A software development business, company, or agency operates as designers and developers of custom software applications, frameworks, and tools that help to solve a particular problem or set of problems and achieve a specific outcome. Every software development team is usually made up of software architects or developers, at least one product manager, and some sort of project leader or manager.
Security is vital to the operations of a software development business. Not only do these businesses need to ensure that the software they develop and create is protected from risks such as hacking, piracy, and the like, they also need to certify the security of data that every one of their software users inputs.
There are different kinds of software that we all use today, especially now that a staggering 80.69% of the world’s population own smartphones, a percentage that upsurges to 90% when the demographic is narrowed down to Australia. Many of the applications and software that we use today require us to input information about ourselves; some of this information can be incredibly personal or sensitive at times. Things such as names, addresses, and even bank or credit card information are examples of the kind of information we often found ourselves inputting into different software, trusting that these pieces of information will be kept private.
Software users, no doubt, like to have that guarantee that their vital information and privacy are not at risk of getting breached. Hence, the responsibility falls on software development companies to ensure that the data in the IT environments that they build are secure. Customers will certainly keep their projects with a software development agency if they have that assurance that their platforms and data will be secure.
As pre-established, software has become highly prevalent in most of our lives and our workplaces, thus the more important the role that software development businesses play has become. To build secure IT environments for your software business and your clients, there is a list of factors you must contemplate and some technologies you must adopt.
Building the Right Software Development Team
A software development business has processes that it carries out in developing its products. It begins by identifying the needs or the problems faced by its client for which they require some software to solve, then the software company will create and develop secure custom software to suit their client’s requirements. Next, they will test and troubleshoot the product to fix any glitches and ensure that the software is indeed safe and captures the client’s intent, and then finally, the software will be delivered and put out for distribution.
In order to successfully carry out all these processes, such a business needs the right software development team. This team will be exceedingly essential towards building secure custom software and achieving the business’ goals. When selecting the members of this team in your software business, besides assessing their professional skills, some of the things that should also influence your choices include:
1. Past projects and references: Take a look at any past work or look into any previous employment of the team candidates to see if the work that they have done in the past matches the type and quality of the software you develop in your business. Speak to their past employers too. If you need a bit more assurance, you can also conduct a background check on them to check out that their references are valid and they are indeed who they say they are. This is the best way to acquaint yourself with who it is that you are really looking to hire into your software development team.
2. Languages and capabilities: Some software companies require custom software to be built with a specific language or in a certain format. If your business has such requirements, you should make sure that the prospective members of your development team are up to the task.
3. Communication skills: Client communication is key in any kind of business. Some clients will want to hear often from the provider of a service they have paid for, while others don’t mind you only reaching out when the project is finished and ready to be tested. You must ensure that the members of your software development team have the necessary communication skills to effectively and transparently manage client correspondence before, during, and after projects or services rendered.
4. Speed and efficiency: You risk losing potential repeat clients or receiving negative feedback if your company ends up disappointing customers by missing deadlines. Ensure that your software team is capable of meeting up with the timeframes you give your clients. Remember too that good communication helps to verify the expectations from both sides so that any disappointments can easily be avoided.
Contemporary Ways to Secure Your IT Environment
1. HTTP, HTTPS, and SSL
Naturally, many websites employ codes and software to facilitate certain user functions on their platforms, for instance, a customer care chat box, notification sounds, payment infrastructure, and more. A lot of vital user information goes in and out of these websites, therefore data and cyber security is important to both the company that owns the site and the user, especially if the data inputted is particularly sensitive information.
As a software developer, the transfer protocol that you use in building websites for client companies or entities is essential. We see many websites today utilizing both HTTP and HTTPS. The difference between the two is that the “S” at the end of “HTTPS” stands for Safe. When a website utilizes HyperText Transfer Protocol Safe (HTTPS), this means that this website is using a Secure Sockets Layer, or “SSL”, to secure communication over the internet.
Not every user knows and understands the differences between types of transfer protocol. But the “lock sign” that appears before the URL of a website that uses HTTPS often lets them know that they are in a secure IT environment, and many website users often find this satisfactory.
2. Exclusive Code
A software development business should always use its own proprietary or exclusive code or at least a closed source code that is not freely available to the public. This is important because third-party or open source code cannot be fully trusted. It is safer to work with code that has been created internally or sourced reliably—although proprietary code is the safest. Foreign code might expose the software you develop to a host of problems, including making the software vulnerable to hackers and other malicious activity.
3. Cloud Security
Cloud-based software is the new rave in the software industry. With cloud-based software, there is no limit to the amount of information that can easily be stored and accessed from various platforms on several devices. This type of all-access range to large amounts of information requires a lot of investment to ensure the safety and security of confidential information. Encryption and masking confidential data is typically how a software developer can guarantee the security of important information. This is an excellent software security blanket because only authorized users will be allowed to gain access to data that has been encrypted.
4. Microsoft SDL
Microsoft has created a ready-made solution that provides a structured approach to software security—the secure development lifecycle (SDL). It is a set of development practices for strengthening security and compliance. This is one of many software development policies with maximum benefits that software businesses can tap into by integrating its steps and stages into their software development and maintenance.
More Factors to Consider
Ensure compliance with government regulations and privacy laws
The Australian government regulates every industry in existence today. There are internal and external policies that govern the software development industry as well as map out necessary security controls. Thus, it is important that in whatever projects your business takes on and whatever strategies your developers implement, all regulatory and privacy requirements are complied with.
Remember that you also need the right experts on your team to ensure that your workers will be policy informed and compliant in doing their work. Thorough screening, skill verification, background checks, criminal history check or a police check, and other verification processes will help in giving you the reassurance that you are hiring the best people into your team who will always stay within lawful limits.
Know the basic principles of software security
Software security has some basic principles that every software development business must be familiar with: confidentiality—protection from disclosure; integrity—protection from alteration; availability—protection from destruction; authentication—who gains access; authorization—the rights and privileges a person with access has; auditing—the ability to build historical data; and the management of configuration, sessions, and exceptions.
Knowledge of these basic security principles and how they can be implemented in software is essential. Some of the mechanisms through which these principles are implemented include encryption, hash functions, load balancing and monitoring, password, token, or biometric feature authentication, logging, configuration and audit controls, and the like.
Designing, developing, and deploying software with security features
Security features should be implemented in all stages of software development, from the design model to the development of controls and functions, testing and trials, and then in the final deployment or distribution of software. This ensures the 100% protection of sensitive or confidential information.
In an era where technology is constantly evolving, security will always need to remain a priority if software companies wish to thrive in the future. Therefore, if you run a software development business in Australia, you must employ all the aforementioned approaches to establish secure IT environments for your business and your clients.
Australian Cyber Security Centre “Cyber Security Principles” – https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/advice/cyber-security-principles
Australian Cyber Security Centre “Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents” – https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/publications/strategies-mitigate-cyber-security-incidents