The surge in cyberattacks has made cybersecurity a primary component of software development. While creating a completely secure application is impossible, software developers can apply various techniques to mitigate software security risks. Software developers should choose between fixing vulnerabilities at the end of the development cycle or making security part of the development process to mitigate security risks in coding.
If you prefer including security best practices right from the start, consider the following best practices for secure coding.
1. Validate inputs: Don’t trust the end user
Most applications have problems with the security of user inputs, which is the first line of defense against attacks. Validating user inputs make it easy for software developers to avoid the most basic vulnerabilities. Whether the input is from a trusted or untrusted source, you should ensure that it is validated.
Codes with input validation formats check to ensure that everything entered is correct. If the data isn’t correct, the application automatically rejects it with a 400 HTTP Error message. Input validation checks should be based on:
- Information format, such as dates
- Data length, such as phone number
- Characters set, such as email addresses
A perfect example of input validation is the “ please enter a valid email address” when users forget to type the special character “@” in their email addresses.
2. Adopt the PoLP (Principle of Least Privilege) policy
High secure facilities in real-world environments, such as banks, government offices, and military installations, have strictly regulated access to minimize breaches and other risks. Software developers should apply the same principle to applications. Access to networks and apps should be limited on a need basis.
For instance, a customer care agent shouldn’t access the company’s payroll. Similarly, the chief financial officer shouldn’t have access to the organization’s SSH portal. Applications and processes should follow the minimum privileges to assure maximum safety. Where necessary, additional permission should be granted for a limited period to reduce the chances of users exploiting access permissions.
Software developers can achieve this through:
- Validating access requests for permission – java and Net Core filters can perform effective permission checks.
- Create tests that validate permissions
- Review permissions periodically.
3. Deny access by default
Software developers can also mitigate security risks by configuring apps to deny access by default. Making access decisions based on user permission is better and more efficient than using exclusions because maintaining an exclusions list is time-consuming and can lead to errors.
Denying access by default helps:
- Lock unauthenticated users out – users without authentication can’t access the app unless granted permission by the admin.
- Regulate access to new features – users can only access new features after proper configuration.
- Restrict new user accounts – if the company has a new employee, they can’t access sensitive systems until their IDs, passwords, and accounts are verified.
4. Secure your work
Protecting your application is important, especially after investing a lot of time and effort in its development. Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to do so. You should leverage built-in techniques and features such as:
- Use strong cryptography – encrypt all your data, whether in storage or transit. You should use strong and reliable data encryption programs or hashing algorithms to protect code integrity.
- Strengthen your database – your application database is valuable and a top target for malicious actors. Small errors, such as code injections, are disastrous. As such, if users only need read access, don’t give write access.
- Use trusted security certificates – use trusted digital security certificates, such as TLS or SSL, for web apps. Ensure they have proper configuration and are not expired.
- Sign codes before releasing – sign your codes digitally using a code signing certificate before releasing them to prevent interference.
5. Check code quality and follow coding standards
Hackers and malicious players are always on standby, waiting for software developers to make mistakes. While human errors and vulnerabilities evolve, you should constantly search for errors in your codes and fix them before hackers exploit them. This includes:
- Reviewing codes regularly
- Use reliable quality assurance protocols, such as penetration testing, code audits, and independent security reviews.
- Adhere to coding standards provided by international agencies
- Use threat modeling to prevent attacks
- Use an effective patch management process
The Bottom Line
Threats facing organizations are constantly on the rise. Therefore, developing secure apps and software is becoming crucial for all companies. While achieving efficient and fully secure software is challenging, software developers should avoid bad coding habits and follow coding best practices to mitigate security risks.