For any company, the security of applications should be a key concern — especially with the cost of cybercrime rising so rapidly. With one study estimating that attacks will have cost businesses over $2 trillion by 2019, it’s no wonder that companies around the world are starting to really invest in application security.
It’s important to remember, however, that this security isn’t something that can be layered on during the final stages of development. Robust security requires effort and attention at all stages of the software development lifecycle. With that in mind, here are five ways that you can make your applications more secure.
1. Establish a Secure Mindset
Security should be in focus from the very beginning, even when gathering requirements for your application. Don’t neglect to consider security in addition to features and functionality. By examining potential misuses, vulnerabilities and risks at this early stage, you ensure that security is foundational to your finished product.
You’re also establishing a healthy mindset regarding security for future development.
2. Perform a Threat Analysis
In simple terms, a threat analysis identifies the assets which are most crucial to protect (for example, any assets storing transaction information should be a priority). Then, the analysis evaluates any vulnerabilities (for example, places where these assets interact with other assets or users).
With a sensible estimate both of the importance and the level of risk, you can rank threats so as to prioritize those that pose the greatest danger and those that are the most likely candidates for exploitation. You can undertake a threat analysis at any stage of development.
However, you should consider it early in the process to maximize its benefits.
3. Review and Test Code
Before deploying any code, it is vital to review it for any vulnerabilities that might have been introduced during development. You can do it during the testing and implementation stages. You can also review the code manually, although this requires a high level of expertise and an intensive amount of work. For this reason, most people prefer automated reviews.
Penetration testing is important, and it essentially involves exposing your application to a number of common attacks. This may reveal vulnerabilities which you can then address in accordance with your threat analysis.
4. Implement a Gate
A review gate is a way of ensuring only code that has passed certain parameters is deployed. The gate usually comes towards the end of the development life cycle. It sets out certain criteria that the software must fulfill in order to pass — whether that’s an automated code review or satisfactory results from a penetration test. This approach ensures that a security-centric mindset is there from the very beginning. It also provides a goal for teams to work towards.
5. Train Your Staff
A well-trained body of staff is an invaluable resource to any business. Be sure to train your team members to the latest standards in secure design. If you do that, you can avoid bad, non-secure practices throughout your development cycle. Providing specific training in secure development best practices also creates a culture in your workplace where security is prioritized and valued.
With high-profile leaks routinely causing embarrassment, loss of revenue and damage to reputation to companies around the world, security should be central to the development practices of all businesses. Listed above are a number of ways to start making your applications more safe and secure.
These steps, however, represent only some starting points on the road to robust and reliable security. Rather than navigating that road alone, many companies prefer to hire a managed security provider, who can oversee the entire development process, identify vulnerabilities and ensure peace of mind regarding the security of the finished product.