Internal Security Audit Checklist for Increasing Product Quality

While many software development companies can develop a ready-to-use solution based on your request, not all of them can ensure robust security and therefore high product quality. In reality, far fewer companies can provide you with a full-cycle service from creating a specification to providing support to end users while ensuring the quality and security of the final product.

Security Audit

Product security is especially relevant, as the number of data leaks has significantly increased over the past few years. According to a report by Risk Based Security, there were 5,183 breaches reported in the first nine months of 2019, which is up 33% compared to the same period in 2018.

hifting to a secure SDLC

The practice of ensuring proper security during the software development life cycle (SDLC) is called securing the SDLC [PDF] and requires performing security-related activities during each development stage.

Although there are lots of approaches to SDLC implementation, like Agile development and the waterfall model, the SDLC isn’t standardized and can vary across organizations. A typical SDLC model includes the following five steps:

  1. Requirements
  2. Design
  3. Development
  4. Testing
  5. Deployment

The main idea behind the secure SDLC approach is to implement security-related tasks such as safe coding training, threat modeling, and static vulnerability analysis into the product development life cycle.

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Three ways to implement security testing in your SDLC

Auditing product security at every stage of development is a sure way to build a robust solution. However, it may seem expensive and time-consuming.

In fact, security audits can be cost- and time-effective when thoroughly planned and timely performed. These audits allow you to detect defects before they lead to severe issues and require additional resources to fix. Having a tried-and-true checklist simplifies and accelerates the process.

The price of security testing services, the level of control, and the time required to fix errors will differ depending on the measures chosen to ensure product security.

Hiring an outsourced penetration tester for a security audit

Businesses often hire an outsourced pentester to test the final product and get an unbiased evaluation of its security. This option is popular among startups that want to check how secure their MVP is but don’t have their own security specialists.

The overall cost of this option isn’t that easy to calculate because apart from paying for an outsourced pentester, a company also spends its own internal resources. Team members have to spend time putting the pentester into the picture, providing consultations when needed, analyzing the final report, and drawing conclusions from it. On the other hand, the team doesn’t spend time on activities like instruction in secure coding and creating further strategies for improving the product.

Though the most common practice is still to hire a team of penetration testers just before a major release, doing so results in a high cost of fixing errors. The reason is that some critical vulnerabilities can only be eliminated by redesigning an application’s architecture. Thus, the development team has to go back a few iterations, risking the delivery date.

Implementing a secure SDLC approach

The most comprehensive and beneficial approach to ensuring a product’s security and quality is to build a secure SDLC. In this case, you assess the security not only of the final product but of all project processes. The best option for understanding your current status and creating a roadmap is to follow the OWASP Software Assurance Maturity Model [PDF].

Following this model, a team of experts involved in the project focuses on sharing helpful knowledge and skills with the project team. This could be in the form of a lecture or a workshop about secure coding or requirements evaluation. The goal is to provide development teams with knowledge that allows them to avoid future mistakes.

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Internal security audits for development projects

Apriorit project teams aim to ensure robust security for all our client’s projects. We make the quality of the final product our top priority and take every project as a mission. Our internal team of pentesters and security consultants assist our developers in running security assessments and building secure solutions.

At the same time, we understand that we need a mature software development process with a list of default security controls that can be applied to all kinds of projects, from simple applications to custom solutions.

Security audit — check. What’s next?

To get the most out of an internal security audit, you should create a list of failed security controls and an action plan to address these issues within the required deadlines. If you have no strategy to eliminate bugs and errors and allow for secure coding, there’s a chance your next audit will show the same security issues.

If you’re working on many projects, conducting audits on each of them will help you understand which development stages are the most troublesome and which issues occur most frequently. Thus, you can determine the processes your company needs to improve.