Secure Software
Development Lifecycle

Security should be a top priority for developers as they implement the software requirements at every Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC). It can be as simple as protecting your database from malicious actors or as complicated as applying fraud processing to qualified leads before importing them into your platform. 

So, let’s discuss secure SSDLC so you can catch issues in requirements before they become security issues in production.

What is the Secure Software Development Lifecycle?

A Secure Software Development Lifecycle or SSDLC is a framework for creating an application from conception to decommissioning. Multiple SSDLC models have emerged over time, ranging from the waterfall and iterative to spiral and CI/CD. All these development methods increase the speed and frequency of software deployment.

Phases of Secure Software Development Lifecycle

Secure Software Development Lifecycle

Securing SDLC allows you to adhere to security practices by integrating security throughout the development cycle, which will improve the safety of your product and company. So let us go ahead and provide an overview of each phase of the software development process and best practices and security tools in the sections below.

Phase One: Planning

Planning and fundamental requirement analysis is the first step of a secure software development lifecycle. Once an organization defines its purpose, timeline, content, and product requirements are aggregated, the best practice is to take that information and perform a feasibility study. Following are the best practices for this phase:

  • Ensure that the designed product/ program meets the requirements of the organization 
  • Use appropriate mapping techniques for testing the program/ product 
  • Use secure threat design and simulation and ensure correct terminology usage. 

Phase Two: Coding and Building

Once the feasibility study is over and the organization knows, for sure, that the planning is 100% secure and all risks are identified and mitigated, it’s time to move on to software architecture and building. 

The second phase is what non-experts refer to as software development. This step essentially follows the requirements and needs outlined in the planning document. Programmers and software engineers write the application’s code, following the best practices to make this phase as secure as possible:

  • Reduce the test time for the software by training and educating your coders about SDLC
  • Find and fix the defects and bugs as you develop the code 
  • Ensure open-source component security 

Phase Three: Test Planning

In a secure SDLC, a test plan outlines the test environment, the resources to be used, the testing limitations, the projected testing schedule, and the strategy for testing the software. In addition to security testing, this phase includes performance tests, unit tests, and non-functional testing such as interface testing. Following are the activities to be kept in mind during test planning:

  • Always ensure to use more than one testing method for security testing 
  • Do not hesitate in making the testing comprehensive
  • Keep a keen eye on the integration, function, and performance

Phase Four: Staging and Testing

This phase would go smooth if the development did the coding and test planning comprehensively. This step requires the development team to deploy the software to production servers in staging. Packaging, managing files, and deploying complex releases in multiple environments are all included in this process. The development team should consist of the ideal use of debuggers, compilers, and interpreters, as defined by the organization. 

Following are the best practices for this phase:

  • Automate the release process and track the progress 
  • Ensure bug testing, security testing, and quality assurance
  • Recognize and mitigate the bugs and security threats 

Phase Five: Deploy and Monitor

Once your organization has undergone testing, quality assurance, and debugging, the software is ready for market release. The development team monitors the release’s performance once it is over and customers have started using it. 

The product/ software must be launched in a limited sector and tested again. Otherwise, you can simply make a cold market launch and review customer feedback to optimize your product. 

  • Ensure the safe usage of your product/ software 
  • Conduct regular mutual penetration tests 
  • Use software analysis tools that are dynamic 

The Importance of Secure SDLC

Previously, security-related activities were usually performed only as part of testing—at the end of the Secure Software Development Lifecycle. As a result, they wouldn’t find bugs, flaws, and other vulnerabilities until they were far more expensive and time-consuming to fix due to this late-game strategy. Worse, they wouldn’t be able to find any security flaws at all.

Integrating security testing throughout the SSDLC, rather than just at the end, is far better, not to mention faster and less expensive, for assisting in the early detection and reduction of vulnerabilities, effectively building security. 

Security assurance activities include architecture analysis during design, code review during coding and build, and penetration testing before release. Following are some of the advantages of using a secure SSDLC approach:

  1. Your software is more secure, which is always a concern
  2. All stakeholders understand security concerns
  3. You catch design flaws early on before they’re coded in
  4. You save money by detecting and resolving defects early
  5. You lower your company’s overall intrinsic business risks

Primary Considerations for a Secure SDLC

According to IBM’s Systems Sciences Institute, fixing a bug discovered during implementation costs six times more than fixing one found during design. Furthermore, IBM estimates that the cost of fixing bugs found during the testing phase could be 15 times higher than the cost of fixing bugs discovered during the design phase. 

Therefore, when implementing a Secure Secure Software Development Lifecycle, there are a few things to keep in mind:

SDL Discovery

The goal should be to determine what security goals the software requires, what threats might exist, and what regulations the company must follow. A development team should concentrate on deliverables such as security milestones, required certifications, risk assessments, essential security resources, and third-party resources necessary when working on the scope of the SDL.

Security Baselines

It would be best to list all of the specifications that your product must meet. Use only approved cryptography and libraries, for example, or use multifactor authentication. A Gap Analysis, which compares the product’s features to the baseline, is useful for identifying areas where the security baseline is not met. 

When a gap is discovered, it should be addressed as soon as possible in the lifecycle. Because companies release products based on their percentage of compliance with a baseline, it’s critical to address any gaps early in the development process.

Security Training and Awareness

Developers, designers, architects, and QA should all receive security training from the company. They can concentrate on secure design principles, security issues, web security, or encryption. The security awareness sessions aren’t just for the development team; they’re for everyone involved in the project within the organization. Sessions should be simple in terms of technical difficulty, and they can cover topics like various cybersecurity threats or risk impact and management.

Threat Modeling

Early in the development lifecycle, model the software components to identify and manage threats. This model aids the team in developing an incident response plan from the start, allowing them to plan appropriate mitigations before the damage becomes more difficult to manage. 

The next four steps are preparation, analysis, determining mitigations, and validation. This activity can take various forms, including safeguarding critical processes, exploiting flaws, or focusing on system design.

Third-Party Software Tracking

The team must list all third-party tools used in the project, regardless of whether they are open source or commercial. This inventory should be ready early in the development process. There are software tools that track and list third-party components, notifying you if any of them need to be upgraded or have licensing issues.

Security Design and Peer Review

According to the development team, the software should have the most secure features possible. 

The developer should include a security design review when reviewing the functional feature design, thinking like an attacker to find feature vulnerabilities. When examining the code, developers must know the most common coding security pitfalls. They can use a secure coding checklist to ensure that important security events are logged, check the authentication process’s permeability, and validate user input.

Data Disposal and Retention

Companies typically dispose of old products or data that they no longer need at the end of a product’s life cycle. In a process known as “crypto-shredding,” many companies delete or overwrite encryption keys. While getting rid of old data is necessary, there are concerns about maintaining confidentiality. Some regulations, such as CCPA, have specific data disposal and retention requirements.

Final Words

The Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC) is a set of steps an organization takes to create and deploy software. Unfortunately, a single, unified software development lifecycle does not exist. Instead, development teams use a variety of frameworks and models to create, test, deploy, and maintain software.

At Right-Hand Cybersecurity, we assist your organization in transforming the software development lifecycle into a secure software development lifecycle. We help you create a culture of security awareness across the entire organization, including software development. 

How much more safe and efficient will your development team be if they are cyber aware? Talk to us.