You’ve got bugs! It’s inevitable. Software flaws are everywhere. And they cause serious application security issues for any business. Look at Boeing. Bad software, two fatal crashes and now a business scrambling to find its footing. Capital One. One gap, one hacker, millions of people’s credit card data. School districts around the country, U.S. utilities. It’s pervasive. Just like software.
The good news is that with a solid plan to make consistent software health checks, finding and fixing flaws is preventative. It’s like going to the doctor when you are sick. If you don’t go for a regular physical and focus on preemptive care, you’re being reactive and limited to short-term fixes. Routine checks of software, which can happen with regular system level scans, can quickly identify big issue and help identify and catch the most dangerous flaws. Flaws can lead to system failures and leave companies susceptible to cyberattacks and more. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security reports that 90 percent of security incidents result from exploits against defects in software.
Health checks should be part of maintaining software over time. Because it’s impossible to retrofit security into an application. It has to be engineered that way every day. Here are three things that businesses should adopt in order to ensure optimal software health and application security.
First, prioritize software intelligence. Being blind about application security and software defects can leave businesses open to cyberattacks. Software intelligence allows businesses to foresee how one update can impact the entire IT infrastructure, and it provides insight into which parts are high risk, before implementing. Tools that scan software can determine whether its software is secure and can prevent unintended consequences and deliver warnings of errors.
Second, adopt and adhere to industry software standards. Standards such as those developed by the Consortium for IT Software Quality (CISQ) can provide a blueprint for organizations to measure the attributes of their software quality, so they can determine software’s level of resilience. These standards can measure quality and determine what attributes are present in the source code so businesses can adhere to good architectural and coding practices. These standards are designed to be automated on source code through static analysis and they set a foundation for benchmarking – setting quality targets, providing visibility and tracking progress. Each quality measure is comprised of a set of weaknesses determined by MITRE’s Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE), a community-developed list of common software security flaws. Leverage these standards to drive higher levels of application security and cyber resilience.
Third, create an application security dashboard. If your check engine light goes off on your car, you know something is wrong. It’s the immediate sign on your dashboard that alerts you that it’s time for a tune-up or something’s gone awry. When software needs to be looked at, because it’s developed some cracks, IT teams need a warning light. A dashboard can provide a window into the defects that are brewing within your system. It can also identify objects with application security flaws in the development pipeline and help build security-in. It can also provide insight into why specific defects are occurring and provide guidelines for fast remediation. It gives teams a clear visual of what is exactly under the hood, where it is located and what has the potential to become a high impact issue. For example, how many coding violations are detected, what are the riskiest transactions, etc.
Application security will become more critical as our reliance on software increases. And it will be almost impossible to self-regulate. Any safety critical system such as airplanes or autonomous vehicles or event medical devices need to be checked consistently and maintained to the highest standards. There is no doubt that software issues in airplanes can have devastating and tragic effects as Boeing has experienced. The loss of credit card data has more long-term effects but none the less still worrying. But no one should be waiting for the other shoe to drop. End to end inspections can prevent these serious flaws, and that’s a reassurance we all need.