In most organizations, the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a well-defined process that includes conception, creation, release, and operation of the software. This process can be applied in several ways and models, but security concerns must also be addressed.
With the increasing number of concerns and risks associated with insecure software solutions, security needs to be integrated within the development process rather than a stand-alone activity.
Thus, adopting a secure Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) strategy is vital for organizations to ensure they continually release secure software.
Why Should You Care About a Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?
While the technology being used to create software has progressed rapidly, the security measures used to secure the software haven't always kept pace. This is a problem.
According to a recent report from Symantec, the US ranks #1 on the list of most vulnerable countries in terms of threats like web attacks, phishing, malware, ransomware, spam, and bots followed by China and India.
A secure SDLC helps create a business process where security is part of every stage in the SDLC process. While this may seem trivial to start with, the long-term benefits are significant.
According to a survey, fixing a security bug when identified in the analysis or requirement stage is around $10. The same bug, if identified later on in the deployment stage of requiring a complete change in the application’s architecture, can cost almost $2000 or more.
A secure SDLC ensures that security activities such as code review, penetration testing, and architecture analysis are an integral part of the development process.
The primary benefits of using a secure Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) include:
• Early identification of vulnerabilities in the application security.
• More secure software as security is a continuous concern.
• Stakeholders are aware of the security risks in real-time.
• Reduced cost, time, and effort to mitigate security risks as they are detected early in the SDLC.
• An overall reduction in business risks for the enterprise.
Thus, creating a process where the security aspects are tested and fixed before they run into production is critical to ensure that the application doesn’t compromise the entire system.
How Does it Work?
For organizations that already have an SDLC process in place, security will be an additional aspect that needs to be embedded into all the phases of the SDLC.
Throughout the stages, security mechanisms like automated detection, prioritization and remediation tools need to be integrated with the code repositories and other systems to resolve any bugs or potential risks as soon as they arise.
That being said, here are the specific phases of integrating security into your software development life cycle (SDLC):
The first step in the SDLC process is the most critical since proper planning can help create an efficient project delivery by helping each team to be focused. The planning phase is where security and development teams get details on the project requirements and start planning the execution of the entire project.
Requirements and Analysis
The second phase of the software development life cycle (SDLC) process, requirements and analysis, is when the decisions on vital elements like requirements gathering, technology, frameworks, and languages are considered.
It requires a detailed understanding of the tools, resources, and other components required to execute the project, while also considering the vulnerabilities that may threaten the overall application security.
Once the analysis and requirement understanding is done, it is vital to make the appropriate choices through design and development.
To ensure that security considerations are also integrated into the overall project plan, enterprises can take the following steps:
• Access customer needs: Depending on the end product being designed, you need to create a list of security requirements that need to be included as part of the entire project. One of the primary goals of this is to not only strengthen application security, but to also make it as easy as possible for the development team to code securely.
• Incorporate industry-standards on security: Once the initial planning is completed, developers need to include and abide by the industry-standard compliance practices and policies. Application security features that are standard to the industry need to be included as an essential requirement, while additional security features can be added during delivery. So don’t go trying to roll your own authentication or session management. There are good strong references for this, use those.
• Assign responsibility for software security: Before you start development, it is vital to have a team responsible for the application security. Assign the role to the security team responsible for doing quality checks and test each aspect of the solution. Develop security stories as part of the lifecycle and continually do threat modeling to feed these stories.
• Choose the right architecture: When planning, developers need to think about which common risks might require attention during development, and prepare for them. Depending on the architecture and design of the application, security requirements need to be included accordingly. Again, the goal is to have the architecture make it easy for the developers to code securely and have secure code if they follow established patterns.
Architecture and Design
The third phase ensures that teams follow the prescribed architecture and design guidelines that are analyzed during the previous stage.
During the architecture and design process, the entire strategy is defined that can then help the development process run smoothly. Methods like architecture risk analysis, threat modeling, and others make the development process much more streamlined and secure.
Along with this, detecting the vulnerabilities during the early stage also helps ensure they do not end up damaging the application or the system during the later stages.
Once the strategy and planning stages are completed, the software development life cycle (SDLC) moves into actually getting the job done in its development stage. In this stage, developers build code using secure coding standards and ensure their systems are working within the set security frameworks.
While performing the usual code review to ensure the project has the specified features and functions, developers need to pay attention to any security vulnerabilities in the code.
During this phase, you will continue doing threat modeling but will also incorporate static analysis tools (SAST) and start standing up your dynamic analysis tools (DAST) as well.
Once the development process has commenced, the next stage of the software development life cycle (SDLC) stage is all about testing and verification.
Beyond SAST and DAST, the testing phase includes security tests, application testing, penetration testing, and other DevSecOps automation test processes. These will review containers, configurations, and overall security as you prepare to deploy.
While testing is a separate stage, it is often conducted even while the product development is underway, ensuring that testing is a continuous process rather than stand-alone.
The final stage in the SDLC process is called deployment or operations, but the life cycle doesn’t just end there for security frameworks. Once the software is deployed, the maintenance and continuous monitoring of the various processes and executions are initiated.
The maintenance stage is where the security teams continuously analyze and evaluate the progress of the solution while mitigating any risks or activities that are suspicious. Libraries may need to be updated, new patches may need to be rolled out. You cannot just release and forget it, you must maintain.
As the threat landscape change and security requirements get more stringent, organizations need to enable best practices in the entire SDLC process when creating future iterations or new products. No matter the methodology or organization strength, a secure software development life cycle (SDLC) process ensures the streamlined security to ensure it is deployed in the system only after a thorough security test process.
Are you ready to get a secure software development life cycle (SDLC) implemented in your organization? If so, we have your requirements covered.
This post was originally published at CypressDataDefense.com.