What is Application Security?
Application security is the development of security features and testing of security during the application coding process. The main goal is to help remediate as many cybersecurity weaknesses as possible prior to product launch and stop cyber threats from accessing or modifying sensitive data within.
Application security testing targets the data and code within the app, ensuring that it cannot be altered or removed. It’s become a necessity to run different application security tests during the developmental lifecycle because it’s cost-effective, faster, and easier to correct before deployment. This also includes testing hardware, procedures, and additional software that’s involved with an application.
Security testing doesn’t stop after deployment either. Automated, regularly scheduled testing should be implemented to ensure that any overlooked or newly discovered vulnerabilities can’t be exploited. These security measures are crucial for continual, future offensive protection.
Why Is Application Security Needed? And Who Needs it?
Coding and developing applications is complex work. Keeping code secure and preventing an opening for cyber criminals to corrupt or steal pertinent data should be a top priority – throughout every step of the software development lifecycle. Application security should be baked into development from the design phase through to maintenance ensuring the code works as designed and is secured against potential threats.
Application security is such a high priority that there are regulatory standards that need to be met. Performing application security tests during development is a good start in adopting SSDLC but needs to persist after deployment as well to continue protection validation throughout the application lifespan. Reducing cyber risks should be a top priority. Cyberattackers are always creating new ways to breach security measures to damage or steal data. Scheduled, automated, and routine security checks stay within regulated compliance standards, even as they change.
Key industries that Need Application Security
Vehicles and transportation have come a long way from being completely analog. Technology adaptation includes wireless connectivity, internet access, computerized dashboards and features. As great as these options are to help aid driving, they carry additional security risks. As of 2022, there are 125 million connected cars on the road, and any of these, including fleets of vehicles, could be a potential target for a cybersecurity attack. The types of attacks that have taken place range from small incidents keeping drivers locked out of their vehicle or preventing ignitions from turning on, to compromising the back-end server system to exfiltrate vehicle and owner information, including location data and disabling vehicles while in use. Using application security, specifically black box fuzzing, helps stop these types of attacks before they have a chance to cause havoc.
Cybersafety protocols are an absolute must-have for the aviation industry. Aviation safety and security protects travelers in the sky as well as their sensitive data behind the scenes. Application security testing and black box fuzzing can meet aviation compliance regulations and standards on both of those protection fronts. Testing ensures that one of the biggest modes of transportation isn’t disrupted or grounded, bringing quite a few other industries down with a ripple effect. The same testing can reduce cyber risks and prevent exploits ensuring customer data theft doesn’t occur.
Healthcare and Medical
Patient care is reliant on emerging and current technology. The medical industry is utilizing Bluetooth and wireless devices to help individual patients with health conditions. However, if any of these technologies contain cybersecurity vulnerabilities, patients lives would be in on the line. A patient’s Protected Health Information (PHI), sensitive medical records, and medical history data is also a target. Compliance standards require this information to be secured under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Security weaknesses can jeopardize the safety of private health data leading to misuse and abuse. Application security is a necessity to protect a patient’s sensitive personal data and their physical well-being.
Critical Infrastructure and Industrial Facilities
Water, gas, electrical, and manufacturing industries are modern amenities that keep the world running. If any of these industries were to be attacked and shutdown, entire cities and countries could come to a complete halt. This massive impact is exactly why cybercriminals target these infrastructures. Disabled or disrupted critical infrastructure is not an option. Using a variety of application security testing, including dynamic application security testing, static application security testing, and black box fuzzing, should help keep highly critical systems more secure. It’s imperative to locate the known and unknown weaknesses so they can be remediated and closed off from an attack, preventing a nationwide shutdown.
Types of Application Security
Like most cybersecurity options, there is no single, general solution. Each type of application security test is designed with a specific security vector in mind. Some are designed to follow a specific guided test structure, testing against known vulnerabilities, while others, mimic potential cyberattackers using semi-random or unexpected inputs to identify defects. Each of these security tools should be performed prior to application deployment and scheduled continually after launch to meet compliance standards and find additional, exploitable vulnerabilities.
Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)
Dynamic application security testing (DAST) automatically tests millions, if not billions, of attack combinations within an application. Using automated code injection, the purpose is to see if the application can be overloaded and bypassed. Specific malformed coding is put into entry points, trying to bypass the coding. This creates a vulnerability that can create a pathway inside the application. Once inside, this can allow an attacker access to pertinent data and systems. injection sequence to find known weaknesses that can be breached.
Black Box Fuzzing (BBF)
A branch of DAST, black box fuzzing is similar with one difference. Instead of attacking with a guided plan looking for known weaknesses, black box fuzzers attack with semi-random, invalid, or malformed inputs and unexpected code injections. This is the same technique that a cybercriminal would use, trying to overwhelm an application with chaos and create an adverse reaction. This attack can take down an application entirely. It can create an error condition that provides an open doorway for an attacker to execute arbitrary code and turn the application on itself. Black box fuzzing tools use this method to find the undiscovered and unknown vulnerabilities within an application before it’s launched, giving security teams the offline time to correct a vulnerability.
Web Application Scanning (WAS)
Another aspect of DAST, web application scanning is a high-level scan that helps determine which vulnerabilities are a top priority and which can’t be exploited. It begins with an entire automated website crawl and then focuses on inputs within those pages. Guided and unguided testing can be run to uncover authentication defects. This inclusive scope can help prioritize flaws, saving organizations time, effort, and money by focusing on the most exposed conditions. WAS should be capable of filtering out the false positives and provide a list of urgent security threat results.
Web Application Penetration Testing (WAPT)
Web application penetration testing (WAPT) is like network testing, but more targeted. Instead of testing assets and broader implementation of a network, WAPT focuses on testing web-facing applications and the security controls protecting it. The analysis can include coding defects, third-party integrations, and software connected to the application. Unlike other application security tests, WAPT extends beyond locating weaknesses. Active exploitation of the discovered vulnerabilities aids in demonstrating the impact and scope of an insecure or weakly designed application.
Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
Static Application Security Testing (SAST) analyzes precompiled source code test during the development lifecycle. SAST is a guided application security test, following specific testing outlines as the application is being coded and developed. This method of testing locates already known vulnerabilities within specified protocols and modules. SAST is considered a best practice during the developmental phase, because it can be utilized alongside coding, finding known weaknesses so they can fixed and retested prior to launch.
Application Security Solutions From Fortra
Frontline Web Application Scanning™
Web application scanning that adapts with your web apps. Get easy testing with accurate assessment results.
and Black Box Fuzzer
DAST discovers the known vulnerabilities with a BBF option that uncovers the unknown ones.
Test the code security quality of applications from the source code by integrating it into SecOps and DevOps.
Which application security option does your organization need?
Application security can vary depending on development lifecycles and deployment. Contact our cybersecurity professionals for more guidance.