Security and quality – the indispensable parts of product development
Change is an inseparable part of corporate governance. But every company needs to be able to meet the security-related challenges which changes in quality assurance and information handling raise.
The law of continuing change
Change is not only unavoidable, it is of chief importance in the business world. Every day, enterprises need to deal with changes in manufacturing, finance, processes, operations, and all other areas of business which are an inseparable part of progress. But when working on updates and changes, or rethinking strategies and releasing new products, questions regarding security and data safety are raised. Every update or a new product release has an impact on company operations, and can seriously affect corporate image. Whether this impact is big or small depends on how timely unexpected events and unforeseen results are handled.
A number of methods and practices have been designed especially to help companies and enterprises proceed go through change and new release processes, and perform them in an expert, and most of all secure, manner. Some companies use applications or online platforms to track every task and its results through a ticketing system. Others use less modern means such as paper-based forms and templates. Each method, however, has the same purpose: to follow through a process with strict control points, and to oversee the smooth development of products and services, and their safety and security levels. This type of control allows for discrepancies to be filtered on time, and for smoothly-working elements to be strengthened and developed further. It is also of key importance when involving third parties, such as vendors or service and storage providers. Not only do you need to ensure that all involved parties adhere to and use the right level of security and quality management within their own organisation, you also need to oversee the quality of their work, based on your own quality and security standards and processes.
As a software development company we believe that the security of our customers’ and clients’ information and data is of the utmost importance. As one of Lehman’s laws of software engineering says: “Systems that are used must change, or else they automatically become less useful.” Inspired by this rule, we constantly work on improving our services and products, while also always aiming to keep the security of our solutions at the highest possible level.
Meet change – securely!
Receiving an unbiased expert evaluation is crucial in software development, especially when it comes to the security and safety of programs and applications. Every software development company has a number of options open to it to ensure the right amount of security is applied in their solutions and releases: OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project), Quality Assurance processes, and strict testing with a first and second pair of eyes. All of these options aim to help software developers update their existing products or develop new ones, while staying focused on quality and security. We have already shared an article on the importance of seamless testing processes and involving certified testers dedicated to this important task, and how VCC Live’s in-house testing processes are carried out (you can read the article here). Below we share our views on some more aspects of Quality Management and Information Security Management that we concentrate on within our own organisation:
- realistic timeframes – the development of flawless software products requires time. It is not only important for development teams to have enough time to create a product, as testing and quality assurance activities, as well as the need for updates that may result from them, also require time to be performed. A software solution can be sent back many times for corrections, making it impossible for developer teams to release the finished product within a short time frame. If this process is put under pressure, it may lead to unfortunate events and high security risks, such as information leaks, data theft, and so forth. While it is important to have release date schedules, it is also important to remember that PDCA methodology, important for every management process, contains not only a Plan in its name – it is also important to Do, Check, and Act, meaning you should carefully check for any risks and act to fix them before it’s too late. Which brings us to:
- continuous improvement – it is very important to make sure that quality assurance processes within the company are always adhered to, as they provide the basis for organisation improvement in the future. Information and experiences during the testing and quality assurance period should be recorded and shared as lessons learned among the involved parties, to help develop a process of continuous improvement. Being open to users’ feedback and experience is also important, and such feedback should not only be always welcomed but also taken seriously, because if it isn’t the development company risks losing its users’ trust in their professionalism.
- secure coding – as a part of continuous improvement, secure coding practices provide invaluable help for software developers and programmers in finding alternatives in coding and reducing or eliminating vulnerabilities in their product. Secure coding is an extremely important part of every software developing process and should not be taken lightly – if defects and logic flows in the software are not taken care of, they can lead to serious security issues.
- customer data security – when releasing applications or products that process customer data, such as personal details, bank card information, or any other form of customer data, it is not just of the utmost importance to make sure this data is processed securely, you need to make sure that data is kept safe at all times and will not be leaked to any third party, even in the event of hacker attacks. This is something an experienced etchical hacker can be of great help with.
- business impact analysis – when working on several features or functions, or on configurations or bug fixes, it is extremely important to coordinate the testing and release readiness not only of each separate element, but also of their combination in one comprehensive product as well. Different features must not only be tested individually, the ready software or application needs to overgo a strict business impact analysis process to ensure that the combination of features works seamlessly together, having no negative impact on users, information handling, or business. If even one single element is proven to be unsecure, this can jeopardise the safety and reliability of the whole product, leading to information and data leakage or product unreliability.
“All flows” is a saying that refers to the constant change through which the world goes. And a changing world affects companies and businesses as well. While new developments are a good thing, helping enterprises expand and become prosperous, they can also be the reason for them to fail if not handled securely. Businesses should not be afraid of change, rather they should learn to control it safely and take full advantage of it. It is OK to hold back on product releases if they are not yet fully ready. It is OK to stop a process if it comes with too many risks for customers. But it is never OK to jeopardize the security of customers’ data and their trust.