13 Best Practices for Application Security

13 Best Practices for Application Security
In the past 20 years, the world of app development has expanded at an unheard-of rate. Additionally, with the availability of millions of smartphones and online apps, applications have integrated themselves into our daily lives. The growth of the internet of things (IoT), which has made it possible to automate manual procedures, has occurred concurrently.

However, several negative developments have also come along with these beneficial changes, with security concerns becoming more prevalent. The majority of programmers and businesses send insecure code into production versions even when they think their application is safe enough.

Computers and tiny IoT gadgets are only two examples of things that can be hacked if they have an internet connection. Today, even the tiniest gadgets collect personal data, making them a doorway for hackers to access private information on millions of individuals. The bulk of effective cyberattacks come from three industries:

  • Government
  • Retail
  • Healthcare
Although these industries are the most frequently targeted by hackers, the fact that your website or web application is in a different industry shouldn't make you feel secure. It is sufficient justification to safeguard your program and fix any security flaws if your database contains information about your users.

Among the most common issues with application security are:

1. Amateur programmers
As the need for apps rises, a large number of amateur programmers are building mobile applications due to a scarcity of trained developers. Development teams frequently lack the expertise necessary to address emerging security problems.

2. Ineffective tool utilization
Developers frequently do not make effective use of the testing tools they have purchased. And a lot of people think that these technologies will make the development process take longer.

3. Web application attack vector
The primary attack method for data breaches is through web apps. Therefore, businesses need to be aware of the hazards linked to API usage in their apps. Businesses who are unaware that these interfaces are available in their solutions are frequently the victims of API breaches.

4. Lack of a DevSecOps strategy
The majority of enterprises do not protect their software using best practices for application security. They frequently fail to establish a DevSecOps procedure, which is essential for guaranteeing that all security-related issues are addressed and remedied as quickly as feasible.

5. Vulnerabilities in open-source software
One source of risk is the abundance of vulnerabilities present in open-source software. Applications used in the corporate sector are thought to employ open-source programs and libraries in 96 per cent of cases.

Cyberattacks can take many different forms. Here are a few of the most widespread:
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  • SQL Injection
  • DDoS Attack
  • Malware
  • Bots
  • Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
  • Broken Authentication
  • Exploiting inclusion vulnerabilities—LFI and RFI
It's crucial to prevent these problems by safeguarding your authentication and validation processes because the majority of these vulnerabilities are caused by problems with user input, authentication, and data validation. Any web app development services offered should have a security plan, ongoing security checks both before and after creation, and other online security best practices.

1. Identify and Fix Open-Source Vulnerabilities
Although open-source programs have a lot of advantages, such as cost-effectiveness, they can expose you to serious risks. Therefore, it is vital when utilizing open-source software to continuously check for vulnerabilities, provide updates on a regular basis, and patch vulnerabilities as soon as they are discovered.

2. Use a DevSecOps approach
DevSecOps, also known as the shift-left strategy, tries to find security flaws from the start in order to avoid security issues from occurring in the first place and to address them as soon as they happen. Development teams may identify security risks in the software supply chain from design to implementation thanks to DevSecOps.

3. Automate Basic Security Activities
Using a manual method, it is essentially impossible to mitigate the infinite number of vulnerabilities that exist. Therefore, automation is essential. To free up teams to concentrate on more difficult work, all trivial jobs should be automated.

4. Adopt a secure SDLC management procedure.
From the perspective of product security, the product life cycle is defined by the secure software development life cycle management method (SSDLC). Through this procedure, it is ensured that products:
  • Built and maintained by personnel with security training.
  • Constructed in a safe environment.
  • Sent to clients securely
The term "SSDLC" refers to the comprehensive process of creating a new product, starting with the concept and continuing through all phases of development up until the product is completely and safely launched onto the market as a mature product and until the end of its life cycle.

5. Training on Security for Developers
It is crucial that a frontend developer and a backend developer obtain training from your security team as they are also in charge of delivering code into production. Of course, this instruction should be customized to the job and security requirements of the individual developer.

6. Properly manage containers
The first thing you should do is make sure your container pictures are digitally signed (e.g., Docker Content Trust). The usage of the container across the common integration pipeline must be secured by running automated scans for open-source vulnerabilities.

7. Revision and Patching Regularly
One of the best methods to maintain the security of your software is to install updates and patches. Why try to fix issues yourself if they have already been fixed? However, it's crucial to prepare for every new update because doing so necessitates creating the proper architecture and preventing API compatibility problems when upgrading to new versions.

8. Secure Your Data
Encryption of both data in transit and at rest is essential for web application security best practices. Among other reasons, employing an SSL with a valid certificate should be considered basic encryption. It is unacceptable to keep passwords and other sensitive user information in plain text since doing so opens the door to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. 

9. Ensure Log Data Access
For any crisis response strategy, having access to log data from your regular cloud operations is essential. Security will be directly impacted by the gathering and analysis of such data in the days before an event, and it may also be important for later investigations. Without this expertise, you could find yourself helpless in the event of a security issue.

10. Apply Pentesting
Even if automated testing is able to find the majority of security flaws before they are made public, there may still be openings that have gone undetected. It is worthwhile to hire a skilled pentester to test the application in order to reduce this risk. This kind of ethical hacker tries to access the application in order to identify weaknesses and possible attack routes and safeguard the system against a genuine attack. It is crucial that the project be supervised by an outside professional who is not working on the project.

11. Make Sure Input Validation is Accurate
The semantic and syntactic accuracy of all incoming material is crucial. The length of the data should be verified; it should have the required number of numbers and characters; have the right size and length; etc. Although whitelisting is advised, it is not always feasible to use this technique of certification.

12. Encrypt everything you possibly can
  • Use fundamental encryption methods like HTTPS and HSTS, but don't stop there.
  • SSL encryption should be used for all user data sent to and received from the server. While HTTPS is useful for preventing man-in-the-middle attacks, it is insufficient if someone has access to your server.
13. Data access restrictions
One of the greatest ways to increase security is to further limit access to your data:
  • Identify the people who truly require access to each individual resource.
  • Make access regulations.
  • Once access to the data is no longer necessary, remove active credentials to ensure that access rights are kept current.
Despite the fact that security experts' opinions on application security best practices are diverse, most would concur that any application security assessment checklist should cover the key considerations discussed in this article. In fact, nothing can ensure complete security. However, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of a data breach.
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