Boost Your Security Posture Without Breaking Your Budget

Headlines scream about a new cyberattack every few days, and organizations worldwide scramble to buff their cybersecurity posture. Welcome to the era of high-stakes hacking, and high-profile breaches. No one wants to be the next big news story, but robust cybersecurity comes at a price.

You can do everything with a big enough budget. But that’s not the reality for many companies. Businesses struggle to do more with less in an ever-changing threat landscape mottled by ransomware, insider threats, and application vulnerabilities. The fact is you do as much as you can with the budget you’ve got. But, what’s the best use for those security dollars?

Application Security in the Cross-Hairs

Application security is a crucial component to comprehensive security, as evidenced by how bug bounties soared last year. The 2020 bug bounty submissions ballooned 50% larger than the submissions seen in 2019. This mass of vulnerabilities wasn’t just limited to traditional web applications — the number of submissions for API vulnerabilities doubled. When you consider that organizations are exposing a higher percentage of applications to the internet or third parties through APIs than ever before, it’s no surprise that cyberattackers focus on APIs as a prime target.

Application security is in the cross-hairs but hardening your infrastructure requires a risk-money tradeoff. So, what’s the best way to stretch your security dollar? Let’s look at some ways you can boost your application security that won’t break the budget. 

Transform DevOps into DevSecOps

Organizations learned a long time ago that they could kill two birds with one stone by combining Development and Operations into DevOps. This streamlined many processes, accelerated application delivery, and reduced overall cost. Yet, a recent study found that 60% of organizations had production applications exploited by OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities in the past 12 months. Organizations need to emphasize managing risk and improving cyber resiliency as much as they do cost savings. 

It isn’t easy to protect data and applications without affecting business operations, especially if security is an afterthought. When security is a stand-alone process, it often isn’t addressed until late in the development cycle, which makes it needlessly expensive. 

Start With Security in Mind

According to Gartner, “Discovering an architectural flaw late in the testing phase leaves project managers only a few, expensive options: mitigation, risk acceptance, or redesign.” That is why one of the most cost-effective things you can do is bake in security from the start. Get security experts involved early in the design process so identifying and resolving code-related security vulnerabilities is less expensive.

Make Threat Modeling a Practice

Another way to discover vulnerabilities sooner is to take advantage of threat modeling. This process improves security by identifying vulnerabilities, objectives, and countermeasures that can prevent or mitigate the effects of cyber threats. 

While security engineers generally are the ones who do threat modeling. Any member of the team, from developer to software project manager, can do it. The basic elements of threat modeling fall into three segments.

  • Identify Your Assets — Consider what data and equipment need to be secured?
  • Assess the Threats — What danger does a cyberattacker pose to your systems?
  • Manage Your Vulnerabilities — Consider the flaws in your systems. Can a bad actor capitalize on them to gain a foothold or realize a threat?

Threat modeling builds a solid foundation for moving to a security-first mindset which increases collaboration between Development, Security, and Operations — transforming DevOps into DevSecOps. By pinpointing threats and vulnerabilities early in the development life cycle, you discover gaps, mitigate risk, and ensure the application is secure, saving time and money. The best part is that there are many free and inexpensive threat modeling tools available.

Application Security Testing Tools Are Your Friends

Leveraging the right tools helps your security spending to go further. Incorporating static application security testing (SAST) or software composition analysis (SCA) into the development cycle is a great first step. These tools are easy to use and inexpensive. With a fast learning curve, it’s simple to ensure your code adheres to all the pertinent standards like OWASP Top 10, SANS Top 25, and Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE).

Remember, start doing application testing early. A security-first mindset means bringing security into the picture right from the start, including executing application security testing. 

DevSecOps done right will prevent you from being the next big news story. No one wants to be sued or lose customer confidence because security vulnerabilities in their software and applications allowed a system to be compromised or criminals to steal sensitive information. Embracing DevSecOps preserves innovation velocity, which ensures the achievement of business goals without skimping on security. 

Fuzz More — Stress Less

In July 2021, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued Guidelines on Minimum Standards for Developer Verification of Software which recommends fuzz testing as one of 11 recommendations for software verification techniques. The report mentions that “pre-release fuzzing is particularly useful, as it denies malicious parties use of the very same tool to find bugs to exploit.” Even Microsoft employs it as a part of its software development lifecycle to find vulnerabilities and improve product stability.

Fuzzers shift the testing model from traditional analysis tools that simply point out flaws to uncovering them and directly demonstrating their impact. A fuzzer prevents developers from wasting time sorting through false positives because the tool only reports legitimate problems. By running fuzzers automatically for days and weeks, similar to how attackers in real-life operate, organizations can identify progressively more vulnerabilities as a system is tested. Fuzzing is more than just the newest cybersecurity buzzword. It’s an inexpensive way for your organization to stay ahead of cybercriminals by using the very tools that they employ to attack your systems. 

Lean In to SaaS

With the accelerated shift to cloud-based networks services and the expanded use of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, mission-critical resources and sensitive data are no longer in a data center. The security implications continue to be debated and discussed regularly. Yet, this SaaS growth has brought advantages to many organizations. Especially those unable to field the massive cybersecurity contingents found at Microsoft, Facebook, or Amazon. Thanks to the SaaS model, there is a range of specialized security tools and services that significantly reduce the amount of time and money required to protect your digital resources. SaaS tools allow organizations to invest in cybersecurity tool functionality without investing in setting up the infrastructure to support it. This investment savings comes in several forms. Instead of making a large upfront purchase, the cost is broken out over time as a subscription. Additionally, the burden of installing, configuring, and supporting the hardware and operating system components is offloaded to the SaaS provider. For organizations with limited staff and smaller budgets, SaaS allows the adoption of security tools that might otherwise be inaccessible.

Don’t Be a Star

Application security is crucial to your cybersecurity program, regardless of the size of your budget. In this dynamic threat landscape, where 84% of security incidents happen at the application layer, even organizations with larger budgets must prioritize where their security dollars go. These are just a few strategies you can leverage to manage risk and improve cyber resiliency, even if the purse strings are a bit tight. No one wants the starring role in the story of the next big breach.

Looking for a fuzzing or other application security testing methods? Contact us to schedule a free demo of our application security testing and vulnerability assessment solutions.