The Essential Guide to SDLC Security

Eran Orzel
Mar 24 · 5 min read
the essential guide to sdlc security

The software development lifecycle (SDLC) is the process that organisations use to design, develop, test, and implement any application, ensuring security touchpoints at every stage, as well as security milestones. Security considerations go beyond the current SDLC structure to ensure that deployed applications are secure when released, without causing delays. The biggest benefit for companies that use a secure SDLC is that their end users enjoy a safe, high-quality product. 

In this post, we look at the different SDLC phases, the importance of keeping your SDLC safe and the best practices to adopt in order to ensure security across each phase of the SDLC. 

What is SDLC?

Source: Pixabay

SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle. SDLC is a framework that software development teams use to create high-quality software in a systematic, productive and cost-effective manner. All kinds of organisations use the SDLC methodology. This methodology follows development models ranging from agile to lean to DevOps and others. 

The Software Development Life Cycle provides organisations with a systematic step-by-step approach to developing successful software, starting from capturing the initial requirements for a new product to delivering it smoothly. Each phase of the SDLC is designed to give organisations control over their software development with predictable results and visibility into budgets and deadlines. 

How does SDLC work?

The SDLC process consists of the following phases:

1. Requirement Phase

In this phase, the organisation defines all the information about the software they want to build. They clarify the software’s features, specifications, expectations, and all other requirements. This is done by key stakeholders from the business and technology side. While business leaders define the organisation’s goals, technology leaders assess the feasibility of each option and suggest alternatives.  

2. Design Phase

The design phase defines tools with which the software would be developed, the programming languages to be used, databases to be leveraged, and other aspects. All of these factors help to create a clear and seamless software delivery process. 

3. Build/Development Phase

This is the phase where the actual development of the software product takes place. Developers start coding according to the decided blueprint and create modules according to weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly sprints.

4. Testing Phase

Here, the testing team tests the functionality of the entire system as per the requirements gathered in the initial phases. There are many types of testing such as integration testing, unit testing, functional testing, load testing, and acceptance testing.

Source: Pixabay

5. Deployment/Deliver Phase

After successfully passing all test cases, the software is ready to be delivered to end users. Modern SDLCs like DevOps and GitOps push for completely automated releases. While this is a step in the right direction, care should be taken to not allow bad quality and vulnerable code to make it to production as this would greatly affect the quality of the software

6. Maintenance

The maintenance phase begins with the delivery, and consists of activities such as debugging, improving the infrastructure, and adding new features to the product. It is essential to collect feedback from end-users to understand the performance of the software in the real world. 

Why is SDLC Security important?

The SDLC involves different phases with numerous threats at every phase. Any kind of malicious attack will lead to loss of confidential data, and even have a ripple effect on other connected applications like customer applications. Security of the software development life cycle is a must as it protects information and systems from unauthorised access, disclosure, use, disruption, and destruction. 

How to enhance security in each SDLC phase

To maintain the integrity of the SDLC it is essential to have security checkpoints for every single activity that takes place within the SDLC. Here are the 5 key security checks to consider for each SDLC phase:

1. Secure requirement gathering and analysis 

These are typically documents that don’t do anything by themselves, but contain specifications for how the system functions. These documents need to be stored securely as an attacker can get a deep view of the entire system if they get a hold of them. They also need to be encrypted and allowed to be accessed only by a select few within the organisation. 

2. Secure implementation and coding 

This is primarily the domain of application developers who write code and store it in Git repositories. Here, Git security practices are vital. Only known, authorised developers should be allowed to contribute code.  

Source: Pixabay

3. Secure QA testing 

All code that is written should be tested and scanned for bugs, compatibility issues, and vulnerabilities. Only clean code without issues should be allowed to be automatically deployed to production.  

4. Secure deployments

This involves the production environments such as Kubernetes clusters and cloud instances. These environments should be secured with appropriate vendor or platform-specific security measures. All related cloud services such as storage disks should be encrypted by default.

5. Secure maintenance 

This is the domain of the Ops team and the Support teams as they troubleshoot issues that occur after deployment. When performing these activities, it is essential to not disclose critical information about the inner workings of the system or sensitive parts of the codebase in documentation or support forums.

To maintain security, it is necessary to have a security strategy in place that pays attention to all these key security checks. Since this process spans numerous internal and external users, many weeks or months, and numerous components such as code, databases, and tools, it is not possible to manually review the SDLC for security vulnerabilities. Instead, you need to leverage a purpose-built security solution that can scan every activity within the SDLC for vulnerabilities. That is when Argon comes in. 

How Argon improves SDLC security

Argon helps you create tamper-proof software delivery pipelines—from commit to release. It integrates with every component in the SDLC – Git, CI/CD pipelines, automation tools, monitoring tools, authentication systems, and monitoring tools. It looks for obvious and unseen instances of vulnerabilities, data breaches, and security attacks. When it notices something suspicious, Argon alerts you about the activity and pinpoints the exact location of the activity. This goes a long way in giving you a clear picture of what’s happening in your SDLC, and helps you secure the pipeline from end to end.

SDLC security – General considerations

SDLC security is indispensable for organisations that want to deliver cost effective, efficient & high productivity software. By understanding how the SDLC works, what the key security best practices are, and how Argon can help you defend against vulnerabilities, you would be able to release more secure software. Try Argon today, and secure your software development lifecycle end-to-end.

Eran Orzel
Mar 24 · 5 min read

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