Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Best Secure Software Development Framework Practices

Table Of Contents

    As per the Data Breach Investigation Report 2023, an alarming 74% of data breaches happened due to human elements such as human engineering error, misuse, or attack.

    As cyber threats continue to evolve and grow, you must adopt a proactive approach to safeguard your applications and data. Simply testing applications for their functionality and responsiveness in unusual situations is not sufficient. Security testing tools and methodologies need to be an integral part of a secure SDLC.

    While your development teams strive to protect sensitive information and your users' data, using automated vulnerability testing tools can help in fixing security loopholes in web applications. For example, an automated vulnerability assessment tool costs way less than what it costs to consult a security expert before releasing a new software or update.

    What is a secure software development framework?

    A software development framework, often referred to as a secure software development life cycle, is a structured approach to building software applications with a focus on security from the outset.

    It integrates security requirements and guidelines throughout the software development process, from the initial design phase to the final deployment, to assess and fix potential security risks and protect against cyber threats.

    A secure SDLC is beneficial in detecting security risks early in the development process and throughout the development process. Your organisation can literally be spared of millions of dollars worth of fines if you do this correctly.

    Users of your application are more likely to choose and trust software that has undergone a rigorous security assessment with a web application security scanning tool.

    Showing your customers and prospects about how you secure your software right from within the software development lifecycle will help them trust your solution quicker. This naturally will help your sales team sell more, faster.

    Cyber Chief can help protect your applications by continuously scanning them for security issues. One of the best things about this automated testing tool is that it can be easily integrated into your SDLC and CI/CD pipeline.

    Cyber Chief, a vulnerability scanning tool, will improve your security efforts with its detailed analysis and remediation code snippets. It is a developer-first tool which allows your development teams to fix security issues even if they are from a non-security background.

    Along with this, it can scan APIs and cloud infrastructure. For cloud posture management, Cyber Chief gives you an intuitive overview test compliance score for your web applications. The security testing tools can also perform authenticated scans for your web applications ensuring that there are no potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

    Want to secure your software, APIs, and cloud infrastructure without having to hire new security engineers?

    What are the 3 key factors in a security framework?

    There are 3 key main components in a secure SDLC: framework core; implementation tiers; and profiles.

    1. Framework core: The core framework assists in managing and reducing security issues that can be a potential threat to your application ecosystem. The core framework dictates your organisation's cybersecurity and application security risk management protocols.

    2. Framework Implementation Tiers: This gives you an overview of how an organization prioritizes cyber security risk management. These help determine if the organization need to integrate added security measures and can be used as a tool to determine risk appetite, priority and budget allocation.

      For example in order to enhance your security posture you may choose to move from standard annual application penetration testing and unintegrated web app security tools to pentesting-as-a-service so that your customers can benefit from continuous security testing.

    3. Framework Profiles: Secure SDLC profiles vary for each organization. It indicates the particular organization's framework for cyber security based on their specific requirements, risk appetite, objective and resources allocated for security. These profiles are intertwined with the guidelines mentioned in the Core framework.

      Typically, single product software companies would generally only have one profile. However, larger enterprises might have multiple profiles, in which case, investing in sound vulnerability management systems and security posture visibility becomes a must-have capability if you have different profiles that need to be managed within a single organization.

    What are the 5 stages of the secure software development life cycle?

    The secure software development lifecycle consists of five key stages, each crucial for ensuring that software applications are built with security in mind. Mentioned below are the five stages and their significance for a secure SDLC.

    1. Requirements Analysis:

    In this initial stage, security requirements are defined and integrated into the project's scope. This involves identifying potential security threats, risks, and compliance requirements. The main activities for requirement analysis include threat modelling, vulnerability assessment, and establishing security objectives.

    2. Design and Architecture:

    During this phase, secure design principles are applied to create an architecture for the software. Security controls, access controls and data protection mechanisms are considered. Design reviews and architectural risk assessments are also conducted to validate security measures.

    3. Implementation (Coding):

    In this stage, secure coding practices are employed to write the actual code for the software. Development teams follow guidelines to prevent common vulnerabilities like SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and others. Regular code reviews and automated vulnerability testing tools are used to identify and address security issues.

