What are the five phases of the secure software development life cycle?

Requirements planning

In software development, you never go directly from idea to programming. First, you need to plan. While planning can be the most contentious phase of the secure software development life cycle, it is also often the most important. During this phase, you will determine the security requirements of your project.

At this stage, you and your team will need to ask some key questions:

  • What are the security requirements for this project?
  • What are its potential vulnerabilities?
  • What are the current vulnerabilities faced by similar projects? What are the likely future vulnerabilities?
  • How can these vulnerabilities be researched and tested?
  • What kind of phishing or social engineering issues might this project face? Are there user awareness issues that need to be addressed? How can these problems be mitigated?

Planning security requirements gives you an essential basic understanding of how you should design security protections for the software you are developing. As the old axiom goes, not planning means planning to fail.

Design

Once you have completed the requirements planning phase of the secure software development lifecycle, you can begin designing the software. Software design should be consistent with the planning done previously and should be done in preparation for real-world deployment.

In the design phase of the secure software development lifecycle, security requirements are implemented and coded according to secure coding standards. This means that the program settings comply with all current security standards. Additionally, the program should be created using the latest security architecture, thus ensuring the most up-to-date protections.

Finally, developers should also think long and hard about designing an appropriate security architecture for their programs. This means that when building the software, they must implement all relevant security requirements and control various factors including risk management, legal restrictions, and social engineering vulnerabilities.

Development

Once the design phase of the project is complete, the actual development of the software can begin. In this context, development refers to the actual coding and programming of the application. Development works best when basic security principles are kept in mind.

This means the following:

  • Development should be done using secure coding standards. Programmers should have up-to-date knowledge of relevant security standards and how they apply to the current project.
  • Development should appropriately implement secure design patterns and frameworks. This refers to the security architecture of the software. The development of a program can only be successful if it uses appropriate security relationships.
  • Development should take advantage of the latest secure coding practices. This usually means using updated versions of programming languages ​​that best meet current security standards.

Test

Once the project has been designed and developed, you can start testing it in the alpha or beta phase. This involves subjecting the project to a series of rigorous security tests. There are many ways to perform such testing, including working with a Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) or Penetration Tester.

In penetration testing, a security professional will attempt to hack into your system like a stranger would, using a number of commonly used methods. Penetration testing often involves attempting to breach firewalls, access secure records, or attach simulated ransomware to your databases. By doing so, the penetration tester will record your potential vulnerabilities and report them to you afterwards.

Penetration testing is a fantastic tool that allows you to determine potential vulnerabilities in your program. AC|EH can perform this form of testing and notify you of vulnerabilities in your program. They can also make recommendations on the kinds of improvements you can make to better protect your program or train users.

Deployment and maintenance

A developer’s job does not end with the deployment of a project. It’s only after a project starts working in a live environment that a developer can truly see if their design is appropriate for the situation.

Developers should regularly update deployed software. This means creating patches to address potential security vulnerabilities and ensuring the product is constantly updated to account for new threats and issues. Additionally, initial testing may have missed obvious vulnerabilities that can only be found and addressed through regular maintenance. This means that a software developer must remain committed to the development of a program even after the program has been used by others. It also means that the secure software development lifecycle requires you to create a simple process for patching software.

Are there guarantees in the software industry? Of course not. However, the cycle described above is the best tool available to ensure that you are creating the best possible software product. The five stages of the secure software development lifecycle can help you and your organization create an ideal software product that meets your customers’ needs and builds your reputation.

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Gordon K. Morehouse