Java Application Development: Fixing the Security Redundancies | Hacker Noon

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@rituraj15Rituraj Sengar

The Startup Guy with a Digital Marketing head.

A 2017 report, released by the State of Software Security revealed that almost 88 percent of applications with Java at the core, at least have a single vulnerable component to show for.

Despite Java being deemed as one of the more secure platforms for software development, we need to consider the possibilities of pre-emptive vulnerabilities. Java Development Kit, unlike any other platform, already emphasis a lot on security, courtesy of automated garbage collection, and the Type-Safe structure. While Type Safety keeps erroneous operations to a minimum, thereby rendering robustness to the existing application code, Automatic Garbage Collection is all about implementing a cleaner chunk of code, which eventually speeds up the runtime processes.

Why Java Security is still an Important Consideration?

For starters, Java doesn’t compromise on the integrated security attributes as the existing Security Package is subject to frequent renewals, as per the newest security vulnerabilities. For instance, we all know about the Java EE ‘Security API’ launched in 2017, with an eye for the microservices and cloud-centric threats. 

Not to mention, the Byte Code and lack of pointers further add to the security standards of this development platform. However, vigilance is still necessary considering the security threats prevalent in the post-covid19 era. We must understand that application development comes across as one of the more complex undertakings and the background noise comes with several hidden vulnerabilities. Most importantly, developers using JDK need to update the system patches to ensure that the machine is up to date, to handle security loopholes with ease.

However, reports released by Secunia ApS back in 2015 revealed that almost 48 percent of JDK users didn’t consider installing the latest versions or patches.

This figure is even more relevant now, with 2020 being the most challenging year to deal with, in terms of system and data-centric vulnerabilities. With Java being one of the most sought-after development platforms, addressing security at every stage of the application development process becomes important, right down to the endpoint authorization. 

How to secure Java Application Development?

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1. Code Cleaner and Better

Complexities pave the way for system vulnerabilities. Therefore, persist with minimalistic coding for adhering to the existing security standards. Consider using methods, class, or select Access Modifiers for better code encapsulation which protects the vital code elements.

Besides that, it is advisable to eliminate code introspection at most times to avoid code instability, especially when your development cycle doesn’t require advanced techniques. Another underrated coding advice is to opt for the smallest APIs and ensure component interactions are kept to a minimum, just to avoid a large scale breach.

Finally, it is better to avoid serialization unless you want the program or application to evolve with time. As Serialization aggregates unknown data sets as byte streams, it can be an inherently insecure technique. A better approach for Java developers is to opt for Serialization formats like YAML, BSON, or JSON. 

2. Review External Libraries

More often than not, developers end up welcoming mayhem by approaching external libraries for code-centric preferences. While a third-party library like Flexjson or GSON might have no malicious codes residing within, it is always advisable to review the same for eliminating the possibility of developing vulnerable software. Moreover, for closed source libraries, consider getting hold of the audit reports for better transparency. 

3. Value Encryption Libraries

Despite helming reputed developers, credible app and software development firms like DevsData rely on the efficacy of encryption libraries instead of devising their encryption codes. Although professionals are equipped enough to handle the same, the nature, spread, and complexity of the threats are often way too empowering. To speed up data loss and threat prevention efforts, it is necessary to understand the cumbersome APIs and error messages returned by these encryption libraries while relying on their potent algorithms and mathematical calculations.

4. Rely on Application Secrets

Finding the perfect balance between app usability and security is necessary for a Java developer. This is why we must consider credible secrets management as an integral part of the app by integrating the same into the application code. One such example is the Key Management Service from AWS which is a good way to integrate cryptographic software keys, as per the regulatory standards.

5. Validate Inputs

User input validation is one of the most underrated techniques to render security to the Java development process. As mentioned, the trick is to balance between security and usability but ensuring that input validation isn’t a tedious process. Every professional developer must create a validation logic that disallows risky and compromising inputs while sending out error messages as an acknowledgment tool. 

When it comes to coding and developing software or application, it is virtually impossible to cross-check every line of the existing code. Despite the glaring vulnerabilities in play, the mentioned strategies can come in handy for securing Java development. However, you must also consider investing in dedicated security solutions for achieving code obscurity, be wary of XSS or SQL injection attacks, and ensure that the SDK, Patches, and Security APIs are frequently updated.

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