While digital transformation brings the ease of doing business, it also brings along several challenges. The majority of these challenges revolve around safeguarding data loss against data breaches, attacks, and frauds. Hence, keeping web application security in mind starting from the initial phase of development is critical. Rather than patching security holes during the later stages or after release, it's vital to include those web application security best practices during various development stages.
The 4th International Workshop on Big Data Analytic for Cyber Crime Investigation and Prevention is a virtual conference in Atlanta, Georgia, US. Numerous Atlanta app developers and experts have participated in this virtual conference to discuss this matter's severity and complexity.
This covid-19 pandemic has been an eye-opening factor for many corporations and enterprises, forcing them to re-think and restructure their security ecosystem and architectures. This blog helps you understand the vital elements that play a crucial role in safeguarding your web app. Let's dive in.
Why is web app security important?
Security breaches and cyber-attacks are in record-breaking high numbers. Cybercriminals continuously develop innovative strategies and attacks to penetrate even a tiny, vulnerable entry point they find.
Here are some significant breaches and attacks:
- In October 2013, Adobe announced threat actors had breached its IT system. They stole personal information from 2.9 million accounts.
- In 2014 Yahoo! announced a cyberattack that affected 500 million user accounts.
- In 2017 Equifax, an American credit reporting company, revealed a cyberattack of 143 million customers from the U.S alone.
This year's nightmare came true during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a global survey of 1004 CXOs and VPs, 90% of companies suffered escalated cyberattacks during COVID-19 across the United States, France, United Kingdom, and Germany.
It is safe to say that COVID-19 exposed enterprise security gaps. The most common attacks involved 37% of transaction fraud or business email, 38% data exposure, and 35% phishing.
- Marriott data breach affected 5.2 million guests.
- EasyJet, a highly sophisticated cyberattack, exposed 9 million customers.
- New Zealand stock exchange cyberattack- source reported being a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
- Over 700 fake Disney Plus and Netflix sites phishing attack attempts
- According to BusinessLine, The Hindu report: Publicly disclosed security incidents increased by 22% in Q2 2020, 35% malware attacks, 17% account hijacking, and 9% targeted attacks.
- A surge of 103% is reported in Microsoft Office Malware.
The scope of difficulties related to web security rises exponentially with your business's size or your web app's popularity. The principal aim is not the number of assets you must oversee but the structure's complexity. It is easier for an issue to slip through security checks in a big company setup and lengthy security process list.
Also, in a large enterprise, even a small problem leads to exponentially more significant consequences. Hence, expert Atlanta app developers recommend following web app security checklists to keep things in control. Let’s discuss this in the next section.
Web application security checklist
#1. Perform threat assessment
There is no telling how and from where a breach might occur. Hence, it is essential to conduct security assessments from time to time in your organization. The assessment helps in establishing a baseline for figuring out and mitigating the existing vulnerabilities.
You have to make a stringent assessment about which path can lead your web app to any sort of data breach. You will have to be mindful of the security protocol you set-up for safekeeping. Performing periodical threat assessments to maintain high-security standards is equally essential.
One of the most effective formula for these assessments recommended by expert Atlanta app developers is:
Risk = Impact of Attack x Probability of Attack.
Another way to go about it is learning from industry incidents and learning from those. Try to blend those techniques into your security ecosystem.
#2. Track assets
As much as the assessment is essential, tracking your assets is also vital. While everyone is integrating and connecting their web apps, some security leaks are bound to be there. Hence, it is essential to include the software and applications (your assets) connected to your web application in the security monitoring protocol.
Equifax was fined $700 million due to its failure to preserve 145 million customers' private data. The breach happened due to an insecure asset, an open-source component, exposing it to a potential data breach.
Hence, track your assets, carefully classify them, analyze how critical they are for your business functions, and rate them with your priorities. This also comes in handy when you perform regular threat assessments and execute the prevention strategy.
