How Application Security Strategy Helps fight Cyber-Attacks

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A fresh ransomware Petya has hit the cyber walls of companies across Europe and USA. Petya is being touted as being even more deadly when compared to ‘WannaCry’, where the system would get released once the bitcoin ransom is paid. With ‘Petya’, the victims are unable to unlock their computers despite paying the ransom. Viruses and bugs attacking the digitally connected space are getting stronger; intensifying the need for a comprehensive Application security strategy – code review, code security, and code analysis.

The Petya attack impacted diverse industries and services – Ukraine’s central bank, State telecom, Municipal metro, Kiev’s Boryspil Airport, and even affected operations at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Across Europe and USA, the attack impacted companies operating across sectors – from shipping, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, to law firms.

Such disruptive attacks reinforce the fact that Security Testing and ensuring resistance against nasty bugs is today a mandate for any and every industry.

Many such security issues and breaches reinforce the fact that application security is indispensable and has to be self-emerging in nature to deal with the mushrooming uncertainties. Enterprises small-medium-large are experiencing the scars of data breach and vulnerabilities around an application’s security. There is a growing need to nurture an equipped platform to manage the overall Application portfolio.

Application Security implies using various tools, procedures, and methodologies to secure the application from external vulnerabilities. Security has often been an afterthought through the software design, however it has always been an area of major concern. There are numerous threats floating in the market that are manipulating the applications for unauthorized access, breach, modification, and exposing sensitive data.

The most critical step to consider is checking Code Security.

It is the most progressive approach to check for vulnerabilities in the application’s code and can be performed with a set of tools that can be leveraged to assure robustness of the code. Integrity of the code is integral to the security of the application and its sustenance in the digital sphere.

What is Code Review and its importance?

Imagine the time and resources that would get wasted in case a defect or vulnerability pops up post the application’s release. So, it is critical to verify the security of the code with a thorough code review. Even the smallest of bugs in an application can cost billions of dollars for the business.

Security Code review helps find flaws pertaining to Authentication, Authorization, Configuration, Validation, Encryption, and other critical areas. In a way, Code reviewers need to be in sync with the language requirements of the application under test and various security controls that need to be followed.

The subsequent requirement is to take into perspective the overall context of the application, potential end users, and use cases. This is essential to successfully conduct code reviews and know the weak links to the application that can get hacked. Moreover, understanding the context of the application and its end objectives is essential to ensure that the code is effectively protected.

Cigniti and Kiuwan have entered into a Strategic partnership to offer an all-inclusive Application Security platform to test and secure enterprise applications from cyber-attacks,  incorporating SLA compliance within the relevant IT frameworks and standards.

What is Code Analysis in the context of Application Security?

Source Code Analysis implies test automation of source code for debugging a computer program or application before it is extended to the user. Source code is the most permanent aspect of the application. It gets modified, enhanced, and updated, but continues to exist through the application’s lifecycle.

The analysis can be done either with a static or dynamic approach. With static analysis, the code is debugged without practically executing the program. This helps expose defects at an early stage during application development and eliminates the need for multiple revisions in the process. Post static analysis, dynamic analysis is done to check for subtle or hidden vulnerabilities. Dynamic Analysis brings real-time program testing into play.

One of the key highlights of dynamic analysis is that it doesn’t require developers to make informed strides at identifying defects. It helps eliminate unnecessary components from the application and ensures that the application under test runs cohesively with other concurrent applications/programs in real-time situations.

Code being the consistent aspect of an application, it is important to analyze it for vulnerabilities way ahead in the development cycle. Code Analysis enables you to detect errors and brings down unforeseen incidents with Continuous Development. It helps check vulnerabilities related to security of the application.

Why Threat Modelling for Application Security makes sense?

Threat Modelling is a mechanism where potential risk situations are created, which can include malicious events. The idea is to test the application against such adverse events. This is a robust way to enhance the application’s security by defining the enterprise assets, identifying the functions of each asset, and eventually documenting every event and test cycle.

Threat Modelling helps in testing these defined assets of the application for breaches and against unforeseen nasty online virus threats. It’s kind of a real-time activity that is necessary to build resilience of the application against market threats.

The threat can range from a normal bug, to major cyber-attacks threatening to deny access to your enterprise information or personal system, for instance, Ransomware attacks such as Petya and WannaCry.

Business dependability on Applications

Applications are today an integral part of any business strategy, where every user is connected virtually and sources necessary information. Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and many more technology gimmicks connect and converse with the user via a unified application.

Hyper-connectivity is the need of the hour and only robust and elusive applications can offer you that experience. Token, a recently launched smart ring is a remarkable stride in the wearables market. It helps the user make mobile payments, unlock door, and most interestingly skips the passwords for its users, offering easy access. The security levels and stringent measures required for providing access to the authorized users is massive. The applications that act as a mid-way to enable this access need to be impenetrable.

Enterprises with digital plans and leveraging digital technologies face an undying challenge to ensure secure user interface and at the same time create the required customer experience. Applications are the biggest interface to ensure both aspects. By securing your applications from venting any business critical data, you are offering a secure interface and sustainable ecosystem for your business as well as for your customer.

Our take

Cigniti possesses rich expertise in Security Testing of enterprise applications, catering to diversified business needs. We have extensive experience in serving clients across industry verticals and organization sizes. We understand that your business applications are the most critical interface for your customers. Our Web application penetration testing uncovers vulnerabilities in applications and ensures the application risks are minimized.

With a view to extend the best of our services and partnerships to our customers, Cigniti has entered into a strategic partnership with Kiuwan to offer high level visibility to the security risks to your applications. You might like to know that at the recent OWASP event in UK, Kiuwan has received the highest score in the OWASP benchmark.

Connect with us to test your enterprise applications across an all-inclusive testing platform, but also to understand how critical Security Testing is for a profitable business ecosystem.