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Preparing a secure SDLC – Is it important for web and mobile apps development business?

November 14th, 2016

The increase in data and information has directly increased the risk of data or information being hacked for further purpose. The hackers have evolved from zero to a place where every single information in the web is hackable. Since this evolution, the businesses are now forced to consider a security measure for every product they develop. The Web and mobile apps development company is no bar from this list as the world is expecting on-the-go solutions for almost everything. In simple words, our world is not all about software as it has many web and mobile applications. The software development lifecycle (SDLC) is essential for every web and mobile application development.

Reading this article will help you know about,

  • What is SDLC and its stages?
  • What is Secure SDLC?
  • How does the Secure SDLC work?
  • Why it is important for the web and mobile apps development company?

What is SDLC and its stages?

Software development lifecycle is a process to ensure proper, and quality software or application is built. This lifecycle is divided into phases which have its process and deliverables that go in as the input feed to the next phase. In simple words, SDLC is a framework that defines the task performed in each step of the software development process. The methodologies might vary across industries, but the standards remain as per the ISO/IEC 12207. This process provides a model for the development, acquisition, and deployment of the software system.

SDLC - Process

The primary benefit of the software development lifecycle process is to help the developers produce software or application that is efficient, cost effective and high in quality. SDLC primarily helps in the proper deployment of the developed product. With the end-to-end stature in consideration, SDLC is divided into the following categories:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Coding
  • Testing
  • Maintenance
  1. Requirement gathering/analysis – This is one of the most critical processes of a software development lifecycle. It is the place where the relevant communications happen between the stakeholders, project team and the end user. Analysis phase identifies and captures the initial requirement of the stakeholders.
  2. Structuring/designing – With the proper input from the analysis phase, the design phase is carried out where the technical design of the system is prepared with the help of the lead staffs like the architects and designers. Technical requirements like the hardware and the system requirements are finalized in this phase.
  3. Construction/coding – This is the phase where the actual work is carried out. The development team gets the input from the previous phase and starts with the coding and the unit testing. In some cases, the developer might demonstrate the work done, to the analyst to ensure there is no tweaks and enhancement in the later stages.This phase is the longest in the software development lifecycle process.
  4. Documentation and testing – With the input from the coding phase, the testing team tests the migrated application in the test environment. Different types of tests like integration and system testing will be performed, and the last process of the testing phase will be the user acceptance testing which is done by the user to ensure the product meets their expectations.
  5. Deployment and testing – Once the product signed off by the different parties like the stakeholders, end users, etc., the product is moved to the implementation and maintenance phase. The system is rolled-out to the end users and monitored for regular feedback.

What is secure SDLC?

Microsoft says that businesses need to understand the critical importance of secure software development as the hackers are becoming smart. The principal security group program manager of Microsoft said, “Businesses need to look at their reliance on software and consider the importance of secure development to their organization and customers.” The past was little different as the security process was carried out only in the testing phase which resulted in the increase in the number of issues. The primary security challenges are listed below which derived the need for proactive SDLC through security:

  • Systematic challenges
  • Growing nature of threats
  • Critical defect problems to be persistent
  • Late phase detection resulted in costly impact
  • Increase in the concern and awareness of customers

It is better to integrate security process in every phase as this process might reduce the increase in the vulnerabilities. This is where then the concept of a secure SLDC arose. A secure SLDC is a process to ensure security activities like architecture analysis, code review, and penetration testing is carried out as an integral part of the development effort. The advantages of deploying a secure SDLC are:

  • Secured end product as the security measures is performed in every phase
  • Awareness is created to the stakeholders on the security considerations
  • Decrease in the late detection issues in the software or applications
  • Cost is reduced as a result of the fall in the number of late detection issues
  • Intrinsic business risks are reduced by more than half

How does the Secure SDLC work?

A secure software development lifecycle is carried out by adding security related activities to the existed development process. There are many proposed secure SDLC model and here are some of the top models used by most of the web and mobile apps development companies and software development companies:

  • Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (MS SDL) – Proposed by Microsoft in association with all the phases of the classic SLDC, MS SDL, is one of its kind.
  • NIST 800-64 – Developed by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and observed by US federal agencies, NIST 800-64 is used mainly to provide security considerations with the SDLC.
  • Cigital’s Security Touchpoints – This was proposed by Gary McGraw in Building Security as these touchpoints present an artifact-centric approach making the security analysis SDLC model skeptic.
  • OWASP Comprehensive, Lightweight Application Security Process (CLASP) – Based on MS SDL, this model is simple to implement and maps the security activities to the organization’s roles.

Why it is important for the web and mobile apps development company?

The world is in the technological dimension where almost everything is happening with the help of technology. For example, people are seeking data and information from the web or the mobile app that they use. Since the change is happening now, the web and mobile apps development companies are forced to get into a development model where every phase is necessary to be secured with a security process. This is the primary reason why the organization is pushed to follow a secure software development lifecycle (SSDLC).

To get started with SSDLC, the organizations’ management has to perform a strategic approach which helps in more significant impact. Here is how to get started:

  1. The first step would be a gap analysis to determine what are the current activities or policies your organization deployed and how the effectiveness of it.
  2. Second is to set up a Software Security Initiative (SSI) by defining the metrics. The security process should be formalized by the SSI.
  3. Hire and train employees with appropriate tools.

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