The Top 3 Defining Factors for Software Security in 2024 and Beyond

Written by
Rajeev Thakur
Published on
March 20, 2024

Software security is always evolving, with emerging technology and trends reshaping the ways in which we safeguard our applications. Whether it's the numerous vulnerabilities ushered in by AI-generated code or increasing compliance overhead, security threats and challenges are sure to reach unprecedented heights in the new year. 

As 2023 wraps and 2024 kicks off, I find myself reflecting on the current software security landscape and the trajectory it’s primed to take in the coming months. Specifically, I believe that the responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI) in code development, streamlining code in critical infrastructure and escalating compliance challenges will play a large role in 2024 and beyond.

1. The advent of AI-enabled code development

It’s no secret that the emergence of AI will usher in unparalleled opportunities for developers to accelerate code volume and velocity—the ability to automate coding tasks, accelerate development timelines and reduce human error will allow software engineers to streamline their processes and innovate at unprecedented rates. In fact, a recent survey found that 41% of all code in modern development practices is already AI-generated, and 92% of programmers use AI tools to support their development—a figure that is poised to climb in 2024.

With that said, we must also be mindful of the potential risks posed by AI-generated code, much of which will likely be of lower quality and more bloated. Security teams are barely keeping pace as is—they have become the bottleneck in many organizations, and yet increased developer velocity is going to put them under even more pressure. The volume of scans, range of vulnerabilities that need to be addressed and number of patches that need to be applied will all increase.

Adopting best practices for code review and validation will be critical to ensuring the security and integrity of AI-generated code. With security teams already stretched thin, a proactive approach is essential. Integrating security as a foundational element to DevOps processes will help streamline vulnerability management, allowing security teams to reduce their software risk meaningfully and efficiently. Whether implementing employee training or emphasizing rigorous code reviews and validation processes, it’s important that developers proactively support their security teams wherever possible.

2. Paring down code used to support critical infrastructure

The wide range of vulnerabilities stemming from AI development tools will not only affect private businesses, but critical infrastructure as well. Currently, the federal government, specifically the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), is struggling to keep up with vulnerability management. The DIB consists of 300,000 contractors that provide services and technologies to the Department of Defense, yet only 19% have any vulnerability management solutions in place. In 2024, security teams will need to automate tooling, such as vulnerability scanners, that segregate vulnerabilities in the execution path from the rest to reduce the range of issues that they need to address. 

But condensed code is not without its trade-offs. While leaner code can improve system performance, minimize the attack surface, and is easier to maintain, debug and update, it can also compromise readability and may lead to functionality loss or limited flexibility down the line. It’s essential to strike a balance between code-size reduction and maintaining the software’s reliability and security. Conducting risk assessments and continuous monitoring, especially for the most critical portions of infrastructure, embedding security throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and ensuring regulatory requirements are great ways to maintain security in pared-down infrastructure. 

3. Increasing compliance overhead

Speaking of regulatory requirements...

No matter what year it is, compliance requirements continue to evolve and present a wealth of challenges to organizations. In 2023, compliance ends seen in the DoD began to permeate across federal and private industry. This means that the amount of busy work, like compliance type tick-box efforts, required by already overburdened security teams, will continue to increase in 2024. This will likely spur the purchasing of automated security tools to meet these requirements and better manage security team workloads.

Unfortunately, compliance tends to favor adherence to rules while innovation seeks experimentation, often resulting in a clash between the two. Implementing measures, like proactively integrating compliance into new projects, encouraging collaboration between security and development teams, creating a risk-based approach to prioritize critical standards and implementing automated tools to streamline compliance processes will help strike a balance between achieving regulatory requirements and fostering innovation.

Pro tip: ring in the new year with RapidFort 

We know that navigating new and emerging security threats can be overwhelming. You may be thinking that you’ll need to invest in multiple platforms or solutions to reduce your software attack surface, but not with RapidFort. 

The RapidFort platform is the first solution on the market that offers build time CI/CD tools and runtime Kubernetes features that work in unison, helping your organization reduce its attack surface throughout the SDLC and facilitating efficient cooperation between security and development teams. Not to mention, the ability to automatically scan containers and remove unnecessary software components can reduce software vulnerabilities by up to 90%. 

The result? More secure, cost-efficient containers and a significant decrease in vulnerabilities, lightening the load on security teams and streamlining DevSecOps processes.

Ready to ring in the new year with RapidFort? Book a demo with our team today.

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