June 4, 2016
Every year, we see a considerable increase in the number and severity of cybersecurity incidents from which companies suffer major financial losses, harm to their reputation, and irreparable damage to their customers. In 2015 alone, cybercriminals raked in billions of dollars from data breaches, as well as account information for hundreds of millions of users meant to be sold on the black market and used for further fraudulent activities.
Hackers often search for and exploit vulnerabilities in software code in order to gain footholds into networks. They also move laterally to find the more critical and juicier targets and, in this regard, companies are making considerable mistakes, particularly in failing to ensure adequate security in their application development practices.
The rising trend of successful data breaches shows that, while hackers and malicious actors are becoming more and more sophisticated in their methods, developers are not keeping up in applying security tools and best practices. Unfortunately, many studios and firms continue to make the same security mistakes in app development the most common being giving too much focus to functionality and too little on security.
Rethinking the Software Development Life Cycle
As a result of the reduced priority of security in the development life cycle, security issues are ignored during design and development, and are pushed to the final stages of the software development life cycle, where they are likely to be ignored or culled down for the sake of more important release deadlines.
What results is software launched with critical bugs and security holes, which later become discovered either by researchers or by black-hat hackers. This triggers a costly testing and patching cycle that does not even guarantee a full protection.
Secure application development could prevent security incidents by identifying and removing security vulnerabilities early on in the production cycle. While it is fair to say that you can never make sure your application is absolutely secure on the first release, it does not mean you don’t have to do your best to root out as many bugs and security flaws before launch.
There are several methods and tools that can help you to adopt a secure application development process and better understand and fix security issues in your applications before release. One of the most effective is the use of Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools, such as the CheckMarx CxSAST.
In essence, SAST solutions are suites of tools that integrate into the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) and enable developers to vet and scan their codes as they program. The most important benefit of SAST solutions is that bug detection and removal is streamlined and seamlessly integrated into the overall development process.
CxSAST integrates its functionality into mainstream Integrated Development Environments (IDE), bug tracking tools, build management servers and source code repositories, which helps achieve secure software development while minimizing disruption in the working development team’s working environment.
Such a proactive approach makes it easier to manage other security testing efforts, and ensuring proper static analysis before committing and compiling code will help reduce delays in the process.
Integrating Security in the Development Process: A Necessary Cultural Shift
Scanning code for vulnerabilities is a strenuous task. Moreover, it takes quite a lot of expertise to find and root out subtle bugs that can create serious security loopholes, especially if you are programming in low-level unmanaged languages such as C or C++. This is expertise that many firms and organizations do not have in-house, requiring them to borrow the expensive services of software security experts.
CxSAST identifies hundreds of known vulnerabilities and keeps itself up to date with secure coding standards such as OWASP and SANS. It can practically scan millions of lines of code per day, a potentially tedious and time-consuming activity that is beyond the abilities of human code reviewers. This can cut down costs and free up the time of your security team to tend to more critical and high-level tasks such as policy and structure reviews.
To conclude, it is important to realize that security is an integral and vital part of any software development process, and that secure application development should start at the very beginning of the software development life cycle. By investing in easy-to-use tools that help achieve secure application development in the fastest and most effective way, a leap is taken towards minimizing security risks and preventing security incidents from the very beginning.
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