    4. Testing and Quality Assurance

    Thoroughly testing your web applications before shipping will help produce well-secured software. For this, you can integrate vulnerability management tools such as static analysis tools to identify vulnerabilities in the code, dynamic testing to simulate real-world attacks, and penetration testing to uncover potential weaknesses. Integrating comprehensive automated testing tools will be beneficial and time-saving to scan software functions securely.

    It is recommended that you integrate automated vulnerability testing tools along with manual penetration testing twice a year, at this stage of the software development life cycle.

    You can integrate Cyber Chief into your existing SDLC and CI/CD pipelines. The automated testing tool is a developer-first tool. It allows your development teams with no security background to test applications for SaaS security. It will provide you with a comprehensive analysis report along with possible solutions for the vulnerabilities.

    Along with this, Cyber Chief can scan security vulnerabilities for APIs and cloud environments. For its cloud posture management, it has an intuitive dashboard that lets your development teams know about the compliance score for industry and region-specific guidelines. Making it easy to know about the cloud posture security compliance score of all your web applications.

    It is an automated security testing tool that can help you with continuous monitoring of applications and help to put your security efforts on autopilot.

    Most importantly it helps your development team eliminate security risks by giving them best-practice secure code snippets they can implement without having to waste days researching on Google.

    Want to know how Cyber Chief can help your team slash weeks off your vulnerability patching time?

    5. Deployment and Maintenance:

    While this is the final stage, it involves securely deploying the software, and ensuring that the configuration of servers, databases, and network components are in alignment with security best practices. Ongoing maintenance includes monitoring the software for security issues, applying patches and updates, along adapting security measures to evolving cyber threats.

    Best Software Development Framework for Security

    Over the years, multiple secure software development tools have been created. Let me tell you about a few of the secure software development frameworks that you can integrate into your software development process.

    Software Development Frameworks

    1. Spiral Model

    This secure SDLC model is preferred for its capability for the development of extensive, complex and expensive projects. It is beneficial for assessments of vulnerabilities and security requirements and iterative processing in software development frameworks.

    2. Agile

    This is one of the most popular frameworks in the secure software development lifecycle. It focuses on the development of small applications, which are later combined to make the final product instead of engaging extensively to build the entire product at once.

    3. Scrum

    This is an Agile-based development framework. It is generally preferred by project managers for frequentative & incremental activities.

    4. Lean Software Development

    Being another Agile-based framework, it is favoured for the flexibility it provides without binding developers with strict rules. It allows collaboration between teams leading to engagement throughout various stages of software development.

    Would you like a deeper understanding of how you can build security into your SDLC?

    Outcome-Focused Software Development Frameworks

    BSA Framework

    Released back in 2019, the BSA Framework for Secure Software Development has been crucial in standardizing a framework to secure applications from cyberattacks, which can be a threat to the data. It helped immensely in bridging the gap between software security and volatile and threatening online space.

    The BSA framework provides a standardized risk assessment and management tool that can be beneficial to stakeholders in the software development industry, including developers, policymakers, vendors, customers and others. It helps developers, vendors and customers to communicate security issues of the software internally and externally.

    It also helps customers to evaluate the security requirements of various software products and services. Version 1.1 of the BSA framework provided a measuring tool for organizations to evaluate their alignment with the NIST "Secure Software Development Framework".

    Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF) Version 1.1, 2021

    In the Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF) Version 1.1, 2022 update, it was made imperative to make software security an integral part of the development process. It reinstates that security testing can no longer be considered an afterthought for a secure SDLC. It also recommends a high level of security protocols that need to be added to SDLC to prevent security vulnerabilities and issues from being exploited by hackers.

    While policymakers are still trying to instate the best practices for secure SDLC, organizations must start integrating automated testing tools in their software development life cycle and CI/CD pipelines.

    While no tool or testing methodology can ensure a guarantee to remove all vulnerabilities, automated testing tools can help your development team make web applications resilient to security risks.

    SaaS Brief