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Top 8 Application Security Tools

SonarQubeVeracodeSonatype Nexus LifecycleSnykPortSwigger Burp Suite ProfessionalCheckmarxMicro Focus Fortify on DemandWhiteSource
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    The solution can verify vulnerabilities, code smells, and hotspots. It makes the software more secure and it helps make a junior or novice developer sharper.
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    The visibility into application status helps reduce risk exposure for our software. Today, any findings provided by the DAST are reviewed by the developers and we have internal processes in place to correct those findings before there can be a release. So it absolutely does prevent us from releasing weak code.
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    Its engine itself is most valuable in terms of the way it calculates and decides whether a security vulnerability exists or not. That's the most important thing. Its security is also pretty good, and its listing about the severities is also good.
  5. There are many valuable features. For example, the way the scanning feature works. The integration is cool because I can integrate it and I don't need to wait until the CACD, I can plug it in to our local ID, and there I can do the scanning. That is the part I like best.
  6. We use the solution for vulnerability assessment in respect of the application and the sites. The automated scan is what I find most useful because a lot of customers will need it. Not every domain will be looking for complete security, they just need a stamp on the security key. For these kinds of customers, the scan works really well.
  7. It can integrate very well with DAST solutions. So both of them are combined into an integrated solution for customers running application security.
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  9. Once we have our project created with our application pipeline connected to the test scanning, it only takes two minutes. The report explaining what needs to be modified related to security and vulnerabilities in our code is very helpful. We are able to do static and dynamic code scanning.
  10. The results and the dashboard they provide are good.The solution boasts a broad range of features and covers much of what an ideal SCA tool should.

Application Security

The members of IT Central Station were clear on what was most important when evaluating Application Security: while some also mentioned that the software should be silent and have the ability to lock down configuration settings, everyone agreed that quality Application Security should provide intelligent data and come with a solid reputation, a strong usage pattern, efficient data handling, and a clean design. Members also mentioned documentation and maintenance as benefits.

Application Security vs Network Security

While both network security and application security seek out weaknesses in your company’s security posture and both are necessary for a comprehensive, multi-layered risk-management program, the two differ in the following ways.

Network security, also known as vulnerability management or vulnerability assessment, is network-level protection of information assets and systems from intrusions, breaches, and other threats. Network security consists of three different types of controls. Physical network security prevents unauthorized personnel from accessing physical network components such as routers and cabling. Access is prevented through controlled access, such as biometric authentication and locks. Technical network security protects data and systems both from authorized as well as unauthorized personnel. Administrative network security consists of rules, security processes, and policies that control user behavior. This includes levels of access, methods of authentication, overall threat protections, and how changes are made to the IT infrastructure. Network security involves workstations, routers, servers, and wireless networks and incorporates technologies such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS), firewalls, and data-loss prevention (DLP). In addition, vulnerability scanners, secure web gateways, and patch management tools may be used to discover and prevent security weaknesses.

Application security (AppSec), on the other hand, is the protection of applications on a software level. The majority of successful security breaches target vulnerabilities in the application layer rather than in the network layer. Application security includes front ends and source code and involves systems such as databases, websites, client and server applications, and mobile apps. Applications are secured using technologies such as web application firewalls, cloud access security brokers (CASBs), and source code analyzers. Proper AppSec can prevent security vulnerabilities in your own code as well as in third-party components used within your applications.

Application Security vs Software Security

Application Security vs Software Security

Software and the infrastructure on which the software runs need to be protected. This involves both software security, which is proactive and takes place in the pre-deployment phase, and application security, which is reactive, taking place once the software has already been deployed.

Software security is about designing and building software that is secure.
It involves a holistic approach to improve your organization’s information security posture, safeguard its assets, and enforce data privacy.
Software defects can be exploited by malicious intruders and used to hack into systems. Internet-enabled software presents the most common security risk, and as software becomes more complex, the problem only grows.

Secure software is software that is engineered to continue to function correctly even under malicious attack. To ensure that software is secure, security must be built into all phases of the SDLC (software development life cycle).

Software security activities take place during the design, coding, and testing phases, and may include:

  • Secure software design
  • Development of secure coding guidelines
  • Secure coding that follows the established guidelines
  • Development of secure configuration procedures and standards
  • User authentication
  • Validation of user input
  • User session management
  • Implementation of an encoding strategy
  • Function level access control
  • Use of cryptography to secure data both in transit and at rest
  • Validation of third-party components
  • Arrest of any flaws in the software architecture/design

Application security, on the other hand, is about protecting software and the systems run by the software after it has been developed.

Application security activities include:

  • Post deployment security tests
  • Capture of flaws in software environment configuration
  • Malicious code detection
  • Sandboxing of code
  • Patching/upgrading
  • IP filtering
  • Executable lockdown
  • Monitoring of programs as they run
  • Enforcing the software use policy
  • Dealing with extensible systems

How to Secure an Application

In order to protect your organization, it is important that you implement a mobile app security checklist. Here is what it should include:

1. Enforce multi-factor authentication

The three main factors used for authentication are:

  • something the user knows (e.g. a PIN or password)
  • something the user has (e.g. a mobile device)
  • something the user is (e.g. his fingerprint)

Combining several of these reduces the risk of access by an unauthorized user. In addition, you can restrict use to certain times of day or locations.

