Effective Controls for Attaining Continuous Application Security Throughout the Web Application Development Life Cycle

Learn How to Improve Web Application Security Throughout the SDLC

By Caleb Sima and Vincent Liu

Given the choice, every organization would want secure Web sites and applications from the Web application development phase all the way through the software development life cycle. But why is that such a challenge to attain? The answer is in the processes (or lack thereof) that they have in place.

While individual and ad hoc Web application security assessments certainly will help you improve the security of that application or Web site, soon after everything is remedied, changes in your applications and newfound vulnerabilities mean new security problems will arise. So, unless you put into place continuous security and quality assurance controls throughout the software development life cycle, from the initial phases of Web application development through production, you're never going to reach the high levels of ongoing security you need to keep your systems safe from attack--and your costs associated with fixing security weaknesses will continue to be high.

In the first two articles, we covered many of the essentials you need to know when conducting Web application security assessments, and how to go about remedying the vulnerabilities those assessments uncovered. And, if your organization is like most, the first couple of Web application assessments were nightmares: reams of low, medium, and high vulnerabilities were found and needed to be fixed by your web application development team. The process required that tough decisions be made on how to fix the applications as quickly as possible without affecting systems in production, or unduly delaying scheduled application rollouts.

But those first few web application assessments, while agonizing, provide excellent learning experiences for improving the software development life cycle. This article shows you how to put the organizational controls in place to make the process as painless as possible and an integrated part of your Web application development efforts. It's a succinct overview of the quality assurance processes and technologies necessary to begin developing applications as securely as possible from the beginning, and keeping them that way. No more big surprises. No more delayed deployments.

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About the author

Caleb Sima United States

Caleb Sima is the former co-founder and CTO of SPI Dynamics, which was acquired by HP Software...

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