DevSecOps: The Best Security Strategy in 2020

Moving to a DevSecOps way of development ensures security from day one and reduces the possibility of data breaches later on

Too often, developers overlook security testing until the end of the development cycle. By the time an application is up and running, a host of potential security vulnerabilities are ripe for exposure, ready to be exploited by hackers looking to access unsecured user data.

Data leaks and security vulnerabilities should be among the highest priority among developers. The cost of such data leaks can be immense—up to $8.16 million per company. Now more than ever, developers must exercise caution.

DevSecOps is increasingly a process that needs to be implemented from the very start of the development cycle. Here are a few key ways developers can ensure stability and security from day one, lessening the need for testing later on and ensuring their reputation is not harmed or even destroyed by the presence of malicious bugs.

Static Application Security Testing

First and foremost among DevSecOps and application security methods is static application security testing (SAST). Also known as white box testing, SAST begins before the code is compiled. This allows developers to highlight vulnerabilities when they are easier to fix.

Back doors, malicious code and other security gaps can then be patched simultaneously to the app’s continued development, allowing for a more secure overall development process. While not the be-all and end-all of a reputable app’s security process, SAST is the first solid step toward addressing any worrisome vulnerabilities.

Dynamic Application Security Testing

SAST stands in contrast to dynamic application security testing (DAST), where vulnerabilities are checked while the app is running. As a result, this type of security testing typically comes at or near the end of the development process, when a functional version of the app is available.

Certain vulnerabilities are more likely to be addressed through DAST. Man in the middle attacks (MiTM) are a particularly insidious manipulation, allowing a dangerous third party to not just read but also change vital information in an app’s ecosystem. Only when the application is up and running can these vulnerabilities be highlighted and secured, making DAST crucial. Overlooking this step of the DevSecOps process simply leads to more potential for abuse.

API Security Testing

APIs have created exponentially more possibilities within the world of app development, allowing for more and more uses and interactions between users and servers. For all their ease and accessibility, however, there lies a dark side that often goes undiscussed: shadow APIs.

The first step in a useful API security test involves assessing which APIs are in use. For developers, this is often a sobering look at how many APIs are involved—including ones they’ve long since forgotten. An overlooked API is an easy vulnerability for hackers to exploit, offering a clandestine avenue into an app’s main functionality. As APIs continue to grow—with well over 22,000 available in 2019—constant security checks become all the more valuable.

That’s not to say APIs are overused in the modern app development sphere. What is essential, however, is knowing which ones are being implemented, and with what purpose. Shadow APIs that remain unbeknownst to developers and users alike are too heavy a vulnerability, especially considering neither Google’s nor Apple’s app store are capable of identifying which APIs are risky. It’s up to the developers themselves to supply high-quality, secure app deployments. Only a sensible DevSecOps process can provide this.

Trust and Loyalty: The Pillars of Application Security

It only takes one unsecured application to destroy a developer’s reputation. When consumers hear that their private data has been exposed via an app they trusted, there is no way to win back their business. Increasingly, consumers are skeptical of any download with a dubious reputation—and for good reason, given the massive news of data leaks at companies including Equifax and Cambridge Analytica.

This new state of security expectations represents an opportunity as much as a risk. Companies that can provide high-quality, thoroughly tested apps to consumers prove their dedication to sensible development, winning the trust and loyalty of consumers from their first deployment. DevSecOps is a matter of ethics as much as one of business and a necessary lodestar for any company deploying applications in 2020.

Harshit Agarwal

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Harshit Agarwal

Harshit Agarwal is a serial entrepreneur, passionate about end-to-end mobile app security. As a Microsoft Venture Accelerator alumni and CEO of Appknox, he works with Enterprises globally in setting up mobile application testing strategy. He has worked with 100+ Businesses ranging from some of the top Fintech companies to fortune 100 businesses.

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