Strengthening Application Security in the Software Development Lifecycle

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As software continues to pervade our lives, the security of that software continues to grow in importance. We need to keep private data private. We need to protect financial transactions and records. We need to protect online services from infiltration and attack.

We can obtain this protection through ‘Application Security’, which is all about building and delivering software that is safe and secure. And developing software within an integrated toolchain can greatly enhance security.

What’s application security?

Application Security encompasses activities such as:

  • Analyzing and testing software for security vulnerabilities
  • Managing and fixing vulnerabilities
  • Ensuring compliance with security standards
  • Reporting security statistics and metrics

There are several different categories of these tools, however the below are the most interesting in terms of software integration:

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST) – used to analyze an application for security vulnerabilities without running it. This is accomplished by analyzing the application’s source code, byte code, and/or binaries for common patterns and indications of vulnerabilities.
  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) – analyze a running application for security vulnerabilities. They do this by automatically testing the running application against common exploits. This is similar to penetration testing (pen testing), but it is fully automated
  • Security Requirements tools – used for defining, prioritizing, and managing security requirements. These tools take the approach of introducing security directly into the software development lifecycle as specific requirements. Some of these tools can automatically generate security requirements based on rules and common security issues in a specified domain.

Other categories of Application Security tools, such as Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) and Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) tools, are more focussed on managing and defending against known security vulnerabilities in deployed software, and are somewhat less interesting for integration.

There are many vendors of Application Security tools. Some of the most popular are: Whitehat, who makes SAST and DAST tools; IBM, whose AppScan suite includes several SAST and DAST tools; SD Elements, who makes Security Requirements tools; HPE, whose Fortify suite includes SAST, DAST, and RASP tools; Veracode, who produces SAST and DAST tools; and Checkmarx, offering a source code analysis SAST tool. 

How is software integration relevant to application security?

When looking to integrate new tools into your software delivery process, it is important to first identify the stakeholders of those tools, and the assets consumed by and artifacts produced by those tools.

The most common stakeholders of Application Security tools are:

  • Security Professionals: write security requirements, prioritize vulnerabilities, configure rules for SAST and DAST tools, and consume security statistics, metrics, and compliance reports
  • Developers: implement security requirements in the software they are building, and fix vulnerabilities reported by SAST and DAST tools
  • Testers: create and execute manual security test plans based on security requirements
  • Managers: consume high level security reports, with a focus on the business and financial benefits of security efforts.

Common assets consumed by Application Security tools include:

  • Source code
  • Byte code
  • Binaries
  • Security rules

Common artifacts produced by Application Security include:

  • Vulnerabilities
  • Suggested fixes
  • Security requirments
  • Security statistics and metrics

With so many people and assets involved in the workflow, we need all stakeholders to be able to trace artifacts, spot vulnerabilities and have automated reporting to be able to address any issues as they arise. An integrated workflow does this, as illustrated in the below workflow.

Common integration scenarios

The three Software Lifecycle Integration (SLI) patterns we’ll be looking at are Requirements Traceability, Security Vulnerabilities to Development, and the Consolidated Reporting Unification Pattern.

  • Requirements Traceability: the goal is to be able to trace each code change all the way back up to the original requirement. When it comes to Application Security, we want security requirements to be included in this traceability graph. To accomplish this we need to link requirements generated and managed by Security Requirements tools into the Project and Portfolio Management (PPM), Requirements Management, and/or Agile tools where we manage other requirements and user stories. We can currently do this with a Gateway integration in Tasktop Integration Hub, by adding a Gateway collection that accepts requirements from our Security Requirements tool and creates matching requirements or user stories in our PPM, Requirements Management, or Agile tool.
  • Security Vulnerabilities to Development: this is about automatically reporting security vulnerabilities to our development teams to quickly fix them. To accomplish this we need to link vulnerabilities reported by SAST and DAST tools into our Defects Management or Agile tools, where developers will see them and work on a fix. We can currently do this with a Gateway integration in Tasktop Integration Hub, by adding a Gateway collection that accepts vulnerabilities from SAST and DAST tools and creates matching defects in our Defects Management or Agile tool.
  • Consolidated Reporting Unification Pattern aims to consolidate development data from the various tools used by teams across an organization so that unified reports can be generated. When it comes to Application Security, we want data about security requirements and vulnerabilities included so that it can be reported on too. We need to collect these artifacts produced by our Application Security tools into our data warehouse. We can currently accomplish this with a Gateway Data integration in Tasktop Integration Hub, by creating a Gateway collection that accepts security requirements and vulnerabilities from our various Application Security tools and flows them into a common Data collection.

For further information on how Tasktop integrates your software value stream and enhances Application Security, visit our website and contact us today.

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