Application security refers to the realm within the information security discipline that addresses improving the security of software. It encompasses tasks such as finding, correcting, and preventing both the creation of, and the exploitation of, security vulnerabilities that might otherwise allow hostile actors to perform unauthorized actions to information assets.
Many non-technical users have a tendency to think of information security as focused primarily on networking-related matters – one of the most common questions posed by business owners to me at gatherings, for example, is “which firewall do you recommend?” – as if selecting a better firewall would somehow significantly improve their businesses’ security posture when facing today’s numerous, diverse information security challenges. In addition people think of only network level firewall as the only defence wherease most of the serious security risks are at the application layer. Network firewall is needed as the first layer of defence, but organizations have to think about securing their applications in addition to securing their network. NetWork firewall cannot help with that.
In reality, however, a huge number of modern exploits target the inevitable programming mistakes that find their ways into the logic of today’s complex, multi-million-lines-of-code programs, and which often create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals in order to gain total control over their victims’ computers.
Properly searching for application level vulnerabilities within a business’s proprietary systems requires performing an in-depth assessment of code, as well as of the business logic implemented within it. Scans for known vulnerabilities can often be achieved using automated tools – but, to perform a comprehensive scan – and in order to properly search for logic mistakes and problems overlooked by the automated scanner, as well as to dismiss any false positives generated by the automated scanner – human involvement is, at least as of today, still necessary. People, not machines, often must also customize rulesets to reflect corporate policies, as well as test software patches before deploying them. To apply virtual patching for defects of application a application firewall is needed more than network firewall and applying policies in application firewall requires specialized security expertise and different skill set than needed for network firewall
Furthermore, because security threats are constantly changing, and new vulnerabilities are discovered every day, the folks involved in the application-security process must constantly stay up to date, and need to, in many cases, perpetually monitor the applications that they are supposed to secure, as well as run various forms of scans on a continuous basis.
Unfortunately, many business – in fact most businesses – do not have the internal capabilities necessary in order to sufficiently perform such tasks in house; unless those organizations either identify someone else who can perform the tasks on their behalf, or find a way to outsource all of their applications to vendors that do, they may put themselves at serious risk of substantial security problems.
Leveraging managed services – which effectively allow businesses to split the cost of performing the necessary security functions with many other businesses – is another approach that can often cost-effectively deliver the required level of security. Managed service providers are constantly improving their offerings – including deploying their own AI-leveraging tools that increasingly perform various functions that previously required human intervention. AI components can also learn from humans involved in the process – thereby helping, over time, to improve both automated decision making as well as other computerized management capabilities to provide visibility into risks , protect against those risks and keep them updated on a continuous basis as part of managed services.
This article was sponsored by AppTrana (Powered by Indusface).