What is Software Security

What is Software Security

Software security problems cause irreparable damage to an organisation’s reputation. Cybercriminals take advantage of an application’s vulnerabilities to access sensitive data. Such actions not only derail the performance of an application but cause financial ruin. 

Big Picture of Software Security Problem

Many companies suffer from substantial data and revenue losses because of errors in application security. For example, a recent data breach in June 2021 on the job-seeking platform LinkedIn exposed the personal information of 500 million customers. The hacker, “God User”, revealed email addresses, phone numbers, geolocation records, genders, and other social media details by scraping data from LinkedIn. 

Such a lapse in software security can cost people their jobs and finances. That is why it is necessary to protect your applications against cyber criminals. Therefore, you need to be aware of all the relevant aspects of software security to avoid any data breaches and problems in your applications.

5 Main Causes of the Software Security Problem

Currently, five aspects contribute to the software security problem: 

  1. First, security is not the priority.

    Some organisations try their best to follow the security practices during the life cycle, but their infosec teams are often understaffed compared to members of development teams. In addition, other business and technical priorities also dominate infosec teams, causing an inability to adapt security practices throughout the organisation.

  2. Proprietary technical implementations are necessary.

    Typically, software development teams love to code and develop solutions for their organisation. However, higher management often requires them to use innovation and technical knowledge to address current business challenges. Sometimes, hiring third-party vendors to solve these technical challenges is easier and lets the development teams work on increasing their security policies.

  3. Teams are not allowed to choose their tools.

    The people who develop software know the tools they need to complete projects. However, most CIOs and IT managers don’t allow development teams the decision-making authority to select the right tools and components to help implement security practices. However, most leaders acknowledge that a complex approval process and restrictions in acquiring hardware frustrate talented developers and slow innovation.

  4. Source code repositories have unrestricted access.

    The first step in securing organisational assets is locking down version repositories and scanning the code for unidentified vulnerabilities. However, most organisations do not assign minimum privileges while facilitating deployments; they do not encrypt outgoing connections and run penetration tests to determine integrity. IT operations usually manage network lockdowns and ensure the infrastructure is secure.

  5. Proactive data governance is missing.

    Even when the development teams are well-versed with the latest security practices to develop, test, and deploy business applications, the IT leaders still struggle with governing data proactively. For example, role-based access policies are challenging to implement without centralised identity management, which is essential for data security.

Web Security Threats

Here are ten mistakes that most organisations make regarding Application and Web Security. 

1. Insecure authentication process:

Occasionally, organisations lack a proper framework to keep their authentication secure. Sometimes the passwords stored are so simple that any password-cracking software can hack them. Website users should also be urged to use strong passwords that include digits and symbols, and two-factor authentication can be extremely useful. Using the default password exposes your website to cyber security threats. If the URL contains a session ID, it can leak the referer header to anyone. Additionally, if the passwords are not encrypted during transit or storage, a hacker can retrieve them and access the account by hijacking a session. 

2. Injection flaws:

Failing to filter untrusted input is a typical online security error. When this unfiltered data is sent to a SQL server, browser, LDAP server, or other location, the attacker can inject commands into them. As a result, a company’s data will be lost.

3. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS):

When data is left unfiltered, a cyber attack might occur, and the procedures employed to filter the input can sometimes also be the source of your data loss. For example, the online attacker can feed JavaScript tags to your web application using these ways used to filter your data. These Java script tags are then presented to the user as instructions, such as clicking on a link. As a result, your company’s data will be provided to the attacker.

4. Direct Object References:

A direct object reference exposes an internal object, such as a file or database key. When a developer leaves the authorisation out of a code, the attacker can access any file on the system. In addition, the attacker can use this file or database key if the authorisation is insecure or faulty. Another online security vulnerability occurs when the attacker resets the password by clicking on a link.

5. Using inappropriate website security controls:

Improper website security settings also risk the company’s data. Misconfiguration occurs when security settings are not correctly established during the configuration process or are kept with default values. Here are some examples:

  • Default passwords that are not updated offer a more significant threat to system files.
  • Data may be protected against security flaws by using updated software. However, if the program is not kept up to date, it may be easy to break into the web application.
  • The features that have never been used or uninstalled are still enabled. However, these must be eliminated to prevent the attacker from engaging in harmful behaviour.

6. Sensitive data exposure:

This is different from a data breach. The organisation that accidentally publishes its data is fully to blame for this mistake. This exposed data is kept in the database or server for anybody to view. Bank accounts, credit cards, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, usernames, and passwords are examples of sensitive data. When there is inadequate encryption, no encryption, software vulnerabilities, or the data is uploaded to the wrong database; the data is sensitive to disclosure. Furthermore, it might still be exposed when a website lacks SSL and HTTPS protection on web pages that include information.

7. Untrained Employees Access Website:

New or inexperienced employees should not be offered access to the site. Before granting access to the site, performing activities on it, or updating the content, employees must be trained and understand cyber security. A novice employee’s careless click can cost a company a lot of money.

8. Employing an invalid SSL/ TLS certificate:

Expired or hijacked TLS and SSL can damage a website and its visitors. These cryptographic protocols let clients and servers communicate securely over the internet. The information transmitted between clients and websites might be stolen or exploited if these certificates are invalid. In addition, customers will lose trust due to the lack of trustworthiness. This will harm its reputation, and as a result, a company’s income will suffer. 

9. Not using the software to detect Brute Force attacks:

In the case of a brute force attack to get access to a website, a hacker tries several password guesses by attempting every possible combination of characters. Many CMS have software that monitors and looks for multiple login attempts into a website. This software enables an organisation to immediately change their login credentials and limit the number of guesses allowed. 

10. Not doing frequent backups:

Website developers add layers of security to secure the data. This is done to avoid data loss in the event of a failure of the previous layer. To retrieve its data, an organisation must always have a recovery strategy or plan B. Thorough backups and suitable retention policies can always avoid total data loss.

This process is time-consuming and expensive. In addition, it will be challenging to construct a multi-page website. Also, the search engine rankings will suffer.

Additionally, since the site will be unavailable for quite a while, a business will have to lose its earnings.

Conclusion

Lapses in software security can lose an organisation’s reputation, data, and revenue. It’s a problem that grows bigger than ever as the digital environment expands to accommodate a larger online and remote workforce. That’s why we wrote this article to explain the main reasons behind the software security problem and web security mistakes. To help resolve these issues so that you can ensure your secure software development, read our other articles on application and web security for further guidance.