Today, the digital transformation buzz has hit nearly every sector. The COVID-19 pandemic created a wave of disruption in all traditional services that consumers were reliant upon in the past. As more digital services cater to needs ranging from shopping, banking, entertainment, and even education, software development is transitioning into one of the most lucrative and desired professions. Businesses need apps to cater to rising demand from digital-savvy consumers. Gartner predicts that worldwide IT spending will reach a staggering USD 4.1 Trillion in 2021 alone. But as software development takes center stage, it also creates new avenues for exploitation from cybercriminals as well. Any vulnerability in the code, which is at the heart of every software, can open Pandora’s box, and result in significant damage to all stakeholders – especially if the application is intended for use in a critical sector like Finance or Energy.
Secure Coding comes into the picture
To minimize the impact of security threats on software code, there is a rising push from the developer community to follow Secure Coding principles. If you are new to the concept, here is a small brief –
Secure Coding is the art of writing code using structured high-level software languages following defined policies and security protocols. The main aim here is to eliminate any accidental introduction of vulnerabilities in the coding stage that may hamper the application’s security when deployed for real-time use.
Why is Secure Coding needed?
The rapid proliferation of digital applications is a key driver for the need for secure coding. A vulnerable code structure can invite quite a lot of unpleasant visitors. Some of the damages that a business that deployed applications with insecure code bases, may endure are:
- Compromised customer data
- Denial of service that could lead to even deaths in critical sectors like healthcare
- Escalating costs for rectifying mistakes while in production
- Loss of reputation
What we covered is just a snapshot of the potential hardships a business may face in the event of hacking or security lapses due to insecure code. The legal ramifications and associated fines and penalties may even lead to bankruptcy.
Damages are not the only motivator for following best practices in secure coding. As technology evolves, so do threats that surround them. Newer vulnerabilities are being exposed periodically even in popular programming languages.
A report tabled by the US Department of Homeland Security estimates that nearly 90% of reported cybersecurity incidents occurred due to the exploitation of weakly written or defects in the code used for building applications.
So, it is about time that organizations take a strict approach towards enforcing Secure Coding standards for their digital application development initiatives.
Best practices for Secure Coding
While there are several best practices that developers can follow, we have listed 3 that should never be missed out on:
Avoid leveraging vulnerable components
Very often, open-source libraries and ready-to-deploy 3rd party components that are installed as packages by developers, have inherent vulnerabilities. Developers rely on them to save time and effort, however, openly trusting them can result in serious damages. It is important to have an organization-wide technology awareness and monitoring framework that ensures that every new component introduced into the technology ecosystem is vetted for trust. If there are any unverified credentials for an open-source or 3rd party component, the best idea is to stay away from it rather than exploring options to include them.
Automated Code Reviews and Scanning
Code reviews and audits are a great way to find defects in code before they ship out into production. However, the manual inspection and verification of codebases may not be a feasible idea as larger applications would comprise hundreds of thousands of lines of code. Using automated tools for regular monitoring can help eliminate this challenge and regularly auditing software components will help in maintaining logs that make it easy to identify potential incidents and prevent future occurrences.
Software development can be hard on developers sometimes. There may be instances where they may have to meet tight deadlines, encounter delays due to unforeseen technical flaws, and much more. To make up for the lost time and meet delivery commitments, many developers attempt to taking shortcuts in process compliance while coding. This is a recipe for disaster. Irrespective of the scenario, there should not be any compromise on complying with secure coding guidelines that have been agreed upon and documented before the beginning of every project.
Secure Coding is a critical component that determines the sustainability of modern digital applications. Ignoring its importance for the sake of faster application delivery can prove to be a huge mistake. The best option is to partner with technology firms that have a reputation for following Secure Coding practices, to build your digital ecosystem. This helps you to enjoy the benefits of digital without worrying about accompanying vulnerabilities underneath its core.