We are currently in an application security dilemma that costs organizations millions of dollars annually.
From the growing number of vulnerabilities to the increasing pressure to release apps quicker, security and development teams must join forces to create secure applications.
In this article, we'll dive into the growing AppSec Dilemma, the consequences, and how we are solving this dilemma.
What Is AppSec?
Application security, also called AppSec, is the practice of protecting software applications from security vulnerabilities. It is a critical component of overall information security, as applications are often the target of cyberattacks.
Application security has three main pillars: people, process, and technology.
- People - This includes developers, testers, security engineers, and other stakeholders. It is essential to have a team of people with the right skills and experience to ensure that applications are secure.
- Process - This includes things like threat modeling, code reviews, and secure coding training. It is important to have a well-defined process to ensure that applications are regularly tested and updated to fix security vulnerabilities.
- Technology -This includes things like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and code scanning tools. Using the right tools and technologies to protect applications from attacks is vital.
Read More: What is Application Security Training?
What Is the AppSec Dilemma?
From customer-facing applications to internal systems, software is essential for the smooth running of any organization. Unfortunately, however, software is also a target for attackers. Recent studies show 210% new vulnerabilities per year in the National Vulnerability Database between 2015-2021.
The AppSec Dilemma is the challenge of balancing the need for secure applications with the need to develop and deploy applications quickly. This is a complex challenge because security and speed are often seen as being at odds with each other.
Development teams want to release faster.
Security teams want to reduce vulnerabilities.
What are the causes of the AppSec Dilemma? There are a number of factors that contribute to the AppSec Dilemma, including:
- Ever-Evolving Security Concerns - 59% increase in new vulnerabilities from 2021 – 2022. source
- Growing Demands on Developers – 51% of developers have 100x the volume of code vs. ten years ago. source
- Lack of Security Training - 0 of the top 50 university coding programs require secure coding training. source
- Increasing Regulatory Pressures - New Whitehouse Cybersecurity Strategy shifts liability for software products and services to help promote secure development practices.
What Are the Consequences of the AppSec Dilemma?
We outlined the application security dilemma above, but what does this mean for your organization?
Let's consider that almost 95% of data breaches last year were on web apps, and 56% of the most prominent incidents in the previous five years tie back to web app security issues. In addition, it often takes over eight months to find a web app exploit, which means your business and customers can be exposed to attackers for a long time.
Attacks on web apps have cost over $7.6 billion, representing 42% of all financial losses from attacks.
The AppSec Dilemma can have some other negative consequences, including:
- Data breaches
- Damage to reputation
- Regulatory fines
