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Risk-free software definition: reducing the cyber-threat to computer and system security through prototyping

Risk-free software definition: reducing the cyber-threat to computer and system security through prototyping

Reducing the risk of cyberattacks on our computer systems and programs should be a top priority for any software provider. Machine-to-machine attacks, ghostware and jailbreaking incite a level of fear in software experts because of the unanticipated threat they pose to users, both on a business and personal level.

Insights into cyber security are so important when designing and developing software systems. Being aware of potential information security vulnerabilities and how you can avoid them will help your team foster the principles of secure software design.

In our post, we explore how software prototyping can help teams design software in a secure environment. Read on for our set of secure prototyping guidelines and start promoting a risk-free approach to software definition.

Build up your network security architecture by integrating authentication into your prototype

Authentication is the process of determining user identity to prevent an ‘attacker’ from gaining access to your computer network security or computer system without permission. When designing a mechanism to authenticate users, you’ll want to decide where authentication is necessary and how you’ll validate the users trying to sign in.

Many web applications use passwords and/or pins to authenticate users. They’re simple to use and easy to deploy. Before getting started with this mechanism, consider how you’ll request, display and store credentials, as well as how you’ll prevent returning users from changing their identity without re-authentication after the initial logon.

With a prototype, you can design a log in form that permits users to access information only if they have provided the correct username and password. An error message feeds back to the user whether or not their request has been accepted.

To make it even more difficult for attackers to crack passwords, you can simulate a password strength meter in your prototype with input text fields and conditions. This ensures that users are only able to sign in with a strong password.

Make sign in doubly secure with an authorization step

It is extremely important to assess a user’s identity prior to giving them access to a system or allowing them to perform a task within your software system. However, knowing a user’s identity isn’t always enough to allow them to perform high-level actions. This is where authorization comes into play in security architecture.

Authorization is the process of determining what the authenticated user has permission to do and the resources that they can access within your system. It helps to protect actions such as file system access and network socket operations, and actions tied to the operating system, language, or framework. It’s an important step in preventing information being disclosed to the wrong people and data being tampered with, and should be conducted as an explicit check after an initial authentication has been completed.

When incorporating authorization logic in your design, the main rule is that all authorization decisions must take place at server side, not client side. When prototyping your design, you can create role-based access control, which will allow you to grant specific permissions for each user in relation to your prototype and create separate administration privileges.

Additionally, by integrating your prototyping tool with your LDAP, you’ll have more control over users, permissions, roles and access levels. Install the collaboration server behind your firewall and create host restrictions to restrict server-to-server communication and discourage unwanted third-parties.

Use a centralized mechanism for software validation

An automatic and centralized validation mechanism is a great way to avoid data being tampered with during software testing.

Software validation ensures compliance with the business requirements outlined at kickoff, and, as a rule, should be applied throughout the design and development phases of the software development life cycle. With multiple rounds of testing and external parties introduced into the process, it can be a challenge to avoid data loss or damage. Centralizing the validation process by keeping the number of tools involved down to the bare minimum will help to avoid such instances.

For instance, Justinmind prototyping tool is integrated with user and usability testing tools – and allows you to test instantly from any browser or on any desktop or mobile device – so that you can validate your designs without exporting data to a separate tool. Reduce the risk factor, up the success factor!

Invest in digital asset management and avoid sticky fingers

Designers are often kept busy distributing materials between teams. While it’s important to get everyone on the same page, this asset swapping and sharing can easily lead to security risks. One slip and an important asset could be placed in the wrong hands, or system. But with a centralized space for all digital files, assets and projects, you can reduce the risk of nasty surprises.

Opt for a prototyping tool that has cloud collaboration capabilities, and you can store all of your assets in the same place. With all of your assets aligned within a single-source prototyping tool, not only is it easier to find and share assets with team members wherever they are, you also reduce the risk of files going missing or being shared with unwanted entities.

To ensure maximum security with Justinmind Enterprise, you can install cloud collaboration within your company’s network. Request a demo to learn more. 

Reduce the risk of system vulnerability during the design process by locking out sections

Improving system security isn’t just about keeping out malignant third-parties. Sometimes threats can come from in-house. There are often multiple individuals or teams working on the same design at the same time and things can get messy. One wrong click and you could destroy someone’s entire day’s work. Naturally, they’d want to be able to recover work fast and forget the whole ordeal.

With a prototyping tool, it’s possible to lock out compromised parts of the software, should the need arise. When working with Justinmind, the Teamwork features allow teams to work simultaneously on the same prototype, locking out the section each member is working on so that no changes are compromised. When they’re done, everyone commits their changes to the cloud-based prototype, a quick reshare, and everyone can see the changes made. Additionally, with versioning history control, you can also jump to and from any change made at any time.

Securely and efficiently incorporate upgrades

Being prepared to implement updates is just best practice. If you’re designing software, you’ll know that upgrades and updates could be requested at any moment. And although it’s easier to upgrade small pieces of a system at a time rather than huge bouts, sometimes bigger changes are urgently needed.

Rushing through changes and spreading them across multiple instances can be a real pain point for software teams. And, it opens the project up to quality control and IT security issues.

Luckily, prototyping your software allows you to make changes globally across your work and then see the changes in real-time before getting down to code. By reusing content across different designs and spreading global changes quickly and efficiently, you ensure that the upgrades are well understood, controlled and secure.

Prototyping with cyber security in the software definition process: the takeaway

All software that has been built and released is at risk of cybersecurity threats. Sometimes these threats can’t be avoided, but being mindful of the risks is in every software professional’s best interest. Prototyping offers a secure software definition structure that integrates seamlessly in the design process.

Justinmind is a centralized cloud-based storage solution – an ideal tool for secure software definition. Download now and discover advanced authentication and authorization building capabilities, centralized digital assets management, versioning control and integrated testing functionality.

Emily is Marketing Content Editor at Justinmind

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