2. Encrypt mobile communications

Strong encryption between mobile apps and app servers can help prevent threats such as snooping and man-in-the-middle attacks. Ensure that both traffic and data at rest are encrypted. When possible, prevent ultra-sensitive data from being downloaded to the end user device in the first place.

3. Patch OS and app vulnerabilities

In addition to flaws in mobile operating systems, there are constant updates and fixes to apps that can open up vulnerabilities. Make sure the latest updates and patches have been applied on mobile devices.

4. Scan apps for malware

Test apps for malicious behavior using signature-based scanning tools or virtual sandboxing or. Also perform malware scans on the servers for your virtual mobile solutions or mobile workspace.

5. Protect against device theft

In case a mobile device from within your organization is lost or stolen, you should either have a way to wipe sensitive corporate data from it remotely, or not have company data stored on the device to begin with.

6. Protect the data on your device

If you must store sensitive data on a device, make sure it is encrypted with the latest encryption technologies. And only store it in data stores, databases, and files.

7. Properly secure your platform

8. Prevent data leaks

Separate apps used for business from personal apps. Creating a secure mobile workspace can help prevent malware from accessing your organization’s apps and can also prevent users from copying or distributing sensitive data.

To prevent the leaking of confidential data:

  • Prevent copy and paste functions.
  • Block screen captures.
  • Prevent users from downloading or saving confidential files to their phone or to sharing sites, connected devices, or drives.
  • Watermark any sensitive files with the usernames and timestamps of who accessed them and when.

9. Optimize data caching‌‌

In order to enhance your application’s performance, mobile devices generally store cached data. This opens up both the device and the app to vulnerabilities and often results in stolen user data. Requiring a password to access the app can help reduce these vulnerabilities. You can also set up an automatic process to wipe cached data each time the device is restarted.

10. Isolate app information‌‌

Using a container-based model can help you keep corporate data separate from your employee’s private data. This will help to reduce the risk of corporate data loss. ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌

Application Security Importance

All applications have security flaws. No app is perfect. The faster and sooner in the development process you can find and fix these flaws, the better off your enterprise will be.

With today’s continuous deployment and integration of applications, apps are being updated and refined constantly. This means that security tools need to keep the pace, finding issues with code much faster than they did in the past.

Interestingly enough, as new applications continue to come out, new vulnerabilities are constantly introduced. We are actually creating many of the tools that cybercriminals use against us and building them right into our applications.

Your organization needs an application security program in order to ensure that as your apps are developed and managed, they are secure and are not opening your company up to attack.

There are four main reasons why application security is important:

  1. Securing sensitive information - This is a major concern for most people, which is why it should be important to your organization.
  2. Preventing potential attacks - Find the vulnerabilities before the hackers do.
  3. Improving your reputation - Businesses that excel at application security have reported increased sales, higher consumer loyalty, and better reputations.
  4. Efficiency - Integrating application security tools into your development settings can ultimately simplify your workflow.

Need for Application Security

One of the reasons apps are such a popular target is because organizations are not careful enough about securing them. In fact, 79% of developers have an ineffective application security process or none at all. While businesses spend billions securing their hardware, network, and perimeter, they are not investing sufficiently in the security of their applications.

You need to secure your apps because:

1. Your applications are inextricably tied to the success of your business. Insecure applications equal an insecure business.

2. Most, if not all, apps are vulnerable. According to a report by Veracode, 70% of all applications they looked at had at least one of the top 10 web vulnerabilities.

3. Apps are the number one attack target and attacks against them are growing by more than 25% per year.

4. You can’t afford not to. Data breaches cost businesses around the world hundreds of millions of dollars. If you experience a data breach, you will have to deal with:

  • Lost revenue due to stolen data, lower sales, or falling stock prices.
  • The price of investigation and cleanup
  • The cost of downtime. Every hour of downtime can cost you $100,000.
  • Long-term damage to your brand reputation

Application Security Best Practices

The following are ten web application security best practices that will help to secure the web applications that you develop and maintain:

1. Keep track of your assets. Know what servers you’re using for what functions and what software is running in which app. If you don’t know exactly what you have, you can’t protect it. Automate the process as much as possible to prevent issues later on. Classify your assets as well, noting which ones are more critical or less important to your business functions. You will want to know this later when you are working on threat assessment and remediation strategy.

2. Perform a threat assessment. Once you know what needs protecting, you can start to figure out what you are protecting it against and how. Hire an external company to audit your application objectively. They can give you a baseline and let you know where your security is lacking.

3. Stay on top of patching. Patching your software with updates is one of the most important things you can do to keep your software safe. Whenever a vulnerability is discovered and reported, security advisories report it and, ideally, a fix is created. But the patch can’t help you if you don’t use it. Update and patch whenever updates and patches are available.

