April 16, 2019

Why Application Security Is More Important Than Ever

There’s nothing more damaging to a company’s reputation than seeing your brand splashed across a headline reading “Massive Security Breach Puts Customers at Risk”.

The impact is far reaching: From huge direct costs associated with remediation, and indirect costs (which in some cases are even more damaging) including negative brand image, loss of customer trust and loyalty, and loss of business. That’s why all businesses, those working in B2B and B2C sectors alike, need to pay attention to security risks that could compromise their data and sensitive information.

Your business relies on a variety of software applications for daily operations. From your web browser and email, to more complex systems like customer relationship management and data analytics. Each of these applications can present vulnerabilities if not designed, developed and configured with security top of mind. Are you making application security enough of a priority?

65% of companies say they're concerned they'll be hacked through an application, yet 56% say their organization doe not allocate enough budget to protect applications.

Application Security 101

 When you imagine software security breaches, it’s tempting to picture shadowy hackers, banging away on a keyboard in a dark room and attacking your security protocols to get in and steal data.  While it’s true that 50% of security breaches are classified as malicious (malware infections, criminal insiders, phishing or social engineering and SQL injections), the other 50% are caused by software “glitches” and human error, according to Ponemon’s annual security breach survey.

Some large organizations, such as Microsoft, Facebook and Intel, offer bug bounty programs to help them discover and resolve bugs in their software before their users do. There are white hat hackers making millions of dollars from finding and reporting these vulnerabilities. Of course, there are also cybersecurity companies that offer bug bounties for exploits they can use for more nefarious purposes.

All that to say, there’s a robust environment developed around exploiting software vulnerabilities. Even in a smaller organization, you can’t underestimate the importance of ensuring applications are protected from outside threats and malicious attacks.  There are a number of entry points into your applications that expose your business to hackers—the biggest one being the open internet. WhiteHat Security’s 2018 Application Security Statistics Report says the state of application security (which it identifies as the biggest target for data breaches) has progressively deteriorated year-over-year.

Vulnerabilities to Watch

  • Cloud Security: Using a cloud service like Microsoft Azure adds security layers to your applications and gives you access to top-quality, out-of-the-box physical, infrastructure and operational controls to safeguard workloads. However, misconfigured cloud resources are a gift to hackers so it is important to get help to ensure your cloud-based applications are properly (and securely) set up; allowing access to the right levels of information to the right people at the right time.
  • On-Site Challenges: It’s tempting to think your data is more secure if you host the data inside your organization, but if you don’t have the internal expertise, talent and knowledge to build and maintain appropriate firewalls, you can make yourself even more vulnerable.
  • Standard Software Setups: It’s a standard software like Microsoft Office 365 or Microsoft SharePoint so it’s easy to deploy right? Wrong. Misconfiguring seemingly simple things can expose your corporate information to internal and external threats (and far too often, you don’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late).
  • Customizing Applications: While many people use off the shelf software out of the box, most companies need to tweak the application to align with their business processes or specific business needs. Those customizations can create security holes if not handled by an experienced developer.
  • Processes and Procedures: 50% of security breaches are still caused by human error. Every company needs to have clear rules and policies for accessing information, ensuring only the people who need access have it.  And, you need to be constantly vigilant to new and emerging threats.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Risks – IoT is viewed as one of the top emerging threats to corporate security. Routers (75%) and connected cameras (15%) were the most infected devices in 2018, according to the 2019 Symantec Security Report.

1/3 of organizations experienced a breach related to vulnerable open-source components in their software.

Our Application Development Security Approach

 With the magnitude of application vulnerabilities out there, it’s tempting to throw up your hands and figure there’s nothing you can do. However, your business depends on making security a priority because your precious business data and customer relationships are at risk.

For every software development project at Whitecap, security is always a top priority. Whether we’re building a new piece of custom software, modernizing existing applications  or configuring Microsoft applications, we have a structured and very detailed process to help protect the security and integrity of your business data and your customers’ information.

When it comes to business application security, we use a 3-tier design system which separates the interface logic (presentation layer driving the user interface), business logic (reporting or initiating business processes) and the data (or database layer); securing each tier behind its own firewall.

Why do we do this? Quite simply, it’s more secure. A hacker would need to break through three levels of firewalls to access your business or customer data, and even if they breach one tier, they can’t access the entire system.  Since it’s hard to breach, hackers are more likely to look for easier targets.

Reported vulnerabilities due to design, implementation, or configuration flaws are up 127%, to 14,646 in 2018.

 Proactive Security Measures

 When it comes to protecting your data, companies need to remain vigilant and ensure that every application development project includes software security measures to keep your invaluable business information protected.

Choosing an experienced and trusted software development partner, who can advise you on the most up-to-date security measures and hosting options, will minimize vulnerabilities and give you peace of mind.

Concerned about your business application security?  Let’s talk about protecting your company, your data and your customers.