Software runs the world. We depend on applications for work and personal life. Seemingly any glitch, no matter how big or small, can be felt by consumers, customers, partners, suppliers — the whole interconnected ecosystem of commerce.
It is no wonder then that a software security vulnerability, left exposed or unpatched, can cause serious financial and reputational damage. The global average cost of a data breach is now US$4.45 million, according to data from IBM.
Perhaps more worrisome, security teams now have less time to apply a patch once it has been released. For example, Mandiant Intelligence has found that 29 vulnerabilities were exploited by attackers within one week of public disclosure of the vulnerability. In other words, as soon as a problem is announced, bad actors try to exploit it before organizations can patch it.
But attackers don’t wait for vulnerabilities to be made public; they are continuously looking for them. Mandiant Intelligence has reported that the vast majority are known as zero-day exploits, in which a vulnerability has been hacked before a patch is even available.
Any of these issues can cause problems for your organization, as well as your customers, suppliers, and partners. So, we must do our best to mitigate vulnerabilities in the software development lifecycle.
The Causes of Software Vulnerabilities and How to Avoid Them
Software vulnerabilities are typically not intentional acts of sabotage. Rather, most of them are the result of engineering teams moving too fast, not testing enough or throughout the software lifecycle, or simply human errors. We commonly see vulnerabilities that arise from coding errors or design flaws.
The right testing strategy and tools will catch these issues. However, there must be a collaborative internal effort to address vulnerabilities. The business needs to understand the risks, and IT and security teams need to work together as software is designed, built, tested, put into production, and maintained.
In terms of strategy, if your organization uses the DevOps methodology, adding security into the process is relatively straightforward. You already have a culture that is collaborative rather than siloed, so it becomes a matter of integrating security measures and processes into all development stages.
Without a DevOps approach, your organization needs to unify people around the value of security and the need to continuously test code to find any defects, bugs, misconfigurations, or other coding errors.
Either way, we highly recommend the use of testing automation throughout the software development lifecycle. For example, quality assurance (QA) automation makes it easier to repeatedly test software, without the heavy lift of manually testing. Automated QA reduces the burden on IT and security team, but also mitigates the chances for errors or missed vulnerabilities.
Furthermore automated scanning tools can offer rapid insights into the problems, prioritize them by criticality, and offer recommended fixes.
Our teams at RKON have a great deal of experience with automation, DevOps, and the software engineering process in general. If your group is unsure where to start, we can conduct an assessment of your tools and processes, then help create a roadmap toward improving software development.
In addition, we can serve as an extension of your IT team – filling expertise gaps, implementing automation tools, conducting vulnerability testing, and more. Our teams can even take on full software development for you – contact us today.