Why is security important in software development?
In the modern digital world, we are ever more vulnerable to virtual risks than ever before. Often times, security is approached as an afterthought, second priority to cost and efficiency.
We tend to react to problems rather than taking a proactive approach. Unfortunately, by the time we notice a threat, it’s often too late as the damage has been done. Keeping your computerised systems protected and healthy with up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software is a must.
The 2022 Cyber Breaches Survey in the UK found that cyber attacks rose significantly during the Covid-19 lockdowns. In 2020, 46% of businesses in the UK reported instances of cyber attacks, compared with 32% in 2019. This has remained steady at 39% for the past two years running and shows no signs of slowing down.
The most common attacks were phishing attempts (83%), but with 21% involving a more sophisticated attack such as DDoS (denial of service), ransomware or malware. 31% of businesses report being attacked as often as once per week, and the average cost of the breaches set companies back £4200, with this figure rising to over £19000 for medium and large establishments.
The importance of security in software development
Software security is extremely important. As well as being crucial to protect yourself, the end user, from attacks, it’s also key to take proactive steps to minimise these potential threats. How can this be achieved? By combining security protection into the software development process.
Security on software development is an ongoing process that combines the work of many different personnel and practices in an organisation. It helps to ensure that the application or programme is confidential, that it maintains its integrity and its availability. Secure software comes from security-aware development processes in which safety in an integral part of the build process. [Information source]
With the development of technology, applications and programmes are becoming ever more complex which makes security in application development challenging. These challenges include threats such as computer viruses, malware, phishing scams, logic bombs and so on. Applications can be vulnerable to these risks as they can take advantage of weaknesses that software engineers may not have thought of, be it intentionally or through a lack of care.
Examples of these could include the use of limit and sequence checks to improve the quality of data by validating users’ input. These are important because even with robust programming processes, errors can still occur due to unpredictable conditions. These unexpected failures need to be logged by taking down as much information as possible to prepare for auditing. Unfortunately, when companies develop their security more, the cost of this development and the associated administration does go up and it can be significant.
Another security issue lies in the high-level programming languages that are used to create systems. As the complexity of the application increases, so do the number of potential areas that can be exploited. In order to produce safe and secure applications and systems, it is crucial to focus on the core activities such as:
- functional requirements,
- code review and walk-through,
- design review,
- conceptual definition,
- control specification,
- system test review,
Every stakeholder has a shared responsibility in this task and its successful adoption will make or break the safety and success of the project.
In order to create safe and secure software, it is important to follow some basic principles that are known not only to the software developers, but to all stakeholders.
Next, it’s crucial to always identify the source of any request made to the application, and to specify accurately which privileges and rights they have. It is also really important to take and record historical evidence in a log, and finally, to be able to easily manage the configuration of the system and its sessions, errors and extensions.
In order to know that a system is secure, it must undergo security testing. This includes running tests which seek to assess the resilience of the system to exploitation and attack, as well as how it reacts to attempts to gain unauthorised access to data and other resources.
A good way to test your systems is to carry out a software security audit. This involves hiring a 3rd party to come in and find any issues that may be present in your system and help you to fix them. It is definitely well worth doing as it can highlight areas that the company themselves may never have found.
Another aspect to consider would be looking into cloud computing as part of your digital transformation strategy. Cloud computing has become very secure in recent years and can play a very important role in safe software development as it takes the risk of hosting information on your local servers and entrusts it to global brands who have many years of experience in creating and maintaining safe software development and information storage.
Security is paramount when it comes to software development and is synonymous with successful projects.
Each stakeholder in the company must recognise the importance of software security and be working towards the common goal of securing all components and processes with a layer of isolation, ensuring the safety of their company’s precious information.
There are lots of ways to go about keeping your data safe, which all start with auditing your own security needs and identifying areas of potential weakness. The key to having safe and secure applications and processes is being proactive by addressing and fixing issues long before they become a real problem!