Ongoing trends in IT indicate that cyber security has become essential to every industry. Hence the rise in cyber security spending. In fact, a recent report from Gartner predicted a continuous increase in expenditure for this. A 2.4% increase was expected for 2020.
A chunk of this money is going towards cyber security experts. This increased demand is the reason why security software developers are in such high demand.
It is no wonder that hiring a qualified security software developer may not be so easy. Are you finding it challenging to locate and recruit experts that fit your company’s needs? Well, you are not alone. Many hiring managers attest that finding experienced and affordable security software developers can be exhausting.
More and more businesses are looking to hire a software engineer for cyber security. Delaying the hire could leave your company exposed to malicious actors. But how much should you be spending on security? How do you ensure you are hiring experts that will improve your security position?
Research indicates that the amount of money spent does not translate into better protection. This article outlines everything you need to know to hire the right security developers.
Explore the responsibilities of software security developers and why you need to hire them. The article also discusses hiring processes. Particularly where to find developers, how to evaluate candidate skills, and how much you can expect to spend.
With data breaches reportedly exposing over 36 billion records in 2020 alone, secure development processes become vital for businesses. It has become increasingly important for enterprises to keep their data safe. Failure to do so not only makes them liable for non-compliance fines, but the business also risks losing its good reputation and revenue.
Here’s a look at some top reasons why secure development is a must:
Secure systems are foundational to businesses
Users cannot trust an organization that does not have a secure system in place as unauthorized parties can access their data easily. This is something not even a strong password or a two-factor authentication can prevent.
It is, therefore, a basic requirement for businesses to establish fortified systems. Taking security seriously during the development cycle will help minimize vulnerabilities in the final product.
Secure software safeguards user data
As technology advances, connected devices and personalization has increased the personal data applications collect. This includes sensitive information such as locations, healthcare records, and banking details. It is therefore crucial to guard against cyber security threats. The best way is to be proactive using secure development.
The McAfee survey indicates that the average technology user holds about $35,000 worth of assets in digital devices. Both users and organizations responsible for large amounts of data have a lot to lose.
In 2019, the Capital One data breach compromised banking information for over 100 million accounts. It was one of the largest data thefts from a bank. And the breach cost the institution up to $150 million. Fintech companies and banks alike are now set on improving security in their digital products.
The need to balance security and usability
Technology leaders understand the difficulty of creating secure and user-friendly digital products. Secure development allows for achieving the right balance in security, usability, and the performance of the solution.
Cyber security programmers can focus on making the code secure while the rest of the team works on increasing usability. A security software developer will decide what level of protection is essential to the application. That way, protection is not sacrificed for usability or vice versa.
Simplifying integration of crypto components
Programmers often leverage third-party tools to smooth out and speed up the development cycle. Cryptosystem components and SDKs are typical parts of the developer toolkit. However, it requires an experienced developer to select, integrate and scale the right tools.
Tools such as encryption SDKs and encryption algorithms are used to make the end-product secure. A dedicated security engineer will install and maintain such tools to improve your software’s security. They simplify the task for the rest of the developer team.
A security software developer is a specialist who helps implement security assets into your software product. More advanced engineers are involved in security software development, but usually as consultants.
Experience in security analysis, defenses, and countermeasures make up a security software developer’s skill set. They optimize software security at each phase of the development lifecycle.
The rise in cybercrime has increased the demand for specialists in the field. This list includes application security engineers, information security analysts, and penetration testers, amongst others. These professionals are well versed in APIs and security-friendly programming languages.
The security expert’s role on your development team is to put in place a formidable security system. It is common practice to have every developer familiar with security best practices. However, without designated individuals combing through the code, many vulnerabilities may be overlooked. If developers are racing to meet the deadlines, safety could be sacrificed for functionality.
Responsibilities of software security developers
IT security engineers ensure that software has adequate protection against vulnerabilities. The responsibilities of software security engineers include the following:
Implementing advanced software security techniques
During the development cycle, programmers implement, test, and operate the software security techniques required. All this is done in compliance with the technical reference architecture. These procedures are what develops robust cyber security in software.
