Application security (AppSec) is the process of securing applications against external threats by finding and fixing security vulnerabilities. AppSec includes hardware, software, and software security procedures (e.g., application security testing) businesses use to identify and tackle flaws in the system. Learn more about AppSec and why it’s crucial for organizations.
Here are the three main application types companies need to secure.
Companies use web applications all the time. Web applications are software that runs on a web server and can be accessed over the internet. These applications are often critically important for the business and contain sensitive user data, making them a valuable target for cybercriminals.
Typically, web applications accept client connections over insecure networks, exposing them to various vulnerabilities. While the internet has addressed some web application vulnerabilities (by introducing HTTPS, for example), many remain. We’ll cover these security risks in more detail below.
API security is critically important for organizations. API security vulnerabilities can cause (and have caused in the past) the most significant data breaches in organizations. Common API security weaknesses are unwanted exposure of data and weak authentication.
Companies also need to secure their cloud-based platforms, applications, and infrastructure. Cloud-native application security is built-in from the software development process to the production environment, granting applications multiple layers of security.
Application security measures are typically built into the software development lifecycle. The application security tools and actions aim to make it harder for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to web applications, including systems and sensitive data.
If an organization takes application security seriously, it should prevent attackers from accessing, altering, or deleting proprietary or sensitive application data.
An organization’s actions to ensure application security are called security controls or countermeasures. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a countermeasure is a safeguard “for an information system or an organization designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of its information and to meet a set of defined security requirements.”
For example, the organization may add specific application security controls to minimize the security risks of web application vulnerabilities at the coding level. Or it may use application firewalls to determine file execution and data handling.
Application security plays a vital role in protecting critical data, customers, and businesses – and preventing successful cyberattacks on the application.
Cybersecurity statistics show that hackers always look for opportunities to attack, and applications are no exception. Application security can help reveal weaknesses and prevent those attacks at an application level.
Let’s look at the importance of application security in more detail.
Various organizations track application security weaknesses over time to better understand application security trends and make it easier for security teams globally. Tracking common vulnerabilities allows them to stay informed about the threats and monitor how they may be evolving.
One such organization is the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a globally recognized non-profit foundation that guides the creation, purchase, and maintenance of secure software applications.
According to OWASP, here are the 10 most critical application vulnerabilities:
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Keeping applications secure for organizations. Here are the top three ways to ensure their applications are as safe as they can be:
The OWASP list of vulnerabilities is crucial because it contains the most important known application security flaws in one place. Created by security experts worldwide, the list is accessible to companies globally. Organizations should use it to implement application security testing that security and development teams can use to improve their web application security.
Companies must be aware of these critical vulnerabilities in all stages of the application lifecycle and take the necessary security measures to prevent these flaws in their platforms.
Even the most security-minded teams can sometimes miss a flaw due to preconceived filters and biases. Getting an independent auditor to review the app and identify overlooked weaknesses could be invaluable for an organization and its customers. An audit helps security teams discover vulnerabilities and conduct threat assessments using specialized tools.
NordVPN has been audited by world-class specialists several times to ensure that the app is secure for its users. As expected, the experts didn’t find any critical vulnerabilities. It is also a good idea to automate application security testing to identify vulnerabilities regularly and make the audit process more manageable.
Real-time monitoring can help identify security issues quickly and effectively and is one application security best practice.
Use web application firewalls (WAFs) to protect your application. A web application firewall is an excellent cybersecurity tool for filtering and monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic.
Application firewalls protect web apps from attacks like SQL injection, cookie poisoning, and cross-site scripting.
It is the responsibility of app creators to ensure the apps you use are safe and secure. However, you can take your overall cybersecurity into your own hands – and increase your online privacy and protection by using a VPN.
With NordVPN, your internet connection is encrypted for extra digital security and protection. You have thousands of servers to choose from in 59 countries, delivering the fastest VPN connection on the planet.
On top of that, NordVPN’s advanced Threat Protection feature blocks malware during download and keeps annoying ads and invasive trackers away. You can protect six devices with just one account – and access your favorite content securely from anywhere in the world.
Online security starts with a click.
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