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Joy Winter
Joy Winter

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Secure SDLC and Best Practices for Outsourcing

Data security and privacy are critical for businesses today, and the prime aspect that software developers need to focus on. With data breaches and hacking getting more sophisticated, more common, and the repercussions more severe, organizations need to plan their safety checks and protocols diligently.

A secure software development life cycle (SDLC) enables the creation of a process where security is an integral part of every stage in the SDLC process. While this may seem trivial, not addressing security concerns at the right time can have a huge impact. Most enterprises have an SDLC process in place to streamline their software development process, but also need to think about integrating security to create a more sustainable product development.

However, the increasing risks and security threats associated with insecure applications have made it critical to integrate security into all the phases of the software development life cycle (SDLC), thus making it a secure SDLC process.

Maintaining and monitoring security aspects within the software development life cycle (SDLC) process can be complex, so if you are considering outsourcing your secure SDLC, here are a few things you need to understand:

What is a Secure SDLC, and Why is it Important For You?

The traditional software development life cycle model is used to develop code for applications focused on quickly developing feature-rich, efficient, and productive applications.

This often results in security issues being pushed into the background. That can lead to security vulnerabilities in the software program being detected only when it is too late, which is in production or post-production stages.

This is where a secure software development life cycle (SDLC) comes into play, as it provides coding methodologies and best practices that prioritize security in each stage of the SDLC.

Secure SDLC believes that prevention is better than cure, which implies it is better to detect and mitigate any risks or coding errors as soon as they are detected, ensuring these do not escalate into high-risk vulnerabilities that can significantly affect an organization.

Secure SDLC is nothing but a structured approach to application security, which helps organizations develop best practices for securing applications. It helps:

• Ensures optimum security: In a secure SDLC, application security is continuously monitored for vulnerabilities, which results in better application quality and mitigation of business risks in the early stages.
• Cost reduction: As security flaws are detected early on, the chances of any security flaw being detrimental to the overall organization is minimized.
• Comply with security and regulatory norms: A Secure SDLC encourages a more structured approach towards security-related activities and regulations. This helps ensure applications are continuously released in a secure state as a matter of practice.
• Wins customer's trust: Since security is looked into at each stage of the SDLC journey, customers are more likely to trust you as they see that special attention is paid to security.

Secure SDLC Outsourcing Best Practices

According to a study by Computer Economics, IT security is outsourced by 59% of the organizations, and most of these companies consider it as the top priority for their software.

If you are considering outsourcing your secure software development life cycle (SDLC), here are some recommended tips you need to consider:

1. Know Your Outsourcing Partner

When outsourcing your security and secure software development life cycle (SDLC) processes, you should be very careful about choosing the outsourcing partner. Knowing that security is a key aspect for your organization and your end customers, so choosing the right outsourcing service provider is critical.

To make sure you are making a well-informed decision, make sure you have a selection criterion and create a proper process for onboarding the vendor. Some of the key items that you should look into are:

• Experience of the security agency in handling such requirements
• Readiness and familiarity with your work methodology, especially when it comes to the secure SDLC processes
• Knowledge of the latest tools, technologies, and coding practices prevalent in the industry
• Confidentiality, IP access rights, and other legal as well as security considerations that need to be documented
• Transparency and easy in communication, while also enabling your teams to stay efficient

While this list is just a starting point, there can be other items that you should consider and do a thorough background check before beginning the outsourcing processes.

2. Assess Your Risk

Have you performed a risk assessment of your current systems, customer requirements, and potential exposure of data that is communicating, stored, or modified in one of your software or systems?

If not, now is a good time to start and engage an experienced company to perform a risk audit before you outsource.

Some of the key checklists include:

• Inventory of all the applications, security processes and security mechanisms that will be outsourced or shared with the security agency
• Defined approach to the potential risk for each process and mitigation plan for it
• Be sure to quantify the impact and establish a proper mechanism to ensure that every person on board is familiar with their responsibilities

Also, assess the security and infrastructure environment through which software development will flow: from design to production deployment.

3. Select the Right Outsourcing Engagement Model

Security outsourcing isn't just about handing over the security aspects and processes to the partner, as there will be several instances where the security agency needs to communicate and work with your teams.

To make sure these engagements are effective, choose an outsourcing engagement model that best fits your requirements.

For example, for secure software development life cycle (SDLC) outsourcing, you need to outline the roles and responsibilities of your team, the ownership of the security agency, and the processes that are going to be managed by you. You can choose from a remote developers model, managed projects model, or dedicated team model to help you start.

4. Take Hidden Costs Into Consideration

According to CIO magazine, “Depending on what is outsourced and to whom, studies show that an organization will end up spending at least 10 percent above that figure to set up the deal and manage it over the long haul.” Make sure you have understood and accounted for all the incurred costs and variable costs when signing.

Hidden expenses you need to consider when outsourcing are:

• Benchmarking and analysis costs
• Project transition and Knowledge Transfer time and cost
• Resource management costs and cost of managing the outsourcing relationship

As a best practice, outline and be aware of each process and activity to help you get a rough estimate of the expenses you may incur when outsourcing security.

5. Provide Full Details and Specifications to the Service Provider

Once you have selected an outsourcing partner, you need to start being transparent and provide the complete details to ensure security aspects are appropriately managed. Share details to your files, processes, and ensure the partner is aware of their involvement in your secure software development life cycle (SDLC) process.

A transparent sharing of information is beneficial to both parties. The security agency can suggest best-practices and mitigation options and ensure you are on-track when it comes to a secure software development life cycle (SDLC).

6. Are they responsive and adaptable to your needs?

Finally, make sure you can completely trust the security agency and are confident that they are responsive and adaptable to your needs.

Although outsourcing will significantly lower your IT teams’ burden, they should also be informed that it is not wholly a third-party responsibility. Ensuring a secure SDLC process will require both sides to be open to change and adapt to the working patterns for a successful long-term relationship.

Software Outsourcing Can Be Secure

Adopting a secure software development life cycle is essential in today’s digital world. But implementing a secure software development life cycle (SDLC) process requires a security organization that understands that security is no longer optional and needs to be prioritized in your software delivery.

And outsourcing this security aspect is one of the most challenging jobs in the business, as you are involving an outside firm in an important role within your organization.

If you are ready to implement a secure software development life cycle (SDLC) in your organization, we have your requirements covered.

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