How Software Engineers Can Reduce Security Threats During the Development Phase

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Today’s software developers are balancing a slew of responsibility. With cybersecurity threats on the rise, one of the biggest fears developers have is pushing defect code through production. One minor gap in code could expose software to several vulnerabilities, diminishing user protection and damaging company credibility. 

Everyone makes mistakes, even during the development phase, but it’s crucial to identify and fix them before they reach the production environment. Hackers are prone to finding code discrepancies; taking your time to push out great code through careful code consideration can make all the difference. Here’s how modern software engineers can reduce security threats to their company by starting at the source: the development phase. 

Shift Groupthink

Before you can start to implement code reduction best practices, it’s important for companies alter the groupthink in their organizations. Groupthink is a psychological term that involves a group’s desire for goodwill and harmony to prevent them from rational decision-making. In the software development world—particularly in traditional organizations—bugs and defects are viewed as errors that need to be attacked and eliminated. 

Instead, focus on the common understanding that it’s not about if bugs will occur, but what to do when they do. And more importantly, cultivate a group understanding that bugs are learning opportunities for everyone. Bugs are inevitable, yes, but you can alter the perception team members have regarding their presence. 

Instead, consider the healthy processes that need to be in place to combat them, and how you can simplify the procedures for identification and debugging. This is an important thought process to have, in a top down process. Eventually, with careful execution, this will result in a paradigm shift in how the company handles problems, which can reduce production defects. 

Prioritize Code Refactoring

Code refactoring is the process of restructuring your existing computer code. This process is used in the DevOps philosophy, where developers clean up code they’ve written previously without changing the overall function of that code. The purpose of this to make the code more maintainable and efficient. 

A simple example of refactoring is reducing repeated code to a single function or method. By cleaning up the code, you can reduce the chance of errors and decrease the possibility of code rot, which occurs as a result of bad classifications, duplicate code, and various other discrepancies. 

Discuss Software Requirements

It’s important for developers to meet on a regular basis to discuss software requirements at length. When you can thoroughly understand the requirements, you’re less likely to make mistakes later down the line. The The Software Requirements Specification (SRS) is one of the most important aspects of development. The software documentation contains all the information you need on, including the load it should withstand and the functions it should perform. 

Although this is written in natural language, it’s the foundation for other technical documentation and allows you to better structure your problems. It should contain specific feature and component requirements. By doing so, you can prevent unnecessary defects and uncover potential pitfalls that might come up in the future. For example, as you work through those necessary requirements, you might find that you need enterprise level integration with Helm, or that your data layer implementation won’t work with a third party component that you’re requiring. 

Implement Peer Review

Although technology automates the code testing process, there are still formal code reviews that take place. This is where developers review code line by line. Code reviews aren’t just great for improving your code quality, but learning more as you go. You’d be surprised by how much you can learn by going over your work before it’s sent through automation tools. 

Software developer and entrepreneur once said, “I believe that peer code reviews are the single biggest thing you can do to improve your code. If you’re not doing code reviews right now with another developer, you’re missing a lot of bugs in your code and cheating yourself out of some key professional development opportunities.” Furthermore, although it takes more time to review, one study found that paired programming can reduce defects found in code by as much as 15%. 

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