Introduction To Secure Application Coding
We’ve been using different computer programs in our daily lives. We use Outlook, Word, and Excel for office work. We use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to socialize online. There’s always an application that would fulfill or meet our needs.
A programmer creates and designs an application. There are secure application coding standards or practices that they follow. These best practices lessen the security risks of using a computer program.
Application Development Stages
An application undergoes a software development life cycle or SDLC. A program will go through the following stages of SDLC:
1. Planning - Programmers will gather the requirements for the project during this stage. They secure applications by following information security policies. They also keep in mind the application security standards.
2. Implementation - Programmers write the source code of their application in this stage. They secure applications by using effective styles of coding. They will not use code that will introduce security vulnerabilities.
3. Testing - Programmer search for programming errors or bugs in their code. They secure applications by performing security testing in this stage.
4. Documentation - There should always be a written manual for future reference. Programmers secure applications by taking note of the processes. They also write down the security solutions in the testing stage.
5. Deployment - This is the stage where an application should be ready for release. Programmers will perform penetration testing before releasing the software for public use. This is one good secure application coding practice as well.
6. Maintenance - This is the stage where patching applications come into place. Programmers secure applications by updating the program. A typical update consists of bug fixes and upgrades to the software.
Applying security during the software development life cycle is necessary. You can also secure applications by using SecureBox.
Secure Application Coding Practices Checklist
Prevention is always the best cure. It’s better to prevent a security risk from happening than defend against it. There is an international community whose goal is to promote software security. OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) provides standards or security requirements when coding a program.
Their secure coding practices checklist is a good guide. You can follow this to secure applications from threats. Below are some of the best practices and the features of SecureBox:
1. Input Validation - programmers need to secure applications by validating user input. The program shouldn’t accept programming commands or system calls. Cross-site scripting and SQL injection attacks exploit this vulnerability. SecureBox validates data through its whitelisting feature.
2. Output Encoding - refers to the process of converting untrusted input to a safe form. This input appears as data to the user and doesn’t execute as code in the browser.
3. Authentication and Password Management - your application should have a strong authentication system. Using two-factor or multi-factor authentication is advisable.
Passwords should be at least 8 characters long and must be alphanumeric with symbols as well. Take this example: h@CKth3plan3t! It’ll take 204 million years for a computer to crack that password.
Another form of authentication is through SSL certificates. An application uses this to encrypt online communications and transactions. SecureBox does a good job of preventing SSL sniffing attacks.
4. Session Management - programmers need to secure applications whenever it starts a session. Cybercriminals would interfere with this through man-in-the-middle attacks. SecureBox protects you from this kind of threat.
5. Access Control - secure applications by limiting the privileges of its users. Restrict access to it except to people with administrator privileges. Your security team or IT personnel can configure this.
6. Cryptographic Practices - one good way to secure applications is to use cryptography. Encrypt everything that you can think of. Encrypt data from the user. Encrypt the transmission of data. Encrypt the data while on storage. SecureBox protects user input through keystroke encryption technology. Imagine every keystroke you make undergoes encryption process!
7. Error Handling and Logging - your program shouldn’t be displaying system info. Don’t let cybercriminals get a clue about your system or what’s happening in it. Log all activities in real time as well. SecureBox is good at watching and logging suspicious activities. It acts as a web application firewall or WAF. This feature alone defeats many types of attack vectors already!
8. Data Protection - the application should remove sensitive data when it’s no longer needed. You can call this as “data housekeeping”. Clearing temporary and installation files are good ways to secure applications. Any piece of data is usable by an attacker to compromise your program and system.
9. Communication Security - always encrypt the transmission of any sensitive information. If your application sends data, you should be protecting that transmission. If it is a web application, you can use TLS protocol. TLS stands for Trasport Layer Security. This provides end-to-end communication security. It’s also the successor to the now obsolete SSL or Secure Sockets Layer protocol. Cybercriminals would perform network sniffing attacks on your TLS/SSL connection. SecureBox has an amazing feature that prevents SSL sniffing attacks!
Applying security measures in the application development stage is crucial. You can secure applications in an easy manner by using SecureBox. Sign up now to get a free demo of this great product!