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Tips to Secure Your Custom software Development Project

jessicabennett profile image Jessica Bennett ・5 min read

As common as custom software development is among the big and small enterprises, the security issues are still overlooked. Whenever you are building a software from scratch rather than using an off-the-shelf solution, you are delving deep into situations where one slip up can mean the loss of assets and reputation both. 

With that being said, IT specialists still kind of ignore the security concerns when they are creating custom software at the beginning of the development phase. And when they finally do pay attention, it is already too late. And in an age when cyber attacks are random, this kind of attitude is going to set your company up for financial, legal and reputational damage for sure. 

So it is better to pay attention at the earliest. Infusing security during the developmental phase is the best way to prevent security issues which might pop up during the later stages of development. So how are you going to secure your custom software?

Whether you are outsourcing the services of a software designing company or getting it developed in-house, it is important to take some precautions during the entire software development life cycle. The approaches to secure your custom software, however, is different in the cases of outsourced service and in-house development.

Hiring The Services Of Software Development Agency

Of course, not every company has the resources to go with in-house development for their custom software. Which is why many enterprises choose to hire the assistance of software development companies to help them build their custom software.

While this may be a convenient option for many, this is also where the security of the software can get compromised before it even went into the development phase. Choosing a software development company is not at all an easy and light task. When you are choosing a software development company, you have to make sure of two things-

  1. If they maintain the security of already published software, adding patches and modifying the code whenever there's a need for them.
  2. If they manually review the code and scan them for vulnerabilities.

In case they do not maintain the security of their already published software, chances are that they are not going to do that for you as well. And going back to the code and scanning it for vulnerabilities is an important part of enabling better security for the software. If the software development company you have chosen does not do the two above mentioned things then it is best for you to look for other options. 

Many companies are completely unaware of how the software development agency might be developing the software. This software is developed quickly and without any regards to security. They represent bigger threats to the users because custom software is always exposed to the internet and they are more vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

Which is why it is of absolute importance that you hire the services of a software development agency that is known for their attention to security when developing software. But you should also be wary of those agencies that are boasting about being free of security flaws. Even the most skilled coder slips and has some security flaws when they first write code. The software development of any kind can never be completely free of security issues. You need to keep that in mind at all times. 

At the end of the day what you have to make sure of is that the custom software development company you are hiring follows the best practices to secure your custom software projected. 

And now we will talk about how to secure your custom software when you are dealing with an in-house development team.

Developing The Software With An In-house Team Of Developers

When you are choosing to develop your custom software in-house, it is better to start assessing the security risks early. This is exactly where so many companies fail because they don’t pay enough attention to the security requirements early. Starting early will help you to anticipate the problems that might arise in advance and make plans to solve them as they pop up. 

Not only during the developmental phase, creating a security risk assessment team for the entire IT environment is going to help you identify potential risks and vulnerabilities that you can protect by taking proper action. 

Along with normal testing of your software, you should use penetration testing to figure out the security issues of your software. Getting an idea of the security risks your software might have during the testing phase can help tremendously to solve those issues. With application penetration testing you can check how many security attacks the software can withstand. However, the members of your team who would be performing the penetration testing should be trained in software attack methods, and have a comprehensive knowledge of how software is developed. 

If you need more guidance you can always consult guidelines such as OWASP's secure coding practices checklist. For farther cybersecurity and data, the protection you can choose to work with accepted frameworks based on your company type. Working with frameworks such as NIST (cybersecurity framework for data protection) PCI (for the protection of payment card information) HIPAA (for the protection of medical patients data) helps you to protect your user’s data. 

Running Third-party Security Scans

When it comes to security for custom software development, it is never a bad idea to have the code checked by a third party. Whether you are hiring the help of a software development agency or going with an in-house development plan, getting your codes scanned by a third-party may expose issues that you somehow skipped over. 

A third-party code checking service will run scans on your server and application at a regular interval. Once the scan is complete, you will get a report, listing all the resources that were scanned and what the outcomes were. What these third-party code checkers should be looking out for is the SQL injection attacks through form fields on the software and website.

The reports you receive will be sorted and the issues found by the third-party will be separated according to their severity. The high priority issues will be listed first and then the medium and low priority issues. Often time the low priority issues will not be listed until they start posing bigger threats. However, there are times you won’t be able to respond to the high-risk issues because doing so will impact your business negatively. 

The Bottomline

Whether you are choosing a software development company for your custom software development or getting it developed in-house, security is not a luxury, it is a necessity. So whatever happens, do not skimp on security during SDLC. and even after the software has been developed you need to keep on doing security tests to ensure that the software is not vulnerable in any way. Remember that not secure software can affect your business in a very negative way.

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