Terms Glossary

Application Security Testing Programs

According to a recent Forrester Research survey, 42 percent of organizations blamed discovered security holes on insecure applications. Of these, hackers most commonly targeted web applications. Altogether, the survey respondents said that flawed environments or buggy source code accounted for more external security problems than any other single issue.

To protect themselves from these threats, organizations develop application security testing programs. These programs provide a process that businesses can use to assess and address threats continually. They also help companies to acquire the information they need to balance risk levels against resources to prioritize tasks to remediate problems. See what it takes to develop an effective security testing program to keep applications secure. 

Key Features of Application Security Testing Programs

Not only will an effective testing program help spot security weaknesses, but it can also provide the information needed to reduce the risk of exposure to threats before they occur. A practical application security testing program should include:

  • Address security vulnerabilities early in the development or procurement phase: Whether developing customer applications or using open-source apps or APIs, security is a functional requirement.
  • Encourage collaboration between security and other stakeholders: Security departments should work with development teams or procuring departments to develop plans and checklists to ensure built-in protection against current and future threats. They can select tools and establish policies to ensure proper maintenance of secure software and the best practices to keep it safe.  
  • Choose the best security tools and monitors: Good security vulnerability scans may partially rely upon a database of known exploits. Because not all vulnerabilities are yet known, better tools also use machine intelligence to monitor suspicious behavior. Take advantage of demos and trials to ensure that the selected tools will work well in the company's unique environment.
  • Consider the "human" factor: Don't neglect developing strong policies to ensure immediate application of updates and security patches. For example, the Flexera 2020 report found that well over 80 percent of all application security issues already had patches on the day of their public announcement. Simultaneously, a Barracuda study reported that 13 percent of respondents hadn't patched their applications in over a year, and an additional 21 percent did so less than once a month. Swift action will reduce the chance that hackers can exploit any issues.

An in-depth security program may also include human-led penetration testing. Pen tests consist of highly skilled security experts who try to breach systems by using the same methods that even the most advanced hackers rely upon. These tests will offer further assurance that an organization's security can stay ahead of online criminals, provide an action plan, and help assess various risk levels to prioritize addressing them.

Why Develop a Security Testing Program for Applications?

Security teams need to work with user departments and third-party providers to develop, implement, and maintain their security testing program. Everybody involved needs to prioritize security as a non-negotiable functional requirement at the start of a project. Just as important, stakeholders need to ensure they maintain their vigilance through the project's lifetime. A business that has already relied upon an application for years doesn't offer assurance against new security threats.

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