What is application security?

What is application security?

Application security is the discipline of processes, tools and practices that aim to protect applications from threats throughout the application lifecycle.

Cybercriminals are organized, specialized and motivated to detect and exploit vulnerabilities in business applications in order to steal data, intellectual property and confidential information.

Application security can help organizations protect all types of applications (such as legacy, desktop, web, mobile, and micro services) used by internal and external parties, including customers, business partners, and employees.

Why use application security?

As confirmed by multiple studies, most successful violations target exploitable vulnerabilities that reside at the application layer, indicating the need for enterprise IT departments to be vigilant about application security.

To compound the problem, the number and complexity of applications is growing. Ten years ago, the challenge of software security was to protect desktop applications and static websites that were fairly harmless and easy to detect and protect.

Now, the software supply chain is much more complicated considering outsourced development and the number of legacy applications, along with in-house development that leverages commercially available, open source, third-party software components.

Organizations need application security solutions that cover all their applications, from those used internally to the most popular external applications used on customers’ mobile phones. These solutions should cover the entire development phase and provide testing after an application is used to monitor potential problems.

Application security solutions must be able to analyze potential and exploitable vulnerabilities in web applications, have the ability to analyze the code, help manage security management and development processes by coordinating efforts and enabling collaboration between different stakeholders.

Solutions must also provide application security testing that is easy to use and implement.

What is SAST and DAST?

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) analyzes application source files, accurately identifies the root cause, and helps remediate the underlying security flaws.

Benefits for developers of static application security testing

  • Identify and eliminate vulnerabilities in source code, binary or byte.
  • Review results of static analysis in real time with access to recommendations, code line navigation to find vulnerabilities faster, and collaborative auditing.
  • Fully integrated with the Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

What is DAST?

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) simulates controlled attacks on a running application or web service to identify exploitable vulnerabilities in a running environment.

Benefits of Dynamic Application Security Testing

  • Provides a complete view of application security by focusing on what is exploitable and covering all components (server, custom code, open source, services)
  • Can be integrated into Dev, QA and Production to provide a continuous holistic view
  • Dynamic analysis allows a broader approach to managing portfolio risk (thousands of applications) and can analyze legacy applications as part of risk management
  • Testing the functional application, unlike SAST, is not limited by language and may uncover runtime and environment issues

On-Premise versus SaaS Solutions

Application security solutions consist of cyber security software (the tools) and practices that run the process to protect applications.

On site

Application security solutions can be run on site (internally), operated and maintained by in-house teams. This approach requires organizations to provide the infrastructure, personnel, and purchase application security solutions for use. On-premise assures organizations that their application data is not shared with third parties and does not leave the premises.

SaaS

Application security can also be an SaaS offering (or a service) where the customer consumes services provided as a ready-to-use solution by the application security provider.

This approach does not require any of the prerequisites of the on-premise approach, but does require partial or total reliance on the SaaS provider and, in most cases, allowing application data to be shared with the provider. SaaS provides an easy way to get started with application security and can offer scalability and speed.

Hybrid implementations (using On-premise and SaaS together in different projects and practices) aim to provide the best of both worlds, providing flexibility, scalability and cost optimization.

Speed versus accuracy

Today, all businesses are software businesses. As a result, there has been a huge growth in the number of web and mobile applications and a growing trend towards publishing applications.

In order to keep up with business demands, many organizations are conducting lighter security scans, which sacrifice the accuracy needed to detect critical vulnerabilities. Security agility is a balance between performing thorough, accurate scans and the associated false positives that can cripple remediation.