Security Concerns Involved in Low-code and No-code Development
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The future of coding is no coding at all. This leads to the development of low-code and no-code technology. Low-code and No-code development is a visual approach to software development. This creates software faster by abstracting and automating the development process. It enables non-IT folks to create applications along with the technical developers.
Low-code and no-code don’t mean low risk to flaws and security bugs as data protection is important. This article covers the topic of security concerns for low-code and no-code development and ways to mitigate them.
What is Low-code and no-code development?
Low-code and no-code development platforms are the visual approaches, which use drag and drop application components to create software applications. This allows professional developers to build applications faster. It also enables non-software developers to create mobile or web applications. This development process is accessible and understandable to a wider group of people. A user-friendly graphical user interface helps them connect components and third-party application program interfaces to create the application.
The Drag-and-Drop platforms enable developers to develop an application without traditional programming. The Low-code and no-code development platforms area have faster and more efficient approaches to creating an application with minimal or no hand-coding. It promotes increased productivity and efficiency. This saves time and money. According to the Forrester survey, 84% of the enterprise adopts a low-code development platform. The 100% enterprise has seen a positive return on investment.
Working of Low-code and No-code Development
The working of low-code and no-code platforms belongs to point-and-click development or simply click development. It refers that the user will visually select and connect reusable components. The reusable components contain a pre-defined set of code that is used to perform a particular process or methodology. These components are linked together to create the desired workflow.
The features of these platforms allow experimenting, prototyping, testing, and deployment. This helps the citizen-developers to create an application like drafting and flowchart.
Need for Low-code and No-code Development
Technology has driven change in almost every aspect of a business. It promotes the enterprise to remake, rebuild and reconstruct the business operations. Low-code and no-code platforms pave the way for an enterprise to digitize their operations and automate their workflows.
The programmer should have in-depth knowledge of computer languages, development environments, deployment processes, and testing protocols in the traditional software development process. The lines of code create the desired functions and features of the application.
Low-code and no-code platforms enclose all the codes in the reusable components. The user creates the desired computerized workflow by visually selecting and connecting reusable components. This allows users to create applications with desired function and capability without writing codes line-by-line like drafting a flow chart. These platforms are also helpful for testing, modeling, examination and deployment. It enables the rapid delivery of business applications. It reduces time and cost associated with application development, integration, and workflow automation.
Difference Between Low-code and No-code Development Platforms
Though the low-code and no-code systems offer the same benefits, they indicate the key difference between application development.
|Low-code Development||No-code Development|
|It designs applications with minimal code involved.||It enables the creation of applications without code.|
|Programming knowledge is required||No coding knowledge is required.|
|It requires an in-house developer’s assistance to make changes to backend code.||Visual components address industry-specific functions.|
|It is used to create an application to run critical business processes.||It is used to create tactical apps to handle simple applications.|
|It is designed for professional developers.||It is designed for business users or citizen developers.|
|It offers flexibility in updating the application.||It doesn’t provide flexibility.|
Benefits of Low-code and No-code Platforms
Low-code platforms require low cost for application development. This is because minimal code is required for developing the application. Hence, the time and resources required are minimum, cost of production is less. Low-code application development reduces software development barriers by providing lower risk and higher return on investment.
The application made in low-code and no-code platforms requires less time for development. The drag and drop of visual components reduce the complexity of writing several lines of code and producing errors. Hence, the quick and effective application is developed and delivered to the customer in a short period.
The application development involves both IT developers and business users. The knowledge about business from citizen developers and technical knowledge from IT developers is combined in developing effective applications.
Technical and non-technical business users are involved in the development of the application. As the number of people involved in the development process increases, the delivery of work also increases. This has helped the organization provide fast delivery by involving more personnel in the development process.
Low-code and no-code platforms require minimal to no code involved in the development of the application. Hence, the developed application is easier to maintain. Low-code and no-code lessens the need for developers and hiring cost.
High Technical Support
Low-code and no-code platforms involve visual components instead of codes. This desired visual component is selected and connected
to develop the desired application. This process is very simple, involving non-technical people in developing mobile and web applications. The professional developers are free from traditional coding processes, which help them deliver valuable time addressing other company issues.
Uses of Low-code and No-code Platforms
Low-code and no-code platforms are used to develop an effective application in a simple and faster way. It is used to develop an application for various businesses and technical purposes.
- Low-code and No-code platforms are used to develop an application to improve its operational efficiency.
- Computerizing manual and paper-based information.
- Management of business processes.
