As security professionals, we recognize software security’s crucial role in protecting sensitive data, maintaining user trust in applications, and ensuring the overall safety of the software landscape. However, with the ever-evolving threat landscape and growing sophistication of cyber attacks, even seemingly minor security gaps can have significant consequences.
Developers are asked to do a lot. Unfortunately, most developers have had no formal security education throughout their schooling. If a developer has security experience, it’s often self-taught. Security champion programs provide a mechanism to build developers up in security, but most are new and are in the process of bestowing security knowledge and experience.
This blog post is a simple idea and a simple command. What if we had to limit the software security guidance we could offer developers to a simple list of five things? (Caveat — as an author, I understand that many more things are required for success. Please accompany me on this thought experiment, constraining us to only five items.)
- Input Validation and Sanitization: Always validate and sanitize user input to ensure your application accepts only the expected data. This helps prevent common security vulnerabilities like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).
- Keep Dependencies Updated: Regularly update all libraries, frameworks, and third-party components to their latest versions. This ensures that your application benefits from the latest security patches and reduces the risk of known vulnerabilities.
- Implement Secure Authentication and Authorization: Enforce strong passwords, and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all user and admin access. Implement attribute-based access control, and enforce user and object-level access control. Strong authentication controls on who can enter the system and robust access control constrain what data users can access.
- Store Sensitive Data Securely: Encrypt sensitive data in transit and at rest using appropriate encryption techniques and securely manage encryption keys. This ensures that sensitive information is protected from unauthorized access and data breaches.
- Follow the Principle of Least Privilege: Limit user and application permissions to the minimum necessary for performing tasks. By granting the least privilege, you reduce the potential damage in case of a security breach.
What do you think? Would you add anything to this list, knowing you must delete something first?