Understanding Low Code 

The evolving world of low-code platforms is quickly becoming the hub of business innovation.

The tech stack is expanding to provide an integrated development experience with data linking, data science insights, and novel AI solutions. The challenge that remains is making low-code development more secure and resilient.

So how do you make your low-code development more secure and resilient? In short, your low-code development platform needs solid access controls; you need to train your citizen developers in security basics and design, and your development teams should build applications within the platform's framework. IT also needs to keep an eye on all existing and new low-code applications.

All types of companies are offering low-code tools that combine databases with front-end interfaces. Many platforms offer business users intuitive user interfaces with drag-and-drop components to build web and mobile applications. The pandemic has accelerated the expansion of low-code development tools used to help an organization’s digital transformation.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the software development profession will grow 22% over the next decade; this is much faster than the average 4% growth rate across the entire job market

Understanding Low-Code Security

Low-code is revolutionizing the landscape of software development. Essentially, it means that almost anyone can get applications built without much input from their IT and development teams.

Low-code platforms empower companies to rapidly deploy and use mobile and web applications. Citizen developers with little programming knowledge can use pre-built code components to create almost any solution. Despite its growing popularity, the aim of low-code is to complement traditional software development, not eliminate it.

Given the productivity, simplicity, and speed benefits of low-code platforms, it's easy to understand why companies are rapidly adopting low-code and no-code platforms. IT and development professionals need to know which security issues to be aware of to ensure that low-code platforms’ are secure.

Issues to be Aware of for Secure and Resilient Platforms

  • Lower Visibility. On most low-code platforms, the code is not easy to see or inspect. If the low-code vendor doesn't follow security or secure coding best practices, there may be problems later. Performing security audits is costly and time-consuming for most companies, and in many cases, impossible. Security controls put in place by low-code and no-code vendors are not visible to most businesses. This means that organizations must rely on their existing tools.
  • ·Data Access Control. Low-code and no-code platforms are faster, easier, more agile than using a traditional development approach. You can also make changes to an application with greater ease. In the implementation phase, users should only have access to the data they need. Giving users free rein increases the security risk of them gaining access to information that should remain classified.
  • ·Insecure coding. Security should be top of mind for businesses from the start. It doesn't matter how simple the app is. It becomes problematic when users develop components of an app insecurely. It's more likely that an inexperienced developer will copy and paste pieces of code into an entire application. When someone replicates part of an app, the security issues are transferred to the new application.
  • ·Business Logic Permissions. Similar to access control, business logic permissions should be prioritized, and they should be part of the low-code platform functionality. If this is forgotten, the wrong people will gain access to sensitive data. Low-code and no-code vendors need to evaluate these issues in the same way as traditional software development.

Recommendations for Secure and Resilient Platforms

  • Revamp Security Training for Business Users. Low-code or no-code app creators are not your typical developers. They lack expertise in secure coding and application design. Companies need to recognize their knowledge gap and raise awareness of common security issues. There also need security champions, who may be managers, to help make decisions about when to turn to IT when there's a problem.
  • Understand How Low-Code Platforms Protect Your Application. Because low-code development involves selecting components from a limited menu created by the platform provider, business users often rely on security measures integrated into the platform. However, businesses need to understand the weaknesses of each platform and what is required to keep applications and data secure.
  • ·Build Resilience and Security into Planning and Design. Security must be part of an organization's comprehensive planning. This means performing security testing and integrating it into the development and management of low-code applications. Scott Johnson, the former manager of the Fortify application security suite from Micro Focus, writes that in a truly resilient system, automation allows developers to write code and scan it as they write it - much like a spell checker in a Microsoft Word document. Johnson lists the following five important areas for building resilience into software development: “Increased test automation, actionable results from testing, more frequent scans, breadth of coverage, and scalability of your approach”.

How to Evaluate Low-Code Platforms

While low-code platforms have amazing benefits for an organization, such as speeding up the development cycle, reducing the work of IT and professional developers, not every low-code tool is created equal.

You will only be successful with a low-code platform if it provides the functionality that makes it more effective than buying off-the-shelf software or building a custom, hand-coded applications.

Every low-code platform has its pros and cons. Only you - who are most familiar with your industry and its problems - will know which platform is best suited for your company's needs.

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As you move to evaluate the low-code platform options available to you, ensure to evaluate to see if they measure up to enterprise-class:

  • Development speed should be one of the main criteria you use to evaluate a low-code platform.
  • Evaluate the ability to quickly design, prototype, develop, test, deploy, and change applications.
  • A balance of application speed is also important. This is the ability to accelerate through each phase of the development lifecycle.

To ensure that the low-code platform will meet your needs, you should evaluate the following:

  • Ease of use by coding professionals and also citizen developers.
  • The ability to rapidly make changes at any stage of development.
  • Intuitive functionality that increases the speed of overall development.

While speed is critical, it doesn't matter how fast you can build an application if you can't deploy it quickly at enterprise scale or integrate it into your complex technology stack.

To assess the secure and resilience of a low-code platform, you should evaluate:

  • If the low-code platform easily integrates with your modern and legacy systems, as well as your commercial and custom off-the-shelf software.
  • The platform should meet enterprise-level security, compliance, and privacy standards. It should also have solid role-based controls, auditability, role based application and application-based governance controls.
  • It should provide enterprise-level reliability and resilience and meet acceptable performance criteria. There should also be tools to help you monitor and manage application performance.

Ways to Make Low-Code Development More Secure

Low-code platforms are becoming more user-friendly and customizable, which is a double-edged sword. Users can easily connect to key enterprise data sources without understanding what they are connecting to. That's why low-code tools need intricate controls, or they risk sensitive data being exposed.

