Practically every enterprise uses applications in the course of business. Whether it’s a simple mobile app for organization or a sophisticated program your company relies on heavily for operations, applications introduce a new security perimeter to the fold and introduce potential vulnerabilities. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid using applications. By using application security assessments, you can benefit from the wealth of functionality apps offer while still maintaining top-tier security.
Identify Vulnerabilities and Security Breaches
Some vulnerabilities aren’t recognized immediately—and without continuous analysis, some go unnoticed indefinitely. The threat landscape is expanding, evidenced by multiple reports indicating that the majority of applications contain security flaws. The Ponemon Institute, for instance, found that 93 percent of enterprises had been hacked due to web application vulnerabilities over a two-year period between 2009 and 2011.
OWASP identifies injection, broken authentication and session management, cross-site scripting, sensitive data exposure and other risks among the top 10 web application vulnerabilities for 2013. Knowing that your security is at risk is the first step in protecting it. Application security assessments help identify these flaws and breaches, enabling enterprises to take necessary and immediate action.
Demonstrate Data Security Commitment to Customers
Regular application security assessments is a major selling point to clients or customers, demonstrating that your enterprise has a strong commitment to maintaining the security of customer data. End consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, and as a result are leery of handing over personal information via applications for fear of personal security breaches and identity theft.
Ensuring your customers that their data—and their privacy—is secure with your company builds trust. Because consumers prefer to do business with enterprises they trust, application security assessments can actually increase your company’s bottom line.
Increase Staff Awareness of Security Risks
Conducting regular application security assessments increases employee awareness of the importance of maintaining sound security measures. Identified risks—some of which can crop up due to new threats, even if nothing has changed since your last assessment—provide educational opportunities. Making your staff aware of newly discovered vulnerabilities and the actions your company is taking to mitigate those risks enhances understanding of the security process and creates staff vigilance.
Maintain Regulatory Compliance
If your organization is governed by a regulatory agency, there may be specific security measures you’re required to have in place. Failing to meet those guidelines can result in serious consequences, such as fines or even the loss of certification in some cases. Periodic application security assessments help enterprises maintain tight control over security measures and ensure that minimum standards are met.
Inform Investment Decisions
Increasing your awareness of the threat landscape and pinpointing precise areas where vulnerabilities lie enables better-informed decision making. You can opt for lower-risk software investments or make sound decisions on implementing necessary security measures. The Ponemon Institute’s State of Web Application Security Survey found that 88 percent of companies spend more on coffee than they do on application security—a figure likely to change if more organizations employ application security assessments to obtain a clearer picture of threats and vulnerabilities.
Gartner estimates that 75 percent of all attacks now occur at the application level. That means periodic or ongoing application security assessments can dramatically increase the security of your enterprise’s most sensitive data. By ensuring your data is secure at the application level, you can build consumer trust, inform security spend decision-making, take a proactive approach to data security and increase the overall bottom line. It doesn’t just make sense in the modern threat landscape—it’s critical to your success.
Fergal Glynn is the Director of Product Marketing at Veracode.com, an award-winning application security company specializing in secure SDLC and other security breaches with effective risk assessment tools