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October 22, 2020

Security Standards: What Are Secure Coding Standards?

Security & Compliance
Static Analysis

Secure coding practices and secure coding standards are essential as up to 90% of software security problems are caused by coding errors.

Here, we explain what are secure coding standards, which secure coding practices you should follow, and how to enforce security standards.

Your Guide to Secure Coding Standards and Secure Coding Practices

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➡️ Easily enforce secure coding standards: Try Static Analysis

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What Is Secure Software?

Secure software is software that has been developed in such a way that it will continue to function normally even when subjected to malicious attacks.

This helps to ensure the security of software by:

  • Managing access control
  • Providing data protection
  • Safeguarding against viruses and other cybersecurity vulnerabilities

An essential part of security software is secure coding and using the right software security tool, like SAST.


📕 Related Resource: Learn more about Enterprise Application Security. 
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Why Security Standards and Secure Coding Standards Are Important for Secure Coding Practices

Software security is important because it helps ensure that software is safeguarded against potential vulnerabilities, errors, or bugs. A key part of that defense is the use of secure coding standards. What's more, secure coding applies to every development team — regardless of whether it's code for mobile devices, personal computers, servers, or embedded devices.

📕 Related White Paper: How to Improve Embedded Systems Security.
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What Are Secure Coding Standards?

Secure coding standards are rules and guidelines used to prevent security vulnerabilities. Used effectively, these security standards prevent, detect, and eliminate errors that could compromise software security.

Here, we cover the key secure coding standards.

CWE and CWE Top 25

Common Weakness Enumeration is a list of software security weaknesses in software and hardware, which includes programming languages C, C++, and Java. The list is compiled by feedback from the CWE Community. In addition, the CWE Top 25 is a compilation of the most widespread and critical weaknesses that could lead to severe software vulnerabilities.

📕 Related Content: More on CWE and CWE Top 25.


CERT Coding Standards supports commonly used programming languages such as C, C++, and Java. In addition, for each guideline included in the secure coding standard, there is a risk assessment to help determine the possible consequences of violating that specific rule or recommendation.

📕 Related Content: More on CERT C and CERT C++.


CVE is a list of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and exposures found in a specific software product. The list is linked to information from several different vulnerability databases, which allows users to more easily compare security tools and services.

📕 Related Content: What Is CVE?


NVD is the U.S. government repository of standards-based vulnerability management data and it is connected with the CVE list and provides additional content, including how to fix vulnerabilities, severity scores, and impact ratings. In order to calculate severity scores, Common Vulnerability Scoring System must be used.

CVSS is an open industry standard for assessing the severity of software vulnerabilities. For each vulnerability, a severity score is assigned.

📕 Related Content: What Is CVSS?


DISA is a combat support agency that provides IT and communication support to all institutes and individuals working for the DoD. It oversees the IT and technological aspects of organizing, delivering, and managing defense-related information. This includes STIG guidelines, which provide guidance on how an organization should handle and manage security software and systems.

📕 Related Content: What Is DISA STIG?

OWASP and OWASP Top 10

OWASP is an international nonprofit organization that educates software development teams on how to conceive, develop, acquire, operate, and maintain secure applications. In addition, the OWASP Top 10 is an annual report of the 10 most critical web application and API security risks.

📕 Related Content: What Is OWASP and What are the OWASP Top 10?


PA-DSS is a global security standard that applies to the development of payment application software.

📕 Related Content: What Is PA-DSS?

IEC 62443

IEC 62443 is a set of security standards used to defend industrial networks against cybersecurity threats. The set of security standards provides a thorough and systematic set of cybersecurity recommendations.

The standard uses security levels (SL) to accurately measure risk.

📕 Related Content: What Is IEC 62443?
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How to Apply Secure Coding Standards with Static Analysis?

The best way to ensure secure coding is to use a static code analyzer.

Static code analyzers enforce coding rules, security standards, and flag security violations. Both Helix QAC and Klocwork come with code security modules to ensure secure software.

Each one includes:

  • Fully documented rule enforcement and message interpretation.
  • Extensive example code.
  • Fully configurable rules processing.
  • Compliance reports for security audits.

➡️ Sign up for your Static Analysis free trial

Related Resources About Secure Coding Standards

  • Learn about using tools to find code vulnerabilities, ensure standards compliance, and reduce time-to-market early in the development process with Perforce's Shift Left 101
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