Imagine today’s world without web and mobile applications. Just can’t digest it, right? So yes, web applications have imbibed into the present digital world so that there is no digital progress observed without them. But the hard truth here is that these web applications are accessed worldwide and experience heavy load, throwing security challenges.
As web applications become more complex and used by more people, the security of these applications is always a top concern. In this post, we will discuss some tips on improving the safety of your web application. In addition, we will cover topics such as authentication, authorization, and securing data.
Web applications are considered the face of any software. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that development teams have been creating highly functional and user-friendly web applications with their custom websites to provide a better customer experience for end-users.
In addition to convenience and usability, most web application platforms can extend the system’s functionality by enabling third-party developers to create add-ons or enhancements (“apps”). Unfortunately, technology also offers a “window of exploitation” — making it easier for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities, identify targets, and compromise data.
In terms of numbers, more than 63% of all security incidents involve weak passwords or stolen credentials, while more than 77% involve exploiting programming errors through injection attacks.
In response to the growing number of vulnerabilities and incidents affecting web applications, millions of dollars were invested in security solutions through the development of best practices.
However, most security professionals agree that even following these guidelines will not be enough to provide sufficient protection for your systems. The problem is that they are forced to work with the reality of a rapidly evolving threat landscape and ever-changing cybercriminal tactics.
For example, recent studies show that hackers use automated tools to discover application vulnerabilities and penetrate their systems, compromising data and disrupting operations.
In addition, according to Kaspersky Lab’s 2015 IT Security Risks survey results, companies do not have enough resources (51%) or skilled personnel (54%) necessary to ensure cybersecurity. As a result, organizations must prioritize which security issues need immediate attention.
The following three steps can help you improve web application security.
Develop a Security Strategy
Every company should have a security strategy in place, which will include all the necessary procedures and guidelines on how to handle information safety for your business.
Before you begin, make sure that there is buy-in from management and users throughout the organization. In addition, determine specific timeframes for each process and define each stakeholder’s expectations during implementation. The following are some key areas to be included in your strategy:
Communicate standards & policies: All employees need to understand their role in complying with standards and policies related to organizational security. It is also critical that they know where to go if they feel someone is violating the rules.
Audit access controls: Access to data must be restricted according to policy. Conducting regular audits will help you identify any irregular activity.
Patch applications: If your organization does not have the resources available to update all software constantly, consider implementing an application patch management process, no matter how complicated or time-consuming it may be, as it is critical for security. After installing updates, ensure they are tested before implementation to avoid potential issues with availability and compatibility.
Secure third-party access: Third-party apps should be limited only to the necessary parts needed for core business processes. These extensions must be reviewed regularly for vulnerabilities and patched when necessary.
Protect against phishing attacks: Phishing remains one of the most common web application security threats. Make sure all employees understand how to recognize and avoid these attacks.
Assess information risk: Conducting a regular vulnerability assessment will enable you to identify the biggest risks and prioritize them according to your business needs. With this data, you can develop an effective plan that utilizes budgets and personnel resources as efficiently as possible. Use data from penetration testing, vulnerability scans, and other similar activities for this purpose. After putting together your plan, it is important that everyone in the organization, including management, be informed about their roles related to security requirements.
Develop Application Control Policies
The use of third-party apps introduces additional complexity to your web application environment. Unfortunately, it also opens up potential vulnerabilities due to the lack of support for standard protocols or direct access to your company’s infrastructure.
One of the best ways to ensure only necessary extensions are used is to implement application control policies, which can be automatically enforced via software.
One of the first steps should be to check if they comply with specific standards and policies regarding security, usability, and compliance when deploying new applications. If it does not, you may need to replace third-party components with internal solutions or find a more secure alternative that meets organizational requirements.
Before introducing any application into your web environment, conduct a risk assessment for each component using the following characteristics:
- Ability to reconfigure without breaking functionality.
- Ability to patch by applying upgrades from trusted sources such as supplier websites or source code repository sites such as GitHub.
- Ability to successfully maintain the required number of parallel configurations.
- Ability to prevent uncontrolled proliferation of configuration changes and manage changes according to approved policies.
- Ability to monitor, control and enforce granular access rights for applications and services used by internal users and external partners.
Why Do We Need SSL in Web Applications?
So that all the data transferred between the browser and the server remains encrypted. Protecting sensitive information like credit card numbers, usernames, and passwords is very important. If they are not encrypted, anyone could intercept them when you move over unencrypted HTTP protocol.
If anyone intercepts your information, he can use it for his benefit, which could be harmful to both users and website owners because people will stop sharing their personal data on websites where they think there is no security.
It also ensures that the website is authentic by verifying its digital certificate issued by a CA (Certificate Authority). Cost-effective and reliable SSL resellers offer Cheap RapidSSL Certificates, Comodo SSL certificates, among others.
To enhance security, you can install SSL certificates on your web servers so that only encrypted data is exchanged between clients and servers over HTTPS.
Web application security is the responsibility of each company. You can adhere to the mentioned guidelines to create a plan for your website or app. Still, you must consult with an expert before implementing any changes because this could affect how your site functions. If you’d like help creating a strategy for improving web application security, reach out, and we’ll be happy to provide our expertise!