#3. Vulnerability management
Over the years, developers have taken up the initiative and ownership of including security best practices in web app development. These teams make sure they perform vulnerability tests periodically to pinpoint the leaks in the early stages itself. Given the apparent numbers, it is imperative to have tools and a vulnerability management process in place right from the initial stage till the end. As it turns out, it is cost-effective as well.
However, it is difficult to find reliable and skillful application development in Atlanta. It would be best to safeguard your reputation from any data leaks by having an experienced and competent development team by your side. Their experts adhere to the web app security checklist much needed while developing your web app.
#4. Keep patching and testing in check
We understand that security patches are released in software and operating systems to match with the latest versions. Unfortunately, these are also prone to security threats and exposure.
If you discover vulnerabilities beforehand, the development team can monitor, check for leaks by following the security best practices checklist and keep your web app secure from any possible cyber-attacks due to these exposed patches. Hence periodic testing of these patches and maintaining reports is vital with automated tools and weekly security checks.
#5. Train the team about security practices
It's a no-brainer when we say - prevention is better than cure. So it would help if you had the development team trained and briefed about the security best practices to have fool-proof security in place. Additionally, the appropriate automated tools to ensure the security ecosystem running seamlessly throughout the entire development process.
Train your development team from the orientation to understand how leaks, attacks, data breaches, and theft occur. Many of our in-house app developers in Atlanta have rich experience. They are well equipped to take security seriously and incorporate it during the application development process phase by phase. It is highly recommended to make sure security parameters are considered and are a part of the development process right from the start to finish instead of focusing on these factors after deployment.
Encryption is a very vital piece of the essential security checklist points. One can not stress enough how important it is to embrace encryption in your web app development process. You may end up exposing sensitive data to possible intrusions and attacks.
Ensure that encryption is a part of your daily web app security checklist, monitoring SSL certificate and checks on user data storage and their passwords. Of course, hashing serves the purpose well. Also, HTTPS is a standard industry security practice. Leave no stone unturned behind. Encrypt- Encrypt- Encrypt.
#7. Maintain privileges
In large corporations, security can easily slip away from leaks due to unorganized privileges to the team. Ideally, maintaining and adhering to the standard principle of least privilege works best.
Usually, in a development team, all rights are granted to everyone where everyone has access to every data possible. However, this is a security antipattern. Having a security best practice in place with guidance from the network security team is highly recommended to limit access and ensure safety. This provides control over sensitive data and alerts when there is a possible known or unknown insider breach.
#8. Organize employee training for web app security
Maintaining a secure and well-informed team is very important. For this purpose, employee training workshops should be organized periodically. These training tools and knowledge will help them make smart choices about cybersecurity and equip them with appropriate tools to defend themselves from any malicious attack. This training will help your employees stay top of things and your network security team updated and informed to make the right decisions.
Ensure you cover the security breach's financial and legal aspects and how sensitive data leaks can affect them and the company. Also, cover the unintentional and company device policies. Additionally, intense training is required for the development teams to minimize the risk of any scrutiny from the very initial stage.
Security incidents often occur, especially when there is a skill gap where unknowingly, there are overworked and understaffed developers on projects. Perform bi-yearly tests to ensure the training is working and employees are fully equipped to handle security issues.
#9. Launch a bounty program
A bug bounty program is popularly known as the vulnerability rewards program (VRP). It is a crowdsourcing initiative and rewards developers for identifying and reporting bugs & security vulnerabilities. Researchers encourage project managers and leaders to launch these programs to keep a check on leaks and flaws.
We are in an era where, with open source community backup, potential web app security issues can be spotted and dealt with efficiently. Whether you run a start-up or a large enterprise, this will keep your dedicated network security team also always ahead, safeguarding the company's reputation and its sensitive data.
Web app security is no joke; it's a marathon to win, not a sprint. Atlanta, in the past few years, is a promising tech ecosystem shaping many innovative projects. Companies of all sizes need to adapt the appropriate web app security best practices and set protocols according to their security requirements. Our team of expert app developers in Atlanta can help you build apps precisely as per your vision and brand reputation. Get in touch today to collaborate and create a useful web application.