Security software developers take the lead in integrating various tools to give companies adequate protection. This is especially crucial when new products are added to the business’ technology stack.
Reviewing security code
Security developers are tasked with ongoing security testing throughout the development cycle. Their job is to review software code written by the entire team and safeguard against vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.
Maintaining software security features
Security software developers troubleshoot and debug issues related to security features. Bugs, which are a common occurrence in software development, are resolved much faster with the help of an experienced professional.
Developing new solutions to mitigate risks
A cyber security programmer is also expected to provide engineering designs for new software solutions. They manage all security-related decisions during the development cycle, so the rest of the team can focus on their core tasks. This approach makes it easier to mitigate security vulnerabilities even before there is a working product.
Promoting secure coding in the company
A cyber security engineer is charged with consulting the entire development team on secure coding practices. Security engineers are the central figure for all this related to secure development. They are well versed in the art of integrating new tools and other security related techniques. This qualifies them to resolve secure coding queries and redirect team efforts to protect users. Security programmers craft and implement well-rounded security protocols.
Familiarizing other team members with new security requirements
Companies rely on security engineers to introduce new tools in the secure development process. They should know how to adapt the the organization’s approach, taking advantage of new tools. They are also expected to figure out how to incorporate best industry practices that improve security.
Maintaining technical documentation
A security software developer is responsible for documenting all activities related to secure development processes. Such documentation serves to communicate how the security features function to the rest of the development team and project managers. It will also help simplify software changes by reducing the risk of errors.
The shortage of cyber security professionals isn't the only thing that's holding back some companies. In some cases, hiring managers have no idea what to look for in a security software developer. This includes skills critical to the project and the level of experience candidates must have. This brief overview will help you understand what type of security engineer to hire.
Software security roles
Handling security in software development requires a variety of skills. Professionals in different roles have diverse responsibilities; each specialist needs a specific skill set. Basic competency includes programming in languages like Java and Python.
Professions in cybersecurity engineering come with varied job descriptions. You need to understand what software security developer qualifications are aligned with each job title. Do this before you start approaching potential hires with your offer.
The following list explains the tasks associated with different roles. It details the skills and experience each specialist must have. This should help you or your hiring manager to determine the type of specialist you need.
Application security engineer
The programmers conduct dynamic tests on the entire team’s code to check for vulnerabilities. Carrying out these application security reviews involves dynamic software testing. Developers who have previously developed security tools or worked open-source projects would be a good fit.
Security engineers are responsible for designing security protocols and leading the implementation efforts. They are also required to secure systems and respond to breaches. The tasks can include installing or processing new security products and procedures.
Computer forensic skills are a must for someone in this role. Security engineers have to be able to detect, trace and remedy issues promptly. They need to analyze security systems and seek improvements continuously.
A thorough understanding of the industry best practices will be an added advantage. It will help security engineers keep up with trends and anticipate the needs of the organization.
Network security engineer
These are experts specializing in establishing, managing network security, and assessing risks for vulnerabilities. This refers to both the hardware and software aspects. The job entails setting up and maintaining firewalls, VPNs, and servers. Securing networks also involves URL filtering, information security, and virus protection.
Information security analyst
This role revolves around identifying threats and creating security strategies for protecting data and networks. It involves installing security tools to protect systems and information infrastructure. These can be firewalls or data encryption programs amongst other solutions. Information security analysts often work hand-in-hand with specialists in networking and IT to set up security protocols.
IT security specialist
IT security specialists analyze existing security systems and make recommendations for changes or improvements. They are also tasked with crafting and implementing cyber security measures to prevent possible breaches. This is done by configuring security software and educating employees.
