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Written on 21st August 2023 - 3 minutes

Why Secure Coding Matters: Ensuring Software Safety for Your Business   

Why Secure Coding Matters Ensuring Software Safety for Your Business  

With cyber threats looming, secure coding has become more important than ever before. Most vulnerabilities originate from the application or program’s source code. Flaws or errors in a program’s code can be exploited easily by malicious users to take control of the program and use it for their own personal gain. 

Secure coding standards are sets of rules and guidelines used by an organisation to reduce these security vulnerabilities and errors during development. The standards may vary due to different security requirements, e.g. PCI compliance requirements for handling payments. Adhering to secure coding standards is crucial to safeguarding sensitive data, maintaining the integrity of software systems, and protecting users from potential attacks.  

Software Security

Following are some of the key principles and practices of secure coding: 


1. Input validation 


All user inputs must be carefully validated to ensure they conform to expected formats and do not contain any malicious code or unexpected elements. Failure to validate inputs can lead to vulnerabilities like SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. We also follow the coding convention of validating controls strongly on the UI side along with the server side to prevent any malicious attempt to try hack into information across clients.   


2. Secure authentication and authorisation 


Implementing strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication, and properly managing user access and permissions are fundamental to preventing unauthorized access. Avoid storing passwords in plain text and use strong hashing algorithms. We recently offered a time-based one-time password solution for multi-factor authentication to one of our clients. 


3. Secure error handling  


Error messages should be carefully designed and kept vague to prevent disclosure of sensitive information. Error handling routines should provide minimal information to the user while logging detailed error messages for debugging purposes. We ensure for all clients that error messages relayed to the user are in plain language and do not contain unnecessary information, while logging is typically used to record files and/or Databases for later analysis. 


4. Secure session management 


Ensuring proper session control is vital for preventing session hijacking or fixation attacks. Session IDs should be unique, unpredictable, and securely transmitted using encryption techniques like HTTPS. 


5. Secure communication 


Encryption protocols, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS), should be utilised to protect sensitive data during transmission. Avoid using weak or outdated encryption algorithms that can be easily cracked. We configure hosting to utilise TLS when proposing the release and deployment of applications.   


6. Secure database management 


Employing secure coding practices like parameterised queries or prepared statements helps prevent SQL injection attacks. Regularly update and patch your database software to fix any vulnerabilities that may be discovered. Many applications use Stored Procedures and other DB objects to mitigate injection attacks along with Input Validation. We frequently recommend and upgrade DB to the latest stable version across all of our clients.  


7. Secure error logging  


Log files should not contain sensitive information and be protected from unauthorised access. Additionally, it is essential to ensure that logs are monitored regularly to detect any unusual or suspicious activities. Logs are mostly recorded in DB or at the hosting server level to be able to be accessible strictly by authorised users for later debugging of the application. 


8. Regular security updates 


Keep up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates for the libraries and frameworks you use in your code. Vulnerabilities are continuously being discovered, and promptly applying patches is essential to mitigate the risk of exploitation. We frequently recommend and upgrade tools, frameworks, libraries etc to not only mitigate security vulnerability but also to keep up to date with features and performance.  

Secure coding standards should be followed from the very beginning of the software development life cycle. Regular code reviews, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing can help identify and address security flaws earlier in the process. By adhering to secure coding practices, developers can play a significant role in protecting users and their data from cyber threats. 

The development of secure coding standards is a necessary step for the security and integrity of the code. Establishing secure coding standards allows for a common set of criteria that can be used to measure and evaluate software development efforts and software development tools and processes. Implementing these practices helps prevent potential data breaches and maintains the trust of users and clients. Once established, secure coding standards can be incrementally improved, as a common understanding of existing problems and solutions allows for the development of more advanced security solutions. 

Elevate your software security today with a custom software solution. Our expertise ensures input validation, strong authentication, error handling, secure session management, encrypted communication, and database protection. Contact us today to fortify your software’s safety and integrity. 

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