Secure SDLC 101
This article will explain the phases of software development. It also explains how to make an SDLC more secure and take it to the next level.
Every business can now be a software company thanks to the digital transformation. Your organization must build trust in your software, regardless of whether you sell it directly to customers or develop it for your business. This will help you stay competitive in your market.
Many organizations are still behind in integrating security into their software development cycle (SDLC). Too many developers still see security as a bottleneck. This is a problem that makes them rework code that they think is finished. That prevents them from bringing new cool features to market.
Insecure software can put your business at greater risk. If your product is vulnerable to hackers, even the most innovative features, they won’t be able to protect your business or your customers. You need to ensure security in your team by developing secure software processes to enable rather than hinder the delivery of high-quality and highly secure products to market.
To protect your business, secure your SDLC
There are ongoing reports about data breaches and supply chain attack that can have devastating consequences for your business. Software risk is a business risk. It must be managed and prioritized. Your organization must manage risk and eliminate friction in its digital transformation efforts. This means that security must be integrated into all stages of the development process. Security programs are most effective when they integrate seamlessly with development toolchains or workflows.
The SDLC is a standard framework for managing application development from conception to completion. Over the years, multiple SDLC have been developed, ranging from iterative and waterfall to more recent agile, and CD/CI. Each model tends to speed up deployment and increase its frequency.
The following phases are generally included in SDLCs:
- Planning and requirements
- Architecture and design
- Planning for tests
- Tests and the results
- Maintenance and release
Security-related activities were not performed in the SDLC systems’ early stages. Organizations had to wait until testing was completed before they could perform them. Even worse, many insecure codes were discarded due to time constraints. To bring security activities in line with development, teams created “shift left” processes. This process has evolved to include security concerns in all stages of development.
It is more costly to fix a bug in the SDLC if it is discovered later. Developers must stop working and revisit code that they have written several weeks ago if a bug is discovered late in the cycle. Worse, if a bug is discovered in production, the code will be sent back to the beginning SDLC. This is when the domino effect kicks in and fixes for bugs can end up affecting other code changes. Not only will the bug cost more to fix, but it could also lead to delays in code changes, which can increase costs.
Integrating security testing at every stage of the SDLC is a better, more cost-effective and faster way to find and reduce vulnerabilities and to build security as you code. Security assurance activities include architecture review during design, coding review, and penetration test before release.
These are the main benefits of secure SDLC.
- Software is safer.
- Security considerations are understood by all parties.
- Design flaws can be detected early before they are coded into existence.
- Early detection and resolution can help you reduce costs.
- Your organization’s intrinsic business risks are reduced.
What is a secure SDLC?
A secure SDLC is generally defined as integrating security testing and other activities in an existing development process. An example of this is the creation of security requirements along with functional requirements, and the execution an architecture risk assessment during the SDLC design phase.
There are many secure SDLC models in use. However, the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle is one of the most well-known. It outlines 12 practices that organizations can follow to improve the security of their software. The Secure Software Development Framework (NIST) focuses on security-related processes organizations can incorporate into their existing SDLC.
How can you get started?
These are the things that you can do as a tester or developer to create a secure SDLC. This will increase security in your company.
- Inform yourself and your coworkers about the most secure coding practices.
- Perform an architecture risk assessment right away.
- When planning and building test cases, security is important.
- You can use code scanning tools to perform static analysis and dynamic analyses.
What can you do to move beyond the basics?
Management must go beyond these basics to create a strategy for greater impact. Here’s how to start a secure SDLC for decision-makers.
- Do a gap analysis to identify the policies and activities that are currently in place within your organization.
- Set realistic goals and measure your success.
- Initiate security procedures within your SSI.
- Make sure to invest in secure coding training for developers and the appropriate tools.
- As needed, seek outside assistance.
Is your company already following a secure SDLC process? Bravo! There’s always room to improve. It is possible to compare your security program with programs from other organizations. Building Safety In Maturity Model (BSIMM), can help you do this. BSIMM has been tracking security activities for more than 100 organizations over the past decade. Each organization and SDLC are different so BSIMM can’t tell exactly what to do. However, its observational model will show you what other companies in your industry are doing.