Human beings rely increasingly upon code. Code underpins our online bank transactions, the websites we surf and the apps we use to access all sorts of services. When creating these codes, developers need to pay close attention to security. The problem is, security compromises are always evolving: developers need to be willing to constantly update their codebase in order to stay ahead of nefarious actors. It can be rather taxing, but here is why it needs doing:
If Code Secrets Are Exposed, Hackers Can Wreak Havoc
In coding terms, secrets can refer to any authentication code, token or password that is used in communication. Secrets are used by applications to communicate with other applications in order to authenticate their identity. Without secrets, modern applications would be unable to safely communicate with each other.
The issue with this system is that if discovered, secrets can be exploited by hackers. Over half of all security breaches are achieved by hackers finding secrets exposed in code. Hackers that figure out how an application is authenticating communications can work out all sorts of ways to exploit a business. There is a growing security industry centered around detecting and encrypting exposed secrets, with companies like Spectral leading the way.
Security Is No Longer the Responsibility of the End-User
Back when stand-alone desktop applications were king it was generally accepted that security was the responsibility of the end user. This is no longer the case. Because almost all applications are connected to constantly updating and communicating central hubs, any security breach can completely compromise huge swathes of devices – and even the app developer themselves.
For this reason, security has to be coded into an app and constantly updated. Any security failure compromises every single user of an application, so users have to be reassured that developers are staying one step ahead of hackers. Trust in, say, a banking app will be extremely low if updates are not constantly made and developers are not able to reassure users and stakeholders that their personal information is secure.
Code Injection Compromises Security
One reason that security needs to be airtight at a codebase level is that hackers are known to be adept at attacking software at the most fundamental level by injecting malicious code. Code injection is a term used to describe a whole range of malicious hacking tactics defined by their use of inserted codes that alter the way an application works.
Code injection hacks don’t have to successfully alter an application to work. Some only need to get applications to react to injected code – which in turn make them more vulnerable.
The most famous code injection bug was known as Shellshock. Shellshock allowed hackers to execute commands within target systems with impunity. It has been compared to the Heartbleed vulnerability in terms of severity. Millions of unpatched systems were vulnerable to the Shellshock exploitation during its heyday in 2014.
Improvements in code security have ultimately rendered Shellshock impotent, but hackers are undoubtedly working on similar code injections.