As security evolves, attackers employ a variety of attack approaches to circumvent the application’s access control and get unauthorized access to the server; this access might be for personal or organizational goals. The main goal of application security testing is to ensure that your application is secure and protected from both internal and external attacks.
Why is Application Security Important?
Application security is critical, especially now, due to the numerous hackers and attackers out there who are out to exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to important data or systems. As applications save more and more information about users, it becomes the responsibility of a development team to keep that data safe – this can only be done if the application has been well vetted from a security standpoint.
What Causes Poor Security?
On an organizational level, many organizations deal with vast interconnected networks, but their management does not implement them securely, despite the fact that the networks are open to the public. Sometimes, due to budget restrictions, companies do not prioritize security. This is applicable to small developer teams as well.
Ultimately, because of the lack of importance awarded to application security, in addition to poor budget utilization, teams focus more on delivery than security, leading to vulnerable code.
Ways to Maintain Application Security
Application security testing is the best way to maintain application security. This includes vulnerability scanning, assessment, and management, on top of continuous penetration testing. Through a combination of all of these measures, developers will have a strong understanding of the weaknesses in their application and can begin plugging them to create an impenetrable application. Solutions can involve code upgrades, logic changes, and reassessing the use of an open-source code or libraries in the application build.
Testers should also look at how to maintain a secure environment for their applications’ users. For this, paying attention to how the client and server communicate is key: making sure these communications are securely channeled through legitimate protocols and encrypted during transit reduces risk of spoofing or man-in-the-middle attacks, constantly keeping data secure.
Finally, adherence to compliance standards is another way to maintain application security. Recently, there has been a surge in breaches in crucial domains such as PII DSS and HIPAA. As a result, regulators and industry standard groups impose their own testing requirements for applications in these sectors, such as
- The PCI DSS 2.0 has its own set of secure coding requirements that enterprises must adhere to..
- Both FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) include software development, code reviews, and application testing rules.
Prioritizing Application Security
To prioritize security, a team must internalize these fundamental security principles:
Confidentiality: All information passed to and from the application must always be secure and encrypted. If an attacker gains access to the resources where the company maintains its data, its confidentiality has been compromised.
Integrity: If an attacker successfully alters or modifies the content of a legitimate user while data is being transmitted from source to destination, they successfully compromise data integrity, its authenticity cannot be trusted.
Authentication: Authenticity is defined by how you prove your identity to the server. In that instance, if an attacker is able to bypass authentication, they can access the organization’s sensitive data.
Availability: If an attacker makes the server unavailable for the users , he can jeopardize the application’s availability. Attackers use Denial of Service (DOS) attacks to render the service unavailable.
Authorization: Elevation of privilege allows an attacker to gain access to resources that they should not be able to access. Be careful with privilege escalation and which users or accounts are permitted to access certain data.
Non-repudiation: If an attacker deletes logs from the server that could be used to verify their identity, no one can identify what data was accessed or modified by them.
In this article, we covered exactly why application security testing is important. Testing should be done on a regular basis so that the organization is aware of the vulnerability and can remediate it on its own. Always give priority to PII and health-care-related data while conducting tests.