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What Are the Five Phases of the Secure Software Development Life Cycle?
The secure software development life cycle (SDLC) has five phases. Understanding these phases can help your business create the best software products.
What Are the Five Phases of the Secure Software Development Life Cycle?
When developing software, it can be far too easy to forget the basics. Up to 75% of all software projects ultimately fail (Geneca, 2017). This exceptionally high number begs the question: Why are there so many problems in software development? Are these problems related to security failures? A lack of data protections? Poor management? Something else?
This is a multifaceted question and one with many answers. We’d argue that it comes down to this: Far too many developers forget the basics, including how to engage in appropriate risk management. This means that they forget about core security-related aspects of software development.
The secure software development life cycle is critical in any software development project. No matter the field, you’ll need to apply these five steps. However, this is not the be-all and end-all of software development. These phases don’t always flow in a neat order, and you may sometimes move back and forth between different stages of the cycle as needed. However, when it comes to secure software development, this process is the best available and can help ensure that you create the best software product.
In software development, you never go straight from an idea to programming. First, you need to plan. While planning may be the most contentious phase of the secure software development life cycle, it’s also often the most important. During this phase, you’ll determine what your project’s security requirements are.
In this stage, you and your team will need to ask some critical questions:
What are the security requirements of this project?
What are its potential vulnerabilities?
What are the current vulnerabilities that similar projects are facing? What future vulnerabilities are likely?
How can these vulnerabilities be researched and tested?
What sort of phishing or social engineering challenges might this project face? Are there user awareness issues that may need to be addressed? How can these issues be mitigated?
Planning for security requirements gives you an essential baseline understanding of how you need to design security protections for the software you’re developing. As the old axiom goes, failing to plan means planning to fail.
Once you’ve completed the requirement planning phase of the secure software development lifecycle, you can begin to design the software. The design of the software should be in line with the previously conducted planning and should be done in preparation for deployment in the real world.
In the design phase of the secure software development life cycle, security requirements are implemented and coded in accordance with secure coding standards. This means that the parameters of the program adhere to all current security standards. Furthermore, the program must be created using the latest security architecture, thus ensuring the most up-to-date protections.
Finally, developers should also give extensive thought to designing an appropriate security architecture for their programs. This means that, in creating the software, they should implement all relevant security requirements and control for a variety of factors, including risk management, legal restrictions, and social engineering vulnerabilities.
After the project design stage is completed, the actual development of the software can begin. In this context, development refers to the actual coding and programming of the application. Development works best when basic security principles are kept in mind.
This means the following:
Development must take place using secure coding standards. Programmers should have up-to-date knowledge of the relevant security standards and how they apply to the current project.
Development must appropriately implement secure design patterns and frameworks. This refers to the security architecture of the software. The development of a program can only be successful if it utilizes appropriate security relationships.
Development must take advantage of the latest secure coding practices. This typically means using updated versions of programming languages that best address current security standards.
Once the project has been designed and developed, you can begin to test it in an alpha or beta phase. This involves putting the project through a series of rigorous security tests. There are many ways to conduct such tests, including working with a Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) or penetration tester.
In penetration testing, a security professional will attempt to hack into your system as an outsider would using any number of commonly utilized methods. Penetration testing often involves attempting to breach firewalls, access secure records, or attach simulated ransomware to your databases. In doing so, the penetration tester will record your potential vulnerabilities and subsequently report them to you.
Penetration testing is a fantastic tool that enables you to determine the potential vulnerabilities in your program. A C|EH can conduct this form of testing and inform you about the vulnerabilities in your program. They can also make recommendations to you regarding the types of improvements you can make to better protect your program or train users.
Deployment and Maintenance
Why is it important to incorporate security throughout the SDLC instead of just in one phase or another? – Divya Aradhya
Why is it important to incorporate security throughout the SDLC instead of just in one phase or another?
Posted on March 1, 2017 by Divya Aradhya
Producing a perfect (if there is such a thing) software package is dependent on getting every phase of the SDLC absolutely right. It follows then that to produce a secure software package it is critical to incorporate security in each phase of the SDLC.SDLC Phase Security incorporation Consequence of NOT incorporating security
Requirements Planning and Analysis · Security and Privacy Requirements
· Setting up Quality Gates
· Risk Assessment
· No knowledge of privacy and security risks
· Leads to development of a highly vulnerable software
Design and Architecture · Attack Surface Analysis/Reduction
· Use Threat Modeling
· Leads to development of software which has a larger area open for attack
· No knowledge of potential threats
Development and Coding · Use Approved tools and software frameworks
· Deprecate Unsafe Functions
· Perform Static Analysis, Dynamic Analysis, and Code Review
· Implement safe coding guidelines
· Leads to critical coding errors like buffer overflow, stack overflow, software exceptions, unsafe type-casting, unsafe inheritance modeling etc.
