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Quick Techniques to Enhance Application Security

William Tsu
Data Analyst
Experienced data analyst working with data visualization, cloud computing and ETL solutions.
October 14, 2019

In this era of cyber hacking, none of the applications are safe as attackers always look for vulnerabilities to steal valuable information from an app. For instance, the personal & private information about people is at risk in the hands of a hacker looking to pry out the details, from an app, for identity theft or financial forgeries. This is where application security programs and measures become useful.

What is Application Security?

Security features that can be developed tested and added to prevent any unauthorized access,modifications or unforeseen vulnerabilities. These security measures help app developers to protect software codes from being hijacked or taken away without proper permission or authorization. Application security is developed via software, hardware, or other procedures that minimize the vulnerabilities, which can put an entire app & information along with data involved in serious jeopardy.

What could be these vulnerabilities?

Although the cloud is an excellent platform for storing any kind of information related to an application, it can create vulnerabilities that can threaten the very being of an application. This can increase the chances of a security breach if adequate or appropriate measures are not taken at the right time. An improperly developed application can cause a lot of issues & it would be a cake-walk for an attacker to just exploit it whenever and wherever possible. For instance, remediation for any security issues will be scheduled for a future update that might never be done. An underdeveloped or insecure Application security program can cause other major issues that might create more vulnerability, which would be difficult to solve.

Things to ponder!!

An application security program or measures should be thoroughly tested before using it as a medium to prevent any kind of security breaches as mentioned before. A SWOT analysis is usually performed before releasing the application software. It would be much easier to rectify security issues during developmental stages than investing time & money after the application is fully developed.

Quick techniques to enhance application security

Although there are several ways to enhance the security of an application, software & application developers need to fix the vulnerabilities and issues, practically in no time to avoid a security lapse or data breach by a cyber attacker. The following are some of the ways that can enhance & strengthen application software so that it can avoid security threats & attacks:

High-Risk Applications, where are you?

It is imperative & necessary to identify high-risk applications to begin somewhere to thwart or prevent any cyber-attacks that can happen via exploiting these apps. Since the identifying process should be done very fast, it is not advisable to ponder over the initial inventory for a long time.

For instance, a quick threat modeling should be done for checking a simplified version for any software code that can cause any vulnerabilities or issues. Devise a model wherein all the access control fails in such a way that, the app vulnerabilities are exposed to all. A simulated model such as this will enable troubleshooting of any and every problem or vulnerabilities. This will give an idea of building a sturdy application security program, as worst-case scenarios will be on the table. For assessing an application, it is essential to analyze the risk factors as well as the key performance indicators. This will add all elements that are needed to improve an application security model.

Slow & steady wins the race!!

An approach that is planned and is in a perfect model or structure can be measured & re-used when needed. The audience determines if an app wins the race; so, the application should be fast enough but the production & development process should be slow and measured, taking care of all worst-case scenarios and vulnerabilities. For this, the developer should measure the scope, application depth, penetration test (how hard it is to penetrate an application) and vulnerability scan, as part of the SWOT analysis.

Defining critical vulnerabilities should be the way to go for this type of measurement. This can help design a flexible approach to assess software imperfections & application security threats.

A template for standardizing deliverables that includes an approach to rate vulnerabilities should be in place for the ease of dealing with these issues. The findings that are in transferable forms will be really easy to work with. Documentation of each vulnerability could help solve these too; thus, making the application security program real strong.

Flaws in design, a big no-no!!

Two types of vulnerabilities are known in application security programs. These include design & implementation vulnerabilities. Flaws in design architecture undoubtedly cause design vulnerabilities. Unnecessary software codes can result in implementation vulnerabilities. A good SWOT analyst can recognize both design flaws &implementation vulnerabilities even though; a penetration test focuses mainly on issues while implementing an application.

An application security specialist usually sets up a questionnaire in an interview format, which follows a flowchart. This helps the specialist to analyze where the vulnerabilities lie and thus can take appropriate measures. Av well-executed reviewing process can bring out all vulnerabilities top light.


Design & Implementation go hand-in-hand

It is essential for all application security specialists to be aware of security guidelines, requirements, suggest proper improvements to enhance security, the scope of the application, proper assistance in case of various incidents & ways to perform proper security assessments. There should be a team of application security specialists; those who can make sure app security is strong during design as well as implementation processes.

Scoping, the most critical event!!

Application owners should elaborate on the actual purpose and uses of applications. The developing head deals with the design of the apps. The information security head gives an idea of how app testing is done. Application security specialist properly assesses the vulnerabilities in both design & implementation front and takes actions appropriately.

Internal & External Security Assessments are a must

Assessments are collected from all aspects of an app and are recommended to application security specialty team for proper assessments of all these vulnerabilities. The methodology used should be assessed for its easiness & effectiveness.

Funding is a crucial step

It is necessary to obtain funding through investors or other legitimate & legal means for the development and launch of applications. Along with these sections, proper funding should be ensured for a thorough checking of vulnerabilities that can be resolved with the help of application security specialists.

Reviewing is another major step

The whole process of development and implementation should be reviewed for any discrepancies or vulnerabilities. Sometimes the security measures might not be flexible enough or the app may be unstable with a need to developed some more. Application security specialists look for means to improve security by removing the vulnerabilities that can prop up during the reviewing process of an application. Breaches that might occur despite proper measures can come to light; hence, reviewing is a very important step in regards to application security.

Application security maturity models such as OpenSAMM, and BSIMM, make this task of preventing vulnerabilities & issues easier for the specialists. Microsoft' s Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL) & an optimized model of SDL helps in assessing all the risk factors; which will be useful to troubleshoot the same. A risk assessment before app release can help determine if there is anything else to be improved or any security issues that could be taken care of.

Be on your toes!!

Whatever is the case, bugs can creep up on apps or any other security issues can come to light after the application is released into the market. An application security specialist team should be ready in case of such an event. Lightning-fast detection & troubleshooting will be needed in such scenarios.

Implementation of web application firewalls can be helpful, as shown by some app developing firms. Log entries developed by the applications can help developers along with application security specialists to pinpoint the issues and resolve them in record time; ensuring users don't move away from the apps.

Secure your Mobile Applications, team!

With much vulnerability, if not taken care of, can cause serious security breach via a cyber-attack or through hackers, mobile or web application developers should always be on the lookout to observe any discrepancies in their app during developmental or implantation stages. Design flaws and instability can cause serious issues. A collaboration of various teams within the app development departments should come under one umbrella to ensure a smooth operation of the app along with user-friendliness.

Application security specialists should be able to deal with anything & everything thrown at them, and they should also be on the lookout all the time. They should be aware of all the issues that can cause an application to be unstable. In design as well as implementation front, they should be able to discover the warning signs at the right time. If all the risks are taken care of by improving the performance of the app, the developers need not worry much about application security; although, they should be on the lookout all the time.