Is Custom Software More Secure?

Not necessarily. Experience matters - choose a trusted development firm.

September 8, 2021
4 minute read

All software development projects should incorporate cybersecurity best practices from the start.  Security breaches can cost millions and wreak havoc on an organization. The risk of losing customers, revenue, data, and public trust is much too high to ignore. But while both off-the-shelf and custom software solutions are susceptible to security breaches, there are some significant advantages to custom development that are often overlooked.

Default & Dependency

Off-the-shelf software is not inherently secure. You should not assume that a commonly-used software solution is secure simply because it's popular. Relying on default security measures can put your business at risk. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that every new software solution you adopt can create dependency issues that can cause problems across your entire tech stack.

Security Through Obscurity

Beyond default and dependency concerns, commercial off-the-shelf software is often targeted by hackers using tools that scan for known vulnerabilities in public APIs. From a hacker’s perspective, there is much more to be gained from exploiting vulnerabilities in commonly-used software, which grant access to data from thousands of companies. Custom developed software, on the other hand, can sometimes benefit from ‘security through obscurity’ if it's only used by a small number of people within your organization.

But existing in obscurity is not generally a goal of most businesses. Our clients don't want to hide in the margins, they want to grow and scale. Which is why we help our clients achieve security through uniqueness. A major advantage of custom development is it can be structurally different than off-the-shelf solutions. Being unique is a significant security advantage.

Security Frameworks & Organizational Systems

Even though custom solutions can be more secure, that doesn’t mean they are. Secure software development practices must be integrated throughout the entire development lifecycle. Reliable development firms will employ a framework to ensure their entire organization (processes, technologies, and people/teams) is aligned to a set of practices, requirements, and policies. This framework is a system to assess risks well in advance, mitigate the potential impact of the exploitation of any undetected vulnerabilities, and facilitate rapid response to fix the root causes of vulnerabilities.

Managing security at the project level is not sufficient. It’s critical to prioritize security at the organization level within an end-to-end framework that encompasses ongoing training, tooling, tracking, risk modeling, testing, documentation, outside reviews, response programs, accountability chains, vulnerability and remediation policies. Make sure your software development partner takes an organizational approach to cybersecurity.

Beyond the Basics

The penetration layer of traditional cybersecurity can usually stop bots and malicious hackers, but that only covers the basics. It's often the threats that come from within your organization that pose the greatest risk. So, if you want to achieve a high level of security, you should focus on controlling the information you pass to good, legitimate users operating inside of your company. If legitimate accounts are compromised, they can be used to access other APIs and expose sensitive data from multiple other sources. Secure software is developed from a deep understanding of all relevant use cases to protect it against internal threats in addition to external threats.

"Cybersecurity is not just a checklist. You can have the most secure APIs and frameworks that will pass scans and penetration tests, but that's only one element of secure development. Security starts with knowing who you are protecting against and why. It's critical to develop a deep understanding of the client's organization."

- Tom Kobayashi, Head of Product and Engineering at AltSource

One Size Doesn't Fit All

If you're a small or medium-size business, you likely won't need the same level of protection as our enterprise-level clients. We can help you sensibly evaluate your risk profile and make strategic decisions about how we can 'rightsize' security solutions to meet your needs now into the future. We build secure solutions that fit your budget, threat profile, user types, access points, exposures, and vulnerabilities. Most importantly we build it on a sound foundation that will scale with your business as it grows. Our specialty is developing custom applications to drive operational efficiency and accelerate growth, always rightsizing your security infrastructure to match your maturity model. This is an ongoing process that ensures your business is responsibly protected and poised for growth.

Experience Matters

Anyone can post an article like this on their website. But not every software development company can boast the same level and breadth of experience. Make sure your technology partner has 'been there, done that' before you entrust them with executing a mission-critical project.

AltSource secures websites and applications for small companies all the way up to major enterprise companies with thousands of stores and millions of users. We also have a proven track record of success with long-term partnerships. As we continue to work with clients and develop a deep understanding of their organizations and industries, challenges and goals, we gain invaluable tribal and institutional knowledge. This knowledge is the core of how we develop software that's not only safe and secure, but also helps clients accelerate growth and create a lasting competitive advantage.

If you'd like to speak with a solutions consultant at AltSource, email us at to schedule a call.