Application security is difficult to get right, but with a cloud-based WAF, continuous monitoring, and a thorough awareness of industry vulnerabilities, a company can profit from technological advancements in code while defending against developing application threats.
While technological advancements have changed the face of information exchange and hastened the transition to a digital-first world, they have also created a number of new, sometimes unnoticed security flaws.
Unfortunately, threat actors have wasted no time exploiting this new threat landscape, attacking both the “front end” of applications, APIs, and the applications that run behind them. Indeed, the huge migration to online due to the COVID-19 crisis has amplified vulnerabilities to the application layer. According to WhiteSource’s new study “Reducing Enterprise Application Security Risks,” 70% of IT and security experts believe that their application portfolio is more risky than a year ago.
As the volume and sophistication of attacks increase, it is becoming increasingly important for enterprises to become aware of the various dangers they face and to develop effective application security tools and policies to mitigate them.
Rising Application Threats
We now work in a micro services-oriented, containerized environment, which looks very different from previous IT architectures. This new approach of working has a number of major advantages, including increased productivity, flexibility, and scalability. However, the increased level of complexity has also brought with it a higher level of risk.
Modern programs have expanded from the company computer room to the data centre and into the cloud, whereas monolithic applications required direct links. APIs and content management systems (CMSs) have become attack surfaces in this highly complex ecosystem.
Hackers are well aware of the intricate infrastructure that underpins an organization’s online presence, and they can harm the application layer with everything from DDoS attacks to malware.
Launching a targeted attack on front-end systems is one of the most destructive ways employed by hackers. Targeted attacks are effective, but they come at a high cost in terms of time, effort, and risk. As a result, cybercriminals frequently resort to simpler and less expensive methods such as bot-driven reconnaissance. Any information gathered can be linked to known unpatched vulnerabilities, which can then be exploited for a targeted attack.
Strengthening Application Security
It’s challenging to defend the application layer against these attack approaches. The first step is to keep track of assets and where they are located. This necessitates a thorough understanding of what is being utilized to power apps, including APIs and CMSs.
Implementing an API-capable cloud-based web application firewall (WAF) is one approach to gain this insight. This safeguards against typical threats, regardless of the application’s location. A WAF also enables enterprises to perform “virtual patching,” which involves applying an additional layer of security to a vulnerable application. This is a temporary patch as security specialists strive to resolve the larger problem.
WAFs need to be kept up to date as a critical component of the application security stack, which can be a difficult task in and of itself. To ensure optimal performance, steps can be taken to supplement efforts with third-party, always-on security resources.
Finally, staying abreast of industry developments is critical. Hackers are opportunistic, and if they come across a piece of exploitable code that has been extensively accepted in a certain industry, they will almost certainly take advantage of it.