A secure software development life cycle (SDLC) is essential to building and deploying secure applications from the beginning. Based on the analysis of Synopsys Building Security In Maturity Model (BSIMM) report, organizations have started to introduce software security checkpoints to their SDLC and consider this process a stepping stone to the success of their software security initiatives.
By addressing security during the development phase of software development, the chances of vulnerabilities being found after release are minimized. The benefits of implementing an SDLC include fixing errors quickly, identifying recurring developer errors, and giving customers a standard to follow.
Here are ten best practices to help you secure the SDLC:
1. Shift mindsets towards DevSecOps:
One of the most effective strategies is implementing software security. This approach builds security into the code and sets a precedent for protection throughout the SDLC. However, the mindset shifts to security must move beyond the code to protect a modern application’s dependencies, containers, infrastructure, and other components.
2. Keep security requirements current:
Giving the development team a clear picture of security requirements as the threat landscape evolves is a continuous process. Security risk documentation should be updated when new threats arise to ensure the software is protected against new threats, often more complex or creative than previous threats.
3. Take advantage of threat modeling:
Threat modeling predicts potential locations, severity, and risk of security vulnerabilities and proactively addresses security before they become a problem. This SDLC best practice lets developers consider security threats earlier in the development process, where they can more easily modify the source code to mitigate vulnerabilities.
4. Establish secure design requirements:
Standardization is among the most impactful secure SDLC best practices. It creates a predictable roadmap to develop code and facilitates continuous improvement when integrating security. To standardize most effectively, create design requirements for new code that advise on security best practices and approve tools for various points in the SDLC that will remind developers what they should add when in the process.
5. Use open-source components securely:
Open-source components are a great way to increase speed in software development. But because you don’t directly manage the security of this open-source code, it is best to implement software composition analysis (SCA) tools and use an open-source code analyzer. This tool will check for vulnerabilities created by the third-party component and address them early in development.
6. Implement code reviews:
Using a static analysis security testing (SAST) tool such as Snyk Code, which checks your code quality using semantic analysis and AI, is a practical approach for preliminary vulnerability scanning. The code review team can then assess the logic and intent of the script for code quality and security.
7. Perform penetration testing:
While a code review looks at the code for potential vulnerabilities, penetration testing is an SDLC best practice that extends that analysis. This assessment process employs a security expert to attack the application to identify vulnerable locations or security risks. Penetration testing is a risk management approach that takes proactive security to the limit during code development. Once the code passes initial development, penetration testing is often completed later in the SDLC.
8. Manage potential vulnerabilities:
While code reviews, software composition analysis, and penetration testing are happening, it’s important to track potential vulnerabilities effectively. If development teams fail to manage vulnerabilities promptly, the risk profile of an application and remediation costs will increase. New vulnerabilities can be disclosed anytime, highlighting the importance of continuously monitoring your projects throughout the SDLC, even after deployment.
9. Prepare a standard incident response:
Despite taking proactive measures and using various security tools and processes, security breaches can still occur. In such situations, having a dedicated task force with established roles and responsibilities is essential to absorb the news of the breach, define a mitigation plan, and execute it as urgently as possible.
An incident response plan should be integral to your organization’s security strategy. It should consist of key stakeholders such as IT, security, legal, and management personnel, with each team member having clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The plan should also include procedures for detecting, analyzing, containing, and mitigating security incidents.
A standard incident response plan can help your team quickly and efficiently address security breaches and minimize their impact. It can also help prevent the situation from escalating and the organization from incurring further damage or penalties.
10. Set up a security champions program:
Security champions initiatives help security and development teams work together. Both of these teams aspire to create secure applications as quickly as possible. Still, security policies have traditionally been added to the SDLC without scaling the knowledge and processes via development teams. This results in automatic or manual security gates, which could lead to developer rework, dissatisfaction, and slower total product delivery. Security champions can help bring security to the forefront of development by creating a security culture within the organization. They liaise between the security and development teams, communicating security requirements and best practices, providing training and mentoring, and promoting a shared responsibility for application security. By promoting cross-functional collaboration, a security champions program can accelerate the adoption of secure development practices and improve the overall security posture of an organization.
The benefits of securing SDLC, in the long run, extend beyond individual organizations. As cyber threats evolve, securing SDLC or shifting security left can help establish industry-wide best practices and standards, raising the bar for software security across the board. This can lead to a more secure digital landscape, benefitting all stakeholders, including users, businesses, and governments.
Overall, securing SDLC is crucial for organizations and the industry. By prioritizing security in every stage of the software development process, organizations can ensure that they meet compliance standards and provide users with secure and reliable software. In the long run, this can lead to a more secure and trustworthy digital environment for everyone.