Researchers recorded a 50% increase in global cyber attacks per week in 2021 compared to 2020. Furthermore, SonicWall reported an identification of 318.6 million more ransomware attacks in 2022 than the previous year. As a result, organizations are striving to incorporate security into their processes promptly.
However, implementing secure coding practices takes time. Just like Rome, it cannot be built in a day. Nevertheless, there are immediate steps you can take to enforce secure coding and enhance the security of your applications from the very beginning. Here is coding for cybersecurity tips that are wise to use in the modern world.
Best Secure Coding Best Practices
Hackers often target passwords when security breaches occur, as they can easily access other user accounts on different websites if the same email/username and password combination is used. To counter password theft, many organizations have adopted multi-factor authentication as a more secure process. Besides this, cybersecurity professionals can implement the following best practices:
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- Enforce password length and character requirements, such as a minimum of 8 characters with at least one capitalized letter, one number, and one symbol.
- Disable logging in after multiple incorrect attempts.
- Store only cryptographic versions of password data instead of plain text.
#2 Adopt the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)
Highly secure facilities, such as banks, government offices, and military installations, strictly regulate access to ensure safety. Access is limited to reduce risks and prevent breaches. Similarly, applications should adopt this approach. For instance, the company’s payroll data shouldn’t be accessible to customer service agents, and the network’s active directory or SSH portal should not be accessible to the chief financial officer.
It is crucial to execute every process with the minimum necessary privileges. Additional permissions should be granted only for the duration required to complete specific tasks, reducing the chance of an attacker exploiting those permissions. How can you achieve this?
- You can validate permissions on every request by using .NET Core and Java filters, ensuring proper permission checks.
- Creating tests to validate permissions before release can help guarantee that all permissions set up during the design phase have been correctly implemented.
- Periodic permission reviews are also essential. After the application has been deployed, plan and execute regular reviews of permissions. Job roles may change, and individuals may no longer require the same permissions.
It is very likely that during secure software development, you spend a lot of time completing tasks that have already been solved by other developers long ago. PoLP solutions on the web are often better written and refined. From the point of view of cyber defense in coding, you better find such a solution and analyze it. To do this, you may have to change the location of your device to unblock developer or platform publishers. It’s worth it because it saves time and guarantees the security of the software.
#3 Session Management
Program security best practices must include basic principles of working with sessions. This is the basis of cyber-resilient programming.
- Keep the session inactivity timeout as short as possible, no more than a few hours.
- After a successful login, close any session that was established before login and establish a new session.
- Prohibit concurrent logins with the same user ID.
- Utilize well-vetted algorithms to ensure session identifiers are sufficiently random.
- Always create session IDs on the server side.
- Avoid passing session identifiers as GET parameters.
- Implement appropriate access controls for server-side session data.
- Generate new session IDs frequently, deactivating the old ones.
- Generate a new session token if a user’s privileges or role changes.
- Generate a new session token if the connection security changes from HTTP to HTTPS.
- Only use system-generated session IDs for client-side session (state) management and avoid using client data or parameters for session management.
To keep sensitive data safe and adhere to high-level secure coding practices, it is vital to encrypt it. Organizations can automatically develop custom code to encrypt their data and ensure its safety, or they can rely on modern libraries with software security protocols. Also, practicing encryption is useful when working with the network during programming. You can simply download the Chrome extension and surf the web safely. The add-on protects against phishing, viruses, advertising, and various hacker attacks.
Encryption plays a crucial role in protecting large amounts of data in the event of a breach. Some practices include:
- Using a trusted system that can implement cryptographic functions.
- Relying on a secure approved random number generator for generating random file names, GUIDs, etc.
- Implementing a cryptographic key management tool accompanied by relevant policies and processes.
- Safeguarding assigned master keys from unauthorized access.
#5 Deny Access By Default
To maintain improved speed and performance over time, it is much more efficient and secure to configure your application to base access decisions on permission rather than exclusions. Why? Because maintaining a list of exclusions is more time-consuming and prone to errors than granting permission to users when necessary.
You may be curious about the process involved in configuring your app to be permission-based. This approach helps you achieve the following:
- Keep unauthenticated users out: Your application’s admin page should not be accessible to any unauthenticated users.
- Apply the policy to new user accounts: When you have a new colleague, ensure that until their account is properly configured, they cannot access any sensitive systems by default.
- Keep new features sealed: After releasing a new feature, make sure no one can access it until it is properly configured.
#6 Threat Modeling
The four steps for threat modeling are document, locate, address, and validate. To ensure secure coding, you must examine your software for areas that are vulnerable to increased attack threats. Integrating threat modeling into the software lifecycle, from development to testing and production, is crucial.
You can continue to expand your software’s cybersecurity with these tips. There is much more that I would like to add, but no material can cover all areas of cybersecurity in programming at once. But this is a good start, with which the software will be protected from many threats.