrastructure in its environment, the number of cyberattacks is also growing with it. Recent developments, the side effects of a global pandemic, and cybersecurity figures show a significant uptick in stolen and broken data. Around the same time, COVID-19 has increased the number of remote workers making headway for cyberattacks.

How are businesses around the world affected by this situation? Cybersecurity problems are now a day-to-day market struggle. Check out these numbers:

  • 86% of breaches —says the Verizon report “Data Breach Investigations”— were financially motivated. Moreover, 45% of breaches featured hacking, 17% involved malware and 22% involved phishing.
  • In 2019, the figure for spear phishing was 88% of global organizations.
  • Data breaches revealed 36 billion records in the first half of 2020.
  • The threats to data protection of corporate leaders are growing to 68%.
  • In 2018, the average annualized cost of cybercrime attacks in the United States amounted to 27.37 million U.S. dollars, according to Statista.

Poor software security can destroy a company’s reputation and value very badly if any cyber attack happens. Secure software development helps us eradicate that threat. It is about providing a sustainable environment that will help your organization’s requirements. It is made up of regulations, procedures, and practices that steer an organization’s secure software development projects.

Content related: The 5 most critical web application security risks

What is the Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL)?

How about when I say that there is a perfect solution that offers an organized approach to applications’ cybersecurity? That solution is a Secure Development Lifecycle, also known as SDL. It is a set of Agile methodologies to strengthen security and reliability. To the maximum benefit, these methods should be implemented into all phases of software development and maintenance. In short, SDL is used to achieve secure software development.

Man working in a computer with the sign "Security" on the wallBest practices in the development of secure software suggest integrating safety aspects into each stage of SDL from the planning to maintenance, regardless of whether the project methodology is waterfall or Agile.

The most important reasons for implementing SDL activities are as follows:

1. Higher protection

Continuous analysis of vulnerabilities in SDL results in increased application efficiency and reduction of business risks.

2. Reduction of prices

In SDL, early exposure to flaws dramatically decreases the work taken to find and repair faults.

3. Form with the legislation

SDL promotes a conscientious approach towards security-related laws and regulations. Ignoring them will result in fines and damages, even though no confidential data is destroyed.

Stages of SDL

Following are the stages of secure development lifecycle regardless of the project methodology:

  1. Requirement Analysis
  2. Designing Architecture
  3. Implementation
  4. Testing and Fixing
  5. Release and maintenance

Secure development methodologies help here; they instruct you what’s what. But what does each of these stages consist of? Let take a look at them.

1. Requirement Analysis

Black man working in his laptop writing codeThis stage aims to identify and test the feasibility of the application’s definition. It involves creating a business plan, writing project specifications, and allocating human capital. The SDL practices most recommended for this stage include:

  • SDL discovery

SDL discovery begins with the concept of protection and enforcement goals for your project. It means that the workers can resolve security problems as quickly as possible.

  • Security requirements

It refers to prepare a list of security requirements for your project. Remember to include both technical and regulatory requirements.

  • Training on security awareness

Training workshops offer critical security expertise, ranging from a simple understanding of risks to in-depth detail on safe growth.

2. Design Architecture

This level aims to create software that meets the requirements. The recommended SDL practices for this level include:

  • Risk Modelling

Risk or Threat modeling is the analysis of possible attack scenarios and appropriate countermeasures to the application architecture.

  • Safe and Secure Design

The specification manual and subsequent modifications are checked in light of the protection criteria.

  • Software tracking by third parties

Security flaws in third-party components can degrade the overall system, making it critical to control its protection and install patches when appropriate.

3. Implementation

Testing and integration add together all the components of an environment that scans for errors, bugs, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and compatibility.

The recommended SDL practices for this level include:

  • Manuals and checklists inform programmers of common errors that need to be prevented, such as unencrypted credential storage.
  • Static Application Testing Tools (SAST) review the newly written code and detect possible bugs without running the script.

4. Testing and Fixing

Two young men working on some codeThis phase is intended to discover and repair software application bugs, which includes conducting automatic and manual tests, as well as finding and fixing issues.

The recommended SDL practices for this level include:

  • Check the penetration

It is a smart idea to allow a third-party team of security experts to simulate potential threats.

  • Fuzz Testing

Fuzz testing includes creating random inputs based on customized configurations and evaluating whether the program can handle those inputs correctly.

5. Release and maintenance

The software is going live at this point, with several instances running in several environments. Eventually, new versions and patches will be available, and some consumers will opt to update, while others will choose to retain older versions.

The recommended SDL practices for this level include:

  • Management of the environment

Dedicated attackers are leveraging configuration errors and bugs in the setting. Security surveillance must protect the whole device, not just the program.

  • Continued security tests

Security tests must be repeated daily since various forms of bugs are being found at a constant pace.

Last words: Why secure software development is important for you

Even though worldwide companies have woken up to the necessity to protect and keep safe the huge amount of information they manage on a daily basis, there are still some businesses that have not paid attention to the secure development of software. With the high and increasing risks of cyberattacks, there is a dire need for secure software development, so companies are hiring specialized people for doing so. In order to that, outsourcing the task of building a Secure Software Development is becoming the market trend these days. More and more companies are currently looking for trusted professionals who could make their Software Development as secure as today’s needs.

In the end, we can conclude that for secure software development, you should check out standard SDL methodologies and choose the one that best suits you. Try doing it at the start of your project, prepare a list of strategies, and plan to fill the gaps of software. Prioritize them and add security-enhancing tasks to the timeline for your business. Make proper use of SDL for secure software development to become resistant to most cyberattacks that could be a potential threat to software’s manufacturer reputation.

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