Secure Software Development Life Cycle
Kris Nicolaou, September 9, 2022
Almost all industry sectors have acclimated to digital transformation today. That means nearly every business (91%) is now either a software business or requires application developers to run their operations.
Companies must do everything to survive. They must protect their bottom line, whether the business involves selling software or developing it for business operations. Ideally, an organization wants to build secure applications without compromising what will enable them to compete in the market.
Despite how necessary secure coding is to protect software vulnerabilities, many organizations still fail to meet security requirements. Many developers still view building security in the software development life cycle (SDLC) as a bottleneck. They think security disrupts the flow of software development, preventing new features from hitting the market.
However, software that lacks secure coding puts your business at serious risk. New features will not matter if a company and its customers have no protection from exploitation by hackers. Statistics reveal that there have been approximately 52 million data breaches in the second quarter of 2022.
Comparing it to the first quarter, it is down by 56 percent. The fourth quarter of 2020 experienced the most data breaches at about 125 million cases.
Unless you want your company to be another statistic, you should ensure that your software security is sufficient. This guide will explain how a secure software development life cycle works and its importance to all industries.
Defining Software Development Life Cycle
Before understanding the complexities of cybersecurity and the secure software development life cycle, you must first understand SDLC.
SDLC refers to an application project's systematic software development process within a tech company. It contains comprehensive plans for the development, maintenance, replacement, and alterations or enhancements of particular systems.
The cycle describes the methodology for software quality improvements and its overall development process. To have a better grasp of what the software development life cycle is, you need to understand its stages.
The Phases of Software Development Life Cycle
Developers may employ many SDLC models. More than 70 percent of organizations utilize Agile, while Microsoft SDL uses the Spiral model.
Regardless of what best practices development teams use, it always breaks down into a few different phases in software development. These phases include Planning, Defining, Designing, Building, Testing, and Deployment & Maintenance.
Phase 1: Planning
The planning phase and requirement analysis are essential and fundamental in the software development cycle. Project managers and senior members oversee this phase with inputs from the client, market surveys, sales department, and domain experts. They use this information to plan how the development team will approach the project and study its feasibility.
The planning phase also covers identifying risks associated with the project and quality assurance requirements. Studying technical feasibility helps define various technological methods to execute the project successfully while minimizing risk.
Phase 2: Defining
After completion of the planning and requirement analysis phase comes the next step, called the defining stage. This phase entails a clear definition and documentation of production requirements for approval from market analysts or the client. They do this through a software requirement specification (SRS) document.
That software requirement specification consists of all production requirements for development and design throughout the project life cycle.
Phase 3: Designing
The software requirement specification is an integral part of the design phase. Software requirement specification serves as the guideline product architects utilize in designing the product to be developed. Typically, more than one design is proposed and recorded in a design document specification (DDS) for the product architecture.
All critical stakeholders review this design document specification based on various parameters. These include product robustness, risk assessment, time and budget restrictions, design modularity, and the best design approach for the product.
What defines all architectural modules of a product clearly is the design approach. That also includes the representation and communication with any data flow with a third party and external modules. For internal design, all proposed architecture modules should have precise definitions down to the smallest detail in the DDS.
Phase 4: Building
The building or development phase is where the actual development of the software takes place in the SDLC process. During this phase, the programming code is generated based on the document design specification parameters. Generating the code should be no issue if performed in perfect detail and organization.
The development team must adhere to the coding guidelines defined by their company while programming tools generate the code. The various advanced-level programming languages used for coding include C, C++, Java, PHP, and Pascal. The choice of programming language to be used generally depends on the software type under development.
Phase 5: Testing
The testing phase is typically a subset of all modern software development life cycle phases. That is because each stage of the SDLC involves testing activities at one point or another. The testing phase is where development teams conduct trials to cover possible defects in the system.
These trials can include code review, penetration testing, and product functionality. DevOps and testers are to detect any defects or security vulnerabilities in the software. They must then report, track, patch, and retest any design flaws or security issues they find.
This repetitive phase of the SDLC continues until the project meets the quality standards dictated by the software requirement specifications.
Unfortunately, most organizations make the biggest mistake in building security and security-related coding practices in the testing phase. Companies typically only make security considerations and risk assessments in the testing phase of the SDLC process. That means a lack of risk analysis in the other steps results in many undetected software project vulnerabilities.
Did you know?
The main difference between software and web development is the project types of each field. Web development focuses on web-based programs like e-commerce, websites, and mobile development. On the other hand, software development specializes in creating programs for underlying networks, platforms, and operating systems.
Phase 6: Deployment and Maintenance
The deployment and maintenance phase is the final phase of the development cycle. It is when the product completes the necessary testing and risk analysis and is ready for release in the market. Product deployment can sometimes happen depending on a company's business strategy and practices.
A product may deploy in a limited segment for beta testing in a natural market environment. It is what the industry commonly calls user acceptance testing (UAT).
Now that you understand how SDLC processes work, it will be easier to know how secure SDLC (SSDLC) works.
Defining Secure Software Development Life Cycle
As mentioned previously, a typical SDLC focuses on mapping the entire development process, including key features and system integrations. However, it severely lacks software security and threat modelling. That is because security risk trials only occur during software development's testing phase.
Due to the lack of secure products, hackers have an easier time stealing data from companies and exploiting them. Companies began implementing secure SDLC processes to reduce security risks and give customers security assurance.
Secure software development lifecycle builds on SDLC by incorporating security awareness and security activities in all phases to secure development. DevSecOps make up the security team in charge of employing the best security practices in each development phase.
The Steps of a Secure Development Life Cycle
Like SDLC, secure SDLC has its own phases. These stages are extra steps developers use to combat security breaches by executing them in each step of the SDLC process. The steps are Governance, Design, Implementation, Verification, and Operations.
Step 1: Governance
This step is where organizations establish ground rules to build a training plan and process. It involves a proper training process for training developers to avoid vulnerabilities hackers can exploit. When your development team is on the same page as hackers, it thwarts any attempts to breach security.
Step 2: Design
The design step identifies potential methods of cyber attacks and finds the correct security solution. That builds a secure design that will help protect data and services at the core of the application
Step 3: Implementation
Most hackers will use the Open Source method to locate vulnerabilities in a program. During the implementation step, developers build software in a systematic and replicable manner. This step is where they catch, document, and patch vulnerabilities found in Open Source. Developers will take it a step further by upgrading to the latest version of Open Source software for good measure.
By updating to the latest version of Open Source software, they have access to valuable vulnerability information from previous versions. This information allows them to create patches to correct these security risks and combat future vulnerabilities.
Step 4: Verification
The Verification step is equivalent to the testing phase of the SDLC process. DevSecOps will run vulnerability scanners to check for other vulnerabilities in their product. They use this information to find and fix vulnerabilities in their software before the official deployment of their product.
Step 5: Operations
Developers will incorporate a security response protocol in the operations step to establish additional protections. The most typically used is a web application firewall (WAF).
Brain Box Labs Can Help You With Product Development
While developing software keeps businesses thriving in their respective industries, software security is just as important as the software itself.
Secure software development life cycle protects your digital assets from data breaches that could cost you more long term. The best part is secure SDLC enables your software to evolve against future methods of cyber attacks.
Brain Box Labs has the most insightful articles on software development if you want to learn more about software development.
A secure SDLC provides an efficient method for breaking security down into stages during development. Contact the professionals at Brain Box Labs today if you want to streamline your software development.