In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven business landscape, the development of new applications has reached unprecedented levels.
The rise of no-code and low-code platforms allow individuals with limited security or IT skills to create applications, presenting new challenges for application security.
As the number of applications grows, so does the potential for security flaws.
High-impact, large-scale vulnerabilities like the infamous Log4j have become more prevalent, putting businesses and their applications at risk.
In light of these developments, traditional approaches to application security, which focus on detecting and addressing security events after they occur, are no longer sufficient.
Businesses must adopt a proactive and preventative approach to safeguard their applications and data from cyber threats.
Leveraging modern technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence becomes crucial in the battle against application vulnerabilities and exploits.
To ensure a strong application security posture, organizations should consider implementing application security best practices. In this article, let’s take a look at best practices to secure your applications.
1. Involve All Parties In Security Procedures
Relying solely on a dedicated security team for application security is no longer a viable strategy.
In today’s dynamic business climate, the SecDevOps approach has become the industry standard for developing secure software.
This strategy ensures that everyone involved in the application development process, from developers to QA engineers and management, takes accountability for security.
Developers are trained to create secure code, QA engineers incorporate security guidelines into their testing, and management keeps security in mind when making critical decisions.
By involving all stakeholders, organizations can foster a culture of security and ensure that security is ingrained into every aspect of application development.
2. Introduce A Safe SDLC Management Procedure
Secure Software Development Life Cycle Management (SSDLC) is vital for maintaining product security.
SSDLC ensures that products are built and maintained by personnel with security training, in a safe environment using best practices for software security, and delivered to clients securely.
This comprehensive approach spans from the conceptualization of a new product to its end-of-life stage.
By adhering to SSDLC principles, organizations can reduce the likelihood of security flaws and vulnerabilities in their applications.
3. Control Privileging
Managing privileged access is crucial during the development process to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and functionalities.
An attacker who gains access to a company’s development environment can wreak havoc by altering program code, creating security flaws, or disabling automated security testing.
Implementing strong authentication through multi-factor authentication (MFA) and adhering to the principle of least privilege helps limit the likelihood of attackers gaining access to development environments and causing potential harm.
4. Automate and Combine Security Tool Usage
In the past, security teams used specialized security technologies to manually test applications for security flaws.
However, manual approaches are not sufficient for today’s dynamic security environment.
The most effective IT security processes are built on automation and integration, much like in the entire IT sector.
Many modern security technologies are designed to work seamlessly with various platforms, such as issue trackers and CI/CD platforms, enabling organizations to streamline their security practices.
By embracing automation and integration, organizations can reduce manual errors, identify and address security issues early in the development lifecycle, and handle security concerns more efficiently.
5. Keep An Eye On Your Software Supply Chain
Modern applications often rely on third-party libraries and components to implement specific functionalities.
While code reuse from trusted sources can save time and effort, attacks on the software supply chain are becoming more frequent.
Cyber threat actors may target commonly used libraries and introduce vulnerabilities or malicious code into them.
As a result, effective software supply chain management is essential for identifying and fixing known vulnerabilities, updating outdated components, and mitigating supply chain risks.
By regularly monitoring the software supply chain, organizations can strengthen their application security and reduce the likelihood of supply chain attacks.
6. Observe Secure Software Development Guidelines
Secure software development involves two essential components:
- Techniques to reduce errors when writing application code
- Techniques for identifying and removing faults sooner
Software developers must be well-versed in potential security issues, such as SQL injections, XSS, and CSRF, and adopt secure coding practices and tools to create secure online applications.
They must also be familiar with the security guidelines, secure coding practices, algorithms, procedures, and tools necessary to create secure online applications. For instance, they need to understand how to avoid SQL injections.
Integrating security technologies into DevOps pipelines allows developers to identify vulnerabilities as soon as they commit new or modified functionality.
This early detection enables developers to address security flaws promptly and efficiently, reducing potential security risks.
7. Monitor AppSec Results
Application security requires dedicated resources and time, just like any other aspect of a firm’s operations.
However, it can be challenging to quantify the advantages and return on investment of application security.
Demonstrating the success of a security program requires defining and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that clearly and measurably show security improvements.
KPIs may include the number of security holes found during development and in live applications, security breaches caused by exploited weaknesses, internal AppSec policy violations, and the number of business and regulatory compliance requirements fulfilled.
8. Put Remediation First
To effectively manage vulnerabilities, it is essential to establish proper priorities. Not all vulnerabilities carry the same level of risk.
While there may be numerous vulnerabilities, only a small percentage of them are actually exploitable.
Cyber threat actors are more likely to target an even smaller subset of these exploitable vulnerabilities.
Focusing on these live exploits is critical as they pose the greatest risk to the organization.
Remediation-first vulnerability management empowers organizations to efficiently allocate resources to address the most critical vulnerabilities, effectively reducing the attack surface.
This proactive approach allows businesses to focus on addressing potential threats that are most likely to be exploited, providing a strong defense against cyberattacks and ensuring a more secure application landscape.
Application security is a critical aspect of modern business operations. By incorporating these best practices into their development processes, organizations can build and maintain secure applications that protect sensitive data and defend against cybersecurity threats.
Adopting a proactive and preventative approach to application security, along with leveraging advanced technologies, will empower businesses to confidently navigate the ever-evolving landscape of web application security.