Top 10 Proactive Web Application Security Measuresby Adilin Beatrice November 25, 2020
According to Forrester, around 35% of the external attacks occur through a web application
Web application security is one of the major elements in web development that often gets overlooked. Traditionally, a lot of concerns were hovering over network security or operating system security in IT. However, the focus changed to website applications in the modern era. Web application security is a dynamic field of cybersecurity and it is hard to keep track of changing technologies, security vulnerability and attack vectors. In The State of Application Security, 2020, Forrester says that the majority of external attacks occur either by exploiting software vulnerability (42%) or through a web application (35%). Although there is no way to guarantee a complete 100% security, there are certain measures that could be taken in order to spread one more layer of protection. Henceforth, Analytics Insight brings you a list of best practices that could provide web application security.
Ten ways to ensure web application security
Create a web application security blueprint
Running a web application without a security plan is a dangerous thing. Even if your company’s website or application has never been under cybersecurity attack, it is always good to have a solution in the bag for such situations. Henceforth, have a plan or a blueprint on what you’ll do if the web application is hacked. Sit down with your IT security team to develop a detailed and actionable web application plan that outlines your organisation’s goals. The blueprint should have specific details of individuals who protect the web application and which application should be secured first if the company is facing crisis. Have constant testings through manual, cloud solution, software that you have on-site, managed service providers or some other means. Each company’s security blueprint differs based on their infrastructure. However, Synopsys created a fairly detailed six-step web application security checklist you can refer to.
Track your Assets
An employee or the owner of a web application can’t be aware of every single detail in their organisation. However, having a basic knowledge on which servers the organisation use for specific functions or app is important. The software is considered as the asset of an organisation. Keeping track of the software asset saves disaster that could come in the future. This process should be automated as much as possible for organisations to scale their development. In addition, take some time to track and classify the organisation’s asset. When a cyberattack takes place and demands some kind of sacrifice, you should be prioritised to give up on the least important application.
Perform a threat assessment
Make a list on what needs protection in your web application. This will help you figure out what kind of security issues are menacing and what could be done as a proactive measure to conceal it. Frame answers to questions like ‘What are the paths that hackers could use to breach your application? Do you have existing security measures in place to detect or prevent an attack? Are more or different tools needed?’ The answers will ensure security in a critical situation.
Make security everyone’s priority
Organisations are totally taking technology in their hands to perform daily tasks. Henceforth, they can no longer afford to leave cybersecurity to just the security professionals, and this also applies to web application security. Just like how IT security policies and practices involve a wide cross-section of functions, the web application should also be integrated into all stages of the development, operations and testing process.
Back-up website data
Backing up all website information is a mandatory process. Take constant back-ups of the web application. This can help in case of malware attacks or security breach as the organisation will just need to restore the web app and access their previously stored data. But it is not applicable to all cases as some ransomware attacks demand money for not releasing the confidential data of customers.
Introduce a bounty program
A great way to get feedback from the community regarding potential web application security issues is to introduce a bounty program. Even if you run a company with dedicated security professionals, they may not be able to identify all potential security risks. Therefore, to help encourage the community of security risks, offer a bounty and monetary value.
Encrypt your data
Encryption is the basic process of encoding information to protect it from anyone who is not authorised to access it. The encryption itself doesn’t prevent interference in transmit of the data but obfuscates the intelligible content to those who are not authorised to access it. Not only is encryption the most common form of protecting sensitive information across transit, but it can also be used to secure data ‘at rest’ such as information that is stored in databases or other storage devices.
Scan your website for vulnerabilities
Regular security checks and scans can keep the web application risk at bay. It is wise to perform security scans on your website at least once a week. Also, perform scans whenever you make a change in your application. Besides, keep in mind that even the best security scanners can’t detect everything.
Automate and integrate security tools
If an organisation is taking most of the web asset maintenance and new application development manually, it is opening its door to thousands of vulnerabilities. However, most of the IT institutions provide automated and integrated security solutions. When this is done right, reliable reports of automatically verified vulnerabilities are loaded directly into the developers’ bug trackers and of straight to the fixing stage, bypassing the bottleneck of manual verification by the security team.
Train the employees
In an organisation, some people might have a grasp on the importance of web application security. Others either have the most basic knowledge of the issue or nothing at all. Henceforth, the organisation should take a big initiative to educate all employees regarding website security. This will make them spot vulnerabilities themselves.