Every software developer knows that security is important but so many neglect to follow best security practices for one reason or another. Unfortunately, it only takes one security breach to potentially destroy the whole company, and quite possibly your career as a software developer.
With that being said, here are some of the best research-backed tips for developers to enhance software security, starting with number one.
1. List All Elements In Your System
You obviously can’t protect what you don’t know is there.
Too often, when discussing software development security, we put too much focus on advanced techniques and methods and forget the importance of assets audit.
Back in 2017, Equifax was hit with a major data breach that cost them $700 million in fine, only because they forgot to patch their Apache Struts component in one of their customer’s web portals. This is because, according to Equifax, they weren’t aware that the Struts was used in the web portal.
Do your audit homework and keep track of your assets. Take time to identify their individual risk, and note which ones are critical to your operations and/or are relatively risky.
2. Update Everything Regularly
Still related to the above tip, ensuring your OS and apps are up-to-date is extremely important.
Software patches are there for a reason: No software is going to be 100% secure, and a responsible software manufacturer will periodically release security fixes to patch security vulnerabilities.
When a vulnerability is discovered, it is published to security and vulnerability databases for public consumption. Ideally, a fix is pushed out before the publication so cybercriminals can’t exploit this vulnerability.
Thus, if you don’t perform the patch as soon as it is available, you are compromised and hackers can potentially access your whole system via this vulnerability.
Automate your software patching whenever possible, and if not, maintain a regular schedule daily to update everything as soon as patches are made available.
3. Have a Physically Secure Development Environment
We shouldn’t only focus on digital security when discussing software development security, but the physical development environment should also be properly secured. Access to the software development environment should be properly controlled, and servers must be properly monitored and isolated to prevent access from unauthorized personnel.
4. Automate Routine Tasks Whenever Possible
Cybercriminals often use automation to detect security misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, open ports, and other potential exploits. This is typically done with the help of malicious bots that can perform repetitive tasks at a rapid rate.
Thus, you can no longer rely on manual approaches to defending your software development environment, and you‘ll have to automate some of your security tasks such as automating security configurations on different devices. A proper botnet detection solution that can operate on autopilot like DataDome is also essential in defending your system from various malicious bot activities.
In short, automate everything as much as possible to stay ahead of the increasingly automated threats.
5. Educate and Train
Even if you have implemented the strongest security infrastructure available, your development environment is only as strong as the least knowledgeable human personnel in your team.
Thus, conducting security training for your employees is very important. Embrace a well-organized and well-maintained security training curriculum for your employees, including secure coding training for your developers.
Do these training programs regularly to ensure they stay up-to-date with the latest security challenges and common cybersecurity threats, and conduct training simulations (i.e. phishing drills) as often as possible.
6. Document Your Security Policies
Make sure you properly document your security policies and make them accessible to employees, not only security staff. This is to ensure everyone involved in software development can understand what activities you are performing regarding software security and the reason behind these activities.
Make sure you communicate your policies clearly and include them in onboarding new employees.
7. Make Security a Core Part of Your SDLC
Security should be integrated into all aspects of your software development life cycle (SDLC), including architecture risk analysis, intensive security testing (static, dynamic, and interactive), SCA (Software Component Analysis), and others.
While integrating security into your SDLC can be expensive and time-consuming, protecting your SDLC as early as possible and eliminating potential vulnerabilities will save more money in the long-run, and it’s much faster than fixing the problem in the later stages of the development cycle.
Even the most seasoned software developers can make the mistake of neglecting cybersecurity best practices. The problem is, cybercriminals and hackers are always on the lookout, and it may only take one security vulnerabilities to fully compromise your system. This is why enhancing software security is very important, and the seven tips above can help you improve security throughout the whole software development life cycle from start to finish.