Today’s small businesses (SMBs) are launching a plethora of web-based apps not only to make their tools easier for customers to access, but also to keep up with a daunting amount of competition. Any software development team that you, as an SMB, might hire will likely make use of Software Development Libraries to keep up with tight deadlines and remain under budget.

What Is A Software Development Library?

A Software Development Library can be specifically defined as follows:

“A suite of data and programming code that is used to develop software programs and applications. It is designed to assist both the programmer and the programming language compiler in building and executing software.” [1]

Thus, the Software Development Library is simply a series of source code lines that can be used repeatedly, for different types of applications. The main benefit of this is that your software development team does not have to keep writing source code from scratch; with the Development Library, the code can be modified, enhanced, and edited to meet the specific needs of the project. As a result, you can deliver a web-based app on time, and even save money on your bottom line.

Typically, a Software Development Library consists of the following components:

  • The pre-written source code;
  • The classes;
  • The procedures;
  • Any scripts;
  • Configuration data.

Your team may even integrate a Development Library into the overall source code of the application to help automate certain parts of it.

For instance, if an application being developed makes heavy use of mathematical algorithms in the background, the software developer could very easily add a Development Library instead of having to code out each function. As a result, the desired algorithms can be simply called from the library and be embedded into the overall body of the app source code.

An example of this scenario is illustrated below [2]:

Four Common Types of Software Development Libraries

The following are examples of Software Development Libraries that are most commonly used:

  • Static Libraries: This is also referred to as an “archive,” in which the Development Libraries are statistically linked amongst one another in the overall context of the source code. Static Linking is typically used when the .EXE files or Object files are initially created or when any of the individual modules must be recompiled again.
  • Shared Libraries: This type of Development Library is used when multiple .EXE files and/or Object files need to call and make use of the same Library repeatedly. This is typically launched when the web-based app is first loaded into a sandbox environment.
  • Remote Libraries: These are used when multiple Development Libraries are called together using what is known as the Remote Procedure Call, or RPC for short. These Libraries are networked together, and the main benefit of this is that they all reside in a central location, and the reuse of source code can be maximized to its fullest potential for your web-based app.
  • Code Generation Libraries: These are considered sophisticated versions of APIs and are typically used to generate byte code for Java based applications; or whenever an aspect-oriented programming environment is utilized.

The Security Requirements of a Software Development Library

There are two main requirements of a Software Development Library: data requirements and the process requirements.

The Data Requirements

There are four key sub issues that your software development team must address:

  • Documentation: What information and data are available about the artifacts in the Development Library that will be most useful in deciding which ones are the most secure?
  • Scalability: Can the procedures, modules, classes and systems that reside in the Development Library be safely ramped up or ramped down in order to meet the dynamic needs of the web-based app?
  • Abstraction Mechanism: How can the data that reside in the Development Library be securely enhanced so that it can be reused as many times as needed throughout the Software Development Lifecycle?
  • Level of Abstraction: At what specific stages can the object code, source code, and the various frameworks that exist in the Development Library be used for maximum efficiency?

The Processes

When using a Software Development Library, there are three sub-processes that your development team needs to consider from the standpoint of security:

  • Insertion: First, it is important to determine if the Development Library is compatible and suitable for the type of environment in which it will be used.
  • Retrieval: How can the information and data that reside in the Development Library be securely extracted for utilization in the development of your web-based app?
  • Evolution: A Development Library is by no means static; its dynamic nature allows it to meet the constant needs of the applications being created. Therefore, it is crucial that any unused or outdated artifacts that reside in the library be immediately discarded and replaced with the most current ones.

Up Next: The Security Vulnerabilities of Software Development Libraries

In Part 2 of this series, we will examine the security vulnerabilities of Software Development Libraries. This is critical to understand as some software development teams fail to ensure that the underlying source code is secure and cannot be penetrated by a Cyberattacker, very often through a backdoor that is inadvertently left open.

References:

  1. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/3828/software-library
  2. https://www.google.com/search?q=software+development+library&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-nYfYyO7fAhWj34MKHfazBBYQ_AUIDigB&biw=1366&bih=657#imgrc=6o65LZlchFpPpM

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Ravi Das is a Cybersecurity Consultant and Business Development Specialist. He also does Cybersecurity Consulting through his private practice, RaviDas Tech, Inc. He is also studying for his Certificate In Cybersecurity through the ISC2.

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