The practise of securing networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or malicious usage is known as cyber security. It is also a technique to guarantee the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of information. Cyber security is made up of several components, all of which are quite important in the modern world when we study it in a methodical manner. One of the most crucial elements of cyber security is application security, or appsec, which offers data protection within the program and prevents access by unauthorized users.
By examining application functionality and usage patterns, data flow inside the program, business logic, access restrictions, and authorization problems, application security focuses on securing applications and protocols. Following the Secure Application Development Guidelines established throughout the application’s development phase is a crucial component of application security. For instance, in order to ensure that unique business apps are not susceptible to conventional application vulnerabilities like SQL Injection (SQLi), Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), etc., developers must adopt safe application development techniques.
One of the most crucial phases of the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process is application security. Security is an important consideration throughout the whole process, regardless of the SDLC or DevOps technique you are utilizing. For instance, threat modelling is required while a project is in the design phase. During the development stage, you may utilise IDE plugins to evaluate the code in real-time and provide engineers comments on their coding standards and best practices.
Security testing should be incorporated into test scenarios throughout the QA/testing phase, and Dynamic and Static Application Security Testing (DAST and SAST) should be carried out as soon as possible. Further automated scanning of the web application, API, and cloud infrastructure is required during User Acceptance Testing (UAT). A Penetration Testing (PenTest) should be carried out to assess the security of your application from the viewpoint of an attacker before releasing it to production.
However, we frequently observe that when the application is published, AppSec operations are put off until the very end of the project. Fixing these problems can be highly expensive if the security flaws in your application are found very late, after the product has already been published. Adding security “bolt-on” is usually more expensive than implementing AppSec into your workflow from the very beginning. In the worst-case scenario, a breach of your DevOps process due to a lack of AppSec might disclose client data.
To avoid this, AppSec activities should be codified, and project teams should receive the training and tools necessary to ensure that security is included into your application and all DevOps process phases.
The steps of developing a secure online application are depicted in the diagram below:
Phases of Secure Web Application Development
Applications often comprise connections between user and data. Through the use of workflows, they enable the simplification of complicated tasks and provide the user the tools they need to complete a task more quickly. Applications may be found in many different categories nowadays, including:
Shopping, social networks, banking, investing, trading, dating, auctions, gaming, and cooperation (email, project management, document management, etc.).
Events online, video conferencing, and more
The sensitivity of the data that an application handles must be taken into account while it is being built and developed. The data can be viewed without user authentication if it is designated as public. Authentication, authorisation, and protection of data in storage or transit should be implemented appropriately based on the significance and sensitivity of the data handled by the application. At each level of the SDLC, an evaluation must be carried out to guarantee the security of the programme and any connected sensitive data. By identifying possible dangers, this evaluation offers the chance to create the programme more securely.
You can see the security issues with a common application in the figure below:
A brief overview of application security’s past
Application security is gaining the necessary amount of relevance day by day. Let’s look at some significant historical events to study the development of application security:
Code security and application security were not viewed as risks in the 1970s and 1980s. The majority of computer hazards at the time were insider dangers like physical security, theft, and access to private information. Prior to the adoption of computers, the most significant issues included communication encryption and decryption.
The Creeper, a 1971 computer software created by researcher Bob Thomas, left the message “I AM THE CREATOR: GET ME IF YOU CAN” on each of the workstations it visited. Ray Tomlinson built the “The Reaper” software that deleted The Creeper message once it propagated to ARPANET.
Early in the new millennium, strategies for defending against web assaults were discovered and put into practise. Since its founding in 2001, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has made considerable strides in the development of standards, tools, and knowledge around application security.
The mission of OWASP, a nonprofit community group, is to increase the security of the Web and all user data. It does not particularly support any technology and is unaffected by the technologies employed in the application. It covers Python, ASP.NET, and PHP equally. The security community’s contributions help the OWASP community to develop.
One of OWASP’s most well-known initiatives, the OWASP Top 10, is a common methodology for assessing the security risks of applications. With supporting guidelines and resources for testing, correcting, and educating the community, such as the OWASP Web Security Testing Guide (WSTG), Mobile Security Testing Guide (MSTG), Cheat Sheet series, and many others, OWASP Top 10 addresses the top 10 application security risks. Security professionals may test and find security flaws such server-based vulnerabilities and application-based vulnerabilities using OWASP guidelines along with tools like the OWASP Zap Proxy. Application vulnerabilities include things like SQL Injection (SQLi), Insecure Direct Object References, and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) (IDOR)