What is a Secure Software Development Life Cycle

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Over the years, security concerns have been rising in the software development world as cyber attackers turn to mobile and desktop applications.  These attackers have been targeting and exploiting vulnerabilities in applications to steal user data or access organizations’ confidential data.

Today, software developers are quite aware of the potential threats that await their new applications. So they incorporate security into all the phases of software development.

A highly secured application can withstand cyber-attacks in the present and can withstand advanced attacks in the future. In other words, it should allow for regular security updates and easy fixing of bugs and vulnerabilities. We’ve highlighted the fundamentals of securing software applications throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

What is an SDLC 

A Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) refers to frameworks and models that developers use to implement and achieve high-quality software cost-effectively. The various models used helps in building, assessing, deploying, and maintaining the software system at its best. 

Nowadays, AI and the cloud influence SDLC, allowing developers to build, test, integrate, and deploy their applications. Popular SDLC models include waterfall, agile, spiral, iterative, and lean software development (LSD). Each of these frameworks comes with its use cases, pros, and cons.

Waterfall, for instance, is slow but sure, while agile is fast and allows for easy collaboration. On the other hand, iterative development is ideal for large software projects, while LSD seeks to establish an efficient development culture by minimizing waste and amplifying learning.

What Does an SDLC Entail? 

Securing your SDLC during the software development process is critical to keeping your application, processes, databases, and business safe from digital invaders. A well-equipped SDLC model emphasizes security throughout the entire SDLC process. 

Before we look at why and how you can implement a secure SDLC framework, below are the software development stages.

Planning

This is the primary stage of building new software. Here, your team should focus on gathering all the critical information and analyzing the information necessary to develop software that solves the problem at hand and meets the market expectations.

Analysis & Design

Upon agreeing on the requirements and objectives, the next step is to build and design a well-defined roadmap that details how the goals and objectives will be achieved. At this phase, the team should clearly outline how to satisfy the technical and functional requirements needed.

Implementation, Development, or Coding

This is the development stage where developers write codes and build the software based on the design document. The coding language used will depend on the project stipulations and requirements. Tools such as compilers, interpreters, and debuggers are used.

Testing

The software must be tested to ensure that the end-user experience is as desired and that the software is bug-free. Any defects are detected and fixed, ensuring that the software standards are met. Depending on the complexity of the project and the expertise of the developers, testing can be a short task or a long and complicated one.

Deploying & Integration 

Once the developer team has tested the design and is confident of the project, the different modules are then integrated into the main source code. Double-checking for integration errors is also vital, and once this is done, the team releases the final product to the production environs where customers can use it.   

Maintenance 

End-users will interact with the software, and developers can leverage AI and data analytics to monitor areas that need improvements. From here, developers proceed with maintenance services that involve constant debugging, updates, and improvements.

Why Secure Every Phase of the SDLC 

According to an IBM report, fixing a vulnerability found during project implementation costs six times more than one identified during project design. Similarly, the cost to fix bugs in the testing phase could be as high as 15 times more than fixing those found in the design phase.

A rule of thumb is to integrate security testing throughout the SDLC process instead of only during the testing phase. That way, you’ll not only discover and fix vulnerabilities at every stage, but you’ll also save time in getting the final product to market. 

Here are the other benefits to using a secure SDLC approach in software development:

– Security is a priority throughout the design process.

– Early detection of bugs means faster implementation and more satisfied end-users.

– You reduce overall business risks.

Getting Started with a Secure SDLC 

Whether you are a software developer or tester, moving towards a secure SDLC means improving the security of your products, your customers, and their clients. That means safeguarding your reputation, attracting more clients, and creating more business.

To ensure a security culture in your SDLC frameworks, you need to educate your team on the best coding practices and even invest in security awareness training. Similarly, use modern software design and testing tools to benefit from fast, efficient, and more secured processes.

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