This role involves identifying weaknesses in digital systems and networks. This is done by attempting to hack into networks to identify vulnerabilities in a system. Penetration tests are simulated attacks to investigate system vulnerabilities. A penetration tester provides detailed feedback on the software security vulnerabilities, particularly the ways it can be potentially hacked.
Candidates for such a post often have experience in network-related roles. Certifications in penetration testing, ethical hacking, and related fields are notable indicators of skill.
Security consultants evaluate security measures, study breaches, and spearhead the implementation of solutions. Their job is to help organizations understand where their cyber security measures may need patching up.
Familiarity with regulatory requirements for data protection is a must in this role. It helps if candidates have knowledge of IT business and cyber security laws.
A security architect designs systems to be secure against cyber security threats. This involves reviewing current system security measures and recommending and implementing enhancements.
Candidates must be skilled programmers and capable of creating cyber security policies. They need to be experts in both hardware and software.
This senior role involves planning and managing computer and network security; hence strong communication and organizational skills are necessary.
When choosing a security expert to hire, evaluating hard skills is often uncertain ground. An ideal candidate would possess advanced programming abilities, e.g., a cyber security python developer. The following are some of the security software developer skills employers must look for:
|Programming languages||C, C++, C#, Python, ASM, PHP, Java, and PERL|
|Networking protocols||TCP/IP,UDP, POP, HTTP/HTTPS|
|Relational databases||SQL, MySQL, SQLite|
|Non-relational databases||MongoDB, Redis|
|Virtualisation technologies||VMware and KVM|
|Operating systems||Windows, Linux and Unix|
|Computer networks||Local area networks, wide area networks, intranet|
A thorough evaluation process will also include technical interviews. Technical interviews help establish the candidate’s level of skill. Recruiters should ask questions that help establish the applicant’s knowledge and experience in relevant technologies.
Here are some examples you can use depending on the scope of the job available:
Question: Describe a time you handled a security breach and how it could have be prevented?
Why it matters: Candidates will share their experience on the job revealing their approach to problem-solving
Question: What’s your take on the security engineer role in the company?
Why it matters: It will show if the potential hire knows the responsibilities of a security engineer.
Question: What is the difference between a stream cipher and a block cipher?
Why it matters: Candidates will display their basic knowledge about tools provided by modern cryptography and their use cases.
Question: What is PBKDF, how does it work? Why use it?
Why it matters: Security specialists will show their knowledge of these mechanisms and efficient/convenient ways of implementing security on a daily basis.
Educational qualifications for security software developers generally consist of a college degree. It could be in computer science, networking, or any other relevant area. This also covers MSc in areas like information security. Some professionals hold an associate’s degree or a diploma relevant to the IT field.
Companies should also take into consideration relevant certifications. Good examples are CISSP, ECSP, GSSP-JAVA, GSSP-.NET and even ethical hacking certifications. Other industry-specific compliance related qualifications like Certified HIPAA Security Expert (CHPE) and Certified Security Compliance Specialist (CSCS)
The following is a list of popular certifications:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Cisco Cybersecurity Specialist
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)
- AWS Certified Security
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
- CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)
- Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Although the aforementioned make verifying a candidate’s qualifications easier, work experience carries more weight. Skilled qualified security engineers are a rare breed, and hiring managers cannot afford to dismiss candidates without a formal education. What matters most is one’s capabilities to accomplish real, complicated projects.
Take time to go through a candidate’s portfolio. Previous projects and references provide a more reliable view of the developer’s skills.
Aside from technical skills, a cyber security engineer must have strong communication skills. Business proficiency in a global language like English will be an added advantage as developers need to share technical information with their colleagues. They will also have to explain complex security issues in layman’s terms to other people without technical knowledge.
A security software engineer’s job revolves around problem-solving. Naturally, they must possess analytical skills to assess security requirements. This makes the ability to combine factors like existing technologies, cost, and function for improvements critical.
Security professionals are expected to anticipate and respond quickly to cyber attacks. Being able to work in such a high-pressure environment is a necessity. To check if a candidate is the right fit for your company, ask interview questions like the following:
- What is your approach to risk assessment?
