Low-code software development is the best way to improve user experience by involving non-technical business personnel in the development cycle and doing everything with reduced costs.
Low-code development may be the most financially and structurally sound solution in the modern software market. Still, businesses should also consider the security concerns of low-code development.
Today, we will discuss 9 ways to mitigate low code security risks and vulnerabilities. Before we begin, look at the top security concerns that low code development can cause.
Top 5 Security Concerns That Low Code Development Leads To
Though several security concerns can differ in scale and type from one business to another, these five are the most common for low-code app development.
1. Lack of Security Concern Among Citizen Developers
The term “citizen developer” indicates non-technical people involved in the development process without any programming or software development knowledge.
These non-technical individuals are mostly business executives and other direct stakeholders in the business. While they possess endless knowledge about their relevant business industry, they are not an expert on software security and the practices developers maintain during software development.
As a result, citizen developers may often create applications that function properly and serve their purpose but has noticeable security flaws that any malicious entity can exploit.
This can lead to a complete halt of operations, data loss, and reputation loss of the brand image.
2. API Integration Vulnerabilities
Application Programming Interfaces (API) allow applications to exchange data and queries. Since low-code development heavily utilizes API, unauthorized access through a compromised API is one of the top security risks in the low-code development sector.
Most companies don’t have an API security review strategy for low-code development, causing one or more compromised APIs to be present in the final product.
Though some IT departments have set the review process as mandatory, the process gets entirely skipped when the team mostly consists of citizen developers.
3. Failure To Set Up Proper Access Rights & Rules
One or more security professionals are always present in a standard software development team. However, sometimes security professionals forget to properly configure access controls due to human error.
Misplaced or poorly configured access controls are one of the biggest reasons behind data breaches. If a rogue employee or a third-party malicious entity can get into the systems using these access controls, they can easily view, alter, or corrupt the data.
4. Usage of Third-Party Code With Internal Security Issues
Lpow-code development platforms offer easy third-party integration as a feature. While this sounds awesome, the potential downside can be quite devastating.
Third-party codes are simply codes generated outside your governance, so there’s no way to tell what exists under hundreds of lines of code without performing a code review before integrating it into the system.
If the third-party system you’re trying to integrate has a malicious program or vulnerability issue in its code, attaching it to your application makes your application inherit the vulnerabilities of the outsider system.
5. Flaws In Vendor Code
When choosing low-code vendors, many beginner-level users think that the vendor they are about to choose is the safest in the world simply because they prefer it.
Such blind trust is ultimately harmful to the business. Sadly, there is no sure way to say if any low-code development platform has any flaws in its code.
There are quite a few open-source low-code platforms out there, but otherwise, you cannot check the code and find code flaws or security gaps in the source code of any platform.
This can happen to anyone, as even the mighty Microsoft faced a major data breach in 2021 with the Microsoft PowerApps data breach incident.
9 Ways To Mitigate Low-Code Security Risks
Regardless of the low-code platform you are on, a bit of precaution can save you a ton of effort in the future. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to mitigate low-code security risks
1. Always Consult With Your Software Team
It’s good to implement user feedback into your application, but here’s the catch: application users are only concerned about how the app functions, not the security of the app itself.
You could add new features the users have requested for a while. But look at it this way: what if the new feature creates a security gap in the current infrastructure?
That’s why you should always have detailed consultation with your software development team. In low code, security is the last concern on the list since everyone focuses more on getting functional features out the door as soon as possible. But that shouldn’t be the case in your team.
2. Keep General Security, Guideline Handy
While your security team can handle most of the application security aspects, you should tailor every security practice to suit your business goals and everyday practices. It can help you protect your proprietary or customer data from the prying eyes of any unwanted third party.
