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How To Create A Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) To Increase Efficiency

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

Software development technology has rapidly progressed. However, there are inadequate security measures put in place to ensure the development of secure software. This has posed a challenge in the software development industry in terms of efficiency and productivity.

Lack of proper security integration in the software development life cycle often results in a costly application development process.

Why have a Secure SDLC?

A secure SDLC plays a crucial role in developing a business process that integrates security in each phase of the software development life cycle. While combining security in SDLC seems cumbersome, its long-term benefits are significant. Without a secure SDLC, most projects end up being a liability for the organization. 

Creating a secure software development life cycle is essential in increasing efficiency by minimizing wastage of time, money, efforts, energy, and materials in developing software. 

Fixing a bug during the initial stages of software development is cheaper than fixing the same bug at the deployment stage.  A later fix may demand a total change of the software’s architecture.

A secure SDLC is vital in reducing the time taken to release software to the market, accelerating quality, and improving overall security. Integrating security best practices in the software development life cycle results in an increased value of a business and greater operational efficiency.

Efficiency through Testing and Automation

The software development life cycle has six key phases, requirements, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Different security testing tools must be integrated at each stage of the software development life cycle to improve efficiency. 

The standard security paradigms include Static Application Security Testing (SAST), Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), and Software Composition Analysis (SCA).

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

This security paradigm automatically analyzes written codes to check for vulnerabilities. SAST can parse codes into several pieces for further analysis to discover vulnerabilities that lie deep below subroutines and functions. 

The benefit of using SAST is the ability to offer complete coverage of codes and provide analysis to every line of code.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

DAST is a critical security tool in software development. This tool attempts to discover bugs during the implementation phase as well as identifying business logic issues. This tool can find many problems fast and effectively. This security tool may not find everything and works well when combined with SAST.

Software Composition Analysis (SCA)

Software Composition Analysis tool is used to scan codes to check on open source and third-party components that make an application. This tool is critical in securing the application’s supply chain and identifying vulnerabilities in code. 

Compared to DAST and SAST, SCA is a fast-reporting tool because it analyzes a set of defined dependencies by comparing them with a list of vulnerable dependencies and reporting the matching dependencies.  

The security practices can be implemented in each phase of the software development life cycle (SDLC) to increase efficiency.

Increasing Efficiency in Each Phase

The following ways define how to attain a secure SDLC to increase efficiency.

1. Requirement specification

The first phase of SDLC requires proper planning. A professional with complete knowledge of the product life cycle will be valuable to the team. Any vulnerabilities discovered at this stage must be resolved quickly and appropriately.

Appropriate policies and standards must also be put in place. Security controls should be well mapped to comply with organizational standards. Secure software design will be achieved by, for instance, adopting the CIA matrix (Confidentiality, integrity, and availability) to define the security controls to be used.

2. Design

In the second phase, appropriate threat modeling must be defined for software security. Any scenario that might compromise software security must be identified and documented. It is critical to note that the application will be subjected to a distributed environment, and security robustness should be assessed appropriately.

3. Development

To increase efficiency at this phase, developers must use appropriate secure coding skills. They must be trained on secure coding to allow them to fix any vulnerabilities while writing codes. At this point, the development team will handle any vulnerability anticipated during deployment.

Developers should consider software security when using open-source components. They can do this by employing appropriate automated code review tools to comply with standards. SAST and DAST tools can be used to perform the analysis while still performing threat modeling. 

4. Testing

This stage will include intensive testing besides SAST and DAST. Tests to be performed include penetration testing, security test, and application testing. The testing process must be a continuous exercise.

Organizations should outsource testing experts besides the developing team to uncover more vulnerabilities. This allows cost saving by hiring the best talent to test the software. 

5. Deployment

The development team must deploy bug-free software at this stage. The testing team should present a vulnerability report to ensure no errors during this phase.

6. Maintenance

After the software has been deployed, efficiency will be increased by regular monitoring to improve performance. The maintenance team must release regular software updates and patches to resolve any possible bugs. With security integrated at each phase, the software maintenance cost will be reduced.

Wrap up

Robust security measures will combat growing system vulnerabilities while ensuring efficiency. A secure software development life cycle (SDLC) results in a top-notch product and sustainable development. 

Secure SDLC is achieved by understanding the particular phases of the software development life cycle. This increases efficiency by eliminating vulnerabilities at the initial phases of SDLC, which then shortens development time and reduces maintenance costs in fixing bugs at later stages.

Developers require practical training on secure software development life cycle to efficiently locate and fix vulnerabilities in their applications.

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