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In the pulse of the digital era, security takes center stage. Building your applications with an intrinsic security layer is the gold standard. Discover how to embed security within your software development lifecycle (SDLC) and how New Relic interactive application security testing (IAST) stands as your beacon.

What is the secure software development lifecycle?

The secure SDLC (SSDLC) is a holistic approach designed to embed security into every phase of your software journey. With SSDLC, you're not merely building applications; you're crafting resilient digital experiences, where security is part and parcel of the process, not an add-on. Think of it as a roadmap where every stop—from ideation to deployment—is illuminated by the principles of robust security, ensuring that as your software evolves, it remains both innovative and ironclad. 

Principles of secure software development

Guided by steadfast principles, secure software development becomes an art form. Let’s delve deeper into them.

Least privilege: This principle is about minimalism—grant only the permissions necessary for users (or systems) to accomplish their tasks. Regularly review and adjust these permissions to prevent unnecessary access, reducing the potential for misuse or exploitation.

Data protection: In an age where data is gold, safeguarding it is paramount. This involves encryption, secure data storage, and stringent access controls. Think of this as building an impenetrable vault for your valuable data.

Regular audits: Like a health checkup for your software, regular security audits allow you to identify potential weaknesses before they can be exploited. This is your chance to be proactive, catching issues before they become full-blown problems.

Secure coding practices: Train developers to write code with security at the forefront, using techniques that prevent common vulnerabilities like SQL injection, XSS, and CSRF attacks.

Open communication: Encourage a culture where security is everyone’s responsibility and questions or concerns can be raised openly without fear of blame.

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New Relic Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)
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Phases of SSDLC

SSDLC is a meticulously designed process that integrates security at every stage of software development. Here are the phases broken down:

Foundation phase, requirements: This phase is about defining the security objectives and requirements that your software must meet. This is the time for asking, "What are our security goals, and how will we meet them?"

Blueprint phase, design: In this phase, security architecture is developed. Think of this as the blueprint for your application's security, outlining how key components will interact while maintaining integrity and confidentiality.

Crafting phase, implementation: Here, developers write code with security in mind, adhering to the secure coding practices established in earlier phases. This phase is the heart of the development process, where secure principles become secure actions.

Assessment phase, testing: Security isn't something you can “set and forget.” Regular, rigorous security testing should be performed to identify and fix vulnerabilities. This is where tools like New Relic IAST shine, offering deep insights into potential security issues.

Launch phase, deployment: As your application is released into the wild, security controls must be in place to protect it in its live environment. This is the moment of truth—when your preparation is put to the test.

Guardian phase, maintenance: Security is an ongoing commitment. This phase involves continually monitoring, updating, and patching your software to respond to new security threats and vulnerabilities as they emerge.

The intersection of secure software development and application security

When secure software development meets application security, it’s a symphony of proactive and reactive measures working harmoniously. This is where security becomes a continuous, integral part of development, not just a final checkpoint. Think of it as building a house with strong materials from the start, rather than adding locks and alarms after it’s built.

Starting with a secure foundation

At the core, secure software development is the act of writing code with security built into every line. It’s choosing the strongest and most reliable materials for your house. Application security, on the other hand, is the practice of applying additional layers of protection to an already developed application. This is akin to installing advanced lock systems, motion detectors, and security cameras around your house. They are important and powerful, but they work best when the house itself is built solidly.

Continuous and integrated vigilance

In this harmonious interaction, security measures are integrated into the development process from day one. Code is written, tested, and rewritten with security in mind, which means potential vulnerabilities can be spotted and addressed in real time, rather than after the fact. It’s a live security concert that plays throughout the entire development process. Imagine having seasoned architects and security experts planning the layout of your house together, advising on the best materials, construction techniques, and security measures from the beginning.

Feedback loops that inform and empower

In this intersection, developers are not left in the dark; they receive immediate and actionable feedback about potential security issues. Tools like New Relic IAST work in concert with your development activities, illuminating potential weak points and suggesting solutions before those weaknesses can be exploited. It’s as if, while building that house, the materials themselves could tell you when they were placed under undue stress and suggest ways to reinforce them.

Turning reaction into proaction

In the past, security was often a reactionary measure—a response to threats as they arose. Today, the blend of secure software development and application security transforms this narrative. Security measures are woven into the daily rhythms of development. Every decision is made with security in mind, turning a once reactive necessity into a proactive strategy.

Scaling with grace and intelligence

As applications grow, so too do their potential vulnerabilities. By integrating secure software development practices with application security measures, businesses are not just scaling their applications; they are scaling their security capabilities as well. In our house analogy, it’s planning for future additions—perhaps a new wing or floor—and understanding how these changes will interact with the current security infrastructure.

In this united approach, security is not a hurdle to clear at the finish line; it's a constant companion throughout the journey, ensuring that as your software evolves, its defenses evolve right alongside it. It’s an ingenious strategy, not just for surviving in today’s digital landscape, but for thriving in it. The New Relic observability platform, with its 30+ capabilities—including interactive application security testing (IAST)—is an integrated, continuous, and intelligent approach to security that isn’t just a theoretical ideal—it’s today’s reality.

