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How Has Application Security Testing Become Important?

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By Author: Oliver Moore
Total Articles: 23
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The digital ecosystem of today is underpinned on applications that influence us in the way we communicate and interact. The applications are repositories of sensitive personal or business information, which if accessed by inimical forces such as hackers/cybercriminals, the consequences can be catastrophic - both for the individuals and businesses. If we go by statistics, then cybercrime has taken a humongous toll on individuals, businesses, organizations, and entities with an annual loss projected at $1.5 trillion globally. As if on cue and given the ramifications, the global spending on cybersecurity has shown an increase as well and is predicted to touch $170.4 billion by 2022.

With the change in technology, the contours and mechanics of cyberattacks are changing as well. Let us understand the changing trends of cyber-attacks.

New targets: The impact of cybercrime is seen mostly in information theft, which can hit a big blow to the bottom lines of businesses. However, apart from data, the cybercriminals also target the core industrial control systems with the purpose of disrupting and destroying organizations.

Change in impact: Stealing data may have become foremost outcome of any cybercrime incident. However, the changing modus-operandi is more about attacking data integrity. This is done to create distrust in the minds of end-users, clients, and business stakeholders.

New techniques: As people, organizations, and entities are waking up to the menace, cybercriminals are changing their attacking methods. In many cases, they are targeting the weakest link - the human layer - to wreak havoc using phishing and turncoat insiders.

Businesses often do not take the job of application security testing seriously, thanks to the prevalence of several myths:

Myth 1: Our digital assets are protected by firewalls, so we are safe.

Fact: Firewalls can prevent the access of cybercriminals at the network level, that to a certain extent. However, cyber-attacks can take the route of the application layer, which firewalls are not adept at protecting.

Myth 2: The applications are not exposed to the internet and have internal storage and usage.

Fact: In most cases, businesses prioritize protecting their systems and databases from external attacks. However, compromised insiders with authorized system access and familiarity with the system architecture and security protocols can be more dangerous.

Myth 3: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology is foolproof and protects a website from cyber-attacks.

Fact: Even though SSL is key to strengthening the cybersecurity architecture of a website, it can be exploited by cybercriminals. The latter can make use of low encryption algorithms to decrypt traffic and steal information.

Steps to enhance application security testing

When so much is at stake for individuals and businesses, investing in an application security testing methodology has become critical. Let us discuss the steps that enterprises can take to enforce software application security testing.
Complying with security protocols: With cybersecurity becoming critical in ensuring the smooth functioning of the digital ecosystem, the industry has set up some regulations and standards. These include ISO 27001, NIST, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and Sarbanes-Oxley, among others. Enterprises must comply with the above-mentioned standards to avoid penalties, censure, and filing of lawsuits for damages.

Conduct penetration testing: It calls for an in-depth security assessment of the system’s architecture to identify its vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities can get into the system due to poor coding, weak design elements, improper configuration management, and poor implementation of security policies and standards.

Implement DevSecOps: The DevOps methodology can help enterprises in accelerating the time to market, enhance the quality of products or services, improve the customer experience, and achieve ROI. It calls for the continuous integration and testing of codes and breaking silos between the development and operations teams. However, given the emerging dimension of cybersecurity, security should be made an integral part of DevOps where everyone in the pipeline should be made accountable.

Identification of outliers: Any software application security testing should be able to identify the outliers. In other words, any malicious behavior of the code should be quickly identified and set for remedial action.

Supervision of the IoT network: The advent of IoT technology is making communication between devices a reality. However, this is also giving rise to the issues of security breaches. This calls for continuous monitoring of the IoT network to check any cybersecurity breaches.

Conclusion

Securing the IT system has become the need of the hour given the wider ramifications of cybercrime. In the digital ecosystem where applications help to connect devices and systems, a single vulnerability can compromise the entire infrastructure. By rigorously implementing web application security testing, vulnerabilities can be identified, and an overarching protection can be ensured.

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