Top 5 Myths about Off-the-shelf and Customized Software Security

Four people looking at a shared laptop in an office setting.

When choosing between off-the-shelf and custom software development, you may have heard some far-fetched notions about one being more secure than the other. Sadly, digital security misinformation is everywhere. Believing in such fallacies could make your business vulnerable to security breaches.

You need to be able to separate fact from fiction when it comes to cybersecurity, so let’s examine the top five myths about software security:

  1. Popular off-the-shelf software is more secure
  2. Using obscure custom software will save me from hackers
  3. Custom software development companies will manage my digital security needs
  4. My biggest cybersecurity threat is from bots and hackers
  5. Enterprise-level security practices can work for an SMB like me

Is Popular Off-The-Shelf Software More Secure?

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. Defaulting to the belief that popular equals secure will put your business at risk.

Additionally, if you depend on security measures built into off-the-shelf software, you may be putting too much faith in an unknown system. Not only does that risk security on that solution, but it could also cause more issues across your entire tech stack. After all, most software solutions in businesses are interconnected, and if one has not been secured correctly, then none of them are truly secure.

Will Using Obscure Custom Software Save Me from Hackers?

Most people assume that off-the-shelf software is safer and less vulnerable because of its popularity. Nevertheless, commercial software is often targeted by hackers. From the hacker’s perspective, there is much more to be gained from exploiting vulnerabilities in commonly used software that can grant access to data from thousands of companies.

Therefore, you may wonder if choosing custom software development services will provide you with security through obscurity. 

Cust software that has been uniquely created and structured for your business growth and scaling needs is less likely to be targeted by hackers. The payout for their efforts is less, so it may not be worth their time. 

That said, going custom does not mean you are 100% safe. You simply have a security advantage with custom software that you would not have with mainstream off-the-shelf software. (For additional guidance on choosing between commercial and custom software, review this article).

Will Custom Software Development Companies Manage My Digital Security Needs?

Even though custom software solutions are less of a target, that doesn’t mean they are un-hackable. Secure software development practices must be integrated throughout the entire development lifecycle.

Managing security at the project level is not sufficient, either. Yes, you want each software solution you implement to be secure on its own, but security measures, practices, and processes vary based on the type of software and information that you are protecting. Therefore, it is critical to prioritize security at the organization level with an end-to-end framework in mind. 

Such a framework must encompass but is not limited to the following:

  • Ongoing security training
  • Implementation of cybersecurity tools 
  • Risk and assessment threat tracking
  • Risk modeling
  • Continuous system testing 
  • System documentation
  • Outside reviews and audits
  • Response program logs
  • Accountability chains
  • Vulnerability and remediation policies

While some custom software development companies can work with you to organize and manage your cybersecurity processes, this is not a specialty that all firms provide. If it is a service you require, you will need to choose a suitable company with this capability.

Although not all software development companies specialize in providing additional cybersecurity services, those that follow software development best practices will create solutions based on a system framework to ensure your entire organization (processes, technologies, and people/teams) align with your company’s set of practices, requirements, and policies around cybersecurity. 

By using such a framework for custom software development, firms can help their customers assess risk well in advance of business-critical problems. Likewise, this framework system better prepares companies to mitigate the potential impact of exploited vulnerabilities and facilitate rapid responses to address and fix the root causes of said issues.

Is My Biggest Cybersecurity Threat From Bots and Hackers?

Woman working on multiple computer screens.

IT security professionals point out that there are multiple layers of cybersecurity, including protecting businesses from both active and passive cyber-attacks, creating a perimeter wall of solution-based security, ensuring networks running systems remain locked down, monitoring endpoint and data security, and finally training personnel to remain vigilant.

Most of the layers of cybersecurity protection can usually stop bots and malicious hackers, but that only covers the basics. The biggest threat to your security is not necessarily from forces outside your business, but from within your organization.

Employees who are not properly trained in cybersecurity may unknowingly open the door to criminals. 

Sophisticated hackers use methods to trick employees, often mimicking emails and websites from legitimate-looking sources. Whether team members accidentally download a virus or provide business-sensitive data during a phishing scam, it all ends with your system being compromised.

If you want to achieve a higher level of security, you should put just as much focus if not more on internal vulnerabilities as you do on external ones. Your company is only as strong as the weakest link in your cybersecurity chain.

Can Enterprise-level Security Practices Work for an SMB Like Me?

While there are security best practices that every business should follow, the type of security needed by a larger, enterprise-level organization will vary from that of a small or medium-sized business. Yet many SMBs consider purchasing commercial software designed with larger companies in mind, which can result in paying more money for unneeded services.

Working with a custom software development company that specializes in security can help you determine solutions that are the right size for your business needs. Such solutions can be customized to fit your budget, threat profile, internal and external user types, access points, threat exposure levels, and vulnerabilities.

"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

For SMBs who choose to work with a custom software development company to build a security system, along with other software solutions, always make sure that the company designs a sound foundation that will scale with you as your business grows. The future of your business should always be on the horizon, and you’ll need security that works with your business every step of the way.

AltSource Offers Thought Leadership and Guidance on Cybersecurity

Our product owners hold decades of industry-specific experience not only in technology solutions but also in business processes and risk analysis. Whether you’re in banking, construction, retail, the digital economy, insurance, or manufacturing, our product owners know the security obstacles you face and how to overcome them. We can assess the cybersecurity needs of your business and make practical recommendations for organization-level protection both from external hackers and internal vulnerabilities.

Let’s talk about your security concerns with your current software and upcoming software initiatives: