Application Security: Best Practices and Vulnerabilities

SoftwareAndApplicationDevelopmentHero blue screen computer code

Did you know that the software your organization relies on can actually open your network up to cybersecurity vulnerabilities? Unfortunately, software developers don’t always prioritize application security. That’s why it’s up to your organization to ensure that the software you depend on doesn’t compromise critical data. Understanding how application security relates to your broader cybersecurity platform is the first step. From there, you need to identify and remediate application vulnerabilities before cybercriminals do. Here’s how.

The Fundamentals of Application Security

Have you or your IT team assumed that your software partners and developers take care of application security? It’s a mistake that many businesses make because they don’t understand the deeper relationship between applications and network security. While reliable software developers certainly do everything they can to secure applications before releasing them, that’s not always enough.

First, you need to understand that the ways software interacts within your network context has a significant impact on security. Your software can potentially interact with:

These interactions can open your network up to vulnerabilities that not even the developers can always foresee. In the wrong hands, these vulnerabilities can be actively exploited by cybercriminals to take control of your network. While monitoring application interactions is a vital first step to pinpoint potential threats, there are some supplemental steps you should be taking to prioritize network security.

Application Security Best Practices

The Role of Vulnerability Scans and Penetration Testing

Since application security threats can often be unique to your network, regular vulnerability scans and hands-on penetration testing are a must for preventing applications from introducing deeper system vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scans work by regularly scanning your network devices, applications, and infrastructure to ensure they aren’t opening your network up to any known vulnerabilities—known being the operative word here. While vulnerability scans identify potential weaknesses that have already been discovered, that doesn’t mean they’re able to identify unknown vulnerabilities that haven’t yet been identified.

Pinpointing these unknown vulnerabilities is where penetration testing comes into play. While vulnerability scans are generally an automated, software-based process, penetration testing involves a team of ethical hackers actively working to exploit your network as real-world cybercriminals would. If they’re able to exploit backdoor access, they can identify the vulnerability and remediate the risk before cybercriminals breach your defenses. On the other hand, penetration testing is a success when a cybersecurity team is unable to exploit a weak spot in your network defenses. Ultimately, that means cybercriminals will have a more difficult time gaining access to your network and likely won’t even be able to exploit your system altogether.

The Optimal Frequency of Vulnerability Scan and Penetration Tests

At Be Structured, our clients frequently ask how frequently vulnerability scans and penetration should be scheduled. If your vulnerability scanning platform involves a software-based solution, chances are, it’s already scanning network applications in the background to proactively identify potential threats. However, you want to make sure deep scans run any time new software is installed, network settings are changed, or infrastructure upgrades are made.

For penetration testing, the ideal frequency varies based on a variety of factors, including the likelihood, frequency, and proficiency of cyberattacks on your network. You also need to consider that the more software platforms your organization uses, the more likely the risk that one of those applications will open your system up to a potential threat. Generally, we recommend that intensive penetration testing should be conducted whenever new software is deployed, infrastructure changes are made, or new devices are added to your network.

The Importance of Software Documentation

If your organization is serious about prioritizing application security, your team needs a rigorous set of standards and guidelines to build your strategies on. Assess your network operations in terms of risk and resiliency. What threats might your software be opening your network up to? How are you identifying and remediating those threats? Answering these questions can help you establish specific goals to drive your application security strategies and keep your team in sync. When developing an application security framework, it’s also critical to outline how every aspect of your network interacts and opens you up to threats from the outside.

Los Angeles IT Support

If you’re a Los Angeles business looking to prioritize application security, get in touch with the cybersecurity experts at Be Structured today. We’ll work with you to pinpoint software vulnerabilities and structure an application security platform around your unique network. Our experts can even handle ongoing vulnerability scanning and penetration testing to keep your network operations as agile as possible.

About Chad Lauterbach

CEO at Be Structured Technology Group, Inc. a Los Angeles based provider of Managed IT Services for small business. I desire to help small businesses better utilize technology by assisting in high level planning to make sure that new systems will benefit them both operationally and financially. I am careful to implement and support systems using industry best practices.