Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SSDLC) Explained

Secure Software Development Life Cycle (SSDLC) Explained

Organizations are constantly striving to improve their software development processes to make them more streamlined and efficient. Most, therefore, use the Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC), which is a systematic and multiple steps process.

This article will shed more light on it and answer some of the questions that you may have. We will discuss the SSDLC process, policy, best practices, and how to implement secure SSDLC for your company.

Let us delve deeper into this!

What is SSDLC

SSDLC, which stands for secure software development life cycle, was established in the late 1960s. It has, over time, become a darling among several software companies owing to its role in software development. This is a step-to-step procedure that organizations can use to build software.

It helps organizations develop software swiftly, reinforce the product’s timeline and take care of designing and deployment. From this, we can obtain two objectives. It aims to streamline the product or software pipeline and, lastly, optimize the design, deployment, and maintenance of the software in question.

Why Is Secure SDLC Important?

From our definition of SSDLC, it is clear that organizations need it. This is an all-in-one development methodology that takes care of the different demands in modern software development. It ensures that all the project stages are not only streamlined but also well structured.

 This software development technique takes care of any shortcomings in the capabilities or talents of the software development team and helps regulate every stage of software development. Here are the main advantages of secure SDLC:

1. Offers control of the development pipeline– This is by far one of the biggest advantages of SSDLC. It provided control of the development pipeline and ensures that the final product or system measures up to the required standards of every phase.

However, note that this methodology may be impaired, especially if the expectations and visions of a software project are not clear. All in all, it can help to improve an organization’s project management timeline greatly.

2. It Is Secure– This can even be seen in the first acronym. SSDLC is a highly secure approach to software development that ensures that all the project requirements are met to the latter. It, therefore, ensures that there are zero unnecessary impediments in the project lifecycle.

However, note that team members may not have the liberty to add creative inputs since almost everything happens in the planning stage. This, therefore, blocks the path for any future creative ideas that team members may have.

From this, we learn that SDLC is quite rigid, especially in its structure. This attribute has seen several companies turn to agile software development methodologies with incremental fulfillments and stages aimed at the final deployment of the products.

Secure SDL Process

This is perhaps the most important part of our discussion. What are the steps that go into a secure software development lifecycle? Remember, all these are aimed at helping you come up with a sustainable model for product inception, all through to its final deployment.

Keep in mind that this is a progressive and systematic approach that occurs in a record six steps. Let us shed more light on these:

1.    Planning and Requirement Analysis

Like we mentioned at some point in this article, planning is where the gist of the work occurs, making it an essential step. The senior members of the team are mandated to perform requirement analysis, which can only be successful by taking into account the customer feedback and input of the sales department. Other key players are domain experts and sourced marketing surveys.

Information obtained from marketing, customer feedback, and product requirements is collected and then used to develop a project approach and conduct a preliminary study on feasibility. In case you are wondering why a preliminary study is conducted, it is to estimate whether the project is viable, both from a short- and long-term perspective. The project is viewed from both an economical, operational, and technical view.

This phase also requires that project managers estimate, plan, and develop the quality assurance requirements that will guide development. At the end of this step, the development team is expected to have discovered something from the feasibility test, which will give them a plan.

The team can then define all the possible technical approaches that can be used to drive the project. These should ensure minimum risks. The senior members in charge of the feasibility and requirement analysis are also expected to come up with and record the product-specific requirements based on what they have found out. These should be done with the help of market analysts.

This step will be successful if a software requirement specification document is included to capture the product requirements that need to be designed as the project progresses.

2.      Architecture and Design

Once planning and requirement analysis is over, it is time to focus on the product architecture and design. Product architects should use a software requirement specification as a base template to develop a back-end product design that matches the feasibility study and requirements established in the first stage.

Remember, more than one design approach is normally identified and recorded in the design document specification as guided by the requirements in the software requirement specification. The major stakeholders will then review the design document specification. They will focus on different attributes such as risk management, budget, time constraint, and design before settling on the best architectural approach from the ones proposed.

The last part of the major stakeholder’s role is important since the design approach plays a major role in SSDLC. It should outline the architectural modules and the communication between the product and the external modules.

3.      Test Planning

A test plan plays an important role in the development lifecycle as it details several things. These include the test environment, projected schedule, required resources, the strategy to be used for testing, and the potential limitations.

