Our Top 19 Secure Application Development Tips

Developing secure applications that can keep up with the latest methods used in cyberattacks and breaches is becoming increasingly difficult. You need to use every avenue available to you to ensure that your applications are protected.

Our Favorite App Security Best Practices

Our team has put together a list of our favorite software development security best practices to help minimize your risk of opening yourself up to the latest threats.

1. Employ Secure Coding Practices

Secure coding practices, such as input validation, output encoding, and proper error handling, are fundamental in preventing common vulnerabilities like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS). By incorporating these practices into your development process, you can significantly reduce your application’s risk of exploitation.

2. Use Strong Authentication and Authorization

It’s important to implement strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), and ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive data and functionality. You should also employ role-based access control (RBAC) to enforce least privilege principles and limit access to resources based on user roles.

3. Keep Software Up to Date

It sounds simple, but many people just get busy and don’t follow this software application security best practice the way they should. You should always regularly update your software and libraries to patch known vulnerabilities and protect against potential threats. Create an easy (and automated) process for monitoring and applying updates to your tools and applications.

4. Implement Proper Session Management

Secure session management practices, such as session timeouts and secure cookies, are essential to protect against session hijacking and fixation attacks. Make sure that your sessions are invalidated after a period of inactivity and that session identifiers are securely generated and managed.

5. Practice Secure Data Storage

Create procedures to encrypt sensitive data both at rest and in transit to protect it from unauthorized access. Always use strong encryption algorithms and key management practices to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of your data.

6. Conduct Regular Security Testing

Perform regular security testing, including penetration testing and code reviews, to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities in your application. Incorporate security testing into your development lifecycle as early as possible to catch issues early and reduce the likelihood of exploitation.

7. Educate Developers and Users

Regularly educating your development team about application development security best practices isn’t something that should be overlooked. Additionally, educating your users about the importance of security and how to protect their data can help mitigate the risk of social engineering attacks and improve overall security awareness

8. Follow Content Security Policy (CSP)

Implementing a Content Security Policy (CSP) can help reduce the risk of XSS attacks by specifying the sources from which certain types of content can be loaded. CSP can also help prevent data exfiltration and other malicious activities by restricting the capabilities of web pages.

9. Ensure Secure Communication

Use secure communication protocols, such as TLS, to protect data transmitted between your application and users. Also, make sure that your application’s communication channels are encrypted and authenticated to prevent eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

10. Have a Response Plan

Developing and maintaining an incident response plan is crucial to quickly and effectively respond to security incidents. Your response plan should outline the steps to take in the event of a security breach, including communication strategies and remediation efforts.

11. Utilize Dependency Management

Manage your application’s dependencies carefully by using tools that track and update third-party libraries. Be sure to audit your dependencies for known vulnerabilities and check that only trusted and necessary packages are included in your application.

12. Implement Logging and Monitoring

Set up comprehensive logging and monitoring to detect and respond to security incidents in real time. Make sure that logs capture relevant security events and are securely stored to prevent tampering. Then you’ll want to regularly review logs for signs of suspicious activity.

13. Secure Configuration Management

Make sure that your application’s configuration settings are secure and not exposed. Use configuration management tools to automate the application of security settings consistently across all environments, store sensitive configuration data securely, and separate it from your codebase.

14. Regularly Review and Update Security Policies

Keep your security policies up to date with the latest industry standards and best practices. Regularly review and revise your policies to address emerging threats and check that your development team follows them. You should also conduct periodic training sessions to reinforce the importance of adhering to security policies.

15. Enforce Strong Password Policies

Require strong, complex passwords for user accounts and enforce password policies that include regular updates, a minimum length, and a mix of character types. You’ll also want to implement mechanisms to prevent the reuse of previous passwords and ensure that passwords are stored using hashing algorithms.

16. Implement Rate Limiting

Use rate limiting to control the number of requests a user or IP address can make to your application within a certain time frame. This helps prevent abuse, such as brute force attacks and denial-of-service attacks, by limiting the rate at which requests are processed.

17. Conduct Threat Modeling

Perform threat modeling to identify potential security threats and vulnerabilities in your application. By understanding the attack vectors and the impact of potential threats, you can prioritize and implement appropriate security measures to mitigate risks.

18. Secure API Endpoints

Protect your API endpoints by implementing authentication, authorization, and input validation. Use API gateways to manage and secure API traffic, and ensure that APIs follow the same security best practices as your main application, including encryption and rate limiting.

19. Perform Regular Code Refactoring

Regularly refactor your code to improve its structure, readability, and maintainability. Clean, well-organized code is easier to review and less likely to contain hidden vulnerabilities. Refactoring also helps ensure that security practices are consistently applied throughout the codebase.

How PreEmptive Can Help

PreEmptive offers a suite of user-friendly and reliable tools that will improve the security of your applications. We offer popular tools such as obfuscation that will make your application’s code more difficult for attackers to understand and reverse-engineer. PreEmptive’s iOS and Android obfuscation tools can transform your code into a form that functions the same but is significantly harder to decipher. This helps protect intellectual property and sensitive logic, making it more challenging for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities or create unauthorized copies of your software.

Start a Free Trial of PreEmptive

Ready to implement secure application development tools and best practices? Start a free trial of PreEmptive’s software to see it for yourself.