Even if you have an application security program in place, it’s important to evaluate your program on a regular basis, and stay on top of industry trends. Software updates, application customizations, and released patches may leave vulnerabilities in your security program, easily exploited by criminals.
Ask yourself these 4 valuable questions to identify where your application security program might be lacking:
1. At What Point in the Software Development Process Does Security Become Part of the Conversation?
Whether you’re laying out a new architectural framework, or discussing new applications to build; security should be a main topic of conversation as early in the development lifecycle as possible. Threat modeling, a system used to identify vulnerabilities, is most useful in these early phases.
Planning ahead also forces your team to consider potential threats down the line. What if your developers need to customize a third-party application for your business? Can these modified applications handle updates and patches released by the provider? No matter which threat modeling methodology you choose, considering security threats from the get-go will ease pain points down the line.
2. Am I Aware of All the Hardware and Software on My Network?
It’s essential that you can name all of the software and hardware being used at your business – you can’t implement security for a system if you don’t know it’s there. A software program that you’re unaware of is likely to be left unprotected and vulnerable to cyber threats.
Being in the loop also means understanding how all of your company’s hardware and software are put to use, and by which employees. Let’s say you discover a vulnerability that requires an urgent fix. Even if you know the applications at risk, do you know which developers are using them? On which hardware? Having a proper application inventory is crucial to building strong protections across all vulnerabilities in your network. Even if there isn’t a particular risk at the moment, you need to apply patches and updates to software and applications everywhere that they’re being used.
3. When and Where Are Vulnerabilities Found?
How do you know whether your time and money are spent maintaining the rights aspects of your network? Assess your current (or recent) vulnerabilities, and ask yourself:
- Where are vulnerabilities being identified?
- How and when are they being found?
- What types are being found?
Answering these questions helps you identify where your application security program needs work. What if your current program focuses on securing third-party applications, but you find that most vulnerabilities are coming from in-house code? Equipped with this knowledge, you can redirect your budget for developer training.
4. Are Your Developers Trained to Identify Vulnerabilities?
There’s a reason why professionals across industries, from artists to scientists, often take a step away from their work when they encounter a problem. Taking a quick breather, or some time apart from the issue, allows them to approach it with fresh eyes; and hopefully, a new perspective. Security consultant Patrick Thomas explains that he frequently does this to remove himself from any “preconceptions about how the code should work.”
This is key for your company’s developers: Do they know how approach code from different angles? Are they aware of how previous cyberattacks were implemented, perhaps even those at your own company? Keep in mind that there are several types of security training, ranging from basic security awareness to defensive coding. With this skillset, developers can identify possible areas of exploitation and program against them. If your developers are lacking in the problem-solving space, invest in training to add new approaches and critical thinking skills to their tool sets.
Of course, identifying all the areas where your application security system lacks depends on the size of your company. For companies with hundreds or thousands of employees, reviewing your application security program will take time and money to complete. Reach out to a team of cybersecurity professionals to help you identify and fill any existing gaps in your security, and create a top-of-the-line program that protects your data in the best way possible.