Best Ways to Integrate Security into the Software Development Lifecycle


With the persistence of security issues in software development, there is an urgent need for software development companies to prioritize security in the software development lifecycle.

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In addition to helping them maintain a good reputation and avoid a declining customer base, integrating security into the software development lifecycle (SDLC) is also essential to protect organizations from data breaches and other cyberattacks. . Therefore, software engineers must take a proactive approach to security during each phase of the SDLC.

Understand the secure software development lifecycle

The software development life cycle is not a one-time process that software developers can implement in a linear form. Instead, certain phases of the SDLC become intertwined in many loops where extensive checks are performed to ensure the correct outcome of the software.

However, it is not enough to walk through the phases of the SDLC without the proper integration of security controls in each phase. So what makes a software development lifecycle secure?

First, a secure SDLC must incorporate security measures such as code review, penetration testing, and architecture analysis. In addition to this, some other security measures that make an SDLC secure include threat modeling, risk assessment, and static analysis.

SEE: Mobile Device Security Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Ways to integrate security into the SDLC

In the software development life cycle, there are certain standards that software developers can adopt to ensure a secure SDLC. Some of them are highlighted below next to the SDLC phases.

1. Requirements gathering phase

Critical security questions that should be asked during the requirements gathering phase include: How quickly can the software recover from a security attack? and What security techniques can protect the software against security attacks?

When you answer these questions at this point, the software security requirements will be clear to developers.

2. Design phase

The design phase is crucial for integrating security into software development. Common software vulnerabilities are usually caused by the adoption of inappropriate technologies in software development.

In this phase, there should be a threat modeling process to ensure that possible threats are detected as well as a mitigation plan to protect the software against threats. It is important to note at this point that the earlier potential threats are detected, the easier it is for software engineers to come up with a plan to deal with them.

3. Development phase

Program development designs should be properly evaluated at this phase, using internal and external software teams and software development tools. Initial testing, user training, deployment, acceptance testing, and management approval are just some of the issues that should be described and documented at this stage.

4. Implementation phase

During this implementation phase, attention should be paid to automated technology tools and guidelines that will facilitate code reviews. Tools that automate code review can be deployed at this phase for in-depth code analysis. One such tool is the Static Application Security Testing Tool (SAST). Additionally, if your developers intend to make the software open source, using software composition analysis (SCA) tools can also help them inspect and analyze their codes for vulnerabilities.

5. Test phase

Developers must adopt certain security testing techniques to successfully integrate security into this phase. Some of the security testing techniques to use include:

  • Penetration tests: Using a variety of manual and/or automated tests through DAST tools, testers look for weaknesses in the network, applications, and computer systems that an attacker can take advantage of.
  • Fuzz test: In fuzz testing, testers can send malformed inputs to software to help them find possible vulnerabilities.
  • Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST): As a combination of DAST and SAST testing techniques, IAST ensures that potential vulnerabilities are detected during runtime.

SEE: Kali Linux 2022.1 is your one-stop-shop for penetration testing (TechRepublic)

6. Deployment phase

The deployment phase is also essential to improve the security posture of the software. From a security perspective, deployment in cloud settings poses additional challenges. For example, database settings, private certificates, and any other sensitive deployment-related configuration settings should always be stored in secret management solutions such as key vaults made available to programs during runtime.

7. Post-deployment and maintenance

When the software development process reaches this point, it enters maintenance mode. At this point, regularly monitor the performance of the new program. In addition to this, try to make necessary changes without causing major production delays by establishing a schedule for patches and system downtime for maintenance, hardware updates, and disaster recovery tasks.

Additionally, developers can use security scanning tools to check for application or network vulnerabilities. These solutions can run continuous security scans and alert you if dangers are discovered. However, it should be noted that security scanners should be used responsibly. Use these scanners only with the permission of the infrastructure or application owners.

Mitigate threats early in the software development lifecycle

There is no doubt that the world will continue to struggle with the incidence of security attacks. However, if security is given first-class treatment in the software development life cycle, it will go a long way in avoiding certain security vulnerabilities in software tools. That said, the tips above are intended to help companies and software engineers integrate security best practices into the software development lifecycle.

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