24 Nov

6 Best Practices for Secure Software Development

Posted by John Brandwagt

Software security is a big deal these days. With news of hacks and leaks, more people are concerned about just how secure the app they’re using really is. No one wants a company to leak their credit card information to a third-party hacker.

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While internet security and app security are at the forefront of any security discussion, software security as a whole is still incredibly important. As a result, your development team needs to build security into every step of your development process. These best practices can help you do it.

1. Know the Basics

Talking about secure software development is fine in theory. People will talk about “software security” without truly understanding the components of security.

For a program or app to be secure, it must protect the end user from disclosure and destruction. It should also protect itself against alteration, as changes could sacrifice its security. The program should be able to request user credentials to verify authorization. It should create a historical record to build evidence in case of a breach.

2. Design Secure Features

Security needs to be built right into any software development by security specialists. As a result, your development cycle should consider security right from the get-go. Security should be designed into the program itself. Adding security features as an afterthought usually limits the features’ effectiveness.

How do you design for security? One way is to analyze flaws and risks through the use of case studies. How will users use and abuse your software? What risks does this pose to them? What flaws do they see and how do they take advantage of them? Answering these questions will allow you to revise software designs to create more security.

3. Develop Security

Once the design moves to the development stage, it can be easy to lose track of security features. You may have designed a very secure program but does it translate into the code you build?

Be sure to review code standards and requirements. A code review process is useful for ensuring everything is up to par. Testing should also be conducted at this stage of the software development cycle.

4. Deploy Secure Software

When you deploy the software, you should be thinking about defense-in-depth. Does deployment increase the risks to the software’s security? You must ensure the program’s security features function in harmony with the software’s capabilities. If security hampers certain functions, users may reconfigure the program and expose themselves to risks. Certain functions may increase the program’s vulnerability.

Before you deploy software, make sure you test it in more rigorous environments. One of the truths in software development is even programs that work flawlessly during the testing phase can experience hiccups when they make it into the “real world.”

5. Ensure Compliance

There are many laws, regulations, and codes of conduct you can adhere to when it comes to developing secure software. While many of the conditions are minimal, these tools can give you a starting point for designing, developing, and deploying secure software.

If your software isn’t in compliance with even the most basic of codes, your software development isn’t secure.

6. Educate and Train

Cybersecurity is constantly evolving. It has to. Attackers find new ways of getting around even the most sophisticated security mechanisms. Even if you think you know all there is to know, you can probably benefit from additional and ongoing education and training and so can your colleagues. Teach them how to develop secure software. Train them in new methods to ensure everyone is working with the latest standards.

Your customers should also be educated about security features of the software you develop. Their actions could mitigate even the most sophisticated security features.

If you follow these best practices, you’ll develop not only more secure software but better software all around.


Topics: IT Security

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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