These days, businesses increasingly rely upon web apps for everything from conducting internal business to connecting with customers. They're popular because they offer accessibility, efficiency, and productivity gains.
At the same time, it's wise to think of these online applications as windows into a business. Accessibility offers a benefit when attracting online customers or providing employees with remote access. On the other hand, that same advantage can also attract hackers' attention, so organizations should not take their web application security chances.
The 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 43 percent of all data breaches came from attacks on web applications, a figure that increased dramatically from the previous year. With the rise of remote work and increased popularity of conducting business online, malicious users' number of opportunities to breach digital apps also increased. Some common examples of internet app security threats include cross-site scripting, SQL injections, and poor configuration or maintenance of servers and networks the apps run on.
For an example of a SQL injection attack against consumer software, Vice reported that hackers exploited a bug affecting Epic Games, the video game site responsible for the popular game Fortnite. The attackers could use this exploit to access user accounts. Not only could digital criminals listen to player conversations, but they could also download credit card information. Beyond video games, severe attacks targeted state voter registration databases in 2017 and Cisco's licensing manager in 2018.
In 2020, Microsoft issued instructions to ensure that Exchange servers had the proper configuration to protect apps and users. Adequate server security offers organizations a critical tool for defense against attacks. Without it, hackers could gain access to high-level credentials that would allow them to steal data or even gain control of business systems.
Web application security refers to practices associated with preventing malicious attacks against online apps. Free vulnerability scans provide a starting point; however, sophisticated online criminals have learned to stay ahead of the databases on which these free tools rely.
Some paid scanning software relies upon a frequently updated database of known attacks and artificial intelligence that can send alerts based upon suspicious behaviors. Full penetration testing can uncover web app vulnerabilities by combining high-tech vulnerability scans and the insights of trained security professionals who will mimic today's hackers' actions and strategies. These insights ultimately reveal hidden vulnerabilities, providing an action plan to remediate your web app security weaknesses before digital criminals can exploit them.
Besides vulnerability testing, businesses also need to make a point to apply all security patches upon release. CSO Online reported that 60 percent of all breaches stemmed from security issues with an existing but unapplied patch.