Developing software today requires a keen sensitivity to creating secure code. Even NIST admits that “Few software development life cycle (SDLC) models explicitly address software security in detail, so secure software development practices usually need to be added to each SDLC model to ensure the software being developed is well secured.”

This is why NIST developed the secure software development framework (SSDF) to be part of the SDLC. Because software should be tested while it’s being developed, not afterwards. But the question that always arises is, what’s the best way to test software during the SDLC? One possibility is fuzz testing. Fuzzing has proven effective in detecting critical vulnerabilities during the SDLC. Fuzzing allows you to stay one step ahead of hackers by helping to discover coding errors and security loopholes in your software while it’s being developed.

As hackers continue to evolve in the way they exploit critical systems and software vulnerabilities, the importance of including fuzz testing as a core part of your SDLC becomes obvious. 

8 Reasons to Include Fuzz Testing in Your SDLC

Your SDLC defines the steps or tasks your development team should follow in the creation of applications for your organization. As a result, it’s important to ensure that the right tasks or processes, like fuzzing, are included in this framework.

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1. Test your application with real-world attacks

Cyberattacks are evolving by the day and it’s nearly impossible to determine how hackers will attack. As a result, your software development team will need to constantly think about all the possible modes of attack that can be launched at your enterprise. Integrating fuzz testing into the different stages of your SDLC allows you to think like a hacker and stop potential attacks in advance.

While hacker sophistication will ultimately vary among cyberattackers, they all typically launch attacks by probing your network or program to find vulnerabilities. Fuzz testing is centered around this concept, and by including it as part of your SDLC you will be giving your enterprise its best shot at remaining one step ahead of these hackers.

2. Eliminate zero-day attacks

Zero-day attacks continue to grow in size and impact every year. With 37% of cyberattacks on enterprises reportedly leveraging zero-day exploits, enterprises must recognize the problem at hand.

Whether you include fuzzing at the implementation or verification phase of your SDLC, you can be sure that it’ll help you uncover security vulnerabilities in your code long before hackers are able to. As zero-day attacks continue to rise, fuzz testing offers an innovative way of ensuring you’re not a part of this statistic by finding zero-day vulnerabilities that may exist in your enterprise’s software or network.

3. Create more efficient code

Since fuzz testing at any stage of your SDLC can generally uncover bugs that were missed in a manual audit, it will in the long run help your development team to create more efficient code in terms of weaknesses and loopholes. As hackers continue to improve their sophistication, enterprises will need to ensure that they get their coding right from the development stage.

4. Detect software vulnerabilities before deployment

By integrating fuzz testing into the SDLC, either before or as part of your implementation phase, you can easily detect software vulnerabilities before deployment. This should help you uncover loopholes that hackers may likely exploit when the software is eventually deployed. This is even more necessary as zero-day attacks show no signs of slowing down in the cybersecurity landscape today.

Considering that smart fuzzing also covers more attack entry points than many other appsec solutions, it should certainly be included as an essential component of your SDLC rather than an optional activity.

5. Save time and money

One of the most notable reasons why you should include fuzzing in your SDLC is that it takes little effort to get results once you have it up and running. Once you’ve set up your fuzzer, you can leave it running for days or months to discover security weaknesses without any additional interaction (or expense).

Although the duration of a fuzz test will vary from one network, program or enterprise to another, the entire process is usually automated, saving you time and effort. The emergence of smart fuzzers, with auto-learn capabilities that can seamlessly test over 250,000 attacks per second, means that automated fuzzing will become even faster in the future.

6. Test applications without knowing the source code

Blackbox fuzzers are able to test applications without access to the source code. This is essential for uncovering zero-day vulnerabilities in commercial applications where there is no access to the source code. By including blackbox fuzzing in your SDLC, you’re able to test completely closed systems, like VoIP, and close loopholes before implementation.

Since hackers will most likely have little or no information about your network or application, blackbox fuzzing offers a more reliable simulation of what you can expect hackers to find when they probe your enterprise. Interestingly, you should know that if you use open source software, hackers may already have access to key components of your code for scrutiny.

7. Test all protocols

Fuzzers can be portable in the way they allow you to test a wide range of protocols and applications. For instance, a basic protocol fuzzer may allow you to test multiple web browsers across different vendors. Some smart fuzzers also support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) scanning which is a growing necessity in today’s evolving digital world.

The benefit of being able to test or adapt to different protocols also means your developers and network administrators can create more secure applications and defend your network more effectively without having to rely on disparate testing tools.

8. Reduce false alerts

False positive threat alerts can be overwhelming and is a major cause of analyst fatigue. Fuzz testing can help test the actual code of your software and provide reports for bugs that actually exist, thereby resulting in fewer false positives than static code scanning. 

Smart fuzzers allow you to create enterprise-oriented rules based on your in-house frameworks. These rules ultimately help your analysts identify simple issues and reduce the time spent triaging and filtering out false positives. Similarly, fuzz testing also results in fewer false negatives as it mostly seeks out real vulnerabilities that can crash your network or program.

The Bottom Line

The rise of zero-day exploits means that your enterprise will need to do more to discover security weaknesses in a timely fashion. That means only one thing: discovering vulnerabilities while the software is being developed—as part of the SDLC. And one very effective way of doing that is with fuzz testing.

Fuzz testing helps detect zero-day exploits of your software using real-world attacks so you can detect vulnerabilities before deployment. Fuzzing can save time and money by automating testing, which not only results in safer code, but more efficient code too. And it does it all without having to know the source code.

If you’d like to incorporate fuzz testing into your SDLC, you can request a demo to gain first hand experience on how fuzz testing using beSTORM can help your organization detect vulnerabilities long before hackers can exploit them.