how you should approach the secure development life cycle

Digital transformation comes with a number of great benefits that both organizations and consumers. However, it does open up companies to newer types of threats that should be addressed. These threats and problems should be dealt with accordingly by adopting a secure development life cycle.

What is a Secure Development Life Cycle?

A Secure Development Life Cycle or SDLC are practices that help ensure the creation of secure software products. This set of practices aims to reduce software vulnerabilities and build a more secure software.

Benefits of a Secure Development Life Cycle

  • A more secure software: A software can be rendered useless if it has unaddressed security flaws. New features and better UI are not enough if you want to deliver the best to your internal and external clients.
  • Early detection of design flaws before coding: This is not only a great way to ensure your software coder or developer doesn’t get burnout from revisiting code after code whenever there’s a late detection of design flaws. It also ensures smoother business operations and a more secure company.
  • Reduced costs: When design flaws are detected late in the stage or have already been coded, it means additional work hours will be required to rework and rebuild the software. By applying SDLC practices, companies can save more
  • Reduced business risks: Risks that aren’t reviewed and managed well can be difficult to bounce back from. Security breaches from software that was rushed into launching without going through the SDLC phases won’t only cause financial damage but also hit the company’s reputation as a secure software provider.
  • Increased client trust: Your clients’ confidence and loyalty will be further strengthened if you continue to provide the right and secure products for their business.

The Phases of the Secure Development Life Cycle

SDLCs may vary from business to business. But generally, all SDLC should include the following phases:

Planning & Requirements

The first step, which is defining what your software requires, is crucial. This phase should result in a comprehensive list of what each part of the software should have and be able to do. The outcome of this phase can be based on previous experiences, industry best practices, and foreseeable trends or threats.

Architecture & Design

You need to establish a secure design before moving on to the next phase and actually beginning coding. Your working team, led by the project owner, can map out the design and work to analyze possible threats at each part. Threat modeling is one of the best ways to identify such gaps or threats. It’s the practice of thinking about how a feature or part of the system can be attacked. This practice can help the team think of ways to address these attacks before they even happen.

Coding

When the design document has been completed and reviewed, it’s now time to begin coding. Depending on the type and how complex the software is, coding can take the longest among the different phases. This is because the code quality can make or break the software. Getting good engineers or code developers is essential to ensuring high-quality coding and getting the best out of your design.

Testing and Results

Testing, also called “User Acceptance Testing” (UAT) in other industries, is an important step prior to the launch or release of the software. Once the coding is complete, extensive testing must be done to spot any gaps or errors that need to be corrected. These errors can be even more costly when released without being addressed. For easier reference by the working team, the breakdowns should be identified in specific parts of the design and defined clearly. This allows for a faster turnaround time from testing to reviewing and correcting, then back to testing again.

The happy path is that the testing goes well with great results. But, realistically, there may be one or more fixes that need to be done before testing again and moving on to the next phase.

Release and Maintenance

Once the working team is confident about the final product, it is ready to launch or release. It’s important to note that the life cycle doesn’t end when the software lands in the hands of the end users important to note that the life cycle doesn’t end when the software lands in the hands of the end users. It is crucial to have a dedicated team to address any client requests or concerns about the final product. There should be a team that can respond to technical questions and even suggestions in a timely manner. The feedback can help the team fine-tune the software even more with the coming updates.

The integration of security at every phase of the SDLC is crucial. Doing so helps ensure that the company abides by both internal security standards and regulatory compliance requirements.

Your Company’s Approach to SDLC

While the product owners and tech leads mostly oversee the different phases of the SDLC, its success requires the commitment of everyone in the organization. Depending on the size of the company and its various departments, top-line training in software security practices is a basic initiative that the company must implement. More detailed training on the software and how to raise service tickets should be conducted for the internal end-users.

Foreseeing every security or operational threat to one’s software may be difficult. However, the beauty of the Secure Development Life Cycle is that it doesn’t end with just the deployment of the software. No matter how sophisticated the software is or how innovative its new features are, it should be continuously reviewed and maintained. This way, you protect your client (and your company) from exploitation and security threats.

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