In the complex and dynamic world of application security, best practices are your best friends. This post shows how you can build an effective AppSec program based on tried and tested workflows and tools for vulnerability testing and remediation.
New year, new AppSec program.
Like any good resolution, AppSec having a lasting impact is something you need to adhere to, adjust, and hold yourself accountable to. AppSec programs act like bumpers on a bowling alley and help keep you on track, but there’s no magic wand to hit the mark. That’s where making smart tweaks through best practices and using integrations to automate more tedious processes adds up to impactful and measurable results.
If we want to keep up with the ever-expanding web attack surface, this change is more important than ever. In 2010 there were just over 206 million registered websites, but today there are more than 1.9 billion, and those websites rely on components and integrations galore. Threat actors have more opportunities than ever to access personal information, find backdoors, and break weak security protocols or legacy systems to access the data we use every day.
Through AppSec’s careful and tuned approach, protecting your web applications is not just a dream, it’s an achievable resolution by 2022 and beyond. Let’s take a look at some of the most critical AppSec best practices that can help your team of developers and security professionals be successful.
AppSec knowledge gaps? OWASP to the rescue
Building an AppSec program that actually does what it’s supposed to do is like building a house. Lack of solid, basic knowledge can lead to leaks and cracks in your security posture. factor in that 70% of the teams skipping critical security steps in the midst of an already obvious cybersecurity skills gapand we have a problem.
When you don’t know where to start, ask the experts. The Open Web Application Security Project, or OWASP Long story short, it’s been around since 2001 and provides a wealth of resources that aim to improve the state of web security. They focus on some of the most common and exploitable code issues and flaws, including input validation, access control issues, and poor cryptographic practices, all critical foundational knowledge for security-conscious developers.
Our goal is to keep abreast of updates to OWASP so that we are aware of changes and trends for major security risks, but also because OWASP offers value beyond the most common coding issues and flaws. The AppSec Guide to Success includes:
- Defining roles and responsibilities for DevSecOps
- Understand how effective your controls and procedures are
- Setting security and verification standards for outsourced development
Once you have the foundation, building the walls and roof is less daunting. Take advantage of the resources available from industry administrators and use them as a starting point to create a strategy for your security posture.
Sanity-savers: integrate, automate and update
Knowing what common vulnerabilities and security pitfalls to watch out for is just scratching the surface. If you want these moving parts to work seamlessly like the cogs in a machine, your AppSec program must be scalable, flexible, and agile, and it must fit into existing workflows to match your organization’s speed of innovation.
That’s where precise automation comes in. It can help with ease of use, help find more vulnerabilities faster, and verify results to reduce time-consuming second guesses. Opt for a scanning tool with automation as a key feature so you can scan hundreds or even thousands of web assets without manual configuration that slows down efficiency. If you can remove bottlenecks through automation and integration and reduce the tension between development and security, sanity is easier to maintain.
Full AppSec integration should include dynamic tests (DAST) along with interactive tests (IAST). Critical to probing your application’s attack surface through the eyes of an attacker, DAST scans your entire application as it runs, covering both your custom code and dependencies or external components for maximum visibility. And if the DAST tool of your choice is fast and integrated with your existing development toolset, you can routinely address security flaws without missing those important development deadlines.
A comprehensive AppSec program covers every corner of your app, prioritizing asset discovery so you know what you have in your environments and what carries the most risk. It’s also agile and flexible, allowing you to quickly find what needs to be updated while keeping everything secure. By covering more ground and scanning early and often, your team of developers and security professionals will have more confidence in the code they’re submitting, and you’ll have more peace of mind that your data is safe.
Keep an eye on the prize and eliminate false positives
The numbers speak and say that the threats are greater than ever: 2021 marked a new record by the number of exploitable faults in nature. And because threats are always churning the security seas, monitoring progress is so important. batch. If you don’t know how well your program is working, it’s impossible to pivot and improve. One of the most critical pieces of the puzzle is reporting that will keep you honest.
tools they offer built-in reports it means you have a detailed view of your security posture across all websites and applications. They ensure that you not only meet internal objectives, but also, if necessary, meet government-level compliance requirements such as DISA STIG.
AppSec best practices must also account for pesky, time-consuming false positives that create undue frustration for developers and security professionals. Automatic confirmation functions such as Evidence based scanning completely eliminate the manual verification process by safely exploiting many direct hit defects and providing evidence directly on the scan results. That’s time and brainpower saved for more relevant projects.
Help security and development find harmony
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in AppSec is one that continues to make waves even with all the right tools and procedures: enabling DevSecOps. Enabling is all about alignment and keeping your goals in sight as you implement your strategy. Continuous monitoring of your program will help you spot the issues that are preventing your team from making effective interdisciplinary efforts. Ignoring these collaboration bottlenecks leads to dysfunction in the development process, ultimately impeding security and setting your program back a step.
So where to start? It starts with communication. Let’s face it, developers and security experts don’t speak the same language, and that can cause misunderstandings across the board. It’s even a source of animosity for some teams, although we think the tide is turning there: 76% of those surveyed agree. our recent research report noted that developers and security professionals can work well together on security issues. Only 17% described their counterparts as “friends” and “strangers.”
By harmonizing these two sides of the aisle and giving both teams a chance to succeed, you can address more pain points and improve your security posture. Have your developers collaborate with their security counterparts to learn each other’s processes and workflows, then use that knowledge to create policies that address bottlenecks and help you achieve your KPIs.
But more importantly, make sure these security messages and best practices come from the top down. An effective AppSec program that permeates the entire organization starts with leadership, but is backed by smart strategy, modern tools, and enablement opportunities.
Flipping the switch on shoddy AppSec
With many moving parts in the development process comes a huge security responsibility. Part of being on the front lines of security is staying agile and knowing when to change your strategy so you’re ready for the next big threat. It’s not easy, but with best practices in place, and the right crew running the ship, real progress can be made.
Once you have a handle on developer knowledge and skill gaps, focus on closing the gaps in communication and collaboration. With those two bottlenecks out of the way, it’s much easier to adopt modern tools, integrations, and features that keep everyone on the same path to a well-oiled AppSec machine.
Read our essential guide for more information on how to build an effective, no-compromise web application security program.