Secure Code Review and Improvement Playbook

December 16, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • Assess current codebase vulnerabilities.
  • Enhance the security posture of software development practices.
  • Ensure that developers are equipped with the knowledge to write secure code.
  • Identify and mitigate potential threats before they can be exploited.
  • Implement a process for continuous security review and enhancement.
  • Provide hands-on experience in recognizing and remediating code vulnerabilities.

Difficulty Level:

  • Intermediate to Advanced


  • GlobalTech Solutions, a renowned software development company, has recently faced public scrutiny after a minor breach exposed some of their client data. The breach was quickly contained, and no significant damage was reported. However, the incident raised questions about the security of their codebase. With the company scheduled to launch a major finance management application for a high-profile client, the CEO, Irene Clark, orders an immediate proactive measure to secure their software against potential threats.
  • The development team is led by Senior Developer Alex Mercer, who is renowned for his coding prowess. The network infrastructure is protected by a robust firewall and intrusion detection system managed by their Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Sarah Connor. Despite these measures, an internal audit revealed that a few segments of their code are not following best security practices. The cyber range exercise is thus essential to ensure that current and future projects are protected against cyber threats.
  • As part of the exercise, a clone of their development environment and code repositories is created, simulating a real-life company network with servers hosting the codebase, continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, and various testing environments. The aim is to identify and remediate security flaws in the code while educating the development team on secure coding practices.


  • Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC)

Exercise Attack Steps:

  • Reconnaissance: Perform code repository mining to identify potential targets and vulnerable components within the software.
  • Vulnerability Identification: Use automated tools and manual techniques to find security weaknesses in the code, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and insecure authentication mechanisms.
  • Exploit Testing: Simulate attacks on the identified vulnerabilities to understand their impact and exploitability.
  • Code Review and Patching: Conduct thorough line-by-line code reviews to spot hidden vulnerabilities not caught by automated tools.
  • Remediation Plan: Develop and implement a plan to fix the vulnerabilities, including refactoring code, updating libraries, and applying security patches.
  • Incident Response Drill: Simulate a breach triggered by the exploited vulnerability and execute the incident response protocol to ensure proper containment and recovery procedures.
  • Security Improvement: Post-exercise, developers attend a workshop to learn from the findings and improve coding guidelines to prevent similar vulnerabilities in the future.
  • Report and Follow-Up: Document the entire exercise, including identified vulnerabilities, actions taken, and areas for improvement, to ensure continuous learning and development in secure coding practices.
  • Automation of Code Review: Implement automated code review tools into the CI/CD pipeline to continuously check for security flaws during development.
  • Metrics and Benchmarking: Establish security benchmarks and metrics to measure the effectiveness of the secure code review process and improvement over time.