Importance of Security and Compliance

There is little doubt that low-code and no-code platforms are growing in popularity. Gartner predicts, “That low-code and no-code tools will account for more than 65% of development activity,”

Low-code and no-code platforms are becoming increasingly important as more enterprises build their own mobile, desktop, and web applications. These platforms provide user-friendly visual interfaces and inbuilt components like drag and drop that allow citizen developers with minimal knowledge of programming languages to create applications that are highly functional and less prone to error.

Despite the growing adoption and fanfare of low-code platforms by tech leaders like the CEO of GitHub, Chris Wanstaff, who said, "The future of coding is no coding at all," it's important to address one of the biggest barriers to adopting low-code app development - security. According to recent research by Forrester, 59% of respondents said security is a top challenge when it comes to adopting a low-code platform.

For anyone, but especially for legacy enterprises, it's hard to break away from the traditional way of developing applications, especially considering that these companies have been doing in-house development for decades. That's why it's critical that no-code and low-code vendors address the concerns about security.

Is Low-Code Secure?

There are three main security issues with low-code platforms: IT visibility, permissions and controls, and third party integrations. In larger organizations, IT teams apply comprehensive security practices, precautions, and workflows to ensure application security. However, sometimes low-code applications created by business users do not follow the same guidelines.

  • IT Visibility: Unlike applications built with traditional development, some low-code platforms do not follow corporate IT practices such as code reviews and code deployments. Because low-code platform’s lack of visibility an IT department may be less prepared for security issues.
  • Measures and Controls: Organizations’ IT departments act as gatekeepers between business users and critical files or classified resources on an enterprise's servers. Typically, IT establishes various levels of controls and permissions. They must judiciously decide which users are allowed to access certain areas of the corporate database and which users pose more of a security risk. Permissions and controls are critical for low-code platforms because they can store different types of data and there must be measures in place to monitor what users can see and do.
  • Third Party Integrations: Nearly 80% of low-code applications have at least one integration with third-party software. The problem is that the data exchanged between external devices may not meet the organization’s compliance requirements. Some low-code tools use third-party integrations to build their drag-and-drop components. These integrations are not limited to proprietary software solutions, but may also include open source codebases.

Some possible solutions to these security concerns could be to consult IT or cybersecurity before deploying an app or to conduct an assessment or audit before choosing a low-code platform.

Is Low Code Secure?

How Secure is Low-Code?

How Secure is Low Code?

Low-code security is not well understood. Vendors who have invested in security admit that some of their customers have questions that remain unanswered. The number of companies using low-code is undoubtedly increasing. However, some are unknowingly relying on applications that can touch-sensitive corporate and customer data.

According to a study by Forrester, low-code is secure. Initial results show that building applications on low-code platforms is safer than using a traditional development approach. By low-code vendors taking responsibility for securing their platforms in their cloud and ensuring technical quality, many security [1]concerns like SQL injections or cross-site scripting are avoided [See footnote below for definitions].  

Application security risks are higher when developers build parts of an application outside the native tools of a low-code platform. This risk is lowered for citizen developers who generally don't know how to write custom code. Low-code platforms designed for business users have fewer options for code customization, thus minimizing security issues.

[1] An SQL injection is when someone can see data they aren’t usually able to retrieve. For example: when an attacker interferes with queries that an application makes to a database. Cross-Site Scripting is when an attacker stores malicious code in data sent from a web search or contact form. 

Why Low-Code Should Not Mean High Risk for Businesses

Companies pursuing digital transformation should take the following into consideration. First, carefully select vendors and partners. Second, select a platform based on the clarity and transparency of their security processes.

Questions to ask platforms are: What is the level of security awareness in the company? What tech stack are they using? Are they using security tools and SAST, DAST, IAST scanning? Asking these questions will help ensure that you are working with platforms that make security a high priority.

Keeping up to date with the latest security vulnerabilities doesn't have to be too time-consuming. Both professional developers and citizen developers should subscribe to information security sites to stay up to date and ensure that they are using the most secure and best practices when building applications. It's also important to invest in security awareness and hire security-savvy developers who are aware of potential threats and have the know-how to combat them.

low code security and compliance

IT teams and CISCOs recognize that low-code platforms tend to have fewer security vulnerabilities because less code needs to be written. However, it is still important to apply the same level of security testing as any traditionally developed software.

How to Test your Low-Code Tools for Security Vulnerabilities

Test low code apps for security vulnerabilities

Most companies and developers view the low-code environment as a kind of black box whose workings cannot be seen. In many ways, this is true. The back-end activities on low-code platforms are not always visible to developers. Most low-code platforms have their inherent risks. For example, many vendors and their solutions do not undergo publicly viewable security audits, which could mean that security vulnerabilities remain.

Since most low-code development platforms don't give you admin access to their entire tool, you need to use auditing services to keep an eye on your security. Here are two examples of these types of automated tools for web applications:

OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) has developed a solution called ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy). This service finds security vulnerabilities during the development and testing phases of an application. It covers scripting languages, automatic scanners, and plug-and-hack support. This solution can be used by both professional developers and citizen developers.

SonarQube is a solution analyzes over 20 programming languages for vulnerabilities. It covers cross-site scripting, Denial-of-Source (DoS) attacks, and SQL injection, among others.

Ready. Set. Build!

Build Secure Low-Code Apps for free.

Secure Low-Code Apps

Although the traditional development approach poses more security risks because the process involves writing custom code, organizations should still be vigilant when deciding to move to low-code platforms. By avoiding building parts of the application outside of the platform's native tools, promoting security awareness, and using testing tools, companies can get the most out of low-code platforms.

mobile app design example 1
mobile app design example 2
mobile app design example 3
mobile app design example 4
mobile app design example 5
mobile app design example 7
mobile app design example 8

The Best Choice for Mobile App Design and Development

Alpha Anywhere is the best low code app development software for business.  And we've made it easier than ever to get started with our new Alpha Anywhere Community Edition. This full-featured and FREE low-code development environment to help YOU succeed at building secure mobile apps. We also have a team of experienced app designers and developers who have produced tutorials on how to build and design a low-code mobile app for free.