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Why Low-Code/No-Code Can Be a Security Advantage

Why Low-Code/No-Code Can Be a Security Advantage

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Low-Code/No-Code (LC/NC) application development platforms empower businesses to innovate rapidly. Their user-friendly visual interfaces allow even non-technical staff to build applications with ease.  

However, this democratization of development brings security concerns – without deep coding knowledge, users may unknowingly create vulnerable applications.  

In this episode of The Security Champions Podcast, Mike Burch and Michael Bargury, co-founder and CTO of Zenity, delve into the world of LC/NC solutions, offering strategies to maintain security while harnessing the power of rapid development. 



The Rise of Low-Code/No-Code 

The rapid rise of LC/NC development presents both exciting opportunities and significant security challenges.  

On the one hand, LC/NC empowers business users, who may not have extensive programming experience, to create innovative applications that address specific business needs. This newfound agility can significantly reduce the time it takes to bring ideas to life and frees IT teams to focus on more complex projects.  

However, the ease of use inherent in LC/NC platforms can also lead to a false sense of security. Without a deep understanding of secure coding practices, business users may inadvertently introduce vulnerabilities into the applications they build. These vulnerabilities can leave applications susceptible to cyberattacks, potentially exposing sensitive data or disrupting critical business processes. 


Security Challenges in the Low-Code/No-Code World  

Low-code/no-code development brings on new security challenges with the latest technology. 


Traditional Security Methods May Not Work 

Traditional security methods, which heavily rely on developer control and code review processes, are often inadequate in the LC/NC environment. These methods are designed to identify and address security flaws within custom-coded applications.  LC/NC platforms frequently utilize pre-built components and drag-and-drop functionality, making it more challenging to scrutinize the underlying code for vulnerabilities.  


Filling a Vulnerable Need 

Organizations are more likely to use LC/NC programs when they need to complete an application without traditional development teams. The speed and ease of LC/NC development can lead to applications being built and deployed without proper security protocols.  


IT Department Oversight 

The ease of LC/NC development fosters the creation of "shadow IT" applications—applications built outside of the IT department's oversight and control. While these shadow IT applications solve immediate business needs, they often lack proper security protocols, creating a larger attack surface for malicious actors to exploit.   

Malicious actors are constantly searching for weaknesses in an organization's IT infrastructure, and shadow IT applications, with their inherent security shortcomings, can provide a tempting target. 


Why Low-Code/No-Code Can Be a Security Advantage 

Low-code/no-code development can surprisingly offer security advantages despite the initial concerns.  


Increased Visibility into Business Logic and Data Flows 

The visual nature of these platforms, with their drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built components, often provides greater visibility into the logic and data flow of applications compared to traditional hand-coded systems. This transparency can aid security teams in proactively identifying potential vulnerabilities during the development process rather than relying solely on post-development testing.  


Democratization of Security Allows for Better Prioritization 

By empowering business users to address some development needs, particularly for low-risk applications, LC/NC platforms can free up security teams to concentrate their expertise on truly high-risk areas of the system, such as core infrastructure and access control. This shift towards a democratized security approach enables a more targeted and efficient deployment of security resources.  

By automating some of the security tasks associated with low-risk applications, LC/NC platforms can free up security personnel to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as threat hunting and incident response. This allows security teams to become more proactive, anticipating and mitigating threats before they can cause damage. 


Baking Shifting Left in Templates 

Security teams can leverage the drag-and-drop functionality and pre-built components within LC/NC platforms to implement security best practices from the get-go, baking security into the application's foundation. This proactive approach can significantly reduce the risk of vulnerabilities being introduced later in the development lifecycle.  


Get Started with Low-Code/No-Code 

Learn more about the OWASP Low-Code/No-Code Top 10 on the OWASP website. If you are ready to get started, watch the full episode to hear insights from Michael Bargury and learn how to do so. 

To learn more about security champion programs and other AppSec topics, please subscribe to "The Security Champions Podcast" by Security Journey.