As a software developer, your role often involves designing, developing, testing, and implementing software systems and applications. Essentially, you are the creative mind behind programs and software solutions. But that comes with the responsibility of ensuring all the software applications you develop are secure. In other words, you’re the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your applications against data breaches.
Let’s face it— everyone screws up sometimes. For developers, subtle programming errors can make software applications vulnerable to attacks from hackers, resulting in network compromises and data breaches. The last thing you want to hear as a new developer in your organization is that someone has subverted your application’s security controls and stolen user credentials. One of the best ways to ensure the security of your applications is to learn from your or other people’s mistakes. Here are some of the major security mistakes new software developers make:
Trusting Third-Party Code
You probably already know that you don’t have to spend time and effort trying to solve problems that other developers have already solved. And this is why you often use third-party libraries to save development time and cost. Third-party code libraries allow you to integrate pre-tested, reusable code so you don’t have to build your application from scratch. You only have to focus on the core feature of the app.
Using third-party libraries makes sense because you don’t have to waste time and effort trying to reinvent every wheel. A mistake you shouldn’t make, however, is to completely trust code libraries. This is because third-party code can leave your application vulnerable to breaches. Furthermore, adding third-party code from too many libraries can result in dependency conflicts and other problems which are hard to identify and fix.
Not Securing Your Code Repository
Open code repositories provide developers with an opportunity to collaborate with other programmers on projects, thereby reducing the development cost and time. Increased efficiency, peer review, version control, and excellent documentation, are some of the benefits of using Helm charts repositories and other types of code repositories.
However, it’s also important to note that code repositories have potential security issues. By showcasing your work on platforms such as GitLab or GitHub, you’re putting private files into your repository. These files are then made searchable and can be targeted by attackers.
As mentioned, the security of an application is always in the developer’s hands. As such, you need to take actions that will secure your code repository. Here are three things you can do:
Choose a code repository you can trust. Take time to carefully assess the underlying infrastructure of the repository to make sure it’s not compromised.
Don’t commit sensitive information. Avoid putting sensitive information or data in your code repository. And in the event that this does happen, quickly invalidate the passwords and tokens that may have been exposed.
Tightly control access. Don’t focus so much on preventing complex attacks that you forget simple things such as leaving your passwords in the open, sharing accounts or passwords with other users, and forgetting to revoke access from repository users you’re no longer working with.
Hard-Coding Passwords and Backdoor Accounts
Another common security mistake new software developers make is hard-coding credentials. As a developer, you need to be very careful with what goes into your source code to avoid attackers gaining access to your application. Think about it— you put in the work to develop a software system then do your best to make it secure in other ways but hand over text passwords or other credentials. What’s the point of developing the software or even trying to secure it then? Never assume that no one out there will be interested with the security features your application has.
Unverified SQL Injections
Whether you’re developing a website or a database system, chances are it will need to accept data and information from users. No matter what purpose this data is supposed to serve, it’s crucial that it’s cleaned and escaped by any special characters. Software developers often make the mistake of trusting all the data coming in from external sources.
The fact that many web applications manage and store data in SQL databases means that attackers can use SQL injectionsto access and modify credentials of users in the database. In some situations, the attacker can even compromise the back-end infrastructure or underlying server.You can prevent such attacks by using prepared statements, also referred to as parameterized queries. Make sure all input is sanitized and potential malicious code elements are removed.
Failing to Encrypt Sensitive Data
It’s not uncommon for attackers to steal sensitive data when it’s either temporarily being stored or in transit. And this happens because the developer fails to understand the data they need to protect and encrypt. If you’re building a website, it’s crucial that you secure it using HTTPS to eliminate any risk of data loss. Always restrict access to sensitive data in databases to protect confidentiality.