Top 4 source code security best practices

Top 4 source code security best practices



Attacks on the software supply chain, such as SolarWinds and NotPetya, have been headlines in recent years. In these attacks, a seller’s source code is compromised and used against the seller’s customers.

The chances of an organization being affected by one of these attacks are skyrocketing. Attacks on the software supply chain increased by 430% in 2020 and 650% in 2021, according to Sonatype Inc.

To mitigate attacks in the software supply chain and prevent compromise and bad publicity, it is important to follow key source code best practices for code written by both internal and third-party developers.

1. Acquire secure external source code

Verify the legitimacy of all source code purchased from third parties, whether for internal use or if you plan to bundle it with products or services. Download only authorized site source code, and use integrity checks, such as verifying cryptographic hashes. Rely on automation to avoid human error, such as typing an incorrect URL or forgetting to compare cryptographic hash values.

2. Protect source code access and storage

Store source code in well-secured code repositories. Grant only the necessary permissions to people, applications, and services, and take special care with the permissions to enable source code modifications. Authenticate each user of the repository with modification permissions, human or not, and configure the repositories to keep audit records of all changes. Require developers to store all third-party source code in code repositories.

3. Analyze the source code

Whether you write or acquire your source code, use static analysis tools to look for vulnerabilities and malicious code. Don’t just scan the code when it’s purchased. Have tools that scan frequently, if not continuously. While tools can do most of the work, people should review and research what the tools find. Make sure your incident response plans and processes are ready to handle malicious code discovery.

4. Identify the components of the source code

The security and software development communities are increasingly recognizing the importance of knowing what components of the source code are in the software used and acquired by companies. Be aware of announcements about new vulnerabilities in these components. Knowing these vulnerabilities will help security teams mitigate new threats more quickly.

The source code comes with a list of software materials, which list its components. Alternatively, security teams could use source code composition analysis tools to help identify third-party components in use.

This was last published in May 2022


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