Maintaining a secure Software Development Life Cycle is crucial for protecting the confidential, private information used during the software development process. Although developers are getting better at creating more secure software itself, the development process can be rather vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and breaches.

Every year, thousands of software developers join the workforce without a full understanding of security. The burden of training and educating these devs is then on the software development company that hires them, such as BairesDev.

Securing the Software Development Life Cycle

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is the framework that defines the processes used by companies to build a software product from its beginning idea or inception phase through post-launch maintenance. There are many different models for this cycle to fit each company’s individual circumstances. Generally, it’s safe to say that every Software Development Life Cycle includes six phases defined as requirements gathering, planning, design, development, testing, and deployment.

Some companies leave security implementation and assessment to the testing phase of this cycle. However, this can create gaps within the process and give hackers the room they need to infiltrate the product. This after-the-fact technique typically results in a high number of issues discovered too late or even not detected at all.

Integrating security practices into the entirety of the life cycle helps companies mitigate risks and find threats ahead of time to save time, money, and risk. This secure development cycle ensures the use of security assurance practices, such as code review, penetration testing, and architecture analysis, throughout all of the development efforts. Making security a continuous concern helps with early detection of flaws within the system, a reduction of cost as a result of the earlier resolution of issues, and an overall reduction of risks for the development company.

Secure Software Development Life Cycle Models

The following are a few examples of popular secure development methods used by companies today:

  • NIST 800-160 Volume 1 – NIST, the publisher of international information security standards, describes methods, practices, and techniques to secure all systems during the process of developing software in this method. It is also known as “Systems Security Engineering: Considerations for a Multidisciplinary Approach in the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure Systems.”
  • MS Security Development Lifecycle – The engineers at Microsoft developed this set of privacy and security requirements to help their developers incorporate IT security throughout the duration of the development process. It contains best-practices, tools, processes, and guidance for other development companies.
  • OWASP SAMM – The Open Web Application Security Project Software Assurance Maturity Model helps organizations implement the best strategies for secure designing, building, and deploying of products.

Tips for a More Secure Development Cycle

In addition to implementing a secure development model in the Software Development Life Cycle, there are additional steps and proactive changes that organizations can take care of to ensure that their products are as secure as possible.

  • Every organization needs to take the time to ensure that all personnel involved in a development project has a knowledge-base of the most updated software security standards. This reduces insecure design and risk in development practices. Investing in training helps companies align their security goals and reduces the chance of problems caused by human error.
  • Companies should tailor the requirements gathering phase of the SDLC to generate security requirements. This helps establish security as one of, if not the top priority in the process and prepares everyone involved for a security mindset throughout the duration of the project. An initial analysis of potential risks as well as abuse/misuse cases during this phase also promotes security during the phases that follow.
  • It is much easier and cost-effective to identify and remediate flaws early on in the design process rather than after the testing phase. Threat modeling and architecture risk analysis help detect design flaws by analyzing fundamental principles, assessing potential attack surfaces, and identifying weaknesses in security controls.
  • Formally assigning the responsibility of incorporating security as a top priority throughout the development life cycle is an effective way to educate, enforce, and assess the established security protocols in place. Depending on the size of the development company, this may fall on one individual or a software security group may be useful.
  • Code reviews shouldn’t just be for the testing phase of the SDLC. Along with secure coding standards and the analysis of static code, software products must pass secure code reviews before being released. This reduces the number of bugs released with the finished product and aids in the prioritization and resolution of defects.

There is no way for a software development company to prevent each and every kind of security threat. The threat landscape is constantly changing and it is only a matter of time before the next big vulnerability is discovered. However, a secure development cycle and the implementation of security best-practices helps organizations identify and respond to these threats in the most time and cost-efficient manner possible.

 

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