CERT Compliance: Provide Security For Your C Applications

Nov 7, 2019

Today’s app development processes are not complete without security integration. Security standards provide safeguards for companies to secure their apps and software from cybersecurity threats. NIST, OWASP, WASC, SEI CERT C and J, CWE, and BIZEC are part of a growing list of high-security standards.

CERT, for example, offers rules and recommendations to help companies create secure and reliable systems. While the recommendations focus on improving code quality, the rules ensure that your apps have less, if any, defects. Software developers and security professionals should work hand-in-hand to create compliant apps as non-compliance often translates to significant vulnerabilities for apps and packages.

Before you look at how you could achieve CERT compliance in your app development process, let’s find out what the CERT standard is all about.

What is CERT?

Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute are the developers of the CERT standard. This set of guidelines often goes by the name SEI CERT, which stands for Software Engineering Institute Computer Emergency Response Team. The CERT Coding standard is available for C programming (CERT C) and Java programming (CERT J). Top tech giants, including Oracle and Cisco Systems, have adopted these standards in their app development processes.

Companies looking to leverage the full benefits of these standards should include a secure design in the app development process.

CERT rules consist of:

  • A title that describes the rule precisely;
  • A description that gives an overview of the rule’s requirements;
  • A list of noncompliant code examples that would violate the regulation, (helping users know which code to avoid);
  • Compliant solutions to indicate code that is in line with the rules.

With the CERT standards, programmers tend to stick to a uniform set of rules suitable for your organization and the specific project in mind. That’s useful because in matters of application security, personal preference, more often than not, comes up short. These standards should help you evaluate the security of source code in an unbiased way.

Version 1.0 of the CERT C Secure Coding Standard came into existence in June 2008. SEI introduced the second edition in 2014 and followed this up with the third edition in 2016. Developers used a wiki community approach for the development processing, providing room for regular updates.

Rules vs. Recommendations

The guidelines of the CERT standard consist of rules and recommendations. While a violation in a CERT rule raises a red flag about your code, violations on a recommendation will not pass as defective code. Organizations use manual inspection techniques or automated analysis to determine if their code conforms to these rules.

Recommendations provide suggestions that can improve code quality. The requirements of a software product often influence the recommendations of a development effort. A system with moderate conditions is likely to adopt fewer recommendations compared to one with strict requirements.

CERT Compliance

CERT compliance requires developers to fulfill the established rules. Organizations developing C-programs should first seek expert knowledge of CERT C rules and recommendations. With this knowledge and the right set of tools, your firm will have an easier time accomplishing CERT C compliance.

Here are a few guidelines for compliance:

  1. Acquaint yourself with rules and recommendations, especially the coding rules that apply to your preferred version of C.
  2. Inspect your code regularly to point out violations and improve code quality in the process.
  3. Find out and record all exceptions to different rules of the standard.
  4. Have a baseline for embedded systems’ legacy code. Monitor the compliance of such code before integrating them into your system.
  5. Adopt static code analyzers to monitor the compliance of your code constantly. Such analyzers also provide automated compliance reports that should help you secure both your new and legacy code.

Software Tools for Compliance

With the right software tools, developers can easily integrate compliance in their app development processes. Such tools will reveal any security vulnerabilities while helping your code conform to CERT C guidelines. Static analysis tools are especially popular in this regard as they intuitively examine source code, using coding rules as a reference.

Evaluating code with manual processes does not guarantee absolute immunity for your code. There is also a good chance that you will miss out on some source code security vulnerabilities. For efficiency and consistency, a SAST solution is a safe bet. These processes ensure that you can test security well before you complete the app development process.

Reliable security tools like Kiuwan Code Security help companies create efficient security assurance programs for their apps, facilitating compliance in the long-run. By investing more in automated security protocols, companies can reduce their manual oversight. 

Compliance failure may lead to:

  • Code with less reusability
  • Product failures
  • Susceptibilities to security attacks
  • Safety issues

Why Choose Static Compliance Tools?

The speed and accuracy of static compliance tools are some of the factors that drive the tools’ popularity. Besides detecting any coding issues early, such tools also eliminate security vulnerabilities while monitoring code quality.

For data injection assessments, the parser is on hand to check commands and queries which require user input. In case of data breaches or irregularities on user input, the tools will alert developers on potential vulnerabilities. Static tools also check the security of user authentication credentials. The engine will flag any authentication information without encryption.

Developers can assess the security metrics report generated at the end of each security scan to maintain the security of their apps and programs. Apart from software system security, the metrics report covers maintainability, reliability, portability, and memory usage of the code in question.

A suitable static analyzer tool should fit in your needs and supports your coding standard – CERT standard in this case. Watch out for tools that provide false diagnostics.

In Conclusion 

App security standards like SEI CERT help companies avoid damage from cybersecurity threats. Such measures will, however, not mean much if you fail to adhere to them. You don’t want to incur excessive costs trying to keep these damages in check. 

Is your code vulnerable to security attacks? Kiuwan Code Security can detect any weaknesses and help you create compliant software.

Contact us today.

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