Updating Old Code in 2024? Four Things to Know About Code Security

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‍ Why Updating Code Is Important

The main reason code requires updates is security. When code is in the shop, so to speak, this is the time to check for vulnerabilities and update it with security protocols. This way, once redeployed, it’s prepared to withstand modern attacks. 

In 2023, the average cost of a data breach amounted to $4.45 million. Data breaches happen for many reasons, but weak code remains a primary entry point. In short, updating old code is vital to mitigating risk and ensuring software remains secure, efficient, and compatible with modern technologies.

Ideally, businesses should update code on a routine basis, checking for the following factors:

  • Security Vulnerabilities — Outdated code often contains known, exploitable vulnerabilities, such as susceptibility to SQL injections.
  • Compatibility Issues — Old code often becomes incompatible with updated operating systems, browsers, or third-party libraries, leading to functionality issues and user dissatisfaction.
  • Performance Optimization — Legacy code often lacks optimizations and has excessive computations, resulting in slow performance and reduced user experience. 
  • Compliance Requirements — Evolving regulatory standards require regular code updates to stay compliant, especially in sectors like finance, government, defense, and healthcare, where data is most sensitive.

When gone unaddressed, disaster can strike. Take the WordPress malware attack that lasted from 2022 to 2023. Here, hackers wormed their way into poorly structured advertising code on 14,000 WordPress sites, infecting users across the globe. 

With regular code updates, WordPress could’ve identified this weak code. After identifying it, security teams would’ve been able to update code to mitigate risks, improve performance, and position software to withstand future attacks. 

✏️ Four Tips for Updating  Code for 2024

On average, 74% of applications, when scanned, revealed a coding flaw. This stat alone should make code updates non-negotiable. But the goalposts shift year by year, and businesses must keep up with new trends. The following are four code security tips developers must know to keep code strong throughout 2024. 

1. Watch for Bad Code and Security Flaws

Quality performance monitoring tools identify inefficient code by analyzing execution times and resource usage. Regular code reviews, peer assessments, and adherence to industry best practices also contribute to recognizing and addressing old, insecure, and inefficient code. These practices ensure a more secure, optimized software environment.

However, for best results, identifying problematic code requires modern solutions. So, the best is accomplished through automated code analysis tools. Such tools are excellent at assessing code for: 

  • Security vulnerabilities
  • Outdated libraries
  • Coding inefficiencies
  • Eliminating human error or oversight
  • Regulatory compliance

2. Make It a Priority to Fix Bad Code 

Mitigating code weaknesses requires spotting the most vulnerable code, flagging it, and fixing it first. So, businesses must implement a hierarchical approach that labels threat levels and addresses codes based on potential risk. 

Start by establishing a roadmap for prioritizing critical areas and immediately getting to work. For heightened security, integrate continuous monitoring that addresses security threats level-by-level.

Encourage ongoing, risk-based code reviews and establish a schedule for regular updates to ensure a safer and more efficient codebase from the top down.

3. Use Mitigation Tactics

In 2023, businesses flocked to zero-trust policies to reduce the likelihood of security breaches. Now, 72% of companies either operate on a zero-trust approach or are working towards one. 

Zero-trust policy mitigates the risks associated with harmful or old code by assuming that no part of a system or user is inherently trustworthy. Regardless of the code’s age, a zero-trust approach ensures continuous verification of user identities, device security, and application behavior.

By adopting strict access controls and continuous monitoring, a zero-trust model limits the impact of potential vulnerabilities in outdated code and diminishes the chance of exploitation.

4. Leverage Automation

Gone are the days of excruciating manual processes attached to every coding update. Now, developers can pick from many incredible automation tools to carry out routine, menial tasks. These tools allow DevOps teams to focus on more human-oriented tasks that rely on creative thinking.

There are plenty of automation methods businesses should consider as they update old code and enhance security and performance through systematic processes:

  • Automated Code Analysis — Implement automated tools for static code analysis to identify security vulnerabilities, deprecated functions, and inefficiencies.
  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) — Integrate CI/CD pipelines to automate the testing and deployment of code changes. Automated testing ensures that updates don’t introduce new issues, while automated deployment streamlines the rollout process and reduces human error.
  • Dependency Scanning — Automated dependency scanning tools identify and update outdated libraries or frameworks. These help address security vulnerabilities associated with third-party dependencies.
  • Automated Refactoring and Obfuscation — Employ automated refactoring tools and plugins to improve code structure, enhance readability, and optimize security.
  • Security Patch Automation — Automated patch systems monitor for vulnerabilities, applying fixes once released, minimizing the exposure window. 

Choose the Best Tools to  Empower Code Updates 

When it comes to best practices, finding the right tools is an imperative part of locking in a future-proof workflow. 

For example, Kiuwan is an outstanding code security tool that seamlessly identifies and fixes security codes across 30+ languages. Then, used in tandem with PreEmptive’s advanced obfuscation solutions, developers can rest assured that their code is protected.

See it in action for yourself! Sign up today for a free demo and learn how our services can help you prepare for the coming year.