The significance of cyber security in software development

Organizations offering digital products and services have realized, increasingly, that cyber security is a remarkable part of their quality, value proposition and risk management. The code they have written to create their service plays an essential role at these organizations, and it is used for distinctiveness at the market and to create specific value for their customers. Those organizations that want to develop their digital services in a customer and business oriented manner, especially when business representatives are strongly aboard with the service development and software engineering, and to whom reacting fast to customer demands and changes at the market is important, have often chosen some agile method as their software development methodology.

Strong, fast changing external pressures, that drive the organization to ever faster service development might encourage them to optimize their software development with customer experience, business requirements and duration of development phase as their main objective, or even the only goal. This might lead to features and requirements about quality, including cyber security and software assurance, being left to minor attention and lower priority.

Fortunately, it is widely accepted today that all customer critical software, web sites and connected devices must be cyber security tested before their market launch, and many people also think that continuous testing is imperative to ensure customer promise and customer data and to minimize overall risk. After all, testing, as necessary as it is, is fundamentally checking and fixing things that have already been done. Organizations offering services and products that are critical to their customer, have the need to solve challenges, deal with risks and build software assurance at an early stage, as well as to ensure that the software development methods, processes and metrics, individual knowhow and thinking and organizational culture support high quality in operations and end products.


How should code developing organizations react to the increasing significance of cyber security?

Not all software developers are cyber security professionals. As the significance of cyber security and software assurance is amplified, each developer should at least have basic knowhow of secure software development, in order for it to be taken into account at each phase, component and architectural layer. Cyber security, just as quality in general, is not a single matter and a development phase, but instead, the whole development process and culture should support quality and cyber security oriented thinking.

Each code developing organization should understand what role cyber security plays for their business, products, brand, customers and other stakeholders. It should define a cyber security target level that is appropriate in proportion to their own position and brand at the market, the value proposition of their product or service, customer expectations and operational environment. After that they should identify the maturity and current state of their software development, identify the underlying opportunities and threats, understand if there are gaps between the target level and current state, and create a concrete action plan to achieve the target level.

The organization can do all of this on their own strength. However, it might be wise to include an external specialist who can analyse the situation more objectively, challenge deep rooted attitudes and bring experiences from other similar projects, ideas from best practices and ensure the level of operations compared to e.g. standards at the industry.


How do we help our customers to develop the cyber security level of their software development?

elfGROUP has helped several customers to improve their level of secure software development. Each of our customers are different by their size, software development processes, cyber security requirements and base level understanding. Thus, solutions and approaches can be very different and unique.

Often, we commence the process with either OWASP SAMM or ASVS analyses. These help gain understanding of the maturity and current state of their software processes or systems, as well as identify the desirable level of cyber security. At the same time, the relation and gaps between the current state and goal state is seen, and a concrete development plan is formed. This all is done in dialogue together with the development team in a way that the team realizes and forms the goal state by themselves, at the same time committing to it.

Next, we create the transformational path together. With the help of the goal state and development targets, concrete milestones are created, with an appropriate timetable to root the policies to the organization. This transition we go through together. elfGROUP’s specialists take part in the hands-on work as agreed to ensure that the new way of thinking, ways of working and competence became permanent and concrete transformation throughout the organization and software development.


What kind of value is accumulated when cyber security is part of everyday work?

Our concrete goal is that cyber security becomes part of everyday work, culture and thinking. This way it’s not seen as an inconvenience, but a normal and natural part of daily activities.

Our goal is to transfer the knowhow to our customer’s organization, team members and ways of operating. Cyber security can never be fully outsourced, even if external advisors are used to challenge and spar. That is why our goal is to help the organization and individuals working there to gain necessary knowhow and capabilities to develop their competences and activities further even after a single project or process is finished.

Cyber security and software assurance becoming part of the features of a product, service or device increases its value and attractiveness. The increased quality becomes part of the story at customer interface and allows marketing to create trust for the company and its services. This will likely simplify sales process and reflect as a better customer experience and satisfaction.

The costs of product development, production, service administration and customer service decrease when there are less flaws to fix. Deployment of a software or a product is simpler, it’s faster to recover from technical exceptions and the number of customer complaints declines. The decreased risk for problems and flaws reduces the probability of reputation risk or lost turnover due to service outages.


Software development maturity analysis gets you started

The simplest way to get started in developing secure software engineering is to order an OWASP SAMM analysis from us to develop your software engineering processes. We can also carry out OWASP ASVS analyses to confirm the cyber security of your critical information system. You can also invite our specialists to discuss secure software development in a general level. elfGROUP’s software developers do coding and testing especially at customers and projects where software assurance and cyber security is specifically important, so our competence is strong also through practical development work.

Read more about our software project services and secure software development consulting, and ask for more info from our experts!

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About the Author: Antti M.

Antti M.

Antti is enthusiastic about understanding the business of his clients and creating value for his clients in their unique environments. Antti has extensive experience in selling and consulting high-tech products and services and understands how digitalisation changes the logic of business.