What You Need to Know About Secure SDLC?

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Every gadget connected to the internet is at risk from attackers. Especially since most of our data are now accessible online, it’s not unrealistic to think of what could happen if someone finds a weak spot in the software that protects it.

With that said, are you a developer aiming to protect your program? Or are you simply curious as to how you can better choose programs that will ensure your data’s complete protection? Either way, there is one thing you will need to learn about: Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC or SDL).

Secure Developmental Life Cycle

This is essentially the skeleton of the process of developing software. Developers need to consider the SDLC framework while working, from the planning to the launching of the program. A secure SDLC simply entails some added security features in the framework. A basic SDLC framework would usually be composed of Planning, Designing, Test planning, Coding, Code testing, and Release and maintenance.

You will notice that there are already a few testing phases in an SDLC, so why is a secure SDLC important? Well, sticking to just the basics leaves a lot of room for error. With just an SDLC framework, the whole program will only be checked for vulnerabilities right near the end. At which point, it might already be too difficult or too late to change whatever needs to be changed. Worst case scenario, the flaw is left undetected, ready to be exploited by anyone.

Traditionally speaking, security measures were implemented during the testing phase. This caused a lot of problems since a lot of flaws would only be discovered near the end, which makes it pretty much impossible to fix without dismantling all the other work done. With a secure SDLC framework, security measures are set in between the phases. This means that everyone involved in the process – analysts, developers, engineers, and testers – will contribute to securing the software during its creation instead of after the fact.

A secure SDLC comes with a lot of advantages for everyone involved, including, but not limited to, the following:

    • The software will be more secure with a secure SDLC. This will help in protecting it from attackers, which will benefit you by keeping your data safe.
    • Using a secure SDLC model will help in detecting flaws early Therefore, it will save you a considerable amount of time, money, and manpower, as opposed to a conventional SDLC model where vulnerabilities are only revealed near the end.
    • As mentioned before, using a secure SDLC in the first place will save you significant time, money, and manpower. Though it does add a few extra steps to the basic SDLC framework, a secure SDLC is more cost-effective in the long run.

Consider This When Using Secure SDLC

Determine SDLC – know what you need from the get-go. Figure out what the biggest threat the software might face, as well as the rules and regulations the software has to play by. Establish what goals need to be met by the program, and align the secure SDLC model you’ll use accordingly.

Set Requirements – make sure you know and follow all the requirements and guidelines needed for your product. As usual, use the secure SDLC model according to those guides.

Train Your Staff – make sure that everyone involved in the creation of the program is trained in the security measures needed. This is not only for the developers but also for all other staff connected to the project. Educate them on the importance of software security so they know what flaws to watch out for.

Threat Modelling – modeling the components of your program will help in pinpointing the existing vulnerabilities in it. This will help in mitigating the problems in advance, rather than waiting for the final product before launching security tests.  Threat modeling can be done in different ways such as through protecting or aggravating the weak spots in the program.

Software Tracking – if you will be using third-party software as part of your program, then it is best to keep a record of all third parties you use. Make sure to remember upgrading the software and clear up any licensing issues when they come up, to avoid future inconveniences. Stay on top of this, because should software end up unusable for the project, it would be better to find out early on so you can look for alternatives.

Design Review – for this, you need to think like the enemy. What do you think they would think your product’s weakness is? Follow what you think their tracks would look like and proceed from there. Chip away at your product’s weakness just like an attacker would.

Security Testing – this helps determine whether there are any vulnerabilities in the product. This testing will scan and analyze the program to detect weaknesses and errors. A few testing activities are Dynamic Analysis, Fuzzing, Static Analysis, Third-Party Penetration Testing, and Vulnerability Scanning.

Disposing and Retaining – much like most things on earth, software and programs will eventually reach an end. The usual practice for disposing of them is by overwriting or deleting everything about it. A few concerns may sometimes be raised, with regards to the disposal of sensitive data. For those cases, certain guidelines are set in place and must be followed.

What Now?

Now you go and implement a secure SDLC for your organization. If you already have one in place, then good for you! Always remember that software security is not something to sleep on, so being knowledgeable about topics like secure SDLC will greatly benefit you and your organization. As they say, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so make sure that your program has as few vulnerabilities as possible.

One More Thing

Don’t forget to keep up the last phase of the SDLC framework: maintenance. Regularly update your software to accommodate all the changes that may have happened in the time between. Threats and attacks are constantly changing, and if you’re not careful and vigilant enough, an attacker might get ahead of you. Any breach in the security of your software could cost you a lot, so the best way to deal with this is to prevent it from even happening in the first place.

About The Author:

Aqib Ijaz is a content writing guru at eyesonsolution.com. He is adept in IT as well. He loves to write on different topics. In his free time, he likes to travel and explore different parts of the world. You can read more of his blogs at eyesonsolution.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.