Last Thursday, I was giving a guest lecture at University of Indonesia about Security in SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). It is nice to be back in campus and meet students. I arrived a bit early to prepare everything and just to make sure my presentation went smooth.

I used to be a penetration tester and breaking stuff, but now I am building the application. Having a security in mind while developing application is not easy. Why I should care about security while the main functionalities is not working yet?

At first, I explained the theory of security in SDLC. Where the penetration test position in SDLC and told them that even a penetration test cannot ensure that our application is secure.

Some people said a penetration test is like testing your car security with front-impact crash only, while you do not care about the side-impact or the back-impact or event the top-impact crash.

But in real life, I said people still asking for penetration test. Why? Because penetration test is the easiest way to have a security snapshot from your application. Reviewing code or audit all the components will take too much time and costly. The correct way based on text-book, you should include security aspect on every aspects of the SDLC.

Now, the programmers should have security in mind while developing application. They should write test code! Yes, writing test code is hard. But once you start developing with TDD (Test Driven Development) your application will be more robust and you can do development better and faster. If the programmers write the code securely the chance of having a security vulnerability will be lesser.

Write test code not only the expected case, but also the alternate case. What if the username contains single quote, dash, or any other special characters. Try to think out of the box. What if someone attempts to login 1000 times with wrong password? What should our application do?

Of course, within 2 hours is impossible to explain all the details. The objective of this lecture is to build security awareness for students that is important to write a secure code and have enough test while building the application. We do not want to build an application which leaks our customer personal information right? And when we build an application which includes financial transactions, security is a must.

As usual, I gave small present to students who were asking questions. There is one good question which I do not have an answer yet. I shared my experience while doing network forensic to investigate a SQL injection attack. Then this student asked me, is it possible for us to know in real time that we have a SQL injection vulnerability or our database might already have injected? A WAF (Web Application Firewall) might be helpful to inspect the traffic coming to our application, but I do not know for sure yet.

At the end of session, I quickly asked students what programming language they use for developing application. Surprisingly PHP still popular! While only few students use Python.

the students

Zaki Akhmad

Zaki Akhmad


Joined October 2014. Used to be a breaker and now learns how to be a builder, Zaki has long journey in application security. And now he's trying to practice the theory of building a secure application.