Wait for a Green Light from IT Before Deploying an Application

Wait for a Green Light from IT Before Deploying an Application: Before launching an application, consult with your IT and cybersecurity teams. The benefit of this increased visibility and the ability to monitor potential vulnerabilities. It also allows developers to follow best practices, such as noting the type of data an application will process, as well as setting up firewalls to mitigate risk.

Low Code Security User Login
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Boost Awareness of Security and Train Citizen Developers

Increase Awareness of a Platform's Security Features: Although most low-code platforms minimize most risks through advanced security features, users should still be familiar with each platform's security options. For example, platforms that allow custom code increase risk. Some, like Salesforce, have done an efficient job of including security guidance in their documentation.


Security Training for Citizen Developers: Since your citizen developers are not trained in application security practices, you should hold training sessions to cover the basics. For example, a demonstration of attacking an app will directly show its vulnerabilities.

How to Ensure That Low Code Software Is Secure For Citizen Developers

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Low-code has made it easier for citizen developers to build applications. When faced with a problem, they need a software solution – something that some IT department can't deliver right away.

This is where the problem of shadow IT begins. Citizen developers want to create something that works, but sometimes some don't adhere to security best practices.

When there is a problem that delays the creation of an application, the temptation for citizen developers is to outsource work to a third party which can increase risk. So how do you ensure that your low-code software is securely used by your citizen developers?

IT must be able to monitor the activity of citizen developers. This is not so much about stopping business users from creating apps, but about ensuring that confidential and legal data is not mishandled. To do this, they need to evaluate web and network traffic to identify apps from citizen developers.

Another way to ensure that your low-code platform is safe for is to provide IT training on declarative low-code development. As IT identifies and reviews more apps that touch sensitive or regulated information, they need to be cataloged and included in the standard security and compliance review.

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Ways to Use Low-Code Authentication

Most low-code platforms have built-in security for various parts of an application, such as data access, APIs, web front-ends, and deployment.

Security Measures to Secure Low-Code Applications

Some have security features specifically customizable and designed for professional developers at platform level. There are certain internal and external risks that arise. Business and IT leaders need to make sure there are security measures in place that secure low-code app development.

It is important to check APIs for security using scanner tools or penetration testing before integrating them into low-code platforms. Most low-code platforms have a specific set of permissions to view or modify data.

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Be sure that the low code software platform has a security framework to protect your organization's data.

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Using Authentication Providers and SSO Systems

Development teams must proceed with caution when setting these up. The risk is that if extensive permissions are given to a specific role in an organization, critical data may be left exposed. To avoid this, IT or development teams should set up organizational authentication providers or use a single sign-on (SSO) system. These help define roles and permissions in an organization.

Accessing Low-Code Tools Outside of an Organization’s Firewall

Because many employees work remotely, many apps and APIs are used outside of an organization's network. This means that low-code apps need an extra layer of security to protect against outside attacks.

Verification and Audit Steps from the Start

By implementing verification and audit steps from the beginning stages of app development, IT leaders can weed out vulnerabilities and security flaws that only become apparent in the post-production phases.

Offline Low-Code Applications

The Internet is everywhere, at least that's what the mobile industry tells us. However, there are countless times when we don't have a strong internet connection. If you are on a plane, the subway, or in a traffic jam, chances are you won't have a strong internet connection, which is why offline applications are essential. Whether you are developing online or offline applications, security is critical. Equally important are single sign on (SSO) systems, access controls, and the tracking of existing and new low-code applications.

Why Offline Application Development Is Essential

  • Working Remotely: If you are a technician or salesperson working remotely, you need offline functionality to capture critical information.
  • In Transit: There are times when you're on a plane or train and need important information offline, which is why offline apps are so important.

Why It Is Important For Most Industries

  • Offline app development is important for every industry. In e-commerce, offline apps make it easy for customers to shop anywhere, even if they are without a Wi-Fi signal.
  • Offline apps are crucial for workers in the construction, oil and gas industries, as well as transportation, or logistics, as they often work remotely in areas without an internet connection, and yet need instant access to vital information.

Your Offline Application Should Manage Tough Business Needs

You need to ensure your offline app can handle tough business needs, such as data synchronization, intelligent conflict resolution, access to databases, documents, drawings, and videos when you don't have an internet or phone signal.

Alpha Anywhere is a great example of a low-code platform that lets you build offline apps securely, easily, and affordably. This solution allows you to store data and view transaction detail changes, errors, and updates.

offline apps and low code

What Benefits Do Offline Apps Have?

To be a truly mobile solution, an app must have offline functionality, but what are the benefits? Here are four of them:

  • Ability to work on projects without an internet signal: When a team member is assigned a project, whether in healthcare, construction, oil and gas, mining, or hospitality, you need to be able to complete their tasks without being hindered by spotty or non-existent internet signals.
  • Increased speed and performance: Since offline apps don't need to be constantly connected to a server, they are able to deliver more speed and performance.
  • Less Costly: There is no need for a wireless/data plan that costs $40-$80 per mobile worker. These costs add up.
  • Saves Mobile Battery: Offline apps are less taxing on your phone battery.

Creating offline apps used to be expensive and time-consuming. Alpha Software revolutionized the development industry by creating a platform with sophisticated offline capabilities that allow developers to create apps without needing extensive coding knowledge.

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The Bottom Line...

You can make low-code development more secure and resilient by providing secure access controls and training your citizen developers in application security and design. You also need security champions who can act as intermediaries between IT and business users and perform security audits, provide a secure framework for using applications inside, outside, and offline.

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The Best Software for Secure Low Code App Development

You'll find Alpha Anywhere is the best low code development software for building web and mobile apps for business.  We've made it easy get started with Alpha Anywhere Community Edition, a full-featured and FREE low-code development environment. We have a team of experienced app designers and developers and offer mentoring and tutorials on how to build mobile apps.