Secure coding is a set of standards introduced to avoid all vulnerabilities that emerge due to basic programming errors in your code. It is a set of practices that define how you will encrypt and code software to prevent cyber attacks.
As software technologies get more developed, hackers are also becoming more equipped to find their way around the security loopholes. There are several ways in which your application can be exposed to cybersecurity attacks. Secure coding practices can help you avoid such attacks. It starts at the base and eliminates all vulnerabilities in your code that can be exploited by hackers and malware.
In this article, we will go through some of the biggest vulnerabilities that can affect code, as well as the practices that you can employ to secure your code against them.
5 Security Vulnerabilities That Can Affect Your Code
There are various bugs that can make your application code vulnerable. The presence of these bugs can seriously undermine your security protocols, so you need to get rid of them at the earliest. Here are the ones you should particularly look out for:
1. Buffer Overflow
As more and more organizations shift toward automation, embedded systems have become commonplace. However, an increase in these systems also means that there is a greater possibility of security attacks. Buffer overflows allow an attacker to insert malicious code or data into the system. If this happens, the system opens up, becoming more malleable to further external instructions. It can cause problems for your application in case of an attack in the future.
2. Code Injection
Code Injection happens when a bug in your system enables the processing of invalid data. This is a form of injection attack where some untrusted data is sent to the system as a part of your query.
3. Sensitive Data Exposure
Almost all applications today maintain a database of sensitive user information. This includes passwords, account numbers, and addresses. If there is any negligence in implementing security for this sensitive data, it can cause a huge loss in an attack.
4. Using Vulnerable Components
Components are ready-made systems that you can make part of your software. These are made up of libraries, frameworks, and modules. If left unsecured, your system can get vulnerable to attacks through them.
5. Broken Authentication
Authentication and session management are functions that allow a user access to their data. You need to make sure that these functions are properly implemented without bugs to secure sensitive information.
8 Secure Coding Practices That You Should Follow
Now that you have learned the most common vulnerabilities, let’s now list some secure coding practices that you can use to detect and resolve them. These coding practices should be introduced at the very beginning of the Software Development Life Cycle right after you figure out the requirements of the project.
1. Security Till the End
Just like wrapping a thin sheet of plastic around a big box cannot make it secure, adding weak security measures at the end of a huge application will not protect it. Adding security at the end of project development requires extensive redesign and a mountain of costs. Security should be made a part of your application from the very start. If it’s left for the final stages of development, you won’t be able to do much without tearing your application apart.
2. Data Input Validation
Input validation requires you to inspect multiple aspects such as length of a field, range of data, and so on. Data input validation is at the forefront of your system security, protecting it from attacks on sensitive user information.
3. Authentication & Password Management
Coding doesn’t just involve a bunch of written lines. It also includes the architecture and design of the system. Determining a system’s architecture is an essential part of system security too. It acts as a wall of defense against external attacks on things like authentication processes and password management.
4. Cryptography Practices
Cryptographic techniques help to hide sensitive data in your application from an adversary in an attack. There are various cryptography techniques, such as symmetry key, public key, and hash keys, that you can implement in your system to help double your protection against unwanted attacks.
5. Logging and Error Handling
Error handling is a code implemented in your system to handle situations where an error may occur. It allows the application to continue behaving normally even when something goes wrong at the backend. Similarly, logging allows you to keep track of user states so that even if an error occurs, the application can take them back to a safe previous state. These functions form an essential part of your system’s functionality, provide user satisfaction, and prevent your system from going into unwanted states.
6. Communication Security
Communication security involves actions to ensure the security of your data when it is being transferred from one place to another. Transportation of data is a weak link in your system and if not properly secured, your adversaries can easily exploit it. To avoid that, you must use security measures such as TLS connections.
7. Data Protection
Guidelines regarding the protection of your system’s data are multifold. There are various facets that you need to consider. For instance, security of stored passwords, or avoiding data leaks because of the HTTP GET command, are some of the aspects you need to pay attention to.
8. Following a Coding Standard
The best way to avoid bugs due to syntax errors in your code is to develop and apply a coding standard for your application. Setting a standard in advance allows you to adhere to common practices and avoid unnecessary errors caused by inconsistent coding practices.
It is essential for you to implement secure coding practices in the very early stages of your software development life cycle. Secure coding is a precaution that makes your system strong from the start, protecting it against all unwanted events. So take our advice and start using secure coding practices as early as you can!
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.