Prioritize cybersecurity in all web development sprints

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No one doubts the importance of cybersecurity in web development – ​​and yet, often in the development cycle, we neglect to prioritize it in every sprint and in the final product. Making cybersecurity a priority throughout every development cycle is necessary to combat the wave of digital attacks threatening the modern web. But how can you ensure that you are focusing on cybersecurity throughout development?

Achieving optimal results takes commitment. This will involve setting clear and effective cybersecurity goals at every stage, using extensive testing tools and following best practices. Exploring each of these processes in the context of a web development sprint can ensure that your own development process prioritizes cybersecurity.

Set cybersecurity goals for each sprint

Cybersecurity starts right at the planning stages of the sprint – or should if you plan them effectively. Indeed, each stage of agile development must meet the needs of the intended users and support the general objectives of the project. If cybersecurity is not included in these goals, you run the risk of exposing your platform to digital threats.

Instead, write down effective, measurable, and achievable sprint goals. Effective sprint goals provide much-needed focus and clarity during an agile program increment. They should be specific and detail a path forward for the sprint with built-in success metrics.

For example, an effective cybersecurity goal might look like this: implement an automated attack identification system with 98% accuracy.

Identifying attacks is crucial in creating protections for a web application, but each sprint will have its own cybersecurity goal depending on the overall plan and implementation schedule you propose. If you’re not sure what kind of metrics to look for, check out international standards like GDPR and NIST CSF.

From there, development teams can gauge the success of cybersecurity in the development lifecycle by leveraging the power of automation and testing.

Each sprint should involve various tests to ensure that the goals are met. Fortunately, there are tons of cybersecurity tests you can run throughout development with levels of automation and convenience. These are tools that can be created in-house, outsourced, or implemented through other licensed software.

Often the responsibility for security testing throughout web development is juggled and delegated, leaving gaps that become attack vectors. Prioritizing cybersecurity means assigning that responsibility to specific developers while clearly outlining the metrics to look for and the tools to test them. For example, each sprint can be defined through a framework, such as the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) as a means of standardized testing language and methods.

At each increment, run the corresponding cybersecurity tests that explore your application’s vulnerability. These tests include:

  • SQL injection.
  • Password cracking.
  • Cross-site scripting.
  • Cryptographic strength testing.
  • Authentication controls.

By structuring a cybersecurity check into every development sprint, you ensure that cybersecurity remains a priority, regardless of how resources and time are allocated. Then, following a protective approach to development will strengthen your efforts.

Follow cybersecurity best practices

Most web developers understand the importance of digital hygiene and web security. However, it is too easy to be lax with standards in the development process. Disabling multi-factor authentication or using the same password over and over can be tempting for convenience, but cybercrime is growing rapidly in various industries. It is expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion by 2025.

To avoid common website security attacks, every sprint must adhere to the highest cybersecurity standards throughout the development cycle. Fortunately, applying these standards doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. You can follow cybersecurity best practices through actions such as the following:

  • Provide cybersecurity training to the entire development team.
  • Implementation of a web application firewall (WAF).
  • Use of parameterized statements in SQL tests.
  • Keep all security platforms and applications up to date.
  • Partitioning user data out of API file systems.

While these best practices cannot protect against all cyberattacks, they will help reduce the human error that contributes to approximately 85% of data breaches. Securing each sprint will increase the quality of your applications.

Secure every sprint

By making security a priority at every stage of development, you’ll build better products online. Now more than ever, the internet needs developers who are committed to building web applications that are designed with cybersecurity at the center of every decision.

Clear goals, effective testing procedures, and best practices like those discussed here will help reinforce security as a priority in your organization at the most crucial times. Secure every sprint with these tips and build better web tools as a result.


About the Author: Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern United States. She covers a wide range of topics, but is particularly interested in topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies. To know more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

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