Faster integrations. Accelerated software delivery. Elevated user experiences. These are only three of the benefits organizations gain by incorporating low-code platforms, apps and solutions into software development and business process management.
Low-code platforms aren’t new, but demand for the technology soared in the last two years as companies were challenged to meet stakeholder demand for more digital transformation. With low-code tools, companies find they can expand digital transformation efforts through faster business application delivery. In addition, the time it takes to innovate is dramatically reduced with low-code tools.
Low-code solutions are no passing trend. In their recent report on global cloud revenue, Gartner predicted that by 2025, the use of low-code and no-code will “nearly triple,” adding that “70% of new applications developed by organizations will use low-code or no-code technologies, up from less than 25% in 2020.”
Low-code solutions give organizations the ability to produce working solutions and integrations with more speed and agility than more traditional on-premises development. Integration used to be a labor-intensive IT process requiring custom development on both sides of the integration. As more organizations adopt a “buy versus build” approach to software development, they are turning to self-service and other solutions with “out of the box” functionality to increase speed and efficiency. In addition, the vendor-developed components of low-code tools also offer a better user experience.
Rising Demand for Low-Code, Platform-based Solutions
As organizations expand their product and service offerings, the demand for low-code, platform-based solutions will increase. SaaS and PaaS solutions with a low-code focus can be effective for organizations looking for accelerated functionality. Often these tools include pre-built models and templates that businesses can quickly implement and easily duplicate for flexibility and versatility.
The ability to create seamless integrations with other applications is a must. Best-of-breed low-code platforms enable intelligent integration between multiple applications using graphical user interfaces (GUI) as well as industry-standard interfaces such as JSON and APIs within vendor-supplied environments. Intuitive visual user interfaces and drag-and-drop features allow businesses to customize the solution to meet their needs and preferences.
But along with ease of use and rapid functionality, organizations must look for low-code tools with security built-in.
Security: A Priority for Low-Code Tools
Security must be a top priority for organizations using low-code tools in any capacity, from using a low-code platform for application development or using a no-code SaaS solution for business process automation.
Anytime an organization introduces outside applications or any third-party API integration to an environment, the organization is entirely dependent on the vendor’s security implementation. This is especially true when combining various solutions to create a unified product or service. If the vendor doesn’t take security seriously, other parts of a solution could be exposed to risk because of a weakness in another area.
Problems can get in either intentionally or unintentionally, as demonstrated with the recent Apache Log4j vulnerability. The bug in this commonly used routine was found to have massive potential for cybersecurity attacks. As CNET cautioned, “The vulnerability in the widely used software could be used by cyberattackers to take over computer servers, potentially putting everything from consumer electronics to government and corporate systems at risk of a cyberattack.”
Ways to Remedy Security Risks of Low-code Tools
Organizations can’t make assumptions about the security of every tool, solution or platform they bring into their environment. They must complete their own due diligence for security in the software development pipeline or any time a 3rd party app or tool is introduced.
One critical step to addressing security is incorporating DevSecOps and shifting security left in the software development pipeline. The Log4j vulnerability put the need for DevSecOps in the spotlight. Taking a shift left approach and implementing security earlier and more often in the DevOps process can help to catch more potential vulnerabilities. It’s critical to introduce DevSecOps early in the development cycle, or organizations risk missing a bug or vulnerability. In the development cycle, security isn’t an antivirus scenario; all code must be scanned for vulnerabilities.
Organizations also need to employ due diligence when exploring options and solutions to bring into their environments. Look for solutions with security at their core. Before integrating any low-code solution, examine the vendor’s approach to security.
Some security measures to look for when considering vendors or solutions include:
- Ensure they’re using the latest OAuth/2 models for both client to server security as well as server-to-server security or an equivalent standard.
- All communications should utilize at least TLS 1.2 (transport layer security) and comply with industry standards for certificates and encryption keys.
- All hashing should be using current accepted standards with HMAC, they should be enforcing security rules on passwords such as only storing password hashes and requiring 2FA if they interact directly with customer accounts.
Low-code platforms and tools have the ability to accelerate digital transformation efforts without having to rely on hand-coded, on-premises solutions. The potential for time savings and cost savings is significant, but it’s important for organizations to ensure they’re not compromising security when choosing solutions.