Ever-evolving cyber threats have shifted focus from traditional network attacks to application layer attacks. With the growing prevalence of the Internet of Things and the emergent digitalization of non-Western economies, the need for protection from these application threats has never been greater.
Application vulnerability assessments are one of the most useful tools any organization can implement to safeguard their most critical and confidential data. Read on to learn more about how they can start helping your company stay secure today.
Application security, also known as “AppSec,” identifies security vulnerabilities in software applications and fixes or prevents them from being exploited by outside threats. Application security aims to protect critical data by analyzing software both built internally and sourced externally, whether purchased or downloaded.
Vulnerabilities – weak points, unintended code, and other architecture flaws within the software – are used by criminals to gain access to sensitive and valuable information. One report suggests upwards of 70% of applications across all industries have at least one major vulnerability.
Common vulnerabilities include:
- SQL Injection: This allows a threat to access and manipulate data by submitting a database SQL command that exposes the back-end database.
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): This is a client-code injection attack which involves a hacker creating malicious scripts for a legitimate website or web application.
Application vulnerability assessments protect against these and similar unauthorized and unlawful behaviors.
A Booming Industry
The application security market, currently estimated at a size of $2.79 billion globally, is expected to grow to a robust $9 billion by 2022. This should be enough to spur an organization to action to protect its application if it hasn’t taken it already.
The White Box and the Black Box
Some of the most common application vulnerability assessments include static analysis (white box) and dynamic analysis (black box) testing.
White box testing analyzes without executing the applications in question, whereas black box testing looks for vulnerabilities in applications while they’re up and running. Interactive AST technology, meanwhile, combines elements of both white and black box testing.
Whitelists and Firewalls
Application whitelisting is another popular option to provide control over end-user systems.
Its basic premise will be familiar to anyone who has ever used an antivirus or an internet browser: it only allows pre-approved applications to run. Security teams often meet with opposition from users who feel that their computers have been “locked” to a degree, so any whitelisting solution should have an easy-to-manage exception process and automated list management.
Many existing firewalls also offer application layer protection as add-on modules. This eliminates the extra step of researching and then managing an application-only firewall in addition to what your organization already has.
Think Like a Criminal
Penetration testing, both manual and automated, gives security experts the opportunity to test applications against outside threats by attempting to exploit their vulnerabilities the same ways cybercriminals would. The goal is to detect your weak points before someone with nefarious intentions does.
Automated penetration analyses tend to be more thorough. They are also more indicative of how a hacker would use an attack – though supplementing them with manual (human) testing is always encouraged to cover all bases.
An estimated 50 new vulnerabilities are discovered each week, and manual testing will often find them before automated tests can update their protocols.
Web application perimeter monitoring focuses primarily on any public-facing applications. Application activity monitoring, on the other hand, collates log information into a single place for easier top-down management. These systems often aggregate and organize information automatically to save massive amounts of time and energy.
A Unified Front
Some organizations have turned to a unified threat management (UTM) device that centralizes control of network security to one console. This reduces the number of physical devices and staff needed to monitor and maintain security.
UTM devices reduce conflicting and competing rule sets and consolidates the number of vendors down to one. Downsides to UTM include the introduction of a singular point for network failure and a limited suitability for high scalability or performance.
Contact Sentek Cyber today and speak to our expert team about how application vulnerability assessments can better protect your company.