Is Security Testing in Agile a Myth or Reality?


I’ve been asked countless times about whether security testing in Agile software development is a myth or a reality. It’s a critical question that oftentimes leads to heated debates and discussions.

Agile software development has quickly become one of the most popular methodologies, enabling organizations to deliver high-quality software faster and with more agility. However, the efficiency and speed that come with Agile can also create a significant challenge for security testing, and it’s definitely a topic that’s not going away any time soon.

In this article, I’m going to discuss whether security testing in Agile is a myth or a reality, and provide you with some insights that will help you make an informed decision. Sit back, relax, and let’s dive in!

Is security testing done in agile?

Is security testing done in agile?

Yes, security testing is definitely done in the agile methodology of software development. In fact, it is a crucial step in ensuring the overall security and quality of the final product. Within an environment of agile development that consists of a variety of short sprints finding ways to address, fix, and eliminate bugs and coding problems with traditional tools can be a lengthy process and can slow down the development process overall. Hence, teams working on development generally require security tests that can not only be implemented efficiently but also align with the rest of the agile development approach.

Below are some ways in which security testing can be carried out in an agile development environment:

  • Automated testing: Automated tests can be created during each sprint and can be run quickly. This ensures that any security vulnerabilities are detected immediately and can be resolved soon.
  • Continuous integration (CI): Using a CI/CD pipeline allows developers to detect and resolve any issues in real-time. Security tests can be integrated into this pipeline as well to ensure the security of the overall product.
  • Shift-left approach: In an agile environment, the focus is on identifying and correcting errors early on in the development process. Similarly, in the context of security, the shift-left approach involves considering security measures right from the beginning of the development lifecycle.
  • Collaboration: Security specialists can work closely with developers to provide feedback on any security issues that arise during the development process. This allows for faster resolution of any issues and ensures that the final product is secure.
  • Overall, it is imperative that security testing be a part of any agile development process. Teams need to consider using methods that align with the agile methodology and work collaboratively to ensure that the final product is secure, high-quality, and delivered on time.

    ???? Pro Tips:

    Sure, here are five tips on security testing in an agile environment:

    1. Begin security testing early: It’s essential to start security testing during the early stages of development in the agile environment. By doing so, you can identify security loopholes early on and implement corrective measures in the initial stage itself.

    2. Implement automation for testing: One of the best ways to perform security testing in an agile environment is by implement automation tools like penetration testing and vulnerability assessments. These automate security testing processes and provide faster and more accurate results.

    3. Constant monitoring: Keep constant tabs on the security of the software during the development process as well as post-release. In the agile approach, security testing is a continuous process, and it needs to be a part of every phase of software development.

    4. Test for compliance: Security testing should not only ensure the software is secure, but it must also be compliant with regulatory requirements. Ensure your testing covers compliance-related aspects and have necessary security certificates in place.

    5. Involve security experts: Ensure security experts are part of the team from the beginning. They would guide the development from a security perspective. Encourage your team to ask them for guidance and support whenever in doubt.

    Importance of Security Testing in Agile Development

    With the rapid pace of development in agile methodologies, it is essential to incorporate security testing into the process. The primary objective of security testing is to identify and rectify potential security vulnerabilities before they are exploited by attackers to compromise the system. Security testing is a crucial element in protecting sensitive business information, financial data, and personal records of the users. As Agile development makes frequent changes to the system, it is vital to have automated processes in place to identify security issues that could arise due to these changes.

    Traditional development processes treated security as an afterthought, testing security only after the development was complete. In contrast, agile development provides regular intervals where security testing can be performed. This improves the security aspect of applications during each sprint, making it harder for attackers to find and exploit vulnerabilities.

    Challenges of Traditional Tools in Agile Testing

    Traditional security testing tools can be cumbersome to operate in today’s fast-paced agile environment. Waiting for security test results to be delivered can lengthen the already tight timeline of agile development, reducing agility in the process. Traditional tools also require a considerable amount of resources and personnel to manage them, adding extra costs to an already tight budget. Agile teams require quick feedback loops and automated testing techniques to keep up the pace of development.

    Agile Maturity Models for Security Testing

    In Agile, the security testing maturity model ensures that security testing is integrated into every step of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) process. These models help to assess the capability of the security testing team and to identify areas where improvements need to be made. The aim is to make security testing a part of every sprint and code change, ensuring an agile approach to test security.

    Agile maturity models for security testing include:

    • Secure Agile Maturity Model (SAMM)
    • OWASP Software Assurance Maturity Model (SAMM)
    • Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL)

    Agile Security Testing Practices and Methodologies

    Agile security testing practices comprise of incorporating security testing in every sprint, integrating security tests with other tests, and identifying security issues as part of the backlog or bug tracking process. Security testing should never be an afterthought, but should be ingrained as part of the development process. Security champions within the team can supervise and ensure that all security testing is carried out in accordance with industry standards.

    Agile security testing methodologies include:

    • Threat modeling
    • Penetration testing
    • Vulnerability scanning
    • Code review

    Security Testing Automation in Agile

    Automation of security testing in agile development can enhance productivity, reduce the occurrence of human error, and accelerate time to market. Automated security testing tools can test code as it is being written, allowing developers to create more secure code from the start. In turn, the testing can be repeated continuously, ensuring that updates to the codebase don’t lead to new vulnerabilities.

    Automated testing can also help by identifying known threats to the system, testing for compliance with industry regulations and standards, checking for the strength and security of passwords, and running regular backups on data. These testing activities are essential for keeping systems secure against known and unknown vulnerabilities.

    Integration of Security Testing with Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

    Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) are essential aspects of Agile Development methodologies. Security testing can be integrated with CI/CD to ensure that frequent security updates are being made during the development process.

    An integrated security testing process ensures that security tests run quickly and seamlessly alongside other tests. Integrating security testing tools as part of the CI/CD pipeline can provide quicker feedback and support earlier identification of security vulnerabilities. If no security vulnerabilities are detected, the code can be instantly deployed into the production environment, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities being left in the codebase.

    Agile Security Testing Frameworks and Tools

    There are many Agile security testing frameworks and tools available, ranging from open-source tools to more sophisticated commercial products. The right choice of framework and tool depends on the size of the project and the resources available. Careful research should be carried out to determine the best tool for the team and the project at hand.

    Some Agile security testing tools include:

    • AppScan
    • WebInspect
    • Burp Suite

    In summary, Agile Development demands a shift from traditional security testing methods to more agile-oriented testing techniques that can rapidly improve system security through automated testing and continuous integration. Security Testing should be fully integrated into agile development methodologies to support early identification and remediation of security vulnerabilities. It is important to understand that security testing is an ongoing process, and more needs to be done to enhance the security maturity for Agile Development.