You’ve just downloaded yet another app to your work computer. You didn’t think twice about it, your colleague said you HAD to try it and you clicked “download.” If you were about to download software or click on an iffy looking link that popped into your email, you’d probably think twice or at least trust that the IT guys have the organization’s Network Security covered. You might update your antivirus software, but an app is an app — what harm can it do besides gobbling up a few gigs of storage space right? Wrong, and in most companies Application Security (AppSec) is lagging behind in adoption compared to Network Security.
What’s AppSec & Why’s It Important?
Focusing on Application Security (AppSec) is essential, because data shows that 84% of malware attacks are aimed at the application layer. As we use and deploy more and more apps, their interconnection muddles internal infrastructures opening the door to misconfigurations and holes that could aid attackers.
Adopting thorough AppSec practices help an organization, but especially important areas also need to be defined to help your AppSec program succeed. Here are 5 ways to ensure your AppSec routine moves from zero to hero.
5 Steps to AppSec
- Security Training
Offer everyone — from management to developers etc. — continuous best practice training sessions focusing on security issues and concepts. Tailor training to the software needs of each department to ensure that long-term AppSec programs succeed. The aim is to raise security awareness overall!
- Open Source & Third-Party Components
The average app comprises nearly 90% of open source and third-party components, showing the increasing shift to use them over proprietary code. They save dev time and resources, accelerate time-to-market, and make way for more innovation. However, one still needs to be aware by tracking and monitoring open source components and their implementation, because, by nature, they are more visible and available for anyone to use or abuse. About 60% of apps have open source security vulnerabilities. The figures are worse for ecommerce and financial apps where 83% are vulnerable, with an average of 52 vulnerabilities per app in the financial industry. Stay up to date about components with known vulnerabilities and don’t use them!
- Integrate AppSec Practices in Each Stage of the SDLC
The software industry is being swept up with fast dev processes, like DevOps — a software engineering practice that tries to unify software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops) to shorten dev cycles, increase deployment frequency, and achieve more dependable releases — all in-line with business objectives. DevOps have saved dev teams from lagging behind security teams in their tech or processes, but they can’t work without having a Secure Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Integrating AppSec best practices in each stage of the SDLC is vital for becoming and staying proactive in your AppSec program. Get everyone on board to improve secure coding so that you release on-time, bug-free software. After all, you can’t afford to discover — and then try fix — vulnerabilities at the end of the cycle.
- Adopt a Reusable AppSec Checklist for Each SDLC Stage
You’ve adopted a Secure SDLC and are on your way towards a mature AppSec program. However, with so many moving parts in software development, you need to keep track of all the security activities carried out throughout the lifecycle not to hinder the security team’s ability to stay proactive. By keeping everyone in-line and adopting a user-friendly, digital checklist for each security activity, you’ll keep things running smoothly and make performance security activities easier.
- Boost Developer Teamwork
You can profoundly impact your overall business value by boosting teamwork between your developers and security teams. Encourage more respect between them, show them which areas need improvement, and how they can work together — even if takes beer and a pizza to break the tension.
Bottom line, just like securing your latest IoTs or other internet-facing devices, as well as your files saved on the cloud, from malware and hackers, putting best application security practices into place across your organization is essential to improve time-to-market, streamline development processes, increase bottom line results, and achieve overall organizational safety.