What Is Application Security Testing

Application Security

Applications form the lifeline of any business today – and they are under attack more than ever before. Where previously we focused our attention on securing organizations’ network parameters, today the application level is where the focus is for attackers.

According to Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report, web applications “remain the proverbial punching bag of the internet,” with about 80% of attacks in the application layer, as Gartner has stated. Taking proactive measures to protect your company and customer data is no longer an option: It is a business imperative for enterprises across all industries.

In 2013, the Ponemon Institute’s ‘Cost of a Data Breach Report’ found that security incidents in the U.S. averaged a total cost of $5.4 million. Preventing just one similar security incident would more than cover the cost of application security and prove your security programs value.

Application Security is built around the concept of ensuring that the code written for an application does what it was built to do, and keeps the contained data secure.

According to Gartner, application security puts a primary focus on three elements:

      • Reducing security vulnerabilities and risks
      • Improving security features and functions such as authentication, encryption or auditing
      • Integrating with the enterprise security infrastructure

What is Static Application Security Testing?

Static Application Security Testing (SAST), also known as white-box testing, has proven to be one of the most effective ways to eliminate software flaws.

No matter how much effort went into a thorough architecture and design, applications can still sustain vulnerabilities. Static Application Security Testing examines the “blueprint” of your application, without executing the code. SAST solutions create a meticulous model of how the application interacts with users and other data and identifies critical vulnerabilities quickly with the help of automation.

The technology works to detect flaws such as SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting and Cross-Site Request Forgery as early in the software development lifecycle. Finding these vulnerabilities in the early stages of the SDLC saves major time and remediation efforts and expenses than if a flaw were found towards the end of the cycle.

Because it analyzes the entire codebase, Static Application Security Testing is a comprehensive solution for helping secure applications from the root up. Organizations in industries requiring compliance, including regulations and standards such as PCI, MITRE and HIPAA, go to great lengths to ensure the business is up to code. But as the reality has emerged that the application layer has become the primary attack zone in so many data breaches, application security, and SAST in particular is widely recognized as an essential method in achieving compliance.

Source Code Analysis scans un-compiled code, enabling auditors and developers to receive immediate, accurate feedback on their code. Other methods of Application Security Testing, including Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) struggle to adequately identify crucial problems within the application layer nor indicate how or where to fix them.

By exposing the applications code properties and code flows, Source Code Analysis offers comprehensive insight into vulnerable patterns and coding flaws. The ability to remediate issues as they arise makes source code analysis ideal for integration within the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).

It is the only security testing method “designed to detect security vulnerabilities and gaps at the development stage and have them fixed before the system is implemented,” (Monetary Authority of Singapore).

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