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How to Ensure Cyber Security in Software Development

Security is among the top trends in the IT industry. Certainly, the threat from hackers will only get worse as software development continues to boom. 

A large part of this problem is the lack of clarity on who is responsible for ensuring security. An essential lesson of the last five years is that cyber security should be a shared responsibility among all stakeholders.

And indeed, respondents in Snyk’s State of Open Source Security Report 2020 suggest that security should be a core responsibility for everyone in the organization. 

Additionally, the continued growth of the shift-left movement is a clear indication of the need to integrate software security as early as possible in the SDLC. 

This post looks at how developers play their part in ensuring cybersecurity in the software development life cycle. 

Understanding Open-Source Risks  

The world of software development is split between open-source and proprietary code. Both codes are just as popular. But it’s difficult to deny that open-source is the foundation of most applications in almost all industries today.

It’s not surprising that open-source code powers over 90% of the internet today. This affirms that open-source code is ubiquitous and practically unavoidable in the software development life cycle. 

There are plenty of reasons why enterprises looking to employ open-source codes should do so. A key advantage of open-source is having complete visibility into the code. This openness is enough assurance that there are no lock-in risks. 

Other benefits of open source libraries include cost-effectiveness, speed, and the crowd’s power, especially when troubleshooting issues. 

However, as promising as this ecosystem appears, there is still a lot to be done to ensure open source security.

In the next section, we’ve listed some of the best practices for infusing security in the software development lifecycle. 

Understand the Landscape

Creating a safer software development environment begins with understanding the landscape. Of course, it’s practically impossible to develop a solution if you’re not aware of the problems you’re facing. 

No two organizations are the same. So, every business requires a unique strategy to secure its software development environment.  

Understanding the software development landscape involves; 

  • Defining all stakeholders, including the end-users, and what each of them expects or requires. 
  • Establishing the process gaps and risks in each phase of the SDLC. 
  • Identification of the resources available. 
  • Designing customized solutions for every stage. 

Invest in Personnel Training 

As cybercrime evolves, so must software developers’ approach towards dealing with it. In order to stay ahead of malicious attackers, there’s an urgent need for businesses to take the discussion from boardrooms into training centers. 

Secure software development training teaches developers how to write secure codes. It makes sense considering that most entry-level developers aren’t taught software security in detail in most colleges. 

A crucial component of these training programs is the OWASP Top 10. The developers need to beware of the more prevalent vulnerabilities and explore various ways of dealing with them. 

Employ Security Automation 

Embedding security best practices early in the SDLC is cost-effective in the long run. However, this often poses a huge challenge, especially considering the complexity and fast-paced nature of the software development environment. 

As the need to produce safer programs with minimal resources surges, mature businesses are now ditching manual operations in favor of automatic systems. 

This is the use of security-centered technologies to detect and resolve software vulnerabilities with little to no human assistance. 

Security automation in software development helps organizations ensure speedy operations without compromising security. It does this by replacing manual operations leading to faster detection and remediation of cyber threats. This can save organizations a lot of money and time by catching unforeseen issues on time. 

Essentially, security automation is estimated to save developers up to 50% of the time spent solving security issues manually. Experts also say that automation technology can save organizations up to 50% of the amount typically used in processing security issues manually. 

Of course, automation is not for all businesses. You want to do it only if it aligns with your goals and adds value to your systems. 

Create a Secure Software Development Policy 

The recent increase in successful cyberattacks has made it crucial for enterprises to create a secure software development policy. This is a knowledge repository with a set of practices and rules that help the organization mitigate the risk of vulnerabilities across all phases of the SDLC. 

By creating a secure software development policy, an enterprise acknowledges that security in the software development environment is not a one-off thing. This policy reminds all players of potential security risks at every stage and repeatable ways of resolving them. 

Writing a secure software development policy adds the following benefits to your processes; 

  • Organizing the process of mitigating the risk in the SDLC. 
  • Minimizing time wastage because the steps are repeatable. 
  • Reducing the cost of mitigating vulnerabilities. 

In Conclusion 

It’s common knowledge that a 100% secure code does not exist. Regardless of your budget and how keen you’re at securing your code, breaches will always pop up. As a fact, it’s estimated that there’s an average of 15-20 errors in every 1000 lines of code. 

Several issues conspire to make it hard to achieve Fort Knox’s security status in the world of software development. First, software codes are written by humans. Second, the architecture and design supporting the code are developed by people. This complicates things further, adding possible ways that attackers can exploit the software. 

Instead of attempting to develop 100% bug-free software, developers should aim at balancing usability and security. 

Having an Incident Response (IR) plan is critically important too. An IR plan makes it faster for the team to detect and respond to a breach, thereby minimizing the level of impact. 

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