It’s no secret that software and app developers are a major target for cybercriminals. There are so many ways applications can be exploited, but the most common way attackers breach your system is through the developer process. These programs are often viewed as low-risk targets since they aren’t publicly accessible, but that doesn’t mean developers have nothing to fear when it comes to cyber security. Once an app is released, it can be exploited by hackers in so many ways. Since so much confidential user information is stored in these apps, hackers have plenty of opportunities to do serious damage. The primary objective of any hacker is to extract as much private data from a system as possible. And one of the best ways to access all this information is through the developer process.
Why Developers are the Major Target for Hackers?
Application security is a complex matter that includes many different processes and architectural levels. And because many of these areas are poorly understood and rarely implemented, applications can be extremely vulnerable to attack. Some of the main reasons why software developers are such a major target for hackers are: poor development practices, poor user authentication, poor or unsecured communication channels, poor or unsecured storage facilities, and unsecured data transfer protocols. Because the code that runs the application is at the core of the security of your application, it is extremely important that this code be protected from hackers at all costs.
Code Review is the Key to Code Security
Because an application is only as secure as the code that powers it, it’s important to implement strong code review and protection practices from the start. The best way to protect your code from hackers is by implementing a strong code review process. Code review is a process by which all code changes are examined by a second party before being applied to the source code repository. Because source code is usually stored in a repository (like Git or SVN), developers can easily access older code versions and apply changes to their current code. If you don’t have a code review process in place, there’s a chance that malicious code might be accidentally added to the repository.
Always Encrypt Data in Transit and Storage
All data that is sent or stored in an application (regardless of its size) must be encrypted. If not, the information could be easily accessed by hackers. There are many ways to encrypt data, including the use of a virtualized environment, the use of an application firewall, and the use of a data-centric security solution. If your application is communicating or exchanging data with a third-party service, it must also be encrypted. The third-party service must also be encrypted since unencrypted data is extremely vulnerable to hacking.
Use Code Signing Certificate to Secure your Code
If you are developing an application for an internal company, use it and don’t expect it to be accessible to the public, you can skip this step. However, if your app will be accessible to a broader audience, you must protect your code using a Code Signing Certificate. Signing code means securing your source code using a software signing certificate and then digitally signing the compiled binaries of your application. Signing code ensures that your application is trusted, allows your app to be run in corporate environments, and protects your application from being tampered with or altered. Signing code is also a necessary step if you plan on submitting your app to a public app store.
Use Secure Virtual Environment (SVE)
If your app is developed in a virtualized environment (SVE), your app’s data will be stored in a secured, virtualized database. While this is a good start, there are additional security measures you can take to secure even more sensitive data. If you are storing any sensitive information in your database, you should use a secure database, such as a database that uses Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS). DBaaS has the ability to create a database environment in the cloud that is fully managed and can be accessed only by authorized users. If you are storing sensitive data in your database and don’t have a DBaaS solution, you should consider implementing one.
Follow Secure Development Practices
When developing your application, you should always follow secure development best practices. These practices include avoiding the use of any unnecessary or insecure libraries, being mindful of the order in which operations are performed, and logging all sensitive operations. You should also avoid storing sensitive data in your source code since this makes the code more susceptible to hacking. Instead, you should store all sensitive data in a database.
Use Strong Passwords and MFA
The user accounts for your application are likely using some form of authentication like usernames and passwords. The problem with this is that most users select weak passwords, which makes it easier for hackers to break into their accounts. For this reason, it’s important to require all users to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA). Authentication is only one part of the application security equation. You must also protect your application with firewalls, data encryption, and network segmentation.
Code Reviews and Static Analysis
It’s important to perform code reviews on all code changes before they are added to a source code repository. This not only identifies any bugs in the code, but also any malicious code that might have accidentally been added. To perform code reviews, you should have a team of developers who review each other’s code changes before they are added to the source code repository. To ensure that your code has no security vulnerabilities, you should also perform regular static analysis. Static analysis is a process in which an automated tool examines your source code for any potential security issues.
Secure Data Storage
If you are storing sensitive data in your database, you must use a database that has built-in security features. Some databases, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), offer databases that have security features built in. If your database does not have built-in security features, you should consider using a database that does. If you are storing sensitive data in your database, you must also encrypt this data. You can use database encryption to encrypt sensitive data before it’s stored in your database.
Watch Out for API Abuse
While APIs are extremely useful and necessary, they can also pose a security threat if not properly monitored. If you are using an API to access data or integrate with another platform, you should know where this data is coming from and where it is going. If you are sending out sensitive data, you should also ensure that it is being sent securely. If you have no way of knowing where your sensitive data is going, or if it is being sent in an unsecured format, there is a good chance that an attacker has breached your system and is accessing your data.
As you can see, software and app developers are major targets for hackers. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your code and data secure. All you have to do is implement the right strategies and protocols, and you’ll be well on your way to protecting your software from cyber threats.
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.