There are several established steps in the software development life cycle (SDLC) that are required for a project to be developed in a systematic manner. Secure code review is a crucial step in the SDLC that is used to identify threats and vulnerabilities in the code. The code review process is extremely important for the success of any coding project.
As a code reviewer, know that if you leave any high severity vulnerabilities in your code, they can put your organization at risk. Therefore, it is a good idea to include double-checking your code within your SDLC—it should be checked once by the developer and once by a code reviewer.
Source code review is a systematic technique that can detect vulnerabilities in an application’s source code and find logic problems and implementation errors in it. In it, the vulnerabilities are analyzed in accordance with the OWASP standard. It is included in the Static Application Security Testing (SAST) group of tests.
Before beginning a code review, reviewers should establish goals and standards that will guide them throughout the process. It can be done manually or automatically. Organizations require tools that operate according to a preset set of rules and policies to automate this process. However, in manual mode, enterprises need to find skilled code reviewers to identify vulnerabilities in their source code and report back to the organization. If you compare automated source code review to manual source code review, the latter yields more expedient results.
On the other hand, it is rare for a single individual to be able to execute code review activities on numerous programming languages at the same time. In terms of code review, it is vital for code reviewers to be familiar with a programming language in order for them to be able to identify vulnerabilities.
Why Is Source Code Review Important?
Minimizing Your Mistakes
When working in a live environment, everyone is familiar with the time and financial constraints. As a result, people often try to skip the source code review. In most cases, people feel they can avoid this step because penetration testing is already being done to identify application vulnerabilities.
However, the vulnerabilities discovered at this step are sometimes distinct from those discovered during penetration testing. Moreover, source code review also helps lower the project’s overall cost because vulnerabilities are repaired during the development phase rather than later.
It is not a good idea to blindly trust programmers because they may not always follow the correct approach or use best practices. Therefore, it is critical to perform scanning early in the SDLC process and neutralize risks sooner.
Improve Code Performance
Less experienced developers may not be familiar with code optimization and potential performance issues. Their participation in the code review process allows them to improve the performance of their code while also learning new skills that they may apply in other settings. Optimization is one of the most effective strategies that code reviewers can use to improve the overall performance of a program.
Performing debugging on the code can help you identify bottlenecks in the code because sometimes the code takes an excessive amount of time to load and provide results. Thus, debugging allows you to improve your code by removing or reworking poor lines of code.
Consistent Design and Implementation
The code review process helps maintain uniformity of code across the code with the help of coding style, allowing the code to be easily readable and understandable by all the team members.
We are all familiar with the fact that a project has numerous developers, each of whom has their unique way of writing code. This inevitably impacts the project. Therefore, code reviewers should supply the same style sheet to every developer to make it less difficult for other developers to insert their code into the main code.
The process of code review adds to the maintainability and long-term viability of software. Several organizations consider these points while implementing a code review process. To ensure consistency, some companies try to ensure that the developers who wrote the code are available when code revisions are made.
Code Review in SDLC
Code review is a critical stage in the software development lifecycle. A source code review can be performed at any point during the SDLC, but it has the most impact when performed early in the process—this decreases cost and time.
For example, if a developer is aware of an issue in the code at an earlier level of the SDLC dependency chain, the code’s dependencies are reduced. Then, the developer is required to perform less troubleshooting while fixing the code. The resolution of the problem thus costs less time and money. Finding the issue or debugging the error is much easier with the help of code review.
In their day-to-day activity, a code reviewer undertakes a debugging operation to determine the specific repair and root cause of an error. With the assistance of a code review team, it is possible to determine whether or not the client’s needs have been properly met.
Using Vulnerability Scanners
It might be difficult to perform source code analysis at times, and it can be even more difficult to track compliance issues when performing source code analysis. Instead of doing it manually, we can leverage tools that can make the job easier. Here are two examples.
WhiteSource Bolt is a free-to-use vulnerability scanner and fixer. It is free to download and install, and it gives real-time security and compliance alerts for open source dependencies on Azure DevOps and GitHub.
It gives thorough information on security vulnerabilities and recommends fixes, making it simple for developers to remedy the flaw. It’s simple to incorporate into your current workflows and can be used on both public and private repositories.
JFrog Xray is another free-to-use open-source vulnerability scanner. It conducts software composition analysis for dependencies in your program. As an SCA solution, it provides a single view of all the security and compliance information about your program.
Supporting all major packages, it will unpack them and use recursive scanning to see all the underlying layers and dependencies. They have cloud and self-hosting options depending on your team or enterprise’s needs.
The code review process is critical since it lowers the risks to the organization. If a company wants to avoid code reviews, it should still try to optimize its code, consider the future cost of the code, check the symmetry within the code, and gauge whether or not the client’s needs have been met.
Code reviews can be used to check all of these operations in one shot and more comprehensively. Automating this process further improves its quality and precision. Code reviewers can make created goods more efficient and error-free by reducing the workload of developers.