Threat actors constantly look for software vulnerabilities, and modern application security (App Sec) aims to find these vulnerabilities before deployment to production to reduce risk and the possibility of a critical data breach. After code is deployed to production, modern app sec continues to monitor it for bugs and potential exploits. The process is generally done by a specific security team on staff, but much of the monitoring and scanning for vulnerabilities can be performed with automation scripts. Your security team will help set up these scripts and instruct developers and administrators on best practices.
Modern app sec teams automate much of the scanning used to find vulnerabilities. You could have an internal team perform security scans, or you can hire outside consultants to put security automation in place. Scanning should be done prior to software being deployed to production, but even scans miss issues. For example, a good third-party scanner should find outdated software and libraries and alert administrators and developers that vulnerable libraries are used in a web application, but it might not find logic bugs that introduce vulnerabilities.
Automation can find many common vulnerabilities, but a pentester is occasionally necessary. Penetration testers can be used to test the application so that common security issues can be addressed early in the development lifecycle. For example, scanning automation will find common vulnerabilities, but a human reviewer can find problems that would allow an attacker to deliver a cross-site-scripting (XSS) payload.
Consultants and security personnel help educate developers on common vulnerabilities, which will result in more secure coding practices. When coding software, a security approach to engineering will help eliminate many of the common issues seen in the wild. Modern app sec teams can educate developers and help them think like hackers as they develop their code. The result is more secure applications for the organization, fewer data breaches, and the ability to detect attacks before they become critical data breaches.
Modern application security and a team of people who carry out best practices have several purposes aside from ensuring that your software and data are safeguarded. It also deals with:
The type of application security necessary for your organization depends on the type of software, where it runs, how it runs (e.g., web application versus a server service), the risks associated with the application, and the infrastructure used to host it. You could have other factors involved in developing an application security plan, but these few questions will be considered during the planning stage of most software.
Some types of application security cover:
Modern application security covers most of the common software you could have in an environment, which is more than just web services. You need application security for server software (e.g., services that run in the background), mobile device applications, IoT, cloud resources (e.g., containers), and the security controls themselves. Protecting your organization resources is a continuous battle that expands as you add more resources to your environment.