- Tell us about the last project you worked on?
- Describe your biggest achievement to date as a developer?
- How do you keep updated on cyber security news and engage with peers?
Various sites where companies can hire security engineers share salary information. In research figures published by Indeed, security experts are the second-highest paid developers worldwide.
According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for developers in the United States is around $99,834. PayScale, for the USA, reflects an average base hourly rate of $23.2. These amounts do not take into consideration bonuses or profit-sharing arrangements.
Rates for security software developers are relatively high, given the skill shortage in most areas, primarily in North America and Western Europe. However, these hiring rates do vary per location.
It is possible to find highly qualified security software engineers at affordable rates. You just need to know the right places to look. You may be surprised at how much you can save on hiring new talent.
Companies hiring cyber security experts will have to factor in other recruitment costs. This includes taxes and administrative costs. Such expenses typically are 30% of the hiring rates. Thus, the total figure would be base salary plus 30%.
The table below shows the average rates for hiring security engineers in different regions. Precisely the most competitive destinations to hire developers from.
Sources: Salary.com, Indeed and Glassdoor
It pays to consider all your hiring options before you begin your search for programmers. Each of the methods for hiring security software developers have different advantages and disadvantages. Find the one most beneficial to your company before approaching candidates.
Hiring freelance security developers requires the hiring managers to look up possible candidates on job sites. Once likely candidates are identified, their qualifications and skills are evaluated. The company representatives are tasked with conducting interviews to determine who gets the job.
Freelance developers are not hard to find online. The tricky part is often determining their level of expertise and suitability for the job. It is best to dig deep into a security developer’s work history. Take note if they have experience in critical areas, e.g., whether they have an understanding of specific frameworks or have worked on projects similar to yours before.
Given the growing popularity of freelancing, there are several reliable job sites companies can use. Some of the best places to hire from include Upwork, Toptal, Github, and Freelancer.com. These websites typically charge a small fee to let you post vacancies. However, there are some sites that offer limited access for free.
|Less costly, as freelancers do not require employment benefits.||Higher risk of losing data.|
|A larger pool of candidates from offshore and nearshore locations.||Remote work can be difficult to coordinate to meet deadlines.|
|Efficient for hiring specialists for a single project or minor updates.||Communication breakdowns can slow down the work progress.|
|Freelancers work independently and may not fully understand your business goals.|
Hiring full-time developers
Companies can hire full-time security engineers through several avenues. The vacancies can be published in media, job sites, and even developer community boards. Hiring managers are tasked with ensuring the pool of candidates is as big as possible.
Once viable candidates are found, the company has to verify and evaluate each one’s qualifications. Technical interviews and programming tests also help in establishing the skills of a potential hire.
Having a security software developer as a permanent employee has many benefits for the company. However, hiring in-house security programmers may take time and requires more resources. Hiring managers have to find someone who is the right fit for the company’s objectives.
With freelancers, companies only have to consider developers with the exact skills they need. A full-time secure software developer needs to fit in with the rest of the team. It’s not only about a single project’s requirements.
|Security engineers understand the business’ goals hence can develop better solutions.||Hiring in-house developers is expensive.|
|Project managers have more control over the direction of the work.||Training developers will be necessary to expand their skill set.|
|Company data is not shared with non-employees.||There is no fixed cost for recruiting new talent.|
Partnering with an IT company
Hiring security engineers through an IT company is simpler than using freelancers or in-house employees. For starters, it takes the burden of the recruitment processes off the business’s shoulders. Recruitment costs are also limited to what the service provider charges. You will only pay for the talent you end up hiring.
A partnership with an IT company frees you up to attend to your core business. Your staff augmentation provider will provide qualified candidates from it’s extensive database. The search can extend offshore or to other cities depending on your needs. They will vet and verify the candidate’s experience and skills.
