3 reasons why testing software security should start early

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The software development life cycle (SDLC) is an extremely intensive process for developers and quality assurance professionals alike. If even one element is neglected, it can delay project schedules and affect user performance. Security is one aspect that must be built in from the inception of any app, and here are a few reasons why:

Breaches can cost your business
Let's say that an organization uses its application to order and manage inventory, payroll and other operational needs. If a malicious entity were to access this information, it could easily make fraudulent transactions, costing the company more than what was intended. Not to mention it will create a massive headache to set the record straight. TechTarget contributor Peter Gregory noted that this can happen when programs lack audit trails and processes required for secure purchasing. By focusing security testing efforts on this functionality early on, this type of situation can be avoided, allowing organizations to retain customer trust and money.

"Organizations that fail to involve information security in the life cycle will pay the price in the form of costly and disruptive events," Gregory wrote. "Many bad things can happen to information systems that lack the required security interfaces and characteristics."

Access to confidential data can be damaging
If a business aims to use an app for information sharing and availability, protection must be at the forefront of this project throughout its life cycle. While some data may not be as costly to leak, the loss of confidential reports and documents can severely affect the organization's ability to function.

QA teams must ensure that security practices are implemented and built upon constantly. TechTarget contributor Nick Lewis noted that firewalls and traditional methods will not be enough to keep targeted attacks at bay. Instead, testing the app for insufficient process validation, abuse of functionality, weak password recovery validation and information leakage will be critical to guarding the program. By using a test management solution, testers will be able to track the results of these tests and can easily share the results with development so quick action can be taken

Analyze initial risk before jumping in
One SDLC security practice to observe is a primary risk assessment before the start of a new project. Not all applications are equal, which means each program will be labeled with a different risk level. Some software will be publicly accessible, whereas others will be more business-critical and involve processing sensitive data. These uses will largely determine how much risk would be involved with a breach on such activities. This information will give QA teams a clear picture of the security roadmap needed, and can be implemented. 

"Doing the preliminary risk assessment to establish the need for the system helps identify any security show stoppers before too much time and effort goes into the next SDLC phases," a SANS white paper stated. "It also gets the design team thinking about security issues early in the design process."

Cyberattacks and malware in the headlines have made security more prominent than ever before. By building in protections early in the SDLC, QA teams can ensure that they will be better able to handle these threats without interruptions to regular business activities.

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