Security Tools for Keeping Legacy Applications Safe


Enterprises that still work on legacy infrastructure face many risks. A legacy application that is five or ten years old may contain thousands of vulnerabilities that have added up over time. This makes them a softer target for hackers, much more than the newer applications with better and more frequently updated security. 

Legacy applications exist in all enterprises. Many of these applications serve critical functions, such as business-critical or real-time processes. Companies need them to function, but they can become unsecured with age.

They can create many challenges, such as a lack of interoperability, updateable patching, and the ability to scale. but the biggest challenge they create is that of security risks.

Limitations of Everyday Security Tools for Legacy Apps

Companies have two choices to keep their legacy apps secure: to change the complete infrastructure to a newer version or to remove, adopt, and deploy newer apps.

But both these options typically need big budgets, and if apps are to be reinstalled, business downtime.

Even if this is done, the applications are isolated within a protective bubble using hardware. However, such approaches do not provide adequate protection against more sophisticated attacks.

Another reason is that it is not always possible to transfer all data to a new system without losing some. Some institutions rely heavily on data and are unprepared to deal with data loss. Sometimes, there is a lack of skills to use updated systems correctly. This also drives companies to continue using legacy apps without understanding the risks involved.

However, vulnerabilities are rising rapidly even for newer and updated software. The challenge for legacy applications to stay secure is much higher and difficult to manage.   Addressing these legacy system challenges requires careful, deliberate planning.

here are some scary figures- data says that the 8,051 vulnerabilities published in Q1 of 2022 grew to a significant 26,447 vulnerabilities in 2023, as per the Vulnerabilities Threats research blog by Qualys.

As is clear, the number of detected vulnerabilities has trebled over 2022-2023.

Also Read: Top Supply Chain Security Tools and Their Challenges

Security Tools and Strategies That Keep Legacy Apps Secure

Here are three of the most used security strategies that help keep legacy applications and infrastructure safe from evolving attacks.

  • Application-aware workload protection for patching problems

Patching may not always be viable, even when security patches are available. The primary reason is that patching requires operational downtime, which can disrupt critical business processes. This is unacceptable for many businesses, particularly those in critical sectors that cannot afford downtime.

So, often, the way out is Application-aware workload protection. This process takes a different approach from traditional “perimeter” security tools. It protects applications from the inside out. Here is how it operates:

  • It creates a baseline of normal behavior for each application, and then checks its behavior against it to ensure normalcy. When it detects a deviation, this technology can halt execution in milliseconds BEFORE any damage can occur. Any abnormal activity is immediately detected, treated as a threat, and blocked in real time to eliminate the risk of attacks.
  • It automatically identifies the correct files, scripts, directories, libraries, inputs, processes, and memory usage associated with every application in use. Security teams do not require multiple tools to search for threats or spend time identifying malicious activities.
  • This technology protects applications without requiring access to their source code. It covers the full application stack—host, memory, and web level. In contrast, conventional security tools operate outside of the execution process and on the perimeter of the application. Such tools may detect anomalies before and after execution but lack context, awareness, and visibility at runtime.

Application-aware workload protection tools can defend business-critical applications against zero-day threats, file-less attacks, and memory corruption exploits. It delivers security strengths that most security solutions miss.

  •   Data Security Posture Management (DSPM)

Unlike traditional data protection solutions, DSPM is a cloud-based data security technology. It enables security teams to leverage the cloud’s speed through APIs that connect seamlessly to IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS environments.

There are no manual connections to manage, nor is there a list of access details that must be updated for each datastore.

  • DSPM can understand a data space in hours or days. It can begin providing real-time insight into data security risks that expose data. These risks may be due to data store misconfigurations, overly permissive access, or a lack of security controls around the data.
  • It covers the entire data space, allowing security teams to view sensitive data across silos. A good DSPM solution should be able to understand both structured and unstructured data, regardless of where it is stored, including on-premise environments.
  • AI-powered DSPM can accurately classify data, while generating relevant context to assist security teams in enforcing approach controls.

For example, tools can help whether the data is about a customer or an employee, whether it is encrypted or exposed in plaintext.

  •  Automatic Moving Target Defense (AMTD)

Automated Moving Target Defense (AMTD) is a new approach to cybersecurity. It can disrupt the traditional security model by constantly changing the attack target.

In cybersecurity, AMTD entails implementing several safeguards that make it difficult for attackers to find and exploit vulnerabilities. These measures could include randomizing network configurations, frequently changing access credentials, and dynamically adjusting network routing paths.

Rather than relying on static security measures, AMTD strives to create a dynamic and unpredictable security environment.

Attackers cannot analyze it for the best attack vectors, making it difficult for attacks to succeed.


Firms tend to stick with what they know because it is comfortable, and trying something new is often “scary.” As a result, there is a desire to run with the old technology, which may very often be hugely unsecured.

The biggest security risks to legacy apps and infrastructure come from outdated software that cannot be updated or patched for the latest security threats. The security risks for a legacy infrastructure are critical and can bring down a whole brand.

Companies need to look for newer strategies and security tools designed specifically to protect legacy apps. In the long run, these apps will need to give way to newer technologies and tools.

But till it becomes financially and operationally feasible, companies can follow one or more of the tools and strategies listed above.

Every single activity to protect a running app is a small contribution towards a safer IT environment for older apps, and hence the company infrastructure, and data.

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