You will only have to make your choice from a shortlist of possible hires provided by your IT staff augmentation partner. The client has the final say on who gets the job. The search will go on until you find a suitable candidate to work with.
Traditionally, the IT staffing service provider handles administration and manages the remote team. They provide the security developers with the tools for the project at hand. The IT partner helps establish a strong relationship between the client and the developers.
|It is cost-efficient.||Communication with security software developers can be inefficient.|
|Developers are accountable to the client’s project manager.||Working with remote developers in different time zones can be difficult to organize.|
|The team will be able to check all needed skills properly as the company has expertise in this field.|
|The IT partner provides the necessary administration and technology.|
Successfully hiring your next cyber security engineer can be easier than you thought. There are just five critical steps you need to take.
Step 1 - Define what specialist you need to hire
The first thing to do is elaborate on what kind of security expert you need. Before you can scout for cyber security engineers, it’s important to establish a job description. This is what will be used to determine suitable candidates and interview them later.
For you to get the right person for the job, clarity is essential. What responsibilities will the security expert have? What technical skills are required to complete tasks? Do you specifically need developers with experience from similar projects?
Highlighting your expectations enables you to narrow down the search effectively. It helps clearly define what qualities a candidate must possess. This will help you land the right candidate even faster.
Step 2 - Choose the most suitable model
Selecting a hiring model should be a well thought out decision. The results of each model bear different results. In the end, it all boils down to your business’s needs.
You can choose to hire a freelancer security software developer, an in-house employee or use IT staff augmentation. However, each recruitment model does not provide the same benefits to every company. The project’s requirements, company size, structure, and budget all determine a model’s success.
Evaluate your business goals before making your choice. Establish how much you are willing to spend on recruitment and the project as a whole. Also, consider whether or not you have key personnel like recruitment experts and project managers.
The amount of resources at your disposal often dictates the best route to take. The most cost-effective and time-saving approach will be engaging an IT company.
Step 3 - Conduct the interviews
Once you have identified qualified professionals for the job, you will need to interview them. This process is to determine who the best fit is. Interviewers should be familiar with the job description and the skills required. This makes it easier for them to determine the security experts who can add value to the existing team.
Prepare for the interview by putting together questions related to the actual project requirements. Here are sample interview questions you can have a security engineer answer to determine their expertise:
Question: Give a comparison of Intrusion Detection Systems and Intrusion Prevention Systems.
Answer: Intrusion Detection Systems is a device or software app that detects malicious activity or policy violations in a network or systems. When any of these are seen, the information is either collected centrally with the help of security information and event management system or reported to an administrator. Intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are network security appliances that monitor network or system activities for malicious activity. While IDS systems compare the network activity to a known threat database to detect different types of undesirable activities, IPS denies network traffic based on a security profile associated with a known security threat.
Question: How does symmetric and asymmetric encryption differ?
Answer: Symmetric encryption is a cryptography method that uses the same cryptographic keys for both encryption of plaintext and decryption of ciphertext. The keys may be identical or there may be a simple transformation to go between the two keys. The people using symmetric encryption must share the key to be able to read the message. On the other hand, asymmetric encryption is a cryptographic system that utilizes a pair of public keys and a private key to encrypt and decrypt messages. The sender can encrypt a message using the intended receiver's public key, but that encrypted message can only be decrypted with the receiver's private key, which is kept secret.
Question: Explain how you would prevent an XSS attack?
Answer: Applying the following proxy server configuration principles can help prevent an XSS attack. Sanitizing user input ensures data received can do no harm to those accessing sites that allow HTML markup. It also includes scrubbing your database clean of potentially harmful markup, changing unacceptable user input to an acceptable format. Escaping data will involve taking the data an application has received and ensuring it’s secure before rendering it for the end user. Validating input will help make sure web applications are rendering the correct data and preventing malicious data from doing harm to the site, database, and users.
Question: What is the difference between a vulnerability assessment and penetration testing?
Answer: Vulnerability assessments search systems for known vulnerabilities while penetration tests attempts to actively exploit any weaknesses in an environment.
