Tips for Building a Robust Secure Coding Program
Software code — whether it’s on mobile devices, personal computers, servers or mainframes — runs the risk of getting hacked. In turn, this can give hackers control of a device or application and lead to loss of user access, service and organizational secrets, and damage to the system. Although only 7 percent of software defects emerge from the coding phase, these defects can be costly and risky. Organizations, as well as individuals, need to understand the risks associated with unsecured coding practices to protect their IT infrastructure. In order to ensure that your code is protected from vulnerabilities and risk, we’ve outlined tips for building a robust secure coding program.
Secure by Design
Secure coding has to permeate your development process. It has to be integrated into every step of development and IT. If you implement it too early, it could cause too much interference. On the other hand, if you leave it too late, it can lead to costly remediation efforts. In fact, if it’s left too late and the product is already shipped, it could cost 100 times more to fix the security vulnerabilities. At Rocket, we try to focus on an appropriate level of security scanning throughout the entire development process. That way, coding is secure but the process isn’t overwhelming.
Throughout the application development process, it’s important to practice threat modeling. This involves identifying and prioritizing potential threats and security risks. For each application, you need to understand how it works within an ecosystem in order to analyze the risk and likelihood of various threats. Ensure that there are clear service-level agreements in place if you discover a vulnerability. These must be clearly communicated, understood, and adhered to, in case of a breach.
Scanning your code is important, but there are many different performance scans that can be done. We recommend the following:
- Software Composition Analysis: This scan is important for open-source applications as it provides an understanding of third party components, licenses, and other open-source security concerns. This can occur at various stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
- Static Application Security Testing (SAST): This is used to analyze source code or binaries for bad coding practices and vulnerabilities. It can also occur at various stages of the SDLC.
- Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): This tool can analyze web applications and web services through the front-end for vulnerabilities and exploits. It usually occurs later in the SDLC process.
A tried and true staple of information security is access control. This must be applied to all secure code. Start by considering who really needs access to the code. Do the developers from one team need access to the source code of another team? Then, establish limits to who has access to the source code and, if necessary, control who is escrowing your code.
Keeping it Simple
A final piece of advice? Don’t overcomplicate the process. Consider where you can reuse known and trusted components of the coding process. Use uniform components across a portfolio of applications to reduce vulnerabilities in software and enhance remediation. A secure program is incredibly necessary to protect from security breaches, but it can be easily done.