Nothing in life, or online, is completely secure. But with the right set of tools, deployed throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC), you can be confident that your web apps are protected from all but the most motivated and expert hackers.
Know what’s in your code with software composition analysis
To start, it helps to know what software components you’re using and where they came from. While most organizations create proprietary software, virtually all—99% according to the OSSRA—also use open source.
Nothing wrong with that—open source helps reduce the time and expense of application development. It provides ready-made “raw materials,” so developers don’t have to reinvent the basics every time they create a new app.
But open source is no more (or less) secure than other software, and it also comes with licensing requirements. That means organizations that don’t keep track of what they’re using could miss notifications that there are patches available for known vulnerabilities. And they could get in legal trouble for open source license violations.
The way to avoid all that is with software composition analysis (SCA). SCA allows you to manage your open source security and license compliance risks through automated analysis and policy enforcement.
And it’s important to move SCA earlier in the SDLC—it makes fixing those problems easier, faster, and cheaper.
Find and fix web app security issues with a complete AppSec toolbelt
Other tools that should be part of the SDLC include these:
- SAST (static application security testing) helps find and fix security and quality weaknesses in proprietary code during development. The Forrester report noted above found that an increasing number of firms “are more likely to implement SAST in the development phase. With new tools that allow developers the ability to ‘spell-check’ their code in their IDEs, security pros can help deliver remediation advice to developers at the cheapest and easiest-to-fix stage of the SDLC.”
- DAST (dynamic application security testing) tests running applications in an environment that mimics production.
- IAST (interactive application security testing) helps identify and verify vulnerabilities and sensitive-data leakage with automated testing of running applications.
- Penetration testing is intended for the end of development, presumably after most vulnerabilities have been caught and fixed. It focuses on exploratory risk analysis and business logic by finding vulnerabilities in web applications and services and trying to exploit them.
Deploying such a variety of application security testing tools may seem daunting, and development teams fear it will slow them down. But the truth is that finding and fixing vulnerabilities earlier in the SDLC is easier and less expensive overall.
Beyond that, as Forrester notes, automation helps to “ease the adoption of security testing.”
“Automating prerelease testing is relatively easy for applications that have an automated SDLC, so security pros will see relief in sight as their developer colleagues move in this direction.”
Automated testing provides relief for more than just developers. The entire organization will benefit from making its most common attack vectors more resistant to attacks.