4. Implement proper logging so you will have all the information about what occurred, what led to it occurring, and what else was going on concurrently.

5. Manage privileges. Limit access to data and applications to those who really need it. This both protects you from insider threats and also reduces the damage a hacker can do once he infiltrates a particular part of your system.

6. Encrypt! It is important that you use encryption holistically to protect your application, considering data at rest as well as data in transit, and looking at encryption from every angle. Make sure you are using an SSL that is up-to-date. An HTTPS encryption is a good start but it’s not enough to protect you from all attacks. Use security products that come recommended and will get the job done.

7. Use real-time security protection and monitoring. In addition to a firewall and a WAF (web application firewall), use a RASP (Runtime Application Self-Protection) tool or an Application Security Management platform that can provide RASP and in-app WAF modules. This gives you the widest range of protection, both internally and externally.

8. Manage containers. Although containers come with security advantages, they still face risks, as does the code stored within them. Run automated scans for open source and proprietary vulnerabilities, and use a tool to sign all your own images.

9. Prioritize remediation ops. To do this, perform a threat assessment based on the severity of the vulnerability, the importance of the impacted app to your operations, and other factors. Then implement a strategy that prioritizes the most pressing threats first and leaves lower-risk ones to be dealt with later.

10. Use penetration testing. Hire either a professional hacking firm or a freelancer, but hire someone. Good pen testers will comb through your code to find weak points and figure out exactly how hackers will try to break into your application.

Application Security Benefits

Application security:

  • Protects sensitive data
  • Reduces both internal and third-party risks
  • Builds your customers’ confidence (by keeping their data secure)
  • Maintains your brand image
  • Improves trust from crucial lenders and investors

Types of Application Security

Types of application security include:

  • Authentication: Procedures built into an application to ensure that it is accessed by authorized users only and that the user is who he says he is. Multi-factor authentication requires several forms of authentication. These factors might include a password, a verification code sent to your cell phone, or a fingerprint.
  • Authorization: An authenticated user must also have permission to use the application. This can be done by checking the user’s identity against a list of authorized users.
  • Encryption: Once a user is using the application, sensitive data is encrypted in order to prevent cybercriminals from accessing it.
  • Logging: By keeping a log of all events that occur in your system, you can identify who accessed what data and how if there is ever a security breach.
  • Application security testing: Once you have implemented all of these security controls, test them to make sure they are working properly.

Run-time Application Self Protection (RASP)

RASP is a technology that is designed to detect attacks on an application in real time. When an application begins to run, RASP kicks in and analyzes the app’s behavior as well as the context of that behavior in order to identify threats that might have been overlooked by other security solutions..

RASP operates on the server the app is running on, and can protect both web and non-web apps. It makes sure that all calls from the application to the system are secure and directly validates data requests inside the app.

When a security event occurs, RASP takes control of the app. It can be set to diagnostic mode, in which case an alarm will alert the IT department that there is a problem. Or it can be set to protection mode, in which case it will try to stop the event by preventing the execution of an app or terminating the user’s session.

Application Development Security

The application layer is the number one attack surface for hackers - 84% of cyber attacks occur on the application layer. You should be building security into the software development life cycle (SDLC). Below are four best practices for secure application development:

  1. Use software composition analysis (SCA) to find open source components during the development stages of an app. This way you know exactly what’s in your code.
  2. Know how your applications will be deployed and incorporate that information into your threat models. Your strategies will vary depending on how the app is going to be used.
  3. There are all kinds of tools for software security testing, including RASP (runtime application security testing), DAST (dynamic application security testing), SAST (static application security testing), IAST (interactive application security testing), and penetration testing. Know your tools and use them appropriately.
  4. Security shouldn’t be an afterthought. Create security requirements. Build security into the development process.

Application Development Best Practices

  1. Research. In order to make sure you are developing an app that is actually needed and wanted, look into the following: Who is your target audience? What value will your app offer them? What similar apps are out there and how will yours differ?
  2. Keep it simple. Reduce unnecessary complexity in your code wherever possible. Along with this principle come the ideas of DRY (don’t repeat yourself) and YAGNI (you ain’t gonna need it - in other words, don’t write code that you don’t need right now.)
  3. Test continually from end to end. Full integration testing will ensure that all the components are working together as expected. It also increases code coverage.

  4. Consistency is key. Your team should have a style guide for their codebase and every member should stick to it.

  5. Acknowledge imperfections. Nobody’s perfect and mistakes happen. To ensure final code quality, have someone review your code before merging.
  6. Be realistic. Your estimation for time and budget needs will improve with experience, but try some tools that can help with this. If you are too far off it can cause issues with quality, output, and team morale.
  7. Plan ahead. Your app is going to need to be maintained and updated, and you’re going to need to be able to pay for that. You also want your app to be easy to access and change whenever you want to make an update.
Find out what your peers are saying about SonarSource, Veracode, Sonatype and others in Application Security. Updated: October 2021.
542,721 professionals have used our research since 2012.