Code security comprises programming practices, techniques, and tools that ensure your code isn’t susceptible to security vulnerabilities. For example, one code security practice is that you should avoid storing a secret on a cloud server whenever possible. However, if you must do it, it’s a good idea to apply a reasonable encryption technique. Remembering these methods all the time can be hard, so you might want to use a tool that scans your code for potential vulnerabilities and reminds you before it’s too late.
Challenges of implementing code security
While the benefits of secure code are undeniable, implementing it is not without its challenges. Juggling speed, functionality, and security is a delicate act.
Below are the common challenges organizations often face trying to implement code security best practices:
Balancing security with speed and functionality:
Time Pressures: Developers often face tight deadlines and pressure to release features quickly, which can lead to shortcuts in security practices.
Perceived Trade-offs: There's a misconception that security measures slow down development and hinder innovation.
Balancing Act: Finding the right balance between security, speed, and functionality requires careful planning and prioritization.
Building a culture of security awareness:
Lack of Awareness: Not all developers prioritize security or have sufficient training in secure coding practices.
Security as an Afterthought: Security is often viewed as a separate task rather than integrated into the development process.
Shifting Mindsets: Building a culture where security is intrinsic to development requires ongoing education and leadership support.
Integrating security tools and processes:
Tool Overload: The abundance of security tools can overwhelm developers, leading to tool fatigue and neglect.
Process Disruption: Integrating security testing and reviews can disrupt existing workflows if not managed effectively.
Workflow Optimization: Organizations need to streamline the integration of security tools and processes into development cycles.
Keeping up with evolving threats:
Rapidly Changing Landscape: New vulnerabilities and attack methods emerge constantly, requiring continuous vigilance and updates.
Staying Informed: Developers need to stay up-to-date on the latest threats and best practices to address them.
Proactive Approach: Organizations need to adopt proactive approaches to threat identification and mitigation.
Compromised development and management tools present a significant threat to software supply chains. Attackers may target essential components such as code repositories, build servers, and integrated development environments (IDEs) to inject malicious code. This strategy causes developers and/or users to distribute compromised software without knowing it.
How does code security fit into the development process?
Engineers have to remember code security at every step of the development life cycle. If you don’t plan for encryption when gathering requirements or designing your system, it might be costly to encrypt all the data later. The same goes for permissions. Giving people more permissions later is easier than taking them away when you notice someone shouldn’t see specific data.
Don’t just test that your features work; test that the implementation conforms to security best practices. And if your features change, make space in your maintenance windows for new security practices.
Keep in mind that code security doesn’t just apply to the code of the applications you are currently implementing but also the configuration of the applications themselves and the tools you use. One more important reminder: Follow the principle of least privilege for your CI/CD pipelines. That means you should give users only the permissions they really need instead of giving everyone admin access because it’s easier.
There are plenty of methods to ensure code security. Let’s look at a few popular options:
Static application security testing (SAST)
SAST tools scan your code and compare it with databases of known security vulnerabilities. They’re like static typing or linters but geared more toward security issues than general coding best practices. SAST tools are easy to integrate into IDEs and CI/CD pipelines, and they scan code files at different stages of the development process. Keep in mind that scanning code requires that your chosen SAST tool supports the programming language you use.
Dynamic application security testing (DAST)
DAST tools test your application at runtime. Like SAST tools, they use databases of known vulnerabilities, but DAST solutions are more concerned with the runtime behavior of your application. Because you have to execute your application, DAST is slower than SAST. The upside is that DAST tools can catch other categories of errors, like config issues that allow access to restricted resources. And since they use standardized protocols like HTTP to connect to your application, DAST solutions aren’t tied to a specific programming language.
Automated code reviews
In the wake of AI and large language models (LLMs), automated code reviews have become an increasingly popular technique to ensure code security. If they are fine-tuned for common security issues, automated code reviews can spot pull-request vulnerabilities before they enter your code base. While automated code reviews can be complicated by hallucinations, automation is still preferable to code that’s been waved through review just because engineers don’t have time to look at it in detail.
Secure coding frameworks and libraries
Frameworks make building a specific type of software much easier by supplying engineers with a proven architecture and common utilities. Some even go so far as to include code security features out of the box so application developers don’t have to explicitly remember to include them.
Fortunately, you don't have to tackle all the above best practices alone. Wiz recently announced new capabilities to help organizations secure the cloud software development process and speed up the resolution of issues.
Below are just a few ways that Wiz helps organizations implement and maintain code security best practices:
1. Early Risk Detection and Resolution:
Code Scanning: Wiz integrates with GitHub to scan code repositories proactively, identifying vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, secrets, and compliance issues early in the development process.
Traceability to Code: When a security issue is detected in the cloud environment, Wiz traces it back to the specific code and team responsible, enabling faster remediation at the source.
In-Code Remediation Guidance: Wiz provides detailed guidance directly within the code to help developers fix issues quickly and effectively.
2. Secure Software Supply Chain:
Container Image Integrity: Wiz verifies the integrity of container images to prevent tampering and ensure only trusted images are deployed.
Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) Visibility: Wiz generates comprehensive SBOMs without requiring agents, providing full visibility into all components within the software supply chain, enabling better vulnerability management.
3. Shift Left Security:
Integration with CI/CD Pipelines: Wiz integrates with CI/CD pipelines to automate security scans and enforce policies, shifting security to earlier stages of development.
Secret Scanning: Detects and prevents sensitive information like passwords, API keys, and tokens from being committed to code repositories.
Compliance Checks: Ensures code adheres to industry standards and regulations, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and SOC 2.
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