Why Automated Code Reviews Need to Include Security Audits

May 27, 2021

When you and your team are coding a web app, you do your best to avoid any potential security holes in the code. Unfortunately, your best efforts aren’t always enough to prevent holes that a hacker can slide right through. During your automated code review, it’s critical that you include security audits in order to catch those potential problems.

Security Reviews are Necessary for Compliance in Some Industries

Are you releasing an app–or even an update for an app–in healthcare? Does your app interact with customer payment information? If so, including a security audit as part of your automated code review is part of the compliance standards for the industry. Companies that fail to meet compliance standards can receive fines or have their apps removed from the market, particularly if security holes are discovered as the result of a data breach. Including a security audit during your code review is the best way to ensure that you’ll avoid the financial repercussions of ignoring those regulations–and prevent damage to your reputation.

Cut Down on Resources to Fix Vulnerabilities

Detecting a potential vulnerability in your code before the release means a relatively easy fix: you simply rewrite the code to close the hole and ensure that your app is better prepared for release to the public. If you only discover a vulnerability after the release of your app or update, on the other hand, you’ve got a much bigger mess to deal with. Not only do you need to rush to push out an update that fixes the vulnerability as soon as possible–and then find a way to push it to clients quickly–you’re responsible for any damage that may have been incurred by clients as a result of that vulnerability.

The Cost of a Breach is Astronomical

You’re convinced that there’s nothing wrong with your code, and including a security audit will just mean more time before you can finally release your product. What could go wrong? As it turns out, a lot. Security breaches can create a massive financial burden for your company, including:

  • Restitution to clients
  • Lost business or customers
  • Fines
  • Lost revenue while your app or website is down

In comparison, the initial cost of a security audit–both in time and in resources–becomes well worth it!

Automated Security Checks Run on Your Schedule

Including a security check as part of your automated code review means that the security check runs on your schedule. You can allow the check to run while you’re taking care of other tasks or concentrating on something else entirely. Not only that, you can schedule it at your convenience–and since it’s part of the check you’re already running, it’s not particularly inconvenient.

People are Fallible

In some cases, you may consider doing manual code checks–and that’s certainly a valuable part of your code review process. Automating the security audit process, however, lowers the potential for human error. A human looking over your code doesn’t just need a strong understanding of security. They must also understand the core purpose of the app, the language used to write it, and the frameworks used in the app. In some cases, your reviewer may lack some of these skills–and that could lead to an undetected vulnerability in your code. Your automated security check will easily pick up on common errors, including the ones that human eyes may overlook or the ones that a particular individual might not automatically detect. By automating your security audit, you reduce the potential for human error and create more secure code that is better for your users.

Automated Security Audits Pick Up Many Vulnerabilities

There are a wide range of vulnerabilities that are known to cause serious issues when they’re permitted into your code, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and data validation errors. Many of these are known both to coders and to hackers as a great way to break into the existing code–and often from there into more integral parts of the machine running the app. Those common vulnerabilities may be detected by manual code reviews, but including them as part of your automated security auditwill ensure that they aren’t looked over.

Automated Security Audits Can Be Run at Any Point

As you’re creating your code, there may be moments when you struggle with whether or not you’ve accidentally included a vulnerability. You may detect something that’s a little bit “off” as you’re writing the code or reviewing work from the previous days, but not be quite sure what it is. When your eyes are the only ones on the code, things “look” right even when they aren’t–in part because you know what you intended to create. When you include security audits as part of your automated code review, you can run them at any point in the code creation process. You don’t have to wait for someone else to be available to review your code, nor do you have to hold to a specific schedule in order to use them.

Security issues are becoming increasingly common, and cyber threats are on the rise for many businesses and individuals. By including automated security audits as part of your code review process, you help close many vulnerabilities and offer an additional layer of protection to the customers using what you’ve created. Automated code review is already part of your code creation. This added step simply increases the odds of satisfied customers who are eager to do business with your company in the future, rather than turning away due to a past security breach.

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