- An organization can modernize legacy systems. There will be an updating and optimizing business systems to gain operational efficiencies and address technology constraints.
- Meet customers’ expectations which support adoption and integration with other systems based on newer technology platforms.
- Both platforms reduce IT environment complexity and costs as well increases data consistency and enables collaboration across platforms to improve process flexibility.
- Moreover, low-code and No-code advance the digital transformation of the organization.
- These platforms helps to create business applications for business users.
- Both can be used in the development of customer engagement applications.
Challenges of Low-code and No-code Platform
Low-code and no-code platforms provide rapid development of the application to the organization. Both systems have a few challenges.
No-code frameworks are determined by the developer who created them. This limits the working of applications for wider enterprise architecture. The monolithic architecture of the application doesn’t provide flexibility in an update process.
Data Management Issues
Organizational leaders may lose track of what their employees build. The data generated can be inappropriately exposed on the web due to user unawareness. The application developed on this platform challenges managing, maintaining, and scaling due to escalated infrastructure and storage costs with increasing developmental activity.
The no-code platforms involve business developers who do not know to code. The errors mistakenly created by the non-technical developers may cause severe loss to the organization. The task designed inappropriately to these platforms leads to wastage of resources.
Low-code platforms being accessible to more developers can lead to shadow IT. The developers’ use of IT systems, devices, software applications, and services without approval from the IT department. In recent years, the adoption of cloud-based services has led to the exponential growth of shadow IT. It introduces serious risks to the organization through data leaks.
Security Concerns for Low-code and No-code Development
Security is the major consideration in any technology. Data protection and System Security play a major role in implementing any technology.
Low-code and no-code platforms are built using the pre-defined codes constrain in visual blocks. The security concerns begin with the deployment of the code in visual blocks.
It continues to develop applications and maintain critical data in the application. Though these development platforms are secure than the existing technology, these stages of low-code and no-code development are more susceptible to vulnerabilities. Here, some of the security issues are discussed.
A monolithic architecture is a traditional unified model for designing a software program that composes all in one piece. It unifies a client-side user interface, a server-side application, and a database where all functions are managed and served in one place.
The framework of low-code and no-code platforms is determined by the developer who created it. It is built by confining a set of codes in a visual block. The developer can choose the required block and connect them to perform the function. This leaves a limited scope of application. It means that it cannot be updated according to the growing requirements without the developer’s help.
This might be a weak line in the organization network even though it does not involve any important process of the organization. The hacker would easily enter the organization network through these platforms, leaving potential hazards to data. The exposure of critical data would be a potential threat to the organization.
Shadow IT refers to information technology project that are managed outside the IT department and even without the knowledge of an IT department. There are around 40% of IT spending is done outside IT department control. It can improve the productivity and innovation of the development teams.
The involvement of technical and non-technical developers leads to the rapid development of the application. This rapid development process would make the IT department lose track of the function performed by the developer. This would function smoothly as long as processes work according to the company norms. Developers can access the important files or resources out of scope for application development.
The permissions and access controls are made default in the resources. The unaware developers could make critical data in the public domain, which poses a significant threat of data breach. Security gaps caused by shadow IT can create new chances for hackers to enter organizational networks and conduct a threatening attack on the organization’s functions.
Low-code and no-code platforms involve both professional and non-professional developers in application development. The non-technical users use these platforms to create prototypes with their business ideas without involving IT professionals. The professional developer can also quickly develop an application without much effort as traditional programming. This ease of use platform helps developers create the application as desired by customer requirements.
The resources required to create the application are easily accessible. When mishandled by the developer, these resources may lead to exposure of organization credentials that question the organization security process.
Lack of Developer’s Training
No-code and low-code platforms include non-technical users in developing applications. They lack knowledge of programming and security. This may lead to wrong decision-making in critical security processes. If basic training about security risks and security measures must be given to them, it will help the organization implement a secure environment.
Integration of API
Application Programming Interface (API) is software that allows one or more applications to interact with each other. It helps deliver the user request to the provider and give back the response to the user. API helps developers in creating an effective application. The client builders can expose the important data without their knowledge due to a lack of awareness of the security model.
The User Interface in the Low-code platform can provide information to the developers about the collected data and maintain data in the intended position. For example, User Interface was developed to define the authorized levels of data access. If API is exposed or generated in a web application can cause critical data to expose. This may cause serious risks to the organization.
