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How to Bridge the Gap Between Cyber-risk and Flexibility in Agile Software Development?

To understand how secured is secured, you must break the security first. Because if YOU can’t break it, others will.

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Software development has been changing dramatically like the weather for the past decade. Especially after the emergence of the global pandemic, the exponential growth in the tech industry has inclined the bar. One of the many innovations would be the Rapid Application Development [RAD] model. It has been introduced to imbue flexibility over the strategies of software development.  

Agile software is one of the preferred RAD models that grievously struggle in terms of security. But can it be tackled? Or how can developers bring a balance between Agile web app development and security challenges? 

Bridging the Gap Between Flexibility and Cyber Risk: Recent Case Studies 

“The misalignment between development and cybersecurity teams leads to missed business opportunities, as new capabilities are delayed in reaching the market. In some cases, the pressure to close the gap has caused increased vulnerability, as development teams bend rules to work around security policies and standards.” – McKinsey, Cybersecurity in a Digital Era. 

It is no big surprise that retrieving the desired output and bridging the gap of these two parameters asks for special knowledge and more time.  

However, here are some of the tactics that business tycoons are using to surplus the amount of stability by minimizing the risk of cybercrimes are: 

1. Usage of Design Thinking: A few banks in the United States of America have permitted their account holders (customers) to choose simpler passwords (PIN codes) only if they agree to a double authentication step, i.e., two-factor authorization. They will receive an OTP in the registered mobile number before logging in.

2. Usage of Globalization: One of the executives of a European company has started educating their net-worthy customers across the world how securely they can use their accounts and prevent themselves from data theft.

3. Renovating Product Designing: Cybersecurity can no longer be treated as just an element but one of the core elements of product design. A university network should have an operating room to check on the security inquires and product development process. 

How Can Development Team Embed Security into Agile Software Development Process? 

Step 1 – Requirements 

As developers are unclear when security and privacy requirements are mandatory, product owners do not consider security tasks while planning the software as well. However, suppose security is prioritized according to the product risk level. In that case, product owners will also be aware of how essential security and privacy tasks are, and they will be accountable for their inclusion while releasing the application. 

Step 2 – Development 

Developers are unclear on the spectrum of how to handle the distribution of tasks within the team. At the same time, Chief information security and privacy officers have the minimum capacity to direct the software development team. So, what can be incorporated to design seamless, agile security? Privacy champions can direct the teams in assigned tasks for an effortless flow of work by releasing the tension of the communication barrier. Also, add certain capacity to the CISPOs as they need to keep abreast knowledge on security and privacy requirements. Awareness is the key to seamless app development.

Step 3 – Testing 

As of now, there is no unified real-time standardized monitoring of the state of security. Product tasks objectives give developers a real-time view of the same. Hence, chalk it out first before implementing. If the strategy is set right, the objectives will be easier to reach. 

Step 4 – Deployment 

Unreasonably, security checks are managed before launching the application, causing a constant delay in exposing the same. Also, lack of integration in security and privacy tools uplifts complexity if nothing else. So, what can help in this process? Possibly, a simplified version of pre-deployment activities. 

Risk-based Approach to Manage Cyber-risk 

“A risk-based approach builds customized controls for a company’s critical vulnerabilities to defeat attacks at lower overall cost.” – McKinsey & Company 

As mentioned previously, giant companies should note cyber risk as a predominant element rather than an inconsequential one; they have started executing the same worldwide (which is good news). But does that mean it is hampering the flexibility of Agile software development? 

Let’s keep reading. 

Understanding the Risk-based Approach Further 

Cyber risk: Not to be confused with cyber threats, refers to the capacity a business loses. Whether financial, reputational, operational, productivity-related, or regulatory-related, cyber risks can cause losses in the physical domain. It is the company’s risk that needs to be chucked out.  

However, resolving cyber risks can be contentious.

Reducing the risk of a company: By identifying, prioritizing, delivering, managing, and measuring the potential cyber-risk, the team can control the total amount of business risk under a risk-based approach. By setting risk-appetite thresholds for linked pairs of key risk indicators, the overall risk can be more or less eliminated. This phase is important so the team does not have to go through the process of crisis management, in simpler terms, managing the issues after the risk becomes a crisis.  

Automation: CIOs, as given control, checks on the software life cycle’s individual process and pass approval before going to the further step. But, what good it does to the team or the software? Does it help in reducing the risk? Well, hardly. It just creates segregation in the team, whereas the security team, in fact, falls under the deployment team. 

What a risk-based approach offers is ‘automation.’ If the process of approval is automated, deployment could be faster, and no human-made mistake would be made, per se overseeing any area before sending an approval. 

Agile Security Installation – The Theory of 3’Ps 

Now that we have understood the requirement of a risk-based approach, let us understand how web app development services install Agile security in the SDLC. 

Participation: The participation of CISOs in the app-building process should not be limited. They should be involved in every designing process that will give the developers the support of great product delivery. Not only that, but it will also subside the risk of cyber risk, which will benefit the security team. 

Procedure: The typical process of security awareness needs to be discarded. The team should instead focus on behavioral change. This requirement, though, needs training and education, but the investment is worth it. To understand the differences between minimum risk, risk, and high-risk, the team should be able to distinguish the vulnerabilities. 

Prepare: Making such changes would take time and will also require changes in organizational shifts. It could be daunting, but brace your team and prepare for the changes. While preparing, ask yourself these questions to make the process easier: 

  1. Does the software development team have enough skills to possess the changes? 
  2. Do you think such changes will help in reaching the company’s goals? 
  3.  Is everyone in the team, particularly aware of Agile software? 
  4. Does your company possess free flow of communication? 
  5. Is your software security helping you to invent new things? 

If anyt of these questions, answers negatively your security protocol needs to be revamped. 

Conclusion: 

With the advent of Agile software development, things have got flexibility increasing the risk of cyber hacks. But, if you hire dedicated developers to work on your security protocols, Agile is definitely going to stay in the market for a long time now. Hence, the change needs to happen and happen now. With team collaboration, anything is possible! 

Pratik Mistry

I am Pratik Mistry, a rare mix of technologist and vice president in sales at Radixweb. My passion lies is in helping companies to grow revenues by delivering top notch custom software development solutions and build value-based partnerships. When not driving high-impact go to market strategies, I love to try new cuisines and going to the movies.

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