The last few decades have seen enormous, steady, and irreversible transformations in the interrelated realms of software development and cybersecurity. As regards the former, the perceived need for more flexible and versatile software development techniques culminated in the early days of the 21st century when the agile manifesto tipped top, signaling the turning away from linear and sequential methodologies as showcased by the waterfall model. From a more technical standpoint, this revolution ushered in a new era of novice products such as apps and Software-as-a-Service. Software developers would now have more versatile tools at their disposal, Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), and so on.
These changes have had profound impacts on the cybersecurity sphere. As software development continues to gain more sophistication, cyber attackers are also keen to enhance and bolster their hacking energy. And there is absolutely no reason to believe that the dynamics of the two elements will ever come to a halt in the near future. This article leverages this intuition as a golden opportunity to perform an empirical investigation on the latest security trends and threats in software development.
Overview of Software Security
The dearth of experienced practitioners, software complexity, insufficient and incompetent security protocols, and sophisticated hacking techniques are the prime enemies of software security. And software security is a critical component of software development. In fact, software security is defined as the ability to protect software from attackers’ exploitations by integrating them with adequate and efficient security protocols while following the best security practices, right from the maiden phases of the software development process to the last phase.
Today, software security is a vital discipline right under our noses. Gary McGraw, in his publication Six Tech Trends Impacting Software Security, estimates the commercial software security marketplace, including security infrastructure and professionals, to weigh to about $4 billion. In other words, the software development world and the entire internet at large are encountering new threats every passing day, and the severity of these threats is growing.
Software Development Security Threats and How To Respond to them
The security threats surrounding the software development world have forced security teams to rethink the best strategies and proactive approaches to tame the menace. In line with this, security teams must be well-acquainted with the latest security threats and know the best defense lines to mitigate the threats. Here are the top security threats giving software developers sleepless nights, alongside the measures to curb them.
This occurs when the data shared via a website is unencrypted. Attackers install packet sniffers to find and analyze network traffic and sniff through unencrypted data.
How to Prevent: Use an SSL certificate right from the word go! Ensuring your site is fully encrypted before launching it will help you greatly. And all it takes is an SSL certificate, and you are good to go. An SSL certificate from reputed brands such as RapidSSL certificate, GlobalSign SSL, Comodo PositiveSSL Wildcard, etc. will give your website the encryption strengths it requires to prevent unauthorized parties from sniffing through data.
This might surprise you, but did you know that software developers are the people most targeted by attackers conducting cyberattacks against the tech industry? Well, now you know.
Cybercriminals are leveraging public profiles of people working in the high-turnover software development industry to proclaim their phishing campaigns. They try to mimic as bank or other reputed organizations to get details of individuals. Their goal is to steal intellectual property and other data. Attackers can either sell the data on the dark web or, in the cases of corporate-backed espionage, use the data to create a knock-off version of the same software.
How To Prevent: The best way software developers can avoid phishing attacks is to ensure they display as little information on their public-facing profiles as possible. Developers should also be cautious of suspicious emails, especially those that come with downloadable attachments and clickable links.
3The Rise of Third-Party Attacks
Are you perfectly acquainted with all elements of your software? Today, open source exists in almost every proprietary community project and codebase. But the issue is not whether or not you are using open source. Rather, the most significant aspect is knowing what open source you are using and the extent of the use. According to Sonatype’s State of the Software Supply Chain Report, cyberattacks targeting open-source software projects are a real menace for most companies since 90% of applications contain open-source code while 11% of the open-source codes have known vulnerabilities.
And you are treading your software on an upstream of vulnerabilities if you do not know your software supply network. And this only opens you up to a myriad of attacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
Cyberattacks in the software development lifecycle often target software developers and suppliers. Attackers aim to access source codes, build processes, update mechanisms, or build processes by injecting malware into the software and distributing them to other centers.
How To Prevent: The key to protecting your software against third-party security threats is ensuring all your third-party vendors comply with the strictest of cybersecurity standards. You should assess third-party security posture to ensure they are up to the task.
4Credential Stuffing and Brute Force Attacks
Credential stuffing is where attackers use lists of compromised user credentials to breach a system. Attackers usually use automated bots to try various username and password combinations. The attack is based on the assumption that most users reuse login credentials across multiple services.
Credential stuffing is a rising vulnerability, especially in software development, for two major reasons. First, there is the broad availability of a massive database of breached credentials. A good example is Collection #1-5, a scheme that exposed over 22 million plaintext credentials for the hacker community. Secondly, there has been a rise in more sophisticated bots capable of making several username-password combinations and capable of circumventing simple security measures such as banning IP addresses with too many failed login attempts.
How To Prevent: You can prevent your software development project from credential stuffing and brute force attacks by enabling multi-factor authentication, using CAPTCHA, blocking headless browsers, rate-limiting non-residential traffic sources, and disabling email address user IDs.
5Malware Threats to Software Developers
Software developers are also facing a new wave of malicious codes as their processes and tools prove ineffective in handling these threats. Conventionally, website developers were able to use tools and measures such as frequently updating their software and following best security practices. But the recent wave of advanced persistent threats (APTs) has proved these measures almost ineffective.
Attackers write malicious codes with the ill motive of damaging or otherwise inflicting undesirable effects on target software projects. Software development projects are susceptible to malware and worms such as adware, ransomware, backdoors, trojans, and logic bombs.
How to Prevent: Software developers can protect their projects from malware infections by installing antimalware software, using secure authentication methods, keeping all software updated, leveraging access controls, and monitoring the system for any malicious activities.
Software developers no longer face the same threats as everyone else. The nature of the software development environment makes it a prime target for contemporary threat actors seeking to corrupt their tools and steal their data. And these threats seem to be evolving at an alarming rate. This article has explored the latest software development security threats and provided suggestions on how best to address these threats.