Software Application Security: Best Practices all Businesses must follow
Application software security is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Our top ten information protection best practices will teach you how to maximize your return on investment.
Buying the new security tool and calling it a day is never a good security plan. Software protection is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Before you see a return on your security investment, you must invest in several tools and security-oriented developer training and tool customization and integration.
So, before you invest in a tool that only addresses a subset of your security threats, make sure you have a robust information security plan that includes these top ten software security best practices.
Impact of Software Security Weaknesses
- Attackers hack a system and initiate attacks by exploiting software security vulnerabilities
- Financial damages amount to billions of dollars as a result of attacks resulting from software security vulnerabilities. A business will incur losses of up to $1-5 million as a result of downtime caused by a software flaw
- Attackers profit from the data gathered as a result of leveraging security vulnerabilities. For instance, an attacker may use financial information to break into a person’s bank account and steal money
- When companies are attacked, the attack tarnishes their reputation and dignity
- Computer security vulnerabilities are the apparent result of low-quality software
10 Application Security Weaknesses
According to the OWASP, the most common software application security vulnerabilities, are:
1. Software Bugs
Software bugs are often the cause of application and software security flaws. Unfortunately, almost all software includes various types of bugs.
These may be minor issues, such as incorrectly rendered print output or a poorly formatted error message. They can even be more serious, affecting a user’s ability to log in or even leading to device failure.
Some bugs reflect security flaws that could lead to a data breach or unauthorized access. These kinds of bugs build security flaws that attackers can exploit.
2. Insufficient Logging & Monitoring
Inadequate logging and monitoring, and incidents that do not connect as closely as required, allows attackers to proceed with additional operations, sustain access, and retain the ability to pivot to other systems, as well as wipe out, tamper, and extract or even kill data.
The majority of all studies indicate that the time to detect a violation is approximately 200 days. In most cases, the breach is usually identified by an auditor or outside party rather than the monitoring system.
3. Exposure of Sensitive Data
Certain apps and web applications fail to encrypt confidential data such as health records, financial reports, and other vital data such as passwords and usernames, making this information vulnerable to attackers.
Attackers may use this knowledge to commit fraud, steal people’s identities, and commit other crimes. Therefore, sensitive data needs additional security, such as encryption, both in transit and at rest, to ward off attackers and unauthorized access.
4. SQL Injection
SQL, OS, and LDAP injection vulnerabilities occur when untrusted data is sent to an interpreter as an instruction. Untrusted data dupes the interpreter into gaining access to data without the appropriate authorization or executing unintended commands.
SQL injection, for example, is the act of injecting code into a database with the intent of manipulating its contents. As a consequence, the intruder often gains access to the database’s sensitive data.
5. Broken Access Control
When software is misconfigured or when limits on what users can and cannot access are lacking, confidential data and other users’ accounts are compromised. Additionally, attackers exploit such bugs to access information stored in the system and alter access rights and user data.
6. Misconfigured or Incomplete Security Configurations
Security configuration errors are a frequent occurrence in software development. It is caused by unstable default configurations, incomplete configurations, and misconfigured HTTP headers. To prevent security misconfigurations, operating systems, software, and frameworks must be installed safely and updated regularly.
7. Insecure Deserialization
Deserialization that is not stable results in remote code execution. Hackers may use it to launch attacks such as replay and injection attacks.
8. Buffer Overflow
Buffer overflow vulnerabilities are a prevalent form of software security flaw. Buffer overflow errors occur when you attempt to fit a large amount of data into a small amount of memory.
Overwriting a program’s storage capacity can result in the device malfunctioning. The new data can corrupt the old data and ultimately result in the execution of malicious code. In certain instances, an attacker will use the malicious code injected to seize control of the device.
9. Using Software Components with weaknesses
Certain elements, such as libraries and other software modules, have been identified as being vulnerable. Attackers can use such flaws to launch attacks that result in data loss or server takeover. By using known vulnerable components, you jeopardize application defenses and enable attacks.
10. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Often used in conjunction with web applications, cross-site scripting is the insertion of code into websites and pages that people view and use. As a result, hackers may use cross-site scripting to circumvent access controls and damage users through phishing and identity theft.
Numerous negative consequences result from software security flaws. Fortunately, they can be avoided if software developers exercise greater caution when designing software to avoid introducing vulnerabilities. In other words, these flaws provide an opportunity for attackers to inflict harm.
Best Practices for Improving Application Software Security
1. Ensure your Systems and Software is Updated
Most adversaries target vulnerabilities in applications that are proven to be existing or outdated.
You can remain vigilant against common security threats by ensuring that all of your devices are up to date with security updates.
2. User Awarenes and Education
Employee education should be ingrained within the organizational culture. Having a well-organized and well-maintained security training program for your staff would significantly help protect your data and assets.
Include awareness training for all staff and developer-specific safe coding training. Make it a habit, not just once a year. Additionally, perform simulations such as phishing experiments to assist workers in identifying and resolving social engineering assaults.
3. Automatation of Routine Tasks
Attackers use automated detection to identify open ports, security misconfigurations, and so on. As a result, you cannot protect your systems solely by manual techniques. Other than that, automate routine security activities such as analyzing firewall configuration changes and system security configuration changes. By automating routine activities, the security personnel will devote their attention to more strategic security initiatives.
4. Enforce Least Privilege Access
Ascertain that users and applications have the least amount of access necessary to execute their job functions. By enforcing the concept of least privilege, you can substantially reduce the attack surface by removing superfluous access privileges that can result in many compromises.
This involves preventing “privilege creep,” which occurs when administrators fail to remove an employee’s access to programs or services they no longer need. For example, privilege creep can occur when an employee changes roles, adopts new processes, leaves the company, or receives access that should have been temporary or at a lower level in the first place.
5. Create and employ an Incident Response plan
No matter how strictly you adhere to information security best practices, a compromise is still a possibility. However, you can prevent attackers from completing their task with sufficient preparation even though they break your systems. Have a proper incident response (IR) plan to identify and then mitigate the effects of an assault.
6. Document your Security Policies
Maintain a repository of information that contains exhaustively recorded software security policies. Security policies inform your employees, such as network managers and security personnel, of the tasks you conduct and why.
Additionally, merely having policies is insufficient. You must ensure that all staff read them. At a minimum, incorporate it into the onboarding process for new workers.
7. Segment your Network
Segmenting the network protects your network against the possibility of privileged user abuse by implementing the least-privilege principle. That’s why the segmentation of the network helps prevent attackers from traveling far and from spreading. Find out where the critical data is stored and use security controls to restrict traffic to or only the network segments.
8. Integrate Security into your SDLC
From the beginning to the entire life cycle of your applications, it is crucial to integrate security efforts into your software projects.
Static, dynamic, and interactive application testing should be included, as well as scan-based, and path-based activities should all be considered part of security testing.
As a result, the startup protection project requires a bit of time and effort to build into your SDLC from the beginning. But plugging the holes in the SDLC is much earlier is a much less expensive and quicker option than trying to fix the vulnerabilities at the end. In the long run, it reduces the chance of security breaches.
9. Monitor User Activity
Measuring the users’ actions is the best way to ensure that they’re adhering to software security procedures. Because of this, you can find whether anyone has abused their power and impersonated someone else.
10. Gauge and Measure
Measure the organization’s most critical performance indicators that are important to your business. Metrics that are thoroughly established will help you evaluate your security posture over time.