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Mastering Secure Software Development: Best Practices for Building Trustworthy Applications 

11/07/2023by admin0Read: 6 minutes

In today’s digital world, where organisations should prioritise software protection against cyberattacks, secure software development practices are essential.

Implementing secure software development practices and implementing web application security provides software security throughout its existence, minimising vulnerabilities and lowering the danger of cyberattacks. These procedures safeguard private information, user data, financial data, and intellectual property, ensuring that businesses stay current and have a solid line of defence against online dangers.

In this blog, we delve into the world of secure software development practices, to explore the essential techniques, best practices, and tools that enable organisations to build resilient and secure software applications.

Understanding Software Security Vulnerabilities

In order to ensure the overall security of software systems, it is essential to understand software security vulnerabilities. Software security vulnerabilities are holes or defects in a software system that might be exploited by nefarious intruders. Developers may better safeguard their software and the sensitive data it manages by being aware of these vulnerabilities.

Common Software Security Vulnerabilities

There are numerous software security vulnerabilities that developers should be aware of. Some common examples include:

  • Buffer Overflow:

Buffer overflow results from the over-the-limit storage of data in a buffer by a program. Since it cannot handle the overflow, this causes overwriting in the neighbouring memory locations.

  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS):

These vulnerabilities give hackers the ability to insert malicious scripts onto web pages that other users are seeing, possibly exposing personal data.

  • SQL Injection:

Malicious actors use SQL injection attacks to modify or steal sensitive data by taking advantage of flaws in software that communicates with databases.

  • Remote Code Execution:

With the use of this vulnerability, attackers may run any code they choose on a target machine, seizing control and carrying out unauthorised tasks.

  • Broken Authentication and Session Management:

Unauthorised access to user accounts and sensitive data is possible as a result of flaws in the authentication and session management procedures.

Discussion on the Impact of Security Vulnerabilities on Software and Data

The impact of security vulnerabilities can be far-reaching and detrimental to both software and the data it handles. These vulnerabilities can:

  • Compromise the confidentiality of sensitive information, leading to data breaches and unauthorized access.
  • Compromise the integrity of the software, allowing attackers to modify or manipulate data.
  • Have an impact on the availability of the software, leading to service disruptions or denial of service.
  • Damage the reputation and trust of the software provider, resulting in financial losses and legal implications.

Importance of Identifying and Addressing Vulnerabilities in the Development Process

Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities during the development process is of utmost importance. By proactively addressing vulnerabilities, developers can:

  • Minimise the risk of potential security breaches and their associated consequences.
  • Enhance the trust and confidence of users in the software and its security measures.
  • Ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards relating to software security.
  • Save time and resources that would otherwise be spent on resolving security issues and handling incidents in the future.

Key Elements of Secure Software Development

A secure software development lifecycle is a framework that establishes the complete software product development process while incorporating security at every stage, including planning, application design, software application development, testing, and deployment.

The following steps often make up safe software development processes:

Phase 1: Requirement Analysis

This step involves determining the software application’s security needs. Experts in security examine the software application’s key security issues, such as functionality and the nature of the data being utilised. To prevent future conflict, it also includes an audit and evaluation of internal security risks.

When dealing with customer needs, it’s important to keep in mind these two things to guarantee secure software development:

1. Apply Mixture of Use and Misuse Cases

The software security consultants should anticipate potential threats to the programme and communicate them in instances of abuse. In the meanwhile, the mitigation measures outlined in use cases ought to apply to similar situations.

For Example:

An example of misuse would be an unauthorised user trying to access a customer’s application.

An example of a use case might be: A SIEM system ought to record and assess all such efforts.

2. Risk assessment

Follow the security recommendations from trusted sources when assessing security concerns. There are additional criteria for your company location that must be handled.

The risk profile of the software application should be given to business analysts, who design the project requirement document, at the requirement analysis stage. This requirement document provides information on the application’s security issues and forecasts hostile assaults that are ranked by severity.

Phase 2: Design

Software security is now incorporated into the application’s architecture.  Application development should make use of secure programming practices, memory-safe programming languages (such as C#, Go, Java, Ruby, Rust, and Swift), secure-by-design and secure-by-default principles, agile software development methods, and threat modelling because they can help with the detection and mitigation of vulnerable software components and risky programming techniques.

Additionally, by offering tools to help assess the legitimacy and integrity of programs while setting them securely, software supply chain security operations may be aided.

