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Security / September 13, 2019

What Is Application Security?

When it comes to security, most of us already know the drill: Change passwords regularly, lock devices and keep software updated. The trouble is, there may be a weak link in the security chain that’s being overlooked: applications. And given the constantly evolving threat vectors that are being used to break into vulnerable applications, a firewall isn’t necessarily going to cut it. If you truly want to protect your business and your clients, you need to ask yourself: “What measures am I taking to block malicious attacks?” And that means strengthening your app security with effective security tools and app intel.  

Application Security and Application Intelligence

What is application security and how can it defend against malicious attacks on your privacy? At its most basic, app security works to secure your data by addressing and fulfilling the four principles of security: confidentiality, integrity, availability and nonrepudiation.

Confidentiality is the condition that sensitive data stored in the application should not be exposed under any circumstances. Your information should be for your eyes only. Integrity builds off confidentiality by stating that data contained in application should be consistent — no modifications from unauthorized users.

Furthermore, the application should be accessible to the user, meaning that if work is to be done on the application (rendering it inaccessible for a period of time), this work should only be done during specified periods of time. The final principle is that of nonrepudiation, meaning the ability to deny, which is a two-way street. While the application has to prove its identity, the user is also not allowed to deny that it was them (the user) that modified their data within the app. This is to ensure there aren’t false reports of security breaches.

Application intelligence improves upon application security, offering increased visibility into complex applications and allowing organizations to more effectively monitor and secure applications.

Application Security Tools

Now, application security isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. This is because threat actors don’t rely on one single method to gain access; they utilize a variety of tools and tactics to try to get into your system. As such, it makes sense that there is a range of possible security systems available to counter different attacks.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST): This relies on white-hat testing, which operates under the assumption that attackers will already know the workings of your system. SAST tools look through the source code for potential weaknesses. To do so, the code cannot be running at the time of testing.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): Unlike SAST, this operates under the assumption that attackers know nothing about your system. Also known as black-hat testing, DAST tools test system weaknesses while the code is running.

Origin Analysis/Software Composition Analysis (SCA): These tools are helpful if your software utilizes any open source material. Using SCA tools can help you figure out if there are any portions of your software that are out of date or weak, but keep in mind, SCA does not work on anything you’ve developed on your own.

Database Security Scanning: As you might have guessed by the name, these tools work to find weaknesses in your database. This includes looking for out-of-date software, weak passwords and potential coding errors, among other things, which might put your database at risk.

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST): These utilize a hybrid approach, studying and testing an application both when it’s running and when it’s at rest. This combination not only provides a greater scope of information but helps avoid false positives — vulnerabilities that don’t actually lead to points that can be exploited.

Mobile Application Security Testing (MAST): Mobile applications bring with them a whole host of new security risks, so if you’re running on mobile, MAST security tools are a must. Most MAST tools are hybrids, using a multi-pronged strategy to get the best results quickly.

Application Security Testing as a Service (ASTaaS): If you don’t feel comfortable performing the tests yourself, you can hire someone to perform them for you. ASTaaS is a quickly growing industry, covering everything from mobile to cloud security.

Correlation Tools: Another way to avoid false positives, especially if you’re using a variety of tools, is to use correlation tools. These connect the variety of results you’ve gotten from all your analysis and help prioritize problems so you don’t waste your time on less important issues.

Test-Coverage Analyzers: If you’ve got a massive application, it might be worth investing in a test-coverage analyzer, which will tell you how much of your code has been tested. That said, test-coverage analysis is included in other tools already, so make sure you know what your product provides.

Application Security Testing Orchestration (ASTO): Another emerging field in security is ASTO, which works to centralize all of your various security tools into one system. The hope is to not only automate the work done by these tools, but also, when implemented, grow and change alongside the software itself.

Application Security Challenges

One of the unfortunate aspects of application security is that it must always be evolving. Technology is always advancing, which means not only are cybercriminals developing new methods to crack old security, but coding your software is bound to change as well. Both of these require new developments in security. The good news is that there are people driving the innovation of security systems, but that will mean you have to keep up to date.

Another problem that comes with application security is figuring out who on the human end is running things. Now, if you’re a small team, it’s probably not very difficult, but larger scale operations might have multiple IT teams handling different aspects of application security. Not only can this be inefficient, but it might risk a lack of communication between teams. For best results, you will want to know who is working on what portion of code.

Gigamon: Comprehensive Visibility for Optimal Application Security

Your applications are the gateway into your network devices and your security as a whole. As such, protecting your data means more than just knowing what’s happening on your network; it means knowing what’s happening on the apps, on the devices on your network. Effective application intelligence gives you the power to place your applications under a microscope and automatically send the right traffic to the right monitoring, analysis and security tools.

Gigamon offers the full range of network visibility solutions, so that you’ll always have the insight you need to protect against even the most critical application vulnerabilities, including cross-site scripting, illegal resource access, SQL injection and remote file inclusion.

For improved visibility (and by extension, improved application security), consider the following solutions.  

Don’t be a sitting duck on the waves of the internet. Because when it comes down to it, changing your passwords, locking your devices and keeping your software updated are all essential, but when it comes to protecting your applications, it’s only scratching the surface. Sign up for a Gigamon free trial and optimize your application security with top-tier network visibility today.


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