Balancing data privacy and security with user experience is one of the most complex tasks for software developers.
Many projects have higher priority for business functionality and security-related tasks are lower priority which leads to an insecure system.
Here are some reasons why putting security to the forefront of our designs and development are essential.
Why is security by design important?
The security by design methodology should be enforced in the product design and development stages to make more secure and reliable software. Rather than applying security at the final stages of the software, it is better to start the project with security awareness. Finding the issues related to the security of the project at the final stage of the development process might force the development team to expend further unplanned time to re-architecture or make dozens of changes.
What are the dangers of weak or flawed security?
One of the problems with poor security design on software is the exposure of sensitive data.
For instance, the simple scenario is that the user enters his/her account and clicks an image to download it. What if that link is available to others and there is no authentication or resource protection?
Something as simple as a compromised linking strategy can be difficult to fix after the fact and could eventually lead to a steep drop-off in user confidence and corresponding plummet in adoption of your app or service.
How do we define secure design? Integrity, confidentiality & availability
When talking about security by design we need to define several terms. Classic information security usually includes confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
- Keeping information secret that should not be made known to the public. For instance, your healthcare record – Confidentiality
- When your information is safe and does not change by any third party, this is Integrity. For instance, votes for election.
- Availability implies that the information is at hand on time. For example, when there is a call for a hospital, they need to know the location and the address immediately.
All 3 factors are mandatory if you are concerned about security by design in your project. Moreover, in recent years many governments and legal bodies have introduced rules which require traceability of data use, access and dissemination. This features in laws such as the European GDPR regulations. Traceability is another factor we must consider to ensure that if the data is accessed, that connection should be traceable.
What are the deficiencies of software security?
Security by design starts from the approaches that you do with your code. If you ask five developers to design software, you will get five different answers. But only a few of them ask how the objects interact with each other and how the system should be protected.
To create better software you should care about:
- Design patterns
- System architecture
- Activities and connection of classes
- Even writing if statement or utilizing for loop security
These all qualify as part of the software design process.
In the traditional software development process, security should be a top priority when developing and write code. So, everyone involved in the process should be trained and experienced in software security.
At the very least developers need to know about the cross-site scripting attacks, vulnerabilities in low-level protocols, and the OWASP Top 10. By being aware of these, developers approach the development process differently, for example, they start to care about input sanitization, security configurations, or outdated components in their toolset.
How to achieve security?
Dozens of tools and services are available that protects your entire environment from threats. For instance:
- Web App Firewall
- Executable obfuscator
- App Monitoring Services
- Two-Factor Authentication Services and similar such as OAUTH
- Exaggerated backup tools
- Secure hosting
These are the tools that may reduce the risk of attacks. Attackers can overcome firewalls, can find the main ports of your system or you might be using a malicious package. But still, everything works fine.
Often, the bulk of security problems arise from infrastructure flaws. Well, experienced developers do not surprise, because again, the security problems are the result of broken infrastructure.
Briefly, things that shouldn’t be exposed to the public should be cut off from the public.
What conclusions are there on making security-first a design priority?
- It is pragmatic if you find design practices that guide you to more secure solutions.
- All the activities that can happen in the system, should be looked at as a software design pattern.
- Good design is the guiding principle for the system, from code to architecture.
- Add several layers of security that promote security in-depth.
Can the right choice of development tool help with a security-first approach?
Choosing a commercially available development environment is a smart choice when it comes to security and a security-first design methodology. One such environment is RAD Studio. RAD Studio is actively development with a business and commercial imperative to ensure that any newly-discovered security issues are rapidly addressed through patches and updates. It is quite literally in the RAD Studio developers’ best interests to ensure that the IDE is secure.
With RAD Studio, you can develop any type of software quickly and easily with enterprise-grade components. You can easily build native and cross-platform applications with RAD Studio which can run on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS – often with little or no code. The component-based and low-code design lends itself well to encapsulation of security best practices where developers are not commonly required to “roll their own” solutions for a great many development scenarios and challenges.
Associated components and modules such as RAD Server come with the security elements abstracted away from the actual use of the feature to provide and enable functionality in the developer’s applications. Fewer lines of code for the developer to write almost always means greater security and a smaller chance for our code to make mistakes which potentially compromise the security and increase the ‘threat surface’, the areas of weakness which a hacker to attack.
RAD Studio is a complete and well-rounded environment which makes it easy to develop apps and programs which can run on all sorts of desktop and mobile devices. Why not download a free trial today?