Application Security, which is popularly known as AppSec, is one of the essential elements of cybersecurity. AppSec provides security within the applications we use to prevent any chances of unauthorised access from unknown users.
Cybersecurity helps us protect our networks, devices, and data from criminals who want to gain unauthorised access for their immoral gains. Therefore, we rely on it to ensure that our information is confidential and readily available to those who use it. To batter the insecurity of the Internet, organisations and individuals need to take the necessary cybersecurity steps to protect themselves.
For developers, the crucial aspect of Application Security is to follow the Secure Application Development Guidelines during its design and development. For instance, a developer needs to use a secure development procedure that ensures all business applications owned or operated by the organisations are immune to common exploitation attempts like SQL Injection (SQLi).
What is Application Security?
Application Security protects the application and its protocols by identifying functionality, usage, logic, data flow, and access control. Additionally, developers should include AppSec in the System Development Life Cycle regardless of their methodology, as security plays an integral role in all phases.
For example, you can do threat modelling during the design phase or use IDE plugins to conduct a real-time review of your code during the development phase. You can use the feedback from the plugins to inform your developers regarding the best practices and direct them on how to improve their code quality.
Developers typically put AppSec activities at the end of the project, sometimes even after the release. If your application still has vulnerabilities and you release them for your users, correcting these mistakes can be costly. Since developing and sending over-the-air (OTA) security updates is more expensive, you should incorporate AppSec in your development phases.
Ideally, you should conduct security testing in the Quality Assurance phase by performing the Static and Dynamic Application Security Test (SAST and DAST) as early as possible. Moreover, you must set up automated scanning of web applications, APIs, and cloud infrastructure during User Acceptance Testing.
You should formalise Application Security activities to prevent your organisation from incurring additional costs. Therefore, you must provide your development teams with the proper education and resources to bake AppSec procedures into your SDLC.
The table below shows the activities followed in the Secure web application development phases:
Web Application Architecture: Components
Application security applies to the following aspects of web development. These include:
- Binaries/executables: The binaries/executables are files that contain code for the processor. They are easily executed in various operating systems. They are applicable as service applications, core components, and drivers. They need proper application security and management.
- Web Apps: Web applications run on a web server, and users access them through their browsers. So naturally, web apps must accept user connection requests even using an insecure network. Unfortunately, this exposure to numerous vulnerabilities can put user-specific sensitive information at risk.
- API: The importance of Application Programming Interfaces is rising as they provide microservices to their users. In addition, an entire API economy allows organisations to share their data across numerous software functionalities developed by others, making it crucial.
- Cloud Native: Technologies like virtual machines, containers, and serverless platforms help build a microservices architecture for Cloud native applications. Typically, infrastructure and environments are automatically based on declarative configuration, known as Infrastructure as Code.
There are four types of AppSec features you can consider for your development life cycle.
- Authentication: While building policies for an application, you must ensure that only authorised users can access it. Authentication procedures verify the user’s credentials to allow access via a unique username and password. Moreover, Multi-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that asks for something like the user’s phone number to verify the credentials.
- Authorisation: After authentication, the users are authorised to use the services. The system must verify that the user has the proper permissions by comparing the identity with the authorised users stored on the database. However, you must ensure that your application authorises users after authentication.
- Encryption: Once the user is authenticated and allowed access to the application, you must take other security measures to protect the information flow from cybercriminals. For example, encryption is essential for cloud-based applications because the information flows through the cloud and is a perfect target. Therefore, you should encrypt the data at all times to protect it.
- Logs: You should maintain a log of all activities and processes on your application. Additionally, you can use logging to identify suspected users in case of a data breach. Your application can build a record with timestamps to specify which aspect of your application was being used by a user.
Application security is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity that protects our programs, networks, and apps from unauthorised access by immoral persons on the internet. Such attacks can incur major financial damage, so it is essential to develop and implement a plan to prevent them from occurring.