3. Integrate Secure APIs
As we mentioned earlier, compromised APIs can be a major point of data breach for your application the moment a hacker spots it. So, here’s what you can do to ensure your APIs aren’t compromised:
- Dynamically test connections with API scanners
- Ensure proper authorization
- Monitor API updates
- Prevent exposure of keys
- Put your APIs behind a firewall to minimize exposure
- Remove outdated APIs
- Secure unexpired tokens
4. Perform Static Code Analysis
Static code analysis is a code debugging method, and many low-code platforms offer it as a part of their assisting toolset. The static analysis compares the code against a standard set of coding rules that help find inconsistencies in the code that can become major security concerns down the line.
5. Audit Proprietary Libraries
Security audit of proprietary libraries for security vulnerability is a highly complex procedure. But still, you have to go through the entire ordeal for the sake of complete security. Because as the Microsoft data breach case mentioned earlier suggests, low-code platforms are not entirely safe, even when quite formidable.
6. Assess Third-Party Vendors
You might be tempted to contract a third-party vendor to adapt and use their tool. But before you go all in, make a detailed assessment of the vendor. The vendor you choose to work with decides your app’s future, which puts your brand reputation at stake.
Do a detailed background check of your potential vendor, especially the security concerns and how your desired vendor deals with them. Only lock a deal with a vendor once you know they meet all your mandatory security requirements.
7. Implement The Best Data Governance Practices
Data governance can be considered a rather holistic approach to data management. Security is an integral part of the process when governing data within an organization.
Regardless of the size of your organization, you should set up universal authentication practices with a clear set of roles and access permissions. To secure your data more efficiently, you can maintain and update these protocols according to international security compliance demands.
8. Work With A Trusted IT Team
It’s not just about the third-party vendors. Your in-house developer team should be skilled enough to handle any security concerns. But most important of it all: they have to be trusted individuals who will not jeopardize security or leak classified information under any circumstances.
9. Arrange Regular Security Workshops
In low-code development, technical and non-technical users are part of the development life cycle.
To keep everyone equally aware of the security practices and potential risks of the software development process, you should organize regular security audits & workshops where you teach and instruct citizen developers to follow basic and common security practices.
That doesn’t mean professional developers go scot-free. They must be constantly reminded to stay up-to-date with all the security compliance practices and discuss security concerns with each other to come to a unified decision to solve the issue in case of a possible security breach.
How Does The Best Low Code Development Platform Handle Security Concerns?
The complexity of IT systems involved in modern business processes is constantly increasing, and it’s never going back down. Because businesses keep adding new functions and features to their existing systems every day, it gets tougher to battle the rising security concerns in a fragmented environment like the modern software landscape.
Mendix handles the entire security concern like a boss since almost all the required security features are provided as Out-of-the-Box (OOTB) Functionality.
It’s pretty tough for general users and citizen developers to understand the concept of security maintenance and execute different security testing.
Mendix simplifies the entire process by making it an all-in-one solution that allows you to enforce and maintain your security at a lower cost. The security features of Mendix can also be customized to suit your business-specific needs and lets you create a secure app with its low-code/no-code features that don’t sacrifice application performance.
To Wrap It All Up
The last thing anyone wants is to ruin their brand reputation and product integrity from security concerns. But the term “security” covers a broad range that includes rigorous tasks and testing to ensure complete security.
Low code development is the perfect solution for your current predicament if you plan to lessen the burden while creating an application fast enough to be competitive.
To ensure the security of pre-built components, choose reputable sources, assess their security track record, review their documentation, and stay updated with any security patches or updates.
Strengthen authentication and authorization in low code development by implementing multi-factor authentication, role-based access control, and enforcing secure password policies.
Protect sensitive data in low code development by implementing encryption techniques, securely storing credentials, enforcing data anonymization where applicable, and complying with relevant data protection regulations.
While it is difficult to eliminate security risks, following best practices, implementing robust security measures, and staying vigilant can significantly mitigate the risks associated with low code development.
Low code development itself is not inherently less secure than traditional coding approaches. However, inadequate security measures or improper implementation can introduce security risks, making it crucial to prioritize security throughout the development process.