Aligning with the OWASP SSLDC

When it comes to security, guidance from trusted sources is invaluable. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a respected authority in the world of software security. Its SSDLC framework is a comprehensive roadmap designed to guide you in the integration of security into your software development process.

OWASP's wisdom for secure development

OWASP is not just about tools and resources; it's a philosophy built on foundational principles that guide secure software development. At the core of OWASP's approach is the belief that security should be integrated into every phase of software development. This means prioritizing proactive measures, such as rigorous code review and threat modeling, to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. It also means empowering developers with the knowledge and tools they need to write secure code from the start, thereby reducing the risk and cost associated with addressing security issues after deployment. OWASP advocates for transparency, encouraging the sharing of security knowledge within the community, so everyone can benefit from collective insights and experiences. In essence, OWASP’s principles are designed to foster a culture where security is a shared responsibility that’s embraced by developers, security teams, and organizational leaders alike.

Secure software development best practices

Empower your SDLC with the following best practices:

Early integration: Security should be a consideration from the start of a project, not just a phase at the end. Integrating security early makes it a natural, seamless aspect of development.

Continuous testing: Make security testing a core component of your continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. This ensures that security is assessed regularly and automatically, not just at project milestones.

Education and training: The security landscape is always evolving, and your team should evolve with it. Regular training sessions can keep everyone up to date on the latest threats and best practices.

Collaboration and communication: Security is a team sport. Encourage open dialogue between development, security, and operations teams. This collaboration can illuminate potential issues before they become problems.

Automate where possible: Use tools to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as code scanning and vulnerability assessments. This lets your team focus on what they do best: building great software.

Empowering developers to build security into their software from the get-go is more than a best practice—it’s an absolute necessity in today’s digital landscape. With the New Relic observability platform, developers are not only equipped to meet this challenge but to excel at it, creating software that’s as secure as it is powerful.

The challenges of secure software development (and how to solve them)

Challenge 1: Resource strain

Problem: Integrating security measures can be time-consuming and may require specialized skills that your current team doesn't possess. This can lead to delays in the project timeline and additional costs for hiring security experts.

Solution: Automate security testing where possible. Capabilities like New Relic IAST can perform continuous, automated security assessments, enabling your team to identify and address vulnerabilities as they develop, not after the fact. This not only saves time but also allows your existing team to focus on what they do best.

Challenge 2: Complex regulations

Problem: The landscape of data privacy and security regulations (such as GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA) is complex and ever-changing, making compliance a moving target that’s hard to keep up with.

Solution: Establish a dedicated role or team responsible for staying current with relevant regulations and ensuring that your projects remain in compliance. Regular training and updates for the entire development team can turn compliance into a routine part of the process, rather than a scramble to adapt when new regulations are enacted.

Challenge 3: Cultural resistance

Problem: Not all teams are accustomed to security-first thinking, and there may be resistance to adopting new processes that are perceived as burdensome or slowing down development.

Solution: Foster a security-focused culture from the top down. Regular training and an open dialogue about the importance of security can help. Celebrate and reward secure coding practices and make security a key performance indicator (KPI) for your development teams. When security is valued and rewarded, it becomes a point of pride rather than a perceived burden.

Challenge 4: False positives

Problem: Security tools can sometimes generate false positives, which can lead to developers becoming desensitized to alerts, potentially overlooking genuine vulnerabilities.

Solution: Choose security tools, like New Relic IAST, that are designed to minimize false positives. Regularly review and fine-tune the configurations of your security tools to ensure they are as accurate as possible. This keeps your team focused on genuine threats, not chasing down endless false alarms.

Challenge 5: Balancing speed and security

Problem: In today’s fast-paced development environment, there’s constant pressure to release quickly. Security measures can sometimes be perceived as slowing down this process.

Solution: Integrate security into the DevOps process (DevSecOps), making it a seamless part of the CI/CD pipeline. This way, security checks become a routine part of the process, not a separate phase that delays release. Capabilities like New Relic IAST can be integrated directly into your CI/CD pipeline, providing real-time feedback without slowing down development.

In the face of these challenges, the key is to view security not as a hurdle, but as a vital aspect of quality software development. By equipping your team with the right tools, knowledge, and culture, you can turn these challenges into opportunities for growth and excellence. 

Crafting a secure SDLC policy

Crafting a secure software development policy is a pivotal step towards ensuring that security is woven into the fabric of your development process. This policy serves as a blueprint that clearly outlines the organization’s expectations, protocols, and standards for security throughout the development lifecycle. Define goals, involve stakeholders, harness cutting-edge tools, and ensure evolving education. With such a policy, you’re not merely reacting but thriving with assurance.

Introducing New Relic IAST

With New Relic IAST, empower your SDLC. Imagine having an omnipresent security maven, spotlighting vulnerabilities and guiding towards unparalleled software robustness. Welcome to the future of development.