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Introduction to Application Security

  • Utsav Mishra
  • Jan 07, 2022
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In the era of the internet, the world feels small and concise. The things that used to take a whole long day are now being done just in a moment. But this internet has also brought some of the most malicious things with it.


Cybercrimes are one of the prime examples of this. Even the applications we install nowadays on our phones or laptops are not safe. They are the most prone to cybercrimes and data breaches. Now and then, we get to hear about the cyberattacks on various applications.


These cyberattacks are the reason why nowadays all the applications are layered with security layers. Whenever a malicious activity is detected, the application fixes it and gets alert. This process of securing the application from cyberattacks is called Application security.


Understanding Application Security


Application security, often known as AppSec, encompasses all duties that introduce a secure software development life cycle to development teams. Its ultimate goal is to improve security procedures so that security issues in applications can be detected, repaired, and, ideally, avoided. It includes requirements analysis, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance for the whole application life cycle.


Application security may involve hardware, software, and methods for detecting and mitigating security flaws. A router with hardware application security prevents anyone from reading a computer's IP address via the Internet. 


Application-level security controls, such as an application firewall that strictly limits what operations are permitted and prohibited, are frequently embedded into the software. A process is an application security routine that incorporates protocols such as regular testing. (Source)


To dive a bit deeper, watch this: 

Application security can happen at any point in the development process, but it's most often during the development phase. Businesses, on the other hand, can use a variety of products and services after they've been developed. 


Businesses have access to hundreds of security products, each of which serves a different purpose. Some will finalize coding adjustments, while others will monitor for coding dangers, and still, others will implement data encryption. Furthermore, firms can select more specialized tools for various uses.


(Read more: A guide to information security)


Why is Application Security Important?


Today's applications are increasingly vulnerable to security assaults and breaches since they are typically available over different networks and connected to the cloud. Security is becoming increasingly important not only at the network level but also within individual applications. 


One reason for this is that hackers are increasingly concentrating their attacks on applications more than in the past. Application security testing can reveal application-level weaknesses, which can help prevent attacks.


Your firm will be safer if you can recognize and fix security risks sooner in the software development process. Because everyone makes mistakes, the key is to spot them as soon as they occur.


Integration of application security solutions with your development environment can make this process and workflow considerably easier and more efficient. These tools are especially useful for compliance audits since they can save time and costs by finding problems before the auditors do. The rapid growth of the application security sector has been facilitated by the changing nature of how enterprise applications are constructed over the last several years.


Types of Application Security


Application security features include authentication, authorization, encryption, logging, and application security testing. Developers can also utilize code to reduce application security issues.


  1. Authentication


When programmers implement protocols in an app to ensure that only authorized users may use it. Authentication checks that the user is who they say they are. This can be done by requiring the user to provide a user name and password when logging into a program. 


Multi-factor authentication requires the use of various types of authentication, such as something you know (a password), something you have (a mobile device), and something you are (your identity) (a biometric).


  1. Authorization


After being authenticated, a user may be granted permission to access and use the program. The system can verify that the user has the authorization to use the program by comparing the user's identity to a list of authorized users. 


Authentication must occur before authorization for the application to match only validated user credentials to the approved user list.


  1. Encryption


After a user has been confirmed and is using the application, several security procedures can protect sensitive data from being seen or used by a cybercriminal. To keep sensitive data safe, traffic including sensitive data that goes between the end-user and the cloud in cloud-based applications can be encrypted.


  1. Logging


It's an important step because the specific time-stamped for logging in can help identify the individual and the data viewed without authorization.


  1. Testing for application security


It's a series of procedures that identify security flaws in programs while they're being coded, making them more resistant to cyber threats. It verifies the success of all of the preceding processes. To make their apps impervious to security attacks, companies utilize a variety of application security testing techniques.


(Related reading: What is Data Security?)


Application Security Tools


A holistic approach to application security supports the identification, remediation, and resolution of a wide range of application vulnerabilities and security issues. The most effective and advanced application security plans contain solutions for tying the impact of application security-related events to business objectives.


The effectiveness of any security measures your DevOps or security team implements is dependent on finding the correct application security technology for your firm.


There are several different categories of application security:


  1. Static Applications Security Testing  (SAST)


SAST assists in the detection of code defects by looking for the underlying cause in the application source files. The ability to correlate static analysis scan results with real-time solutions reduces MTTR and enables collaborative troubleshooting, allowing for faster discovery of security issues.


  1. Dynamic Applications Security Testing (DAST)


DAST takes a more proactive approach, simulating security breaches on a live online application and providing specific information on exploitable weaknesses. Because it assesses applications in production, DAST is especially beneficial for discovering runtime or environment-related issues.


  1. Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)


IAST combines elements of SAST and DAST by allowing users to analyze in real-time or at any point during the development or production process. IAST has full access to the application's code and components, allowing it to deliver more accurate results and provide more detailed access than prior versions.


  1. Runtime Application Security Protection  (RASP)


RASP operates within the application as well, but its focus is on security rather than testing. RASP performs continuous security checks and takes automatic action in the event of a breach, such as terminating the session and notifying IT.


(Recommended blog: Security Analytics)


How to Implement Application Security?


Without a question, the best and most secure applications begin with the code. This method, often known as security by design, is critical to do right. In many cases, application vulnerabilities begin with a flawed architecture plagued with design errors. This means that application security must be integrated into the development process—in other words, into the code.


Your applications will start with a clean, well-protected slate if you choose a security-by-design strategy. Beyond this manner, firms should consider several other application security best practices as they refine their strategy.


  • Treat your cloud architecture as vulnerable, whether it's public or on-premise. By adopting this perspective, you may avoid complacency and the comfort of assuming the cloud is safe.


  • Apply security controls to each component of your program and at each stage of the development process. Make certain that each component has the required measurements.


  • Automating the installation and configuration processes is a critical yet time-consuming method. Even if you've done these processes before, you'll need to execute them again for your next-generation applications.


  • Putting in place security measures isn't enough. Make sure you test and recheck them regularly to confirm that they are working properly. You'll be grateful you found and fixed any flaws in the event of a breach.


  • Use SaaS solutions to delegate time-consuming security duties and refocus your efforts on higher-value projects. SaaS is both cost-effective and does not necessitate the use of a professional IT crew to configure items.

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