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How to learn secure coding in Java

July 3, 2019 No Comments

Featured article by Veronika Biliavska, Independent Technology Author

Java has been used for over two decades in developing nearly anything. From its use as a backend language for web development, to desktop and mobile applications, and even embedded versions of Java on small IoT devices, Java can be seen nearly everywhere.

Because Java is such a popular programming language, writing secure code is of critical importance. In this article, we’ll discuss some tips on learning how to securely code in Java. For more in-depth learning, see inspiredlearning.com for secure coding training.

Identify and adopt secure coding standards

Oracle has a full documentation for secure coding guidelines for Java. Study it, memorize it, live by it. It covers some of the most important topics concerning secure coding for Java, and any secure coding training you take will in all likelihood draw heavily from this documentation.

Always restrict privilege

You should follow the design path of giving each process the least amount of privileges necessary, also known as the principle of least privilege. You need to reduce the opportunities for any attack which may be executed as a result of elevated privileges. Thus, any preeminent permissions should only be granted with the least amount of time that is necessary to finish a privileged task. When code is operated with reduced privileges, it increases the odds of thwarting any attempts at exploitation.

Keep your security simple

If you create a complex security design, it actually increases the likelihood of errors which overall affect configuration process and implementation. You shouldn’t be designing code that requires excess logic to determine it is safe, you should aim for obviously no flaws rather than no obvious flaws.

Anticipate and design for security policies

When you face and incorporate security policies head on by immediately identifying security requirements, you’re able to provide better software security, consistently verify the efficacy of your security controls, and establish secure coding standards. In doing so, you’ll be preventing the vulnerability of the development life-cycle.

Clean data that passes through multiple systems

It’s a good habit of sanitizing all data that passes through complex subsystems. This will prevent attackers who try to invoke unused functionalities, for example, it can prevent injection attacks. Data needs to conform to the security requirements of the subsystem to which it is being passed, so sanitization will typically include removing illegal characters from the input.

It’s often preferred to use the sanitization and validation methods included in interpreters and parsers, because custom sanitization methods can neglect hidden complexities in the parser.

Conclusion

There are many more secure coding practices for Java, and we cannot explain them all in detail here. Hence why it would be best to look into secure coding training. Courses will typically cover the following topics and skills:

- Improving the overall security of Java apps
- Avoiding injection attacks such as SQL and XSS
- Understanding Java’s memory model, preventing race conditions and deadlock
- Avoiding I/O vulnerabilities
- Historical Java exploits, and how they were neutralized

About the Author

Veronika Biliavska is an independent copywriter. She is passionate about rocket science and ancient Greek literature.

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