How to Improve Secure Coding Discipline in Agile Teams
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How to Improve Secure Coding Discipline in Agile Teams

Because of the fast-paced and groundbreaking nature of modern business, enterprises must become competitive and disruptive. The most effective way to accomplish this is to integrate agile methodologies into operational functions. A business function that has been transformed by Agile is software development.

Agile software development refers to the process of creating high-quality software products, web apps, and mobile applications in which requirements and deployments evolve as a result of the collaborative efforts of cross-functional groups and their users. Agile software development emphasizes the continuous delivery of software and necessitates change even in the late stages of development.

Many businesses see agile development as a more efficient way of delivering impeccable software than waterfall development strategies. Many organizations, however, fail to incorporate security mechanisms into the software lifecycle, which can put the software and the business at risk.

Here, we will discuss the two most common reasons agile teams in organizations fail to incorporate robust security mechanisms into the software lifecycle and how secure coding discipline in these teams can help to overcome the problem.

Why Agile Teams in Organizations Fail To Incorporate Robust Security Mechanisms into the Software Lifecycle

For many agile teams developing software for end-users of an organization, securing code is often an afterthought. It generally occurs due to the following two reasons.

  1. There are No Tangible Security Requirements
    Security is regarded as a non-functional need associated with the state of the app or software, rather than the program’s functional goals. “As a (user), I want/require (some goal) so that (reason for the goal)” is a common structure for user needs.

    The user requirements are concocted into a story with logic so that programmers can design and deploy the engagement that actual people will have with the application.

    These requirements, which are primarily focused on improving the user experience, guide software planning, and development. However, most of the time, security standards are intangible and are frequently overlooked in user stories. A dearth of user security protocols is one of the causes that prevent security from being properly planned and deployed.
  2. There Are No Agile-Ready Security Practices and Tools
    Security standards and processes must be aligned with the operational tempo in agile environments. Security cannot operate in a vacuum. However, the reality is somewhat different because security is viewed as a roadblock to rapid development, and programmers tend to use their tools and strategies without adhering to the company’s security policies and practices.

    As a result, everyone is dissatisfied. Security teams are dissatisfied because vulnerabilities are being exploited in production. The software developers are dissatisfied because they have worked long hours to resolve some of the challenges and have more unforeseen work scheduled.

    Because security and development did not work well together, business leaders are dissatisfied. Customers are also dissatisfied because their apps are malfunctioning and vulnerable enough to be compromised.

How to Accomplish Better Secure Coding Discipline in Agile Teams

Microsoft’s SDL Agile provides steps for securing code in agile software development by breaking down a set of proven security practices. The following is an overview of these steps or secure coding best practices for agile teams.

  1. Security Needs To Be Included From the Beginning
    Security must be incorporated into the design and coding process from the start. This implies that the development team requires software security training from the start so that they can fully comprehend secure design issues and risks and can address them by making the appropriate design and platform decisions.

    For instance, SQL Injection (one of the most common vulnerabilities, particularly in web apps) can be avoided by avoiding dynamic assertions in favor of prepared statements with attached variables. It’s a simple choice to make, and it doesn’t increase the cost of building the software — but it’s one that the team needs to be aware of.
  2. Deal With Risks Incrementally
    The gating steps intrinsic in sequential Waterfall development are lost with gradual, iterative development. Safety procedures, like quality management systems in Agile, must be ingrained in how the team operates, and must be carried out continuously, in an iterative manner, and gradually.

    The team can use iterative Attack Surface Analysis to monitor shifts in the system’s security risk level — to ascertain when they have altered the system’s design or interfaces in a manner that makes the system more susceptible to attack. When they require additional testing, a review of the code, or threat modeling.

    Threat modeling does not have to be difficult for teams that create software incrementally and are familiar with the code. Most adjustments that can be made in a one-week or two-week sprint are minimal and incremental, and they shouldn’t take long to review, even if the attack surface has changed.

    The ceremony, like everything else in agile development, can be maintained to a bare minimum. What matters is that you are always on the lookout for potential threats, for what can go wrong.

    While looking for other coding and design issues, programmers who pair can keep an eye out for security flaws and risks. Fixed analysis tools can be integrated into Continuous Integration to detect security flaws and other coding errors. In Agile development, there is also time to ensure that modifications to high-risk code are manually code evaluated against security coding criteria.
  3. Focusing on “Whole” Team but Leave Security Work to Developers Trained For It
    The Whole Team concept is that everyone collaborates and shares responsibility for the code. However, security work — session planning, encoding, and the database access layer (the type of code that you should be using a structure for anyway) — requires seasoned, highly skilled developers.

Final Word to How to Improve Secure Coding Discipline in Agile Teams

Building teams of extremely knowledgeable developers can assist your organization in developing high-quality, secure software, reducing the likelihood of inherent problems being exploited by perpetrators. Secure implementations will also eliminate the risk of facing significant penalties, obligations, and revenue loss as a result of a tarnished reputation. The cost of an imperfect, insecure application outweighs the cost of in-house team training by a considerable margin. Contact us to learn How to Improve Secure Coding Discipline in Agile Teams.

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