Question: Define a traceroute and how it works
Answer: Traceroute is a network diagnostic tool used to track, in ,in real time,the pathway taken by a packet on an IP network from source to destination, reporting the IP addresses of all the routers it pinged in between. Traceroute can measure the time taken for each hop when the packet travels its route to the destination.
A test task will also be essential. You can leverage online technical skills test tools like DevSkiller and Qualified.io when assessing developers. However, it will be an added advantage if your task involves technology to be used in the project.
Step 4 - Finalize the agreement and sign the contract
Naturally, after you are satisfied with a candidate’s skills, you establish the employment agreement.
After interviews, you should have identified the security software engineers to hire. The ideal candidate not only has the necessary skills, They are also able to work well with the rest of your organization.
Your employment contracts exist to set the rules of engagement. This should cover things like working arrangements, working hours, and data protection.
Another key area you must not neglect is ownership of the product and code. If you decide to work with an IT staff augmentation company, make sure your agreement clearly states who owns the work product.
Here is a list that summarizes the legal documents you will need when entering an outsourcing arrangement:
- Statement of Work (SOW)
It defines the comprehensive scope of the work involved for a vendor. The SOW clarifies deliverables, costs, and timeline and other critical aspects of the project,
- Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
NDAs prevent the other party from sharing your proprietary information. This means your trade secrets cannot be shared with outsiders.
- Master Service Agreement (MSA)
An MSA clearly defines the bounds of a contractual relationship. It outlines a framework for tracking the work done and establishes the procedures for conflict resolution.
- Data Processing/Confidentiality Agreement (DPA)
A DPA governs the relationship between a data processor and the controller. Data processing will only be done according to the instructions set by the controller. In this situation it would be you—the client.
Step 5 - Ensure the onboarding is smooth and easy
Getting new hires to work smoothly in the company is sometimes a tricky endeavor. Ensure your hired security software developers can work harmoniously with existing in-house employees. Setting up a face-to-face meeting can help ease tensions and establish a good precedent for future communication.
Onboarding includes familiarizing the security experts with internal procedures. This ranges from the proper communication channels, collaboration tools to use, and the product development approach. Provide documentation where possible to simplify things.
Building a strong relationship with new hires pays off in the long run. It also makes it easier to communicate throughout the project. Promote a friendly working environment through activities that help bring everyone working on the product together. This not only boosts morale, but also helps new developers understand your business goals.
The hiring process for security experts doesn't have to be stressful. DOIT Software provides companies access to highly qualified talent and secure development expertise.
Engaging an experienced IT company holds many benefits for you. Cut down the time it takes to hire and shrink recruitment costs all at the same time. Our recruitment specialists can help you make the most of your budget.
Simplify the hiring process by gaining access to a larger pool of talent. You will also receive help in skill evaluation, interviewing, onboarding, and other administrative tasks. Partnering with an IT company could be the best decision for your security software development.
Avoid the common traps of hiring security software developers on your own. Leverage this clear roadmap to hiring qualified and experienced experts without straining your resources. Contact DOIT Software today and begin the recruitment for a world-class cyber security team.
When do I need to hire a security software developer?
Companies hire security software developers to ensure the safety of their system and data. Cyber security experts make certain the software has all the essential and robust security features.
How much does it cost to hire a security talent?
Rates for hiring security software developers differ according to location and experience. They are one of the highest paid developers. However, popular countries to hire from like
Ukraine, Poland, and Brazil offer reasonably lower rates than North America or Western Europe. At DOIT Software, security developers' rates are from $35 up to $50 per hour.
What does a security software developer do?
A security software developer designs, tests, and maintains features that protect applications from vulnerabilities. They review code before, during and after the development process to improve software security.
How do I hire a security software developer?
Companies recruit freelance or full-time security software developers in-house using job sites or online communities. For more convenience, they can engage an IT staff augmentation partner to help them hire qualified security professionals.