Top 5 secure coding guidelines

Securing apps has become quite a challenge for developers.

Building software is quite challenging, but the biggest question developers should consider is how secure the developed code is. The security landscape is ever-changing. Along with the advancements in technology, threat actors are increasingly innovating to compromise applications, and securing apps has become quite a challenge for developers. 

What is secure coding? 

Secure coding is a set of technologies and best practices for making software as secure and stable as possible. It encompasses everything from encryption, certificates, and federated identity to recommendations for moving sensitive data, accessing a file system, and managing memory.   

Why is secure coding important? 

An insecure application can result in threat actors accessing your application. This can result in:  

  • Denial of service  
  • Loss of service  
  • Damage to systems   
  • Financial implications  
  • Data loss  

What are the types of security vulnerabilities that affect code? 

Buffer Overflow  

A buffer overflow allows an external attacker to inject code or data into a system. An example of a buffer overread defect is Heartbleed. The attacker was able to read data from exposed systems.   

Code Injection Flaw  

Code injection flaw exploits a bug caused by processing invalid data. Shellshock is an example of a code injection flaw, where threat actors execute arbitrary code on a remote system to perform malicious activities.  

What are the top 5 Secure Coding Guidelines? 

Input Validation  

Validate inputs from all the untrusted data sources. Validate the external data sources including network interfaces, command-line arguments, user-controlled lines, etc.  

Access Control  

Implement a “default deny” approach to sensitive data. Limit privileges and access to secure data should be on a strict need-to-know basis. Engage controls that authenticate and verify the identity of all users.   

Defense in depth  

Have multiple defensive strategies in place so that if one layer is compromised, another layer of defense can prevent a flaw from becoming an exploitable vulnerability or limit the consequences of an exploit.  

Stay updated with latest vulnerabilities   

Keep an eye out for the emerging threats so that the coding can anticipate future threats and eliminate them.      

Build security into your process   

Security needs to be a priority as you develop code. A “security by design” approach that puts security first tends to pay off in the long run, reducing the future cost of technical debt and risk mitigation.  

Software vulnerabilities are an ever-present risk. Remember, security should not be considered an afterthought. The key to a secure application is proactively asking yourself what can you do to prevent vulnerabilities way before they happen.    

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