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The Role of Developer Security as a Standard in the Software Development Process

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Role of Developer Security In Software Development

Also known as developer-first security, developer security refers to building software while shifting left, wherein developers play a key role in ensuring software security. Developers are provided security tools for threat scanning, security testing, and remediation.

Traditionally, security is detached from the process of software development. If there are security-related efforts undertaken, they tend to be an afterthought or a response to a publicized threat. As of the first half of 2022, the collective opinion that software development continues to ignore security prevails.

However, things appear to change as organizations realize that security should be a priority, not a secondary or accessorial concern. It may not yet become the sentiment of most organizations in the next few years, but there are signs that the shift is coming.

Contents
  1. The rise of developer security
  2. Why was security left out in software development?
  3. DevOps and DevSecOps
  4. In conclusion

The rise of developer security

One of the best indicators of the growing interest in integrating security with software development is the emergence of security solutions centered on developer security. These solutions aim to embed security at each stage of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), significantly enhancing the security of every application produced. They are serving a need many software development teams may have not realized yet but are now seeing the necessity of a developer-first security approach to ensure optimal project quality and user experiences.

The application security market is showing remarkable growth. Markets and Markets project that it will grow into a $13.2 billion industry by 2025 at a CAGR of 16.1 percent for the 2022-2025 forecast period. Markets and Markets report that one of the major factors for this growth is the rise in security breaches that target business apps. Organizations are now acknowledging that the software they are using can become vulnerabilities that enable threat actors to pass through their cyber defenses.

Of note, an overwhelming majority of business apps are expected to be created by employees of organizations themselves through low-code technology. Gartner says 65 percent of app development will be low-code by 2024. This is critical because employees who barely know anything about app coding, let alone code security, will rapidly produce business applications in the next few years.

Organizations understand that allowing quick app development without security will lead to disastrous consequences. If they do not have the expertise to implement developer security, it makes sense to turn to a third-party expert provider to handle the security expert competently.

Why was security left out in software development?

To be clear, security was never intentionally left out. The way things are now with software development projects is the result of how development projects have become too business-oriented, which happens in virtually all industries.

Development teams want to produce high-quality software, but tight schedules constantly hound them. On average, software development is completed in around three years. This duration includes the project conceptualization, modeling, implementation, testing, user experience evaluation, and delivery stages. There is usually no room for security validation. Developers only release patches or updates when vulnerabilities and other issues are discovered. After all, software attacks were not that rampant in the early years of software development.

However, the realities (of software attacks) on the ground have changed drastically. Bill Gates, for one, implies his admission of the need to make security a priority in software development. In his memo to Microsoft employees, Gates stressed that “eventually, our software should be so fundamentally secure that customers never even worry about it (security issues).”

Gates, nevertheless, implied that the lack of security emphasis in software development is not purposeful. No software can ever be flawless as far as threats are concerned. Business apps and software in general, evolve, and so do the sophistication and aggressiveness of the attacks. Believing that developers could have anticipated the kind of threat landscape the world has now is illusory.

Then, add low-code/no-code software development to the mix. Imagine how serious the security problem becomes with the advent of technology that allows software to be created without coding skills within a few days, weeks, or months. That’s way faster than the three-year conventional average SLDC. That could only mean that security issues possibly increase exponentially. Low-code/no-code tech is pushing software security way lower on the priority list.

DevOps and DevSecOps

Software development has also gone through the DevOps revolution, which brings IT operations and software development practices to accelerate SDLC and ensure continuous delivery. In other words, developers have sought to speed up project completion further, a move that makes security-related concerns even more out of the question.

In response to the drawbacks of DevOps, groups of developers introduced the concept of DevSecOps, which essentially integrates security practices in the DevOps paradigm. Unfortunately, it appears to have not gained significant traction yet.

A GitLab survey among software professionals worldwide reveals that most developers aim to produce high-quality code, but admit that it is hard to shift security. The survey says that security is the highest priority for investment among organizations. More than half of those surveyed say they have already shifted security left or are planning to do it within the year (2022). However, only 10 percent of the respondents say they were granted an additional budget to shift security effectively.

Certainly, organizations are interested in the idea of building secure software code. However, their actions mostly do not jibe with their intentions. Nobody wants software to be not secure, but most are not that eager to follow through with their security goals.

In conclusion

There are hints of a shift toward developer security. Organizations are seeing its importance. Security solution providers are keen on offering suitable tools. However, it may take decades or forever to achieve a genuine “shift left” if everything is left to the discretion of businesses that will understandably always choose cost minimization and profit maximization. Perhaps, the involvement of legislation and regulation can be the key, although it would be difficult to predict the consequences of compelling everyone to embrace developer-first security.

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Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.

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