Why Developers Need a Security Mindset (And How to Help Them With It)

A man looks at a screen. The post is about helping developers with security

It’s never been a more important time for developers to have a security mindset. Software developers are increasingly relying on open source components in their products. While this makes their jobs somewhat easier, open source is prone to vulnerabilities.

It’s no secret that developers often find it challenging to prioritize cybersecurity, using the rationale that it should fall under the purview of security teams. They give a whole litany of reasons why, which has served to create a well-documented amount of tension between dev and security teams. Malware attacks have grown so prevalent and they can cause significant harm to a piece of code while compromising its integrity and availability.

Developers Should Be Proactive About Security in the SDLC

If programmers take this into account in the early stage of the SDLC, they can stop the damage before it begins. In fact, securing the software supply chain has now become a business mandate with 73% of organizations taking steps due to recent attacks.

“Organizations also need to focus on better ways to work with developers for rapid remediation of any detected security issues, Enterprise Strategy Group observes.

A new Rezilion white paper discusses measures organizations can take to do this. For starters, the process must go beyond educating developers on how they can prevent cyberattacks. Fostering a security mindset means that security is never an afterthought with the understanding that sooner or later, your business will experience an application breach.

Ensure your development team is made fully aware of the company’s security policies, procedures, and guidelines. But bear in mind that you can’t expect developers to integrate security into the development process if they don’t know how to do it.

You can test their knowledge using online tools quizzes, and surveys.

So it’s important to establish a thorough training program. It should include a comprehensive list of potential vulnerabilities, as well as detailed information on how security challenges can arise during the different steps in the application development process. Make sure your program is tailored to the needs of the organization and considers specific policies and processes.

Remember that it’s also not a one-and-done proposition: security training and education should be regularly updated.

You can also switch from DevOps to DevSecOps. This can be done by baking in security practices and by shifting left, automating as much as possible, and simulating threats and incidents so your teams can contend with actual incidents.

At the same time, developers should automate as much as possible. They should also review libraries and third-party packages for known vulnerabilities and ensure those libraries are being maintained and updated.

Tools Developers Can Rely On for Better Security

Tools also play a pivotal role in helping developers establish a security mindset. For example, agentless scanning—a tool that provides insight into security vulnerabilities and performance metrics–is increasingly becoming an important security tool, especially for developers, because it helps make securing code easier.

Software composition analysis (SCA) tools can be used to identify vulnerabilities in the code.

Another important security tool is a dynamic SBOM, which provides a continuous, up-to-date inventory of all libraries, servers, APIs, and runtime platforms used in the software development process. Whenever a developer adds a new component or makes a change to their code, the dynamic SBOM will reflect that. The tool will also map vulnerabilities to the discovered components.

With digital transformation top of mind, it’s understandable that developers are hyper-focused on accelerated delivery, and they often view security measures as bogging down their workflow. This perception needs to change. Securing software at all stages of the development process is an essential part of modern app development, and the onus is on everyone to do their part.

For more advice, read our guide, How to Help Your Developers to Embrace a Security Mindset, today.

About the author: Esther Shein is a longtime freelance tech and business writer and editor whose work has appeared in several publications, including CIO.com, TechRepublic, VentureBeat, ZDNet, TechTarget, The Boston Globe and Inc. She has also written thought leadership whitepapers, ebooks, case studies and marketing materials.

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