Testing · Penetration testing
· White-hat hacking
· No knowledge of potential attacks
· Software is a sitting duck for (malicious) hackers
Deployment and Maintenance · Create an incident response plan
· Encrypted licensing
· Will not be capable of handling security incidents
· Will be open to being victims of piracy
· Will not allow further secure development (if through documentation is missing)
It can be seen that the consequences of going through the SDLC without weaving in security can prove fatal to the health and longevity of the software. Each phase of the cycle has a huge influence on determining the strengths, and particularly the flaws, on the phases that follow. Hence, it is vital for security to be incorporated in every phase of the SDLC.
Lean more about Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC), the concept that aims to incorporate security considerations and checks in every phase of the SDLC.
Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC)
20 min read
How does a secure SDLC work?
A Secure SDLC requires adding security testing at each software development stage, from design, to development, to deployment and beyond. Examples include designing applications to ensure that your architecture will be secure, as well as including security risk factors as part of the initial planning phase.
Security is an important part of any application that encompases critical functionality. This can be as simple as securing your database from attacks by nefarious actors or as complex as applying fraud processing to a qualified lead before importing them into your platform.
Security applies at every phase of the software development life cycle (SDLC) and needs to be at the forefront of your developers’ minds as they implement your software’s requirements. In this article, we’ll explore ways to create a secure SDLC, helping you catch issues in requirements before they manifest as security problems in production.
With dedicated effort, security issues can be addressed in the SDLC pipeline well before deployment to production. This reduces the risk of finding security vulnerabilities in your app and works to minimize the impact when they are found.
Secure SDLC’s aim is not to completely eliminate traditional security checks, such as penetration tests, but rather to include security in the scope of developer responsibilities and empower them to build secure applications from the outset.
Why Is Secure SDLC Important?
Secure SDLC is important because application security is important. The days of releasing a product into the wild and addressing bugs in subsequent patches are gone. Developers now need to be cognisant of potential security concerns at each step of the process. This requires integrating security into your SDLC in ways that were not needed before. As anyone can potentially gain access to your source code, you need to ensure that you are coding with potential vulnerabilities in mind. As such, having a robust and secure SDLC process is critical to ensuring your application is not subject to attacks by hackers and other nefarious users.
A Brief History of SDLC Practices
Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) describes how software applications are built. It usually contains the following phases:Requirements gatheringDesign of new features based on the requirementsDevelopment of new capabilities (writing code to meet requirements)Verification of new capabilities—confirming that they do indeed meet the requirementsMaintenance and evolution of these capabilities once the release goes out the door
The Waterfall model is one of the earliest and best-known SDLC methodologies, which laid the groundwork for these SDLC phases. Developed in 1970, these phases largely remain the same today, but there have been tremendous changes in software engineering practices that have redefined how software is created.
Traditionally, software was written for highly specialized applications, and software programs developed using the Waterfall methodology often took years to release. Modern-day practices now focus on increasing the pace of innovation while continuing to build well-functioning software applications. Companies have moved on from Waterfall, with most using some form of the agile SDLC, first published in 2001.
Agile development advocates for splitting up large monolithic releases into multiple mini-releases, each done in two- or three-week-long sprints, and uses automation to build and verify applications. This allows companies to iterate much more quickly. Instead of the infrequent, monolithic deployments characteristic of Waterfall-driven applications, agile development often focuses on releasing new functionality multiple times a day, building software incrementally instead of all at once.
SDLC and Application Security
But what about the security of these applications? Back in 1970, most attacks required physical access to a terminal on the machine running the application. The world was also a lot less interconnected, reducing the risk of external actors impacting application security. As new software development methodologies were put into practice over the years, security was rarely put in the spotlight within the SDLC.
Instead, application security became the responsibility of IT security teams dedicated to application support. At first, applications were tested after their release only. This testing occurred in production environments, often on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, this meant that any potential vulnerabilities would be “out in the wild” for attackers to exploit for a number of weeks or even months before they could be noticed and addressed. As a result, most companies have since chosen to supplement production testing with pre-release security testing as well. This supplemental testing was placed on the critical path of the release, and applications needed to pass the security check prior to deploying the code to production.
This security testing step often takes several weeks to complete, lengthening the release cycle. What’s worse, its outcome is completely impossible to plan for: A security test may find just a few vulnerabilities that can be fixed in a few days or could find dozens or even hundreds of vulnerabilities. Fixing the vulnerabilities found could require significant code changes that replace entire underlying components, all of which will then need to be reverified against both the application requirements as well as another security test.