OWASP Top 10 Proactive Security Controls For Software Developers to Build Secure Software

Proactive Controls for Software developers describing the more critical areas that software developers must focus to develop a secure application.

The OWASP Top 10 Proactive Controls 2018 contains a list of security techniques that every developer should consider for every software project development.

“OWASP Top Ten Proactive Controls similar to OWASP Top 10 but it focussed on defensive techniques and controls as opposed to risks.”

The Proactive Controls list starts by defining security requirements derived from industry standards, applicable laws, and a history of past vulnerabilities.

OWASP Top 10 Proactive Controls

List of Top 10 Proactive Controls ordered from 1 to 10 based on the importance.

C1: Define Security Requirements
C2: Leverage Security Frameworks and Libraries
C3: Secure Database Access
C4: Encode and Escape Data
C5: Validate All Inputs
C6: Implement Digital Identity
C7: Enforce Access Controls
C8: Protect Data Everywhere
C9: Implement Security Logging and Monitoring
C10: Handle All Errors and Exceptions

1. Define Security Requirements

Security requirements provide needed functionality that software needs to be satisfied. It is derived from industry standards, applicable laws, and a history of past vulnerabilities.

Instead of having a customized approach for every application, standard security requirements may allow developers to reuse the same for other applications.

2. Leverage Security Frameworks and Libraries

Third party libraries or frameworks into your software from the trusted sources, that should be actively maintained and used by many applications. Leveraging security frameworks helps developers to accomplish security goals more efficiently and accurately.

3. Secure Database Access

This section summarizes the key areas to consider secure access to all data stores.

1. Secure queries
2. Secure configuration
3. Secure authentication
4. Secure communication

4. Encode and Escape Data

Encoding and escaping plays a vital role in defensive techniques against injection attacks. The type of encoding depends upon the location where the data is displayed or stored.

The different types of encoding include HTML Entity Encoding, HTML Attribute Encoding, JavaScript Encoding, and URL Encoding.

5. Validate All Inputs

Only the properly formatted data should be allowed entering into the software system. The application should check that data is both syntactically and semantically.

6. Implement Digital Identity

Digital Identity is the way to represent the online transaction, below are the OWASP
recommendations for secure implementation.

  • Authentication Levels
  • Session Management
  • Tokens

7. Enforce Access Controls

Access Controls involves the process of granting or denying access request to the application, a user, program, or process. Below are the OWASP Guidelines.

  • Design Access Control Thoroughly Up Front
  • Force All Requests to Go Through Access Control Checks
  • Deny by Default
  • Principle of Least Privilege
  • Don’t Hardcode Roles
  • Log All Access Control Events

8. Protect Data Everywhere

It is important to securely store the sensitive data such as passwords, credit card numbers, health records, personal information and business secrets as it particularly falls under EU’s General Data Protection Regulation GDPR and PCI DSS regulations.

Data classification based on the sensitivity is important.

  • Encrypting Data in Transit
  • Encrypting Data at Rest
  • Secret Key Lifecycle
  • Mobile Application: Secure Local Storage
  • Application Secrets Management

9. Implement Security Logging and Monitoring

Logging security information during the runtime operation of an application. Monitoring is the live review of application and security logs using various forms of automation.

  • Security Logging Implementation
  • Logging for Intrusion Detection and Response
  • Secure Logging Design

10. Handle all Errors and Exceptions

Error handling allows the application to correspond with the different error states in various ways. Some attacks may trigger error’s that helps in attack detection.

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