Secure Web Application Development – Best Practices

  • Blog
  • Secure Web Application Development – Best Practices
Secure Web Application Development – Best Practices

Security has become one of the most pressing concerns for modern organizations, especially since the pandemic – a period that saw an exponential increase in Cybersecurity attacks worldwide. Information breach puts more than just your data at risk; it could also harm your reputation. These days, web applications are among the most common targets for cybercriminals.

Web applications have become a critical aspect for businesses to get more things done efficiently. Unfortunately, even in 2022, web technology remains susceptible to threats. As a consequence, IT security teams have to implement countermeasures.

However, by learning how to develop secure web applications for your business, you can reduce security challenges and survive unforeseen circumstances. In this post, we’ll share some of the best practices for secure web application development.

Secure Web Application Development – Best Practices

1.     Consider an Agile Approach to Web Application Security

The agile methodology is rapidly becoming the go-to approach for software development teams. It’s collaborative, quick, and data-driven – all essential factors required to work in small, consumable increments and deliver a secure web application faster.

Therefore, to start your development, you need to build security checks into the process. This can be costly and time-consuming but well worth the effort. Many modern companies use threat modeling at the design phase to help answer questions, such as:

  • Are we taking encryption measures to secure data at rest and motion?
  • Do we have a strong password policy?
  • Is the web application’s input validation consistent?
  • Are there multiple layers of security?
  • Are we abiding by the Principles of Least Privilege (PoLP)?

2.     Foster Pronoia During the Initial Design Process

It’s easy to become paranoid when it comes to input validation since User Input is no one’s friend. By fostering pronoia, you can consider all input to be hostile until proven otherwise with a positive approach.

Input Validation ensures only authentic deduplicated data passes through the workflow in a web application. This way, it ensures bad or corrupted data gets filtered out before it even becomes a problem in the future. Popular types include:

  • Data validation (numeric, text, etc.)
  • Data format validation (JSON, XML, etc.)
  • Data value validation, etc.

3.     Encrypt Your Web Application Data

Encryption is the process of securing data and valuable information by encoding it, ensuring it’s only accessible by authorized personnel. The process doesn’t interfere with the workflow. Instead, it simply obfuscates the intelligible content from those not authorized to access it.

Encryption has become a common practice in the developing world for protecting sensitive information in rest (database, storage devices, etc.) and transit. When developing a secure application, you need to use powerful algorithms and APIs to keep hackers at bay.

4.     Utilize Exception Management

Another innovative security measure in the modern age is exception management. This measure ensures you never display anything more than just a generic error message in case of downtime or failure. The last thing you want is to give hackers a clue or key to the back door to your database.

Therefore, when developing a web application, revert to rejecting the operation and display a simple, friendly message to the user instead of your code.

5.     Apply Multi-Factor Authentication and Role Management

If your web application contains user accounts, you should implement an effective password management strategy with multi-factor authentication and secure recovery mechanisms. Many services force re-authentication for transactions or access to more sensitive information.

By adopting the principle of minimal privilege from the beginning, you can ensure secure web application development and reduce the chance of an intruder trying to bypass your system. Other options include account lock-outs/timeouts, password expiration, and SSL protection to hide account-related data.

6.     Prevent Security Misconfigurations

Of course, your team would have to be vigilant during configurations to ensure they don’t leave any bread crumbs for hackers to follow. Considering the many options web server management software provide users, there are hundreds of ways you can muck things up, including:

  • Leaving files/directories unprotected
  • Leaving default or guest accounts on the webserver
  • Leaving webserver ports open unnecessarily
  • Using obsolete security patches or protocols
  • Letting digital certificates expire.

7.     Leverage the Power of HTTPS

One of the main prerequisites of developing a secure web application is having a well-documented process at every stage. However, you also need to employ encryption at the service level as an additional security layer using HTTPS – Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

This technology is used to create an encrypted link between your data server and the browser, ensuring the workflow remains encoded during the transit. Most modern web applications employ this technology today, especially those handling online transactions.

8.     Including Auditing and Data Logging

With the emergence and advancement of content serving systems, it’s become easier to conduct auditing and logging at the server level. Data logs are crucial for recording suspicious activity by providing security teams access to a user’s actions on the application. Logs may also be required for legal disputes and proceedings.

9.     Thorough and Consistent Quality Assurance and Testing

By opting for a powerful third-party penetration testing or vulnerability scanning service, you can cost-effectively amplify your web application’s quality assurance process. It’s smart to take extra caution when possible and outsource some quality assurance processes to specialists to give an objective view of the overall infrastructure.

Conclusion

At Deltalyz, our team of experienced data scientists, developers, and business analysts can help design and develop a secure web application tailored for your business’s brand, products, operations, and user capabilities. We employ all of the practices mentioned here and more to ensure all the security boxes are checked off.

Our solutions are incredibly cost-effective, and we strive to ensure our clients are up to speed with their digital transformation initiatives, whether it’s through business intelligence, revamped digital presence, or enhanced security measures. Feel free to get in touch with our team for more information and a free quote.