Five Must-Have Cybersecurity Tips for Programmers

Posted by Marta on May 6, 2022 Viewed 487 times

Card image cap

Cybercrime is on the rise around the world, with cybercriminals constantly evolving their methods.

Research studies find that the number of weekly cyberattacks within corporate networks increased by a whopping 50 percent in 2021 from the prior year, with an all-time high in December of 2021.

Worldwide, one in every sixty-one organizations has been impacted by ransomware attacks. Because cybercrime is so common and continues to rise, security has become one of the most important factors in software development. Developing applications that are 100% secure is not a realistic goal, but programmers can use various techniques to help safeguard the application.  

Why Cybersecurity Tips are Important for Programmers

Programmers are the ones that design the application and the only group to interact with the back end of software. Their understanding of the application is deeper than a user’s, including working with potential security gaps and vulnerabilities.

Strategies for effective cybersecurity are constantly evolving, and developers must stay aware of these developments. Security awareness should be built into project plans before development starts, with development teams using identity monitoring tools to assess vulnerabilities.  

Understanding Security Vulnerabilities of Each Language 

Every programming language has its vulnerabilities. Some have more than others, such as those that have been in existence longer. Developers must be aware of these vulnerabilities before choosing which language to use.

This is not about avoiding vulnerabilities entirely but rather about working with existing gaps. Conduct some research about prior breaches and cyberattacks, paying attention to which programming language was used. Then limit the known vulnerabilities and commonly targeted areas within the application.

Secure Automation Code

A technique called secure coding can be used to protect the application from security vulnerabilities. In this coding method, programmers guard against potential security risks by working around and avoiding known bugs and flaws.

This requires some research and industry knowledge, but it is basically a more proactive and preventative way to code. In essence, it’s a mindset shift away from prioritizing functionality in development, dealing with security at the tail end of development, and a choice to face cybersecurity head-on during every step of development. 

Automation is highly advantageous in secure coding. Developers should choose a strong, secure automation code that reduces or eliminates the need for coding themselves. The value of automation lies in reducing human errors and ensuring the code is consistently secure each time. 

Other best practices for secure coding include:

  1. Avoid hard-coding login credentials – like any other sensitive information, hard coding login info is a major risk if hackers are successful in breaching your code.
  2. Set user authentication parameters – logins should have a minimum number of letters, numbers, symbols and special characters to ensure passwords selected are not easily discovered by hackers’ brute force attempts. Similarly, there should be a maximum allowed number of login attempts before a user is locked out.
  3. Session ID’s should be Randomized – session ID tokens should be hard to breach, and unique for each session.
  4. Safeguard User Input – coding in safeguards to avoid erroneous entries of information is necessary in preparing for user error.

Keep Communication Private

Occasionally, you might rely on external parties to assist with development steps. It is very important to only share key details about your project with trusted parties and to keep this type of communication to a minimum.

Only work with trusted partners and consider your communication channels, opting for those with built-in security and encryption. Avoid communicating over networks that are not secure, opting for a VPN connection if out of the office.

Be Skeptical Towards the User 

A recommended practice when managing end-users is to be judicious about the system privileges they are granted. Users should only have the system rights that their roles require. This helps keep the application secure, as only authorized users have access to functions, features, and the back end. It is important to remember that you can always grant more user privileges later, if needed, but to retract privileges after a security risk is much more challenging.

When coding, it is important to also code not only for legitimate users but also for times when your application may be breached. Consider the possible scenario of hackers injecting their code into yours with the intent of gaining control of your application. To protect an application proactively, programmers should take steps to restrict the user from reaching the vulnerable components. This is usually done by choosing more secure functions in the code and validating the data coming from the user. 

Understanding the particular vulnerabilities and the likelihood of each occurring is helpful. A source code analysis is a useful exercise to identify vulnerabilities for the application in development. Then, using a threat model to assess the risk of each vulnerability based on a hypothetical hacker can help you further hone in on what to guard against. With this technique, developers can look at their code from a cybercriminal’s perspective, so they can better plan resources to protect against attacks.

Avoid Unnecessary Downloads

When planning for the distribution of your application, avoid requiring unnecessary downloads. While downloading an application or update is normal and expected, downloads increase the risk of cybercrime activities.

Try to combine multiple items in one download step whenever possible, and consider all delivery methods, choosing the most secure. Some developers will limit updates to monthly or quarterly and ensure that all new updates are included. Consider limiting download activity for your application by considering the customer’s needs and timing. 

Conclusion

Cybersecurity is undoubtedly a topic relevant to every aspect of business and computer science and learning about it will prepare you to face cybersecurity challenges from any vantage point.

The constantly increasing levels of cyber fraud have a significant effect on all industries and geographic locations. One of the most critical aspects of cybersecurity is how applications are coded, and secure coding practices make a big difference.

Developers must stay agile and savvy as cybercrime increases and shapeshifts and continuously educate themselves about changing and emerging risks. 

Guest post provided by Contributor

Project-Based Programming Introduction

Steady pace book with lots of worked examples. Starting with the basics, and moving to projects, data visualisation, and web applications

100% Recommended book for Java Beginners

Unique lay-out and teaching programming style helping new concepts stick in your memory

90 Specific Ways to Write Better Python

Great guide for those who want to improve their skills when writing python code. Easy to understand. Many practical examples

Grow Your Java skills as a developer

Perfect Boook for anyone who has an alright knowledge of Java and wants to take it to the next level.

Write Code as a Professional Developer

Excellent read for anyone who already know how to program and want to learn Best Practices

Every Developer should read this

Perfect book for anyone transitioning into the mid/mid-senior developer level

Great preparation for interviews

Great book and probably the best way to practice for interview. Some really good information on how to perform an interview. Code Example in Java