Whether people think about it or not, the fact is everyone uses software multiple times every day. When they tap on an app on their phone, get in a car made in the last 10-plus years, or scroll through Netflix at night, they are using software.
In 2021, it’s also likely that people use software for personal and sensitive applications. Maybe they bank with software. Maybe they have a home security camera that runs on software. Or, maybe they use a software-based medical device.
The unfortunate truth is that the more we use software in our lives, the more bad actors will try and get into that software for personal gain. That’s why software security is so important. And that security begins with secure software development.
Secure software development is a series of processes and practices that start from the very beginning of software creation in order to make the end product more secure. We will look at what this type of development means, why you need it, some tools used in the process, and what happens when it is ignored. Here is why you need secure software development.
What is secure software development?
The software development lifecycle includes all the processes that go into developing, building, releasing, managing, and ultimately decommissioning software. There are many different frameworks and procedures employed to go about this development; security is a small piece of all these methods.
Secure software development takes security out as one step of the process and integrates it into every step of the process. Security is no longer simply a box to be checked, it is an integral part of every step along the way that needs to be considered and handled in every aspect of development.
Integrating security into the software development process in this way allows for more secure software products. When security is a top priority throughout development, there will be fewer vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit and the software will be easier for developers to respond to vulnerabilities and attacks when they pop up further down the line in the software’s lifecycle.
Why do I need secure software development?
The reason you need secure software development is simple. Millions of cyberattacks occur every year and that number is growing all the time. In 2020, there were 1,001 data breaches in the US alone. These data breaches exposed the personal data of 155.8 million Americans or, about half the country’s population.
These attacks cost businesses and individuals an incredible amount of money. In 2020, the average cost of a data breach for a company was $3.85 million. By 2025, it is estimated cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion a year.
These are scary numbers for businesses and individuals. The more of these attacks that happen and the more they are publicized, the more everyday people and non-tech savvy business owners are going to be demanding secure software development.
What are some secure software development tools?
Developers can use several tools to aid in secure software development, especially when it comes to analyzing the source code. Flaws in software source code are one of the biggest ways by which cybercriminals can gain access to software. The tighter this code is due to the secure software development process, the more secure the software will be.
To help with the incredibly tedious process of code analysis, developers should consider using some of the following tools. Tools to use during the development process include static application security testing (SAST) tools, dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools, and interactive application security testing (IAST) tools.
These tools test and analyze code while looking for defects in different states of activity. SAST tools analyze code before the software is run and DAST tools do the same while the software is running. IAST tools combine the two types of testing and provide the best analysis of your code.
These tools are a crucial part of secure software development. If you are not using them already, they are definitely worth investigating further and possibly integrating into your development process. For more detailed information and additional tools, Liventus has a good overview of additional secure software development tools.
What happens if I ignore secure software development?
The short answer is a host of bad things, but there are plenty of specifics we can list. The overarching issue you will run into is that your software will likely be more vulnerable to cyberattacks if you ignore secure software development.
If your software houses any sort of sensitive, personal data, not using secure software development puts that data at risk. Individuals’ social security, banking, or health data can be exposed as can a company’s proprietary information and data. In 2021, data is as valuable as currency and people will attack software to get it.
If your software is successfully attacked, even if the data and direct financial damage are limited, it can shred a company’s reputation. How often do you read about a big, publicized cyberattack and think twice the next time you interact with that company? If you are like most people, the most likely answer is ‘often’. That is why secure software development is critical to safeguarding a brand’s reputation.
There is a tangible financial incentive to use secure software development. Cyberattacks cost real money. Hackers can literally steal money, create money-sucking downtime, make companies pay IT firms and lawyers, get companies fined by the government, or create a PR disaster so big the company loses customers. This all hits a company’s bottom line and can be avoided in many instances with secure software development.
Why do you need secure software development? The reasons above are a more detailed way of saying that you need secure software development for peace of mind. In addition to what you read here, many other reasons exist that we don’t have space to print here. If you bake security into your software at every step along the way, you and your company’s leaders can sleep easier at night knowing you did everything you could to protect your software from cybercrime and, in turn, your business and your customers.