Kanishk Tagade is a Marketing Manager at Astra Security. He is also the Editor-in-Chief at "QuickCyber.news"
Considering today's cyber threat landscape, it is undeniable to say that the internet-facing applications are at major risk due to rapid increase in vulnerability exploits and ways to penetrate applications leveraging the hidden weaknesses in them.
Organizations often focus on the development of applications for a better customer experience without keeping security aspects in mind. And sadly, this leads to multiple data breaches and website compromise.
This is where a secure code review steps in with the procedures that can detect such security loopholes and misconfigured issues for an application. The secure code review also enables certain compliance standards and makes sure best practices are followed in the future by the development teams.
From checklists, developing a software experience, to automated tools, there are multiple approaches to an ideal review of code security - here are a few practices to keep in mind:
Before stepping into ensuring security, it is important to understand what elements of security an application requires for optimal protection. There are both general and unique features for every software application which means the security requirements and the ideal secure code review will differ accordingly.
Here are a few features to be considered before stepping forward:
Setting such a checklist will help provide a sense of direction to the respective tester, following which other steps can be taken through the process. All of these preliminary steps will add up to a successful code review that’s both efficient and highly secure.
Once the threats to your application/organization are identified, your security system can be built around these threats for precise responses. Building a well-framed threat modeling process ensures that threats are systematically detected, understood, and dealt with. They also need to be taken to further stages for communicating similar problems and discussing remedial measures in case of recurrence.
There are different stages in which threat modeling has maximum effect - planning and design, development, and the deployment stages respectively. It provides both risk analysis and a better understanding of the relation between the different components of the system/application. This information stays steady in the face of changing interfaces and app environments, providing better information on the same.
Reviewing thousands of lines of code need not always be a manual task - but a fine balance between manual and automated responsibilities is important. Automated tools help a great deal in simplifying the burden and increasing the basic barriers of security by detecting commonplace issues.
It leaves the human logic and specific analytical skills free to deal with the more complicated aspects, doing a better job at detection sometimes. However, there are still design and infrastructural flaws in coding that can skip the automated purview, along with the problem of false positives.
As it may be understood at this point, it’s difficult to detect and resolve certain issues when you don’t know what you’re looking out for. Automated tools have their skills limited to time-intensive ones and finding out small vulnerable code patterns from a huge database. Manually, the inexperienced tester is equally helpless.
The security professional who has dealt with quite a few situations such as these or has experienced systems as unique as yours has a better chance.
Code reviewers and security analysts from a trusted and experienced organization play a very important role in your security strategy. Their skills help in binding the entire effort together by dealing with the minute tasks such as the logic of the application.
By allowing users to access data according to their needs, you’ll be avoiding a large number of security issues that compromise your customers’ privacy. Despite being a simple task, this is often overlooked and as a result, over 20% of sensitive information is accessible by all employees.
For example, if a user requires admin access for a special task for a limited period of time, ensure that the access is provided within this time period. This reduces potential issues, insider compromises, or data breaches that come out of unauthorized access.
As the code review process proceeds, several security risks and vulnerabilities may pop up. This makes it important to follow the strategy of ‘identify, understand, solve, and place the findings in the final report’. Following this step ensures that your organization avoids potential threats of similar nature, a task that can also be done by a trusted scanner. Any changes in the software or the application need to be evaluated for security loopholes.
Regularity makes up half of the importance of a secure code review. Whenever significant changes are made within the system, the entire process should involve a review process. This continuous evaluation ensures that you’re left with minimum threats and high quality code.
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