Prioritizing Cybersecurity Throughout All Web Development Sprints

Cindy F. Cape

No one doubts the importance of cybersecurity in web development — and yet, often in the development cycle, we neglect to prioritize it across each sprint and into the final product. Making cybersecurity a priority throughout every development sprint cycle is necessary to combat the tide of digital attacks threatening the modern web. But how can you ensure your focus on cybersecurity throughout development?

Achieving optimal results takes commitment. This will entail setting clear and effective cybersecurity goals at every increment, making use of thorough testing tools, and following best practices. Exploring each of these processes in the context of a web development sprint can ensure your own development process prioritizes cybersecurity throughout.

Set Cybersecurity Goals for Each Sprint

Cybersecurity starts within the sprint planning stages — or it should if you are planning them effectively. That’s because each step in agile development should meet the needs of intended users and support the overarching goals of the project. If cybersecurity is not included within these goals, then you run the risk of exposing your platform to digital threats.

Instead, write effective, measurable, and attainable sprint goals. Effective sprint goals provide much-needed focus and clarity during an agile program increment. They should be specific and detail a path forward for the sprint with built-in measures of success.

For example, an effective cybersecurity goal might look like the following: implement an automated attack identification system with 98% accuracy.

Attack identification is crucial in building protections for a web application, but each sprint will have its own cybersecurity focus based on the overall plan and implementation schedule you put forward. If you’re unsure of what kind of metrics to strive for, look to international standards such as GDPR and the NIST CSF.

From here, development teams can gauge cybersecurity success within the development cycle by leveraging the power of automation and testing.

Every sprint should entail various tests to ensure that goals are met. Fortunately, there are a host of cybersecurity tests you can run throughout development with levels of automation and convenience. These are tools that can be built internally, outsourced, or implemented through other licensed software. 

Often, the responsibility for security testing throughout web development gets juggled and delegated, leaving gaps that become attack vectors. Prioritizing cybersecurity means assigning that responsibility to specific developers while clearly outlining the metrics to look for and the tools to test them. For instance, each sprint can be defined through a framework, such as the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) as a means of standardized testing language and methods.

With each increment, run corresponding cybersecurity tests that explore the vulnerability of your application. These tests include:

  • SQL injection.
  • Password cracking.
  • Cross-site scripting.
  • Cryptography strength tests.
  • Authentication checks.

By structuring a cybersecurity check into every development sprint, you better ensure that cybersecurity remains a focus, no matter how else resources and time are allocated. Then, following through with a protective approach to development will reinforce your efforts.

Follow Cybersecurity Best Practices

Most web developers have an understanding of the importance of digital hygiene and web safety. However, it’s too easy to get lax with standards in the development process. Turning off multi-factor authentication,or using the same password over and over can be tempting for convenience’s sake, but cybercrime is expanding rapidly into various industries. It’s set to cost the world $10.5 trillion by 2025.

To avoid common website security attacks, each sprint should be held to the highest cybersecurity standards across the development cycle. Fortunately, enforcing these standards doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. You can follow cybersecurity best practices through actions like the following:

  • Providing cybersecurity training to the entire development team.
  • Setting up a web application firewall (WAF).
  • Using parameterized statements in SQL testing.
  • Keeping all security platforms and applications updated.
  • Partitioning user data away from API file systems.

While these best practices cannot protect against every instance of cyberattack, they will help to reduce the human error that contributes to an estimated 85% of data breaches. Securing every sprint will increase the quality of your applications.

Secure Every Sprint

By making security a priority at every stage of development, you’ll build better online products. Now more than ever, the internet needs developers who are committed to creating web applications built with cybersecurity at the center of every decision.

Clear goals, effective testing procedures, and best practices like those discussed here will help reinforce security as a priority in your organization at the most crucial times. Secure every sprint with the help of these tips and build better web tools as a result.


About the Author: Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern United States. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

Prioritizing Cybersecurity Throughout All Web Development Sprints

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