The duty of undertaking test planning and resource allocation lies squarely on the quality assurance team. Now that you know what a test plan outlines, it is only fair that we look at what it entails. A test plan has a brief overview of the test plan document, tested features, deliverables, allocated resources for application testing, risks involved, task schedules and milestones, software testing approach, list of test cases to be used, and expectations when testing the product.

It is, therefore, pretty comprehensive.

4.      Coding

The fourth step is coding, which is where we get to build and develop the product. Keep in mind that this process follows the design document specification established in the second process.

Code generation does not have to be challenging, which is why project managers and key stakeholders must ensure that the design and architecture are done well. Developers are expected to abide by their organization’s coding guidelines.

They must also use the program-specific tools provided by the organization, which may consist of debuggers, compilers, and interpreters. In short, anything that can help make this process as streamlined as possible should be used.

Developers can also use high-level programming languages such as PHP and Java to ensure that the code generation process is successful. However, not that the choice of programming languages to be used varies from software to software.

5.      Testing and Results

This is a continuation of the fourth point. Once the code has been reviewed and taken through the quality assurance process, it is time to test the product. Those involved should ensure that testing is done in each of the six steps to make the product development process to b highly sustainable.

In this stage, a complete product test will be done to reveal any defects, which will then be reported, localized, and fixed. Afterward, the product will be retested to determine whether the defects were successfully fixed before it is finally deployed or redeployed.

Keep in mind that this process is repeated until the needed quality is obtained out of the product.

6.      Release and Maintenance

This sixth step is dependent on the fifth. It is only after a product meets the required standards that it is finally released into the market. This is done formally depending on your organization’s strategy. Most companies or organizations tend to release the products into a small sector of the primary market to determine how they would perform in a real environment.

You could also choose to release the product into the real business environment and note feedback from consumer feedback to make future products even better. All in all, ensure that you come up with a release strategy that will favor your organization.

Secure SDLC Policy

A secure SDLC policy protects your organization by making it mandatory for all developed software to be tested and built in the most secure way possible. It also stipulates that the development work should take into account all the guidelines and business needs.

Therefore, the policy should cover code creation, control and tracking of changes, monitoring and review, documentation, and setting customer expectations. 

Secure Software Development Best Practices

Several practices will ensure that the software development lifecycle of an organization’s products is secure and moves smoothly. These are:

1.    Good Coding Practices

We looked at coding as part of the secure software development lifecycle. One of the best practices that will ensure the success of this methodology is quality coding. The responsible team should define the coding standards and quality controls, which act as an important source of feedback.

The developers should also have reusable internal code libraries that are processed in accordance with the code quality and security tests. The last activity is to maintain and update documentation, which may be quite challenging in agile methodology as it may negatively affect velocity.

However, it is still necessary that the team of developers keep all the documentation.

2.      Have an Inventory In Place

It would be best if you had an inventory for all the applications that are being developed. Remember, you should always aim to understand the roles of the applications, their data, how they interact, and the external libraries and dependencies that they use.

Creating an inventory with key stakeholders such as the application owners will reveal the application risks and improve communication between developers and owners. This is something that you ought to strive to achieve.

3.      Stick To the Developer Workflow

It is expected that everyone who interacts with the development of the application has a work process that makes his/ her work easy and efficient. Do not, therefore, introduce processes or tasks that go against these work processes as these may bring about resistance. If any change is to be introduced to the workflow, there must be a valid reason, and the decision must be communicated with the developers.

You may need to offer guidance and recommendations on dealing with certain important findings but desist from unnecessary changes that go against the developer’s workflow.

4.      Simplify The Product Requirements for The Developers

You will only achieve a secure and flawless software development lifecycle if the client requirements are clearly communicated with the development team. These should be as understandable as possible to avoid miscommunication.

Ensure, therefore, that you clearly state the security recommendations and guidelines before the team embarks on product development to weed out any ambiguities that may hinder the successful execution of the different processes.

5.      Have a Security Team

You need to appoint a team of individuals and mandate them to conduct quality checks occasionally to ensure that the software is secure. One of these tests can be threat modeling.

6.      Ensure That You Settle on a Good Software Architecture

Lastly, you need a good software architecture if you need a secure software development lifecycle. Ensure that your preferred architecture has the correct architectural pattern and clearly defines attributes such as scalability, adaptability, and resilience to deeply assess the software system before development. This will help you deal with risks and prevent cases of cost overruns.


Secure SDLC (SSDLC) came in place to help organizations develop high-quality software in record time. We have covered most of the things that you need to know about this methodology. Make sure that you consider the best practices that we have outlined before implementing it in your organization.

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