Software security protects users or companies from risks that can arise when dealing with the use of the software. Insecure software endangers the integrity of data and the availability of applications or serves as a point of attack for hackers. In order to implement secure software, adapted development processes are necessary.
What is software security?
The goal of software security is to protect users or businesses from risks that can arise when using faulty software and running insecure applications. It ensures the availability of needed IT resources and prevents data from being stolen, tampered with, or read without authorization.
If software security is inadequate, errors such as zero-day exploits remain hidden for a long time and can be exploited unnoticed by attackers. This results in high financial losses, production downtimes, or loss of image. To achieve software security, appropriate organizational and technical measures are already taken during the development process. Extensive tests of the software are also part of the measures to achieve a high level of software security.
What causes inadequate software security?
The causes of inadequate software security can be manifold and arise at various points in the tendering, development, operation, and maintenance processes. Typical causes are:
- Missing security requirements in the tender process
- Conceptual errors in the design process
- Technical, logical, or systematic errors in programming
- Use of unsuitable technologies, programming languages, interfaces, or network techniques
- Faulty installation of the software
- Inadequate protected it resources for running the software
- Weak or missing authentication
- Missing encryption
- Errors in the maintenance of the software
Effects of insecure software
Insecure software can have serious consequences for users or businesses. Impacts of insecure software include:
- Vulnerability to hacker attacks from inside or outside the company
- Lack of availability of business-critical applications – financial losses due to production downtime
- Stolen or manipulated data
- Violations of data protection
- Loss of image for the company
- Industrial espionage
Secure software through adapted software development processes and the definition of responsibilities
Software is often very complex and extensive. Software security must already be taken into account during the development processes in the phases of requirements definition, design, development, implementation, and testing. Roles must be defined throughout the development process to monitor and be responsible for compliance with various aspects of software security.
These roles include security architects, security testers, and security officers. For example, a security officer’s job is to create the specifications for various security gates and perform sign-offs.
Supporting technologies for developers to achieve software security
In addition to adapted development processes and organizational measures such as the definition of responsibilities, various technologies support developers in achieving software security. Often, the frameworks and programming environments used have corresponding functions or enable the integration of external security components such as secure authentication services.
In addition, tools exist that automatically scan applications and their interfaces and find vulnerabilities. In the case of web applications, for example, these are tools that use HTTP requests to perform automated tests. Tools can also be used to analyze the programmed code itself for possible vulnerabilities or impurities.