Application Security: Importance, Types and Threats

Application security is the procedure involved in establishing, creating and checking security elements in applications. Application security aims to minimize and prevent security vulnerabilities and external threats after an app launches. The application security process usually implements security software, hardware, methodologies, best practices and procedures.

Software developers can also employ codes to mitigate security risks in apps. Nevertheless, numerous methods of application security can be implemented, such as encryption, permission, authentication, logging and regular app testing. Securing an application during development can incorporate any of the application security categories. On the contrary, cybercriminals or hackers are always staying on top of the latest application security threats and vulnerabilities, some of which include injection attacks, cross-site scripting, broken authentication and unvalidated redirects.

Application Security

What is application security, what are the types of application security and what are the threats to application security? The following article will dive into these questions and more.

What is Application Security?

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Application security guarantees that deployed applications cannot be modified in any way. Application security comprises all precautions and steps to prevent unauthorized modification or hijacking of an application’s code. The top priority is protecting user data from cyberattacks.

What is the Importance of Application Security?

Application security is vital for every organization that manages client data. Generally, applications are supposed to ensure the protection and confidentiality of user data. Nonetheless, users’ data is not secure if a program contains a vulnerability. Consequently, this vulnerability might expose users to cyber risks such as identity theft and loss of files.

Application security ensures the highest level of protection against manipulation by hackers. Using application security measures, such as routine application testing before deployment, can identify potential vulnerabilities in the program’s source code. This will ensure the vulnerabilities are patched immediately to prevent further attacks.

How Does Application Security Work?

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Application security is all about maximizing safety while constructing programs to prevent unauthorized modification, removal and addition of malicious code. The underlying premise of application security types is preventing unwanted access to programs.

As a result, application security measures, such as firewalls, encryption and antivirus software, are centered on protecting apps.

What are the Threats to Application Security?

The growth of technology facilitates the development of mobile applications and gives hackers better chances to launch an attack. Currently, there are an infinite number of application security risks. However, these threats can be divided into broad categories: cross-software injection, memory corruption, buffer overflow attacks, denial of service and SQL injection.

Some of the most prominent application security threats are given below.

  1. Software Injection Attacks: This threat arises when a web application is injection-vulnerable and receives unverified data from an input field without appropriate filtering. Once anyone, even hackers, enters codes into an input field, an attacker can deceive the server into reading the code as a system command.
  2. Cross-site Scripting Attacks: The manipulation of a susceptible application characterizes cross-site scripting attacks. Cross-site scripting, also known as XSS, is a security flaw that enables an attacker to compromise the user interactions of a susceptible application. The attacker can overcome the same source policy, which is supposed to separate websites from one another.
  3. Buffer Overflow Attacks: In buffer overflow attacks, malicious code is used to overload memory. A buffer overflow happens when the amount of information surpasses the memory buffer’s storage capacity. Consequently, the software that attempts to write the data to the buffer overwrites neighboring memory addresses.

What are the Types of Application Security Features?

The types of application security features are given below.

  1. Authentication
  2. Authorization
  3. Encryption
  4. Logging
  5. Application Security Testing

Beyond this list, there are many other types of application security features that people can implement for stronger data protection.

1. Authentication

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Authentication requires the checking of a user’s identification before accessing the application. The purpose is to confirm that the person currently using the application is a registered user. Authentication may involve requiring users to enter a username and password. Two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication are two examples of authentication methods.

Authentication encourages an additional degree of protection to protect users from cyber threats. This also prohibits unauthorized individuals from accessing and utilizing a program without the user’s permission.

2. Authorization

After authentication, authorization involves verifying a user’s true identity to start using a program. The algorithm compares the user’s identity to the list of authorized users who are allowed to access the application. Authorization safeguards data access and prevents any further vulnerability to threats.

3. Encryption

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Encryption involves making files unreadable to cybercriminals and unauthorized individuals. Encryption safeguards sensitive data from unauthorized access. In cloud-based apps, for instance, the transmission of sensitive data between the end user and the cloud can be encrypted to protect the data.

4. Logging

Logging consists of mapping and tracking program usage. Logging helps determine when, when, where and how a program was utilized. This feature aids in identifying criminals if a vulnerability is suspected.

5. Application Security Testing

Application security testing is the process of examining all apps for vulnerabilities before deployment. This function enables developers to correct discovered vulnerabilities and maintain a proactive security posture.

What are the Types of Application Security Tools?

The types of application security tools are given below.

  1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST): SAST is helpful for white box testing to uncover and evaluate security flaws in static source code. SAST examines the root cause of defects and can detect syntax faults, input validation difficulties, erroneous references and math errors in uncompiled code.
  2. Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST): IAST is an application security tool that utilizes the capabilities of SAST and DAST to inspect and detect different vulnerabilities. IAST is an effective method for testing APIs since the tool scans the underlying cause of vulnerabilities and identifies the affected area of code.
  3. Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): DAST aids black box testers in detecting and inspecting runtime code vulnerabilities. Organizations utilize DAST to execute extensive scans that replicate various harmful or unanticipated test situations.
  4. Web Application Firewall (WAF): WAF filters HTTP traffic between the internet and the web application. Even though WAF is somewhat limited compared to other application security solutions, the tool is suitable for defending against various cyberattacks.

The list above shows that there are different types of application security tools that are distinct and serve a specific purpose.

What are Application Security Policies?

Policies governing application security keep the app’s code safe from unauthorized access. Application security policies are restrictions and guidelines that developers must follow while creating apps. However, different organizations may need to adhere to diverse regulations because no one application security policy is appropriate for all businesses.

One of the most popular application security policies is the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).

What are the Best Application Security Practices?

Various application security practices are available to create highly defensive apps. A few application security best practices include having a cybersecurity framework, automating security tools, conducting risk analysis, encrypting data, keeping the testing and production environments distinct and limiting user access to data. The procedures also defend sensitive data against online attacks.

What is the Distinction Between Application and Software Security?

Application security and software security are different in that the former occurs after the software has been installed while the latter involves a pre-deployment strategy.

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Most people consider software security to be a subset of application security. Processes for application security include IP filtering, post-deployment security checks, code detection and program monitoring for compliance with security standards.

Note:

Software security entails protecting software at various stages and environments across the software development process to increase integrity. Software security activities include secure software design, secure coding, authentication, user session management, verification of third-party components and detection of design flaws.

Software security also tries to locate vulnerabilities and develop countermeasures and fixes for those vulnerabilities.

Isa Oyekunle Isa is a seasoned writer and a cybersecurity expert with about 7 years of experience under his belt. He has worked with a number of prominent cybersecurity websites worldwide, where he has produced hundreds of authoritative articles regarding the broad subject of internet security. He’s always been enthusiastic about digital security, and now, he’s committed to enlightening people around the world about it.
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