/apr 17, 2024

Speed vs Security: Striking the Right Balance in Software Development with AI

By Brian Roche

Software development teams face a constant dilemma: striking the right balance between speed and security. How is artificial intelligence (AI) impacting this dilemma? With the increasing use of AI in the development process, it's essential to understand the risks involved and how we can maintain a secure environment without compromising on speed. Let’s dive in. 

The Need for Speed 

Speed is of the essence. Organizations are constantly striving to deliver code faster and innovate quickly to stay ahead of the competition. This need for speed has led to the adoption of AI and large language models (LLMs), which can generate code at an unprecedented rate. However, as with any rapid development process, there are risks involved. 

The Risks of AI in Software Development  

During my keynote address at Developer Week 2024, I highlighted the potential risks of using AI and LLMs without implementing appropriate security measures. Leveraging AI for fast development is like riding a bike downhill without brakes; it may feel exhilarating, but it's risky. Similarly, relying solely on AI-generated code can inadvertently introduce security vulnerabilities into our software. 


Unveiling the Vulnerabilities 

It's important to recognize that AI-generated code is not always secure. A recent study shed light on the potential risks associated with AI-generated code. 

In the study, 435 code snippets generated by Copilot, an AI-powered tool, were analyzed. The findings were eye-opening. It was discovered that 35.9% of the code snippets contained security weaknesses across six different programming languages. This means that by relying solely on AI-generated code, we may unknowingly introduce software security risks into our applications. 

These vulnerabilities can range from common issues to critical flaws. The study serves as a stark reminder that even with the advancements in AI, we cannot overlook the importance of thorough security testing and code review. 

Striking the Right Balance 

So, how do we strike the right balance between speed and security in software development? The answer lies in implementing automated security measures and guardrails. These measures can provide real-time scans of code, detect vulnerabilities, and offer suggestions for fixes. At Veracode, we have developed a powerful plugin that integrates scanning and remediation with popular IDEs like VS Code. It not only scans the code you're working on but also offers security recommendations, ensuring that vulnerabilities are identified and addressed in real-time. 

The Future of Software Development 

Looking ahead, the future of software development lies in AI fighting AI. We need automated mechanisms that act as guardrails for the code we write, ensuring that security is deeply integrated into our development processes. As developers, there’s a responsibility to prioritize security and not let the allure of speed overshadow the importance of secure software. 

By leveraging AI and LLMs, we can accelerate our development processes, but we must do so with caution. Implementing automated security measures that can help us identify and address vulnerabilities in real-time.  

Let's embrace the power of AI while keeping security at the forefront of our minds. Together, we can create a future where speed and security coexist harmoniously in software development. Schedule a demo today

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By Brian Roche

Brian Roche is the Chief Executive Officer of Veracode and a recognized expert in Application Security Engineering, Cloud Native Technologies, Cloud Operations and AI. An award-winning cybersecurity leader and a pioneer of the early DevOps movement, Brian is also a passionate public speaker on AI, Application Security, DevOps, and digital transformation. With over 25 years of leadership, he has a proven track record of helping global enterprises transform their people, technology, and strategic advantage to compete and succeed in the digital economy.