Six security guidelines will be followed by the app developer when doing threat modelling. The developer of the programme should also create solutions to any security issues that are discovered.

Design Security principles to follow:

1. Least Privilege:

For proper operation, software architecture should grant the fewest user privileges possible.

2. Privilege separation:

Software should only allow a set number of users with greater rights to do certain tasks.

3. Complete Mediation:

The authority of every programme user should be verified. As a result, a user with restricted permissions has less chance of their privileges rising.

4. Multiple Security Layers:

By using this approach, you may eliminate the risk that the program will be compromised by a single point of security failure.

5. Secure Failure:

If your software crashes, it ought to do so in a safe manner. The software programme should keep secrecy and integrity even after it is no longer accessible. As a result, make sure your secure deficits are built to deny access, reverse all modifications, and restore the system to a secure state in an emergency.

6. User-friendly Security:

Security considerations should be included in software design in a way that doesn’t impede UX. Users will not employ software application security if it is intrusive.

Phase 3: Development

Ensure that the software application programming code is created securely during the development stage utilising the security mechanisms established during the application design phase. Additionally, businesses should teach their developers so they can do unit tests on the software application’s security features and have a better understanding of the safe software development process. In order to ensure that the developers’ work does not add any security flaws, review their code.

The guidelines provided by Australian Cyber Security Centre are applicable to both and mobile application development.

Phase 4: Application Security Testing

When a software programme enters the testing phase, it is examined to make sure that it complies with all security requirements. Software developers can find security flaws in their apps with the help of application security testing. This should be done to obtain thorough test coverage, and both static and dynamic application security testing should be carried out. To help eliminate any possibility of bias that can appear when they test their own programmes, software engineers may also decide to work with a second neutral party.

Additional static code analysis, dynamic analysis, integration testing, and penetration testing are all part of the comprehensive security testing process.

The testing phase often focuses on identifying defects that prevent the software application from functioning in accordance with the expectations and needs of the client. It’s the last chance to do application penetration testing to inspect and confirm that the built software application can withstand security threats. Every build should include the functionality of a software programme. Select automated penetration testing to reduce costs. These tests will scan every build in accordance with the same scenario and extract the most important vulnerabilities.

Additionally, every iteration of the safe software development process should include exploratory penetration testing until the product reaches the release level. Penetration testers don’t specifically search for vulnerabilities in this situation. Instead, engineers examine the software system for potential security flaws, relying on their knowledge and expertise.

Phase 5: Deployment and Maintenance

Before an application is deployed, all security measures, including static analysis (secure code review), dynamic analysis, configuration security, and container security, are evaluated once more in this step. In order to find security flaws in the program and promptly fix them, constant monitoring and software updates are then performed.

Security Cost

The creation of suitable safe software necessitates additional costs and intensive security professional engagement. If software security is implemented consistently, step-by-step, it is crucial to take into account each team member’s familiarity with security features and conduct additional testing all along the software development process.4. Implementing Secure Authentication and Authorization Mechanisms

Vulnerability Disclosure Program

Implementing a vulnerability disclosure program that is based on responsible disclosure can help a company increase the security of its goods and services by giving the public and security researchers a way to responsibly alert the company to security vulnerabilities in a coordinated manner.

Furthermore, it can help a company notify customers of security flaws found in its products and services, along with any patches, updates, or vendor mitigations that need to be applied, after the reported security flaws have been verified and fixed.

For receiving, validating, addressing, and reporting security vulnerabilities revealed by both internal and external parties, a vulnerability disclosure program should laws, processes and procedures in place:

This should be backed up by the release of a vulnerability disclosure policy that addresses:

  • The goal of the vulnerability disclosure program.
  • The types of security research that are or are not permitted.
  • How to report any security vulnerabilities.
  • The actions to be taken after receiving notification of security vulnerabilities.
  • The timelines involved, as well as any recognition or rewards for security vulnerability finders.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) also exhorts security experts and other members of the public to properly notify organisations directly about security vulnerabilities. The ACSC is aware that this is not always feasible since the person reporting the incident might not want to speak to you directly or that early attempts at communication may be ineffective. Security flaws may be disclosed in such circumstances to the ACSC, acting as an impartial coordinator.

Anitech’s experienced information security consultants can help you understand and implement secure software development practices.

Call us at 1300 802 163 or e-mail – sales@anitechgroup.com for more details.

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