Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

3/2/2018
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

A Secure Development Approach Pays Off

Software security shouldn't be an afterthought. That's why the secure software development life cycle deserves a fresh look.

News headlines abound with stories of well-known companies falling victim to cyberattacks and data breaches. Some attacks — such as 2017's WannaCry ransomware — cause global mayhem and an immediate reaction from businesses, which scramble to issue and install patches. But there's a far bigger problem than the headlines would lead you to believe. It's a problem that is part of the approach that has, so far, been taken to software development, and one that is leaving tiny imperfections deep inside the infrastructure of organizations across the world.

Typically, software development follows a set process: the software development life cycle (SDLC). It's a best-practice plan that's been adapted over the years and dictates how software should be developed, maintained, and updated. Historically, security was an afterthought throughout the process until a few years ago when an additional "S": for "secure" was added, and those in DevOps found themselves with a new buzzword — secure software development life cycle, or SSDLC — and adopted manual security processes as part of the life cycle. But simply adding the S, without making any changes of the process, meant that code testing remained the priority instead of building in a specific security review of the code.

Although the distinction might sound minor, it's the difference between building software that is inherently secure from the start and building software that contains flaws that are discovered too late — or, in some cases, not at all.

So, although SSDLC isn't a new concept, we need to change the mindset on how it's implemented. Many businesses developing software believe that they're doing so securely. They're using tools like Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), which can be useful at the implementation stage and testing phase, respectively, and have the benefit of ensuring that security is in the process at all (which is better than the traditional SDLC process). But by this point, it may well be too late — flaws can easily be missed, and those that are caught may not be easily fixable without time and expense.

The New Wave of SSDLC
The answer is to bring security into the development process from the very beginning — but DevOps and security have not, historically, been comfortable bedfellows. There's often a belief that security slows down the development process, which ultimately affects time to delivery. But by avoiding security until the end of the process, there's a huge risk that vulnerable products will be released. Clearly, neither option is ideal.

This is where automation comes in. Ideally, you need transparent integration and full automation of the security solution at all stages of the development process. As opposed to conducting the process manually, automating the process will provide findings and feedback continuously with every alteration in the code analyzed without the need for human intervention. The code can then either be returned to developers or virtually fixed, and a patch issued for the source code — all automatically.

Automation solves a number of the old problems associated with traditional SSDLC processes — it means security is a core element throughout and doesn't slow down DevOps. However, it also needs a level of oversight. Once the code is built and DevOps integrates testing tools and development tools, security metrics have to be defined — with no build approved unless it complies. During the requirements phase, security metrics will be drawn up, which match to the organization's high-level confidentiality, availability, and integrity objectives. This may include reference to regulations such as the EU's General Data Protection Regulation and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and security experts have to be involved to assist with threat modeling and review during the design and requirements phase.

What's more, true software security isn't only about ensuring the software itself is secure, but also securing the systems on which software runs. Software security needs to be part of an application security program that takes into account any concerns at the beginning of the development life cycle in a holistic way. Although a lot of the security requirements and processes are often relatively simple, and, to security specialists, fairly obvious, software developers often don't have the knowledge of security processes in as much depth as is required to meet the rigorous standards. Such metrics need to be overseen by a head of application security or security expert to add a layer of checks and balances.

Software security shouldn't be an afterthought. With ever-increasing instances of criminals taking advantage of flaws and vulnerabilities, bringing security into the development life cycle at the very beginning will ensure a far more robust end product. It might take slightly longer to deliver the software, but, in the long run, it will pay off.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Asia returns to Singapore with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Leigh-Anne Galloway started her career leading investigations into payment card breaches, where she discovered her passion for security advisory. Her keen eye for new technology has led her to work with companies such SilverTail Systems (acquired by EMC) and vArmour where she ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
chloedigitalmaelstrom
100%
0%
chloedigitalmaelstrom,
User Rank: Strategist
6/20/2019 | 3:35:53 PM
Secure Software Development Life Cycle
"Software security shouldn't be an afterthought." This sums it up - utilizing security throughout the whole process rather than throwing it in at the end will make for a safe and secure end-product.

This article provides really clear insight as to why the security is an absolute necessity when it comes to development. The tech advisory business at which I work, Digital Maelstrom, has been utilizing this Secure Software Development Life Cycle for the past several years and it has consistently yielded great results. Following this life cycle proved to be so effective with our clients that we even began offering it as one of our main services under the umbrella of our Security pillar. Thanks for posting, Leigh-Anne.
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.