Take Your Application Security to The Next Level With These 7 Best Practices

Take Your Application Security to The Next Level With These 7 Best Practices

According to Trustwave Global Security report, 86% of tested applications have one or more session management vulnerability and 92% of web applications have security flaws and weaknesses which can be exploited as shown in High Tech Bridge Security’s research. That is why businesses are spending heavily on cybersecurity tools that can protect their applications, turning application security into a billion-dollar industry and creating new application security jobs.

With most companies moving to the cloud, the focus is slowly but surely shifting from securing hardware such as the best dedicated server, databases, networks to software and apps. Businesses are opting for secure application development methods to ensure there are no loopholes in their applications which hackers can exploit.

In this article, you will learn about seven application security best practices that every business should follow to keep their applications safe.

7 Application Security Best Practices

Here is an application security best practices checklist that every business must follow.

1. Secure the Container

Your application uses many micro services and containers to support those micro services. That is why it is important to secure the application container. Keep a close eye on services that are exposed to the network, which could make them vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. Unfortunately, it is quite challenging to keep track of all the services running inside a container so keeping an eye on suspicious activities is out of question.

Fortunately, these containers have a shorter lifespan than the applications, offering little room for hackers to do the damage. Hackers have found a way to overcome this hurdle as well by creating shadow containers which allow their rootkits to stay effective even after the container is rebooted. The easiest way to prevent attacks on container is to limit access and reduce privileges.

2. Make Security a Shared Responsibility

Start by making web application security a shared responsibility. Whether you are a developer, administrator or a member of operation team, everyone should play their role to ensure foolproof application security. If image scanning is an integral part of continuous integration cycle, you can easily identify new vulnerability but what if it is not? By conducting regular image scanning, you will be alerted as soon as a new vulnerability is found in the code. You don’t have to scan the containers either because scanning the images is like scanning the container.

3. Create A Vulnerability Assessment Process

Patching a vulnerability in a container is different from a traditional setup. Containers contain two different components called base and application image. This means that you must first update the base image then make changes to the application image. With an effective vulnerability assessment process in place, identifying loopholes in containers and application will not be difficult.

Most vulnerability scanners offer container scanning facility which highlights vulnerabilities and configuration issues. By default, these tools check software packages to find errors, but you can still configure these application security tools to check against vulnerability databases such as National Vulnerability Database (NVD) and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE).

4. Embrace Isolation

What makes containers stand out is their ability to isolate applications, processes, data and users. This allows you to offer them the lowest privilege needed for effective operations. If your container is running on the host, vulnerability on host’s side can provide an opening to hackers to enter your container. Similarly, if the hacker successfully breaks out of the container and reach the host, it can gain root-level access on the host. Where possible, run containers with fewer privileges and never run containers as a root user.

5. Centralized Access Control

By implementing centralized access controls, you can define and enforce access control for active containers. Giving too much access to a developer can be risky from both security and audit perspective. It can be a challenge to figure out what took place when. More importantly, if cyber criminals somehow manage to gain root access, they will be in charge of all the containers and can do far more damage than they could do otherwise.

6. Real-Time Threat Detection

Irrespective of how strong your vulnerability scanning and container security is, bugs and errors can still slip through at run time. These bugs and errors can be exploited by hackers. They can use it as a ladder to get access to your systems. That is why it is imperative that you have a real-time threat detection system in place. Having a threat detection system is not enough especially if it is not backed up by equally good incident response strategy.

7. Use Cookies Carefully

If you are using a web application, then you might be dealing with cookies. It allows users to be remembered and make next visits faster and more personalized. On the other hand, businesses can use the information in the cookies to deliver more personalized user experience.

Unfortunately, hackers can gain access to those cookies and manipulate them to fulfill their malicious designs. That is why you should never use cookies to store sensitive information. If possible, encrypt the information that is stored in the cookies so that it cannot be misused. Last but certainly not the least, set a short expiration date for cookies to minimize the risk.

Which application security best practices do you follow? Let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author
Sarmad Hasan
Sarmad Hasan is a content marketing expert at HostNoc. He writes on variety of topics ranging from cybersecurity to cloud computing. Sarmad is an avid reader and loves to explore new avenues.

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