Code Security:
Fundamentals and Best Practices

Jamie Gale - May 14, 2024

What is code security?

Code security is the practice of writing and maintaining secure code. It means taking a proactive approach to dealing with potential vulnerabilities so more are addressed earlier in development and fewer reach live environments.

Code security is not to be confused with security as code (SaC), though they are related concepts. SaC refers to integrating security measures throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC), whereas code security refers to making the application code itself more secure.

Developers who implement code security as a cybersecurity practice stand to save time and resources on issues they would otherwise need to contend with in live environments. By implementing code security, they can reduce downtime and their exposure to threats posed by adversaries.

This is especially important as eCrime breakout times drop to record lows; the CrowdStrike 2024 Global Threat Report found that in one case, it only took just over two minutes to exploit a vulnerability and gain access.

2024 CrowdStrike Global Threat Report

The 2024 Global Threat Report unveils an alarming rise in covert activity and a cyber threat landscape dominated by stealth. Data theft, cloud breaches, and malware-free attacks are on the rise. Read about how adversaries continue to adapt despite advancements in detection technology.

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Code security examples in modern workflows

Many code security examples can be found across the realm of application security. These measures prevent applications from being manipulated by adversaries to perform undocumented functions. That being said, code security doesn’t just apply to the lines written by your team.

Very few cloud-based applications are entirely bespoke creations. They are often a patchwork of open-source code, licensed solutions, and internal creations. Therefore, one logical place to start improving your code security is in your software supply chain.

The database of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) can help you identify potential risks associated with each part of your software. You can then remediate these CVEs by applying updates and other recommended measures.

Of course, you will only get a complete picture of how your application may be at risk if you document everything that goes into it. Integrating software composition analysis (SCA) into your continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline will allow you to perform automated analyses whenever applications are updated, built, and deployed.

Linters provide another helpful means of automated code security testing. These tools pore through code on a granular level, surfacing potential issues that would be difficult to spot by eye.

One last code security example is the old-fashioned code review. When developers review each other’s work, they can spot potential vulnerabilities that may have otherwise been overlooked. Sometimes, just explaining why the code is there may be enough to identify a possible issue or better solution — hence, the classic rubber duck debugging method.

Code security best practices

By following some straightforward code security best practices, you can greatly enhance your application’s cybersecurity posture. Several of these tips will likely be familiar if your team already follows common DevSecOps processes, but it’s still worth considering each in turn as you bolster your security fundamentals:

  • Start with education: The first step is to ensure your entire team is working from the same definition of code security. Each member must have access to the skills, resources, and contacts they need to play their part.
  • Shift left: Implementing code security practices is one critical way to employ shift left security. Following through with other DevSecOps approaches and processes will serve as a force multiplier for your security efforts.
  • Secure your pipeline: Your team members could write the most secure code in the world, but your applications are still vulnerable if the libraries they use are compromised. Similarly, unsecured channels in your implementation process could give adversaries all they need to prepare a backdoor for later exploitation.
  • Use both automated and manual checks: Automated testing and monitoring methodologies, from linters to AI-powered container security tools, make up an important part of code security practices. So does hands-on work from the employees who work directly with that code. Their institutional knowledge and context will help them identify potential issues that automated checks may miss.
  • Build toward the threat horizon: Adversaries don’t stick with the same predictable tactics. Their intrusion and exploitation methods are always advancing. If you want to be prepared for tomorrow’s attacks, you can’t spend all your time thinking about today’s threat landscape.

Learn More

Read this blog and learn the differences between custom-developed applications and COTS applications and how each type of application is secured.Blog: Custom-Developed vs. Commercial Off-the-Shelf Software

Now that we have addressed the basics of implementing code security, let’s look at some of the specific benefits and challenges your organization may face in the process.

Benefits and challenges of code security

Working toward better code security in your applications will naturally lead to a more secure end product and a better security posture. It may also mean some significant challenges to overcome, especially for more established development teams that must adjust some of their roles and responsibilities.

Here are some of the benefits and obstacles your organization stands to encounter on the way to code security:


  • Minimizes security threats before they reach production.
  • Works well with a unified DevSecOps approach.
  • Reduces downtime and resources spent remediating vulnerabilities.
  • Lessens the risk of adversaries exploiting vulnerabilities.
  • Empowers developers to own the security of their applications.
  • Makes the later development and update processes easier to manage with a strong, secure foundation.


  • May require a cultural shift from a “move fast and break things” mindset.
  • Requires organizations to implement education and training to secure each step of the SDLC.
  • Requires more deliberate processes and could cause initial slowdown.
  • May require developers and security teams to reconsider how they collaborate.

Whatever changes you deem necessary to reach better code security, some common solutions and specific tools may help you make the transition.

Code security tools and solutions

Code security is a process and a mindset rather than a set discipline or procedure. It can benefit from a range of approaches, each with their own unique tools and solutions, depending on the specifics of your methods and applications:

Solution categoryDescription and examples
Software composition analysis (SCA)Software composition analysis is the best way to identify potential vulnerabilities and exposures in the software you use. It relies on a well-documented software bill of materials (SBOM) to function.

Examples of SCA tools include:
- Dependency-Track
- OSS Index
- Snyk CLI
Static application security testing (SAST)Static application security testing tools analyze source code to identify latent security vulnerabilities before it’s compiled.

Examples of SAST tools include:
- Bandit
- Brakeman
- FindBugs
Dynamic application security testing (DAST)Taking the opposite approach from SAST, dynamic application security testing analyzes application vulnerabilities at runtime.

Examples of DAST tools include:
- OWASP Dependency-Check
- Arachni
- Netsparker
- Wapiti
Application security posture management (ASPM)Application security posture management means assessing, managing, and strengthening the security stance of an organization’s custom applications.

Examples of ASPM tools include:
- OWASP DefectDojo
- OpenSCAP
- Anchore Engine
- Lynis

Choosing the correct code security tools can make an outsized impact on your application’s exposures down the line. The best fit for your organization is one that will reduce vulnerabilities while also saving time.

How CrowdStrike can help

The CrowdStrike Falcon® platform provides your team with the tools it needs to test and achieve better code security. It can help you secure applications both before and after they go live. It also gives you better visibility into the current and upcoming threat landscape across cloud infrastructures.

Expert Tip

Schedule a free Cloud Security Health Check when you’re ready to receive personalized insights on the cybersecurity posture of your organization.Request a Free Health Check


Jamie Gale is a product marketing manager with expertise in cloud and application security. Prior to joining CrowdStrike through acquisition of Bionic, she led technical content and executive communications efforts for several startups and large international organizations. Jamie lives in Washington, D.C. and is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington.