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December 18, 2014

Head in the Cloud? Agile Web Application Development Can Help

Head in the Cloud? Agile Web Application Development Can HelpAgile development is more than just a methodology — it's a mindset. And in the wake of a not-so-subtle reminder that we live in an increasingly insecure world, application developers are starting to see that they need to adjust their approaches and embrace agile application development to secure their software. Here's a closer look at agile and the ways in which it can ensure secure web application development despite risks posed by the cloud:

The Cloud Is Looming

The proven flexibility, ease of use and cost savings offered by cloud computing make it a no-brainer for most firms. Today, cloud software, servers, storage and back-up systems are gaining traction among all industries and business sizes. The result? Large quantities of data end up flowing outside of what firms consider "traditional" networks. Though convenient, this approach raises a major security concern. After all, it's difficult to govern the third parties in charge of protecting your data. Without a comprehensive vendor assessment, contracts and a risk-control process in place, firms risk having to clean up the messes left by breached third-party software.

The Agile Umbrella

So how can developers mitigate cloud-computing risks while taking advantage of its many benefits? The answer begins with agile, which enables devs to test for vulnerabilities that are the subjects of hot exploits as well as any that might be flowing down the cyberstream. There's no denying that weaving agile and security steps into the development process comes with an increased time investment, but with both customer data and their firms' reputations at stake, secure agile application development should seem just as much a no-brainer to devs as the cloud itself.

When moving forward with agile development, developers are agreeing to take responsibility for security. They need to ensure their code is consistently tested, updated, uploaded and updated again. Development isn't about distinct states; rather, it necessitates a continuous process of testing and reiteration — as software moves through the agile process, devs should incorporate security testing at each stage, rather than tacking it on at the end. Meanwhile, development teams should constantly adapt to ensure all software security needs are met.

Staying Dry in the Cyberstorm

With the right management and processes in place, cloud applications can be as secure as any that are locally hosted. Though implementing agile is time-consuming, the process cuts down on the amount of time wasted on last-minute fixes (or the time spent patching problems that impact customers). It can also help developers save money and speed up development in the long term. Think of the antithesis: If developers ignore security risks in this growing age of cloud technology, there is an increased risk of data compromise or loss. That's more costly than any time spent building a smarter, more agile team.

The rise of mobility and prevalence of third-platform technologies equals a more connected future. In the face of it all, precious corporate and personal data must be protected. Developers have a responsibility to thwart any threats that originate during web application development. And with the rain of malicious threats coming down harder than ever before, making good on that responsibility without agile will prove nearly impossible.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Originally from New York, Marissa is an author and journalist currently living in Greece.  As a freelance writer she specializes in two of her favorite topics: travel and tech.   When it comes to tech, she enjoys writing about the latest around third platform technologies and IT security.

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