The organization must undergo security checks when buying products from vendors. The code and security controls of the low-code and no-code platforms are not visible to the enterprise. So, the company should ensure whether any vulnerabilities are present in the code. The company must undergo security audits, security and compliance certifications, service level agreements, and cyber-security insurance of the supplier products. If any threat is found in the platforms, the supplier should push out a patch that would update all the components in the application.
Low-code and No-code Platform Security
Security is the foundation stone of the low-code and no-code platforms. A secure application security model covers the architecture design, implementation, and testing. These platforms are continuously tested and monitored. Security testing begins in the software delivery lifecycle and is continuously iterated to provide complete security to the application.
The security in low-code and no-development platforms begins with the platforms’ development. It is extended to the delivery of platform to the organization, development of the application, and working of the developed application. The organization should ensure 360-degree protection by following safety processes.
Some of the areas where the organization must work to ensure a secure working environment are,
- Buying products from the verified supplier
- Developing teams to monitor the work process
- Creating security awareness among the employees
- Secure critical data
- Provide the right level of access to the developers
- Auditing the company resources at a regular intervals of time
- Using the verified security software for the protection of the organization.
The organization should ensure whether the supplier’s product undergoes required safety standards. The no-code and low-code platforms involve lines of codes hidden in the visual blocks. Hence, the organization should clarify the secure nature of the codes used and the platform developed. This ensures the company’s security.
Low-code and no-code platforms involve both technical and non-technical developers. The non-technical folks do not know about security, permission, and access controls. They might mistakenly disrupt the company’s security process. The organization must provide security training to those developers about existing and upcoming security issues. This will be helpful to the developers in making critical decision-making processes. This will provide awareness among them to develop applications more efficiently and securely.
A team of IT professionals must be involved in monitoring the entire work process of the organization. The monitoring begins from the installation of new software to discarding the older one. The team must examine every work done by the company’s developers. The permissions and access controls should be correctly provided to the user as per the requirement.
They must notify the user when accessing critical data to ask permission from the IT department. They must audit the application developed for any vulnerabilities present. Hence, the work process is continuously monitored by the IT department. This avoids the serious threats approaching the organization.
Secure Critical Data
The organization must develop a secure process in managing critical data. The data should be classified according to its importance level. The permission of accessing data at each level is classified and managed by the IT department. The access should be provided to the developer as required. The company should have understanding whenever a personal or critical data is accessed by an unauthorized identity.
The user of the low-code and no-code platforms must know where the platform is running to ensure data protection. A platform is an environment that constitutes the basic foundation upon which any application or software is supported or developed. Application programs written for one platform would not work on different platforms. It is the Cloud Service Provider, which is the location of the cloud servers and the backend provider of the working infrastructure.
The major players in the cloud service sphere include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. It guarantees the best security and protection for all the data. It ensures a high level of security within the cloud environment by providing multi-level protection, cyber security controls, and threat mitigation practices. It offers organization tools such as compute power, database storage, and content delivery services. It scales to provide users with computing, storage, or throughput as needed. It offers different tools and solutions for enterprises and software developers.
Role-based Access Control
In low-code and no-code platforms, the permissions and access controls are inherited from the customers’ data by default. It makes it easier for both experienced developers and non-developers to create secure applications quickly. The Security management system includes role-based access control, enabling all the required functionality and authentication for a security system.
A method of managing authorization while performing tasks in complex systems are called Role-based access control. Role-Based Access Control is an approach that uses the job functions performed by individual users within the organization to determine their appropriate access levels. It ensures employees are only granted the necessary access to perform their job. Access can be managed by grouping common access permission into roles. This is a simple, secure, and efficient way for both organizations and developers.
The company should undergo an audit at regular intervals to maintain effective functioning. An Audit is a process of security evaluation of the company’s information. It ensures whether work progresses according to the criteria defined by the organization. It is used to verify whether the current security strategy ensures the company’s safety. It identifies threats or vulnerabilities that entered the organization. The information obtained from the audit can help to update a secure company environment.
The organization should choose correct security tools to protect it from internal and external threats. They are used in network security monitoring, encryption, web vulnerability, penetration testing, antivirus software, and network intrusion detection. This helps the organization determine the safety measures to be taken for effective working.
Low-code does not mean low risk. This idea promises to speed up the development process and involve non-technical users to create apps. This provides a growing user base in new cloud-based platforms for creating mobile and web applications. These developments are more secure than the replacement during the Covid-19 crisis. The cloud vendors can also implement global access controls and permissions to give a single view of data usage. This provides a positive and efficient source for the enterprise.