This is a common practice among companies providing custom software development to ignore security issues in the initial steps of software development lifecycle (SDLC). With such an approach, each successful phase inherits exposures of the previous one, and the final product accumulates many safety violations. Consequently, your company must pay to close these breaches and increase software security in the future.
The best practices of secure software development suggest to integrate the security aspect at each stage of SDLC, from the need analysis to the maintenance, despite the project methodology, waterfall or agile.
Here is a golden rule that earlier custom software providers integrate security aspect into an SDLC, the less money will be spent on fixing reducing security vulnerabilities afterward.
Keeping this in mind, we have created a prepared guide for the software development stage by stage.
Requirement analysis stage
Requirements concluded a general guidance for the entire development process, so security control starts that early. In order to ensure safe software development while working with customers’ needs, two points are to be kept in mind:
Employing a combination of use and misuse cases.
Security advisors should forecast the potential risks of the software and should express them in misuse cases. At the same time, such cases should be covered with mitigation actions described in the use cases.
A misuse case: A not so authorized user attempts to gain access to a customer’s application.
Corresponding use case: All such efforts should be logged and analyzed by a SIEM system.
Conduct security risk assessment and create a risk profile
To measure security risks, follow the safety guidelines from relevant authentic sources such as HIPAA and SOX where you will get to know additional requirements particularly for your business domain that’s to be addressed.
In the required analysis phase, security experts should provide business analysts, who prepare the project requirements with the application’s risk profile. Application surfaces contained in this particular document that is sensitive to malicious attacks and security risks categorized by the severity level.
The secure design stage consists of the following six security principles:
least privilege – Software architecture should allow minimum user privileges to perform normal tasks.
Privilege separation – Specific actions in the software (e.g., create, delete, or modify some properties) should be allowed to a limited number of users with higher privileges.
Full meditation – Access of every user to the software for should be checked for authorization. This reduces the possibility of privilege enhancement for users with limited rights.
Multiple security layers – By implementing this principle, you will eliminate the threat of a single point of security failure which will compromise the entire software. This is simple math: more protective layers of your software has, the less it’s likely to exploit Hacker’s vulnerabilities.
Secure Failure – If your software stops to operate, then it should fail in a secure position. Although the software is no longer available, it should preserve privacy and integrity. Therefore, make sure that you’ve designed secure defaults design that denies access, undo all changes and restore the system to a safe state in case of an emergency.
User-friendly security – Custom software design should include safety aspects as it doesn’t interrupt the UX. If the software is intruding into the security mechanism, then users are likely to close them.
The best practice of safe development protects the software against high-risk vulnerabilities, including OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) Top 10. As a result, in the software life cycle, there will be no need to fix such vulnerability later, which reduces the customer’s overhead and remediation costs.
OWASP is one of the most authoritative organizations in software security, provides a comprehensive checklist for secure coding practices. If you are looking for exact requirements for secure software development rather than exploitation details, then use this source.
Although the number of software vulnerabilities has decreased significantly in the secure coding practices described above, an additional layer of defense wouldn’t go wrong. The code review phase should ensure software security before entering the production stage, where to fix any vulnerability will cost you in a bunch.
To understand the mechanisms for reviewing code for certain vulnerabilities, check OWASP’s Security Code Review Guide, and get advice on how to organize and execute the effort.
Testing stage. Penetration testing
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Generally, the test phase focuses on finding errors that don’t allow the application to work according to the customer’s requirements. It’s big time to check whether the developed product can handle the possible security attacks by employing the application penetration testing. This is the case when the abundance doesn’t mean plague.
The operation should be done in every build. Here, to reduce costs, select automatic penetration tests which will scan each build to remove or examine the most critical vulnerability according to the same scenario.
Further, when the application enters the release stage, exploratory pentesting should be done in every repetition of the secure software development lifecycle. In this case, the penesters don’t seek specific vulnerabilities. Rather, relying on their experience and intuition, engineers examine the system for potential security flaws.
It’s noteworthy to mention that the personnel performing the testing should be trained on software attack methods and should be understood to develop software.
Production and post-production stages
The software is ready to be installed on the production system, but the process of secure software development is not yet finished. After the enhancement of the product, Microsoft offers a set of practices to get stick to and these are:
Create an incidence response plan to solve new threats – Identify appropriate security emergency contacts, install security service plans for third-party code and the code inherited from other groups within the organization.
Conduct an ultimate security review – It can highlight the vulnerabilities that were missed during the previous checks. The final review should verify that all misuse cases and security risks defined in the requirement analysis stage were addressed.
Certify and Store the final product – Certification helps to ensure that all the software requirements are met. Archiving, in turn, helps in performing further maintenance operations.
Be ready to execute an incidence response plan – Of course, all custom software vendors expect that the incidence response moment will never arrive. However, to maintain their good name, software development companies should be prepared to quickly implement the incidence response plan, whether the product should experience any security breach.
A brief look at Secure Software through this video:
Without any doubt, proper security software development requires additional expenses and intensive involvement of security experts. Still, this is not rocket science, if consistently applied, stage by stage. In custom software development the additional cost of security is not so high. Its integral part is the safety aspect awareness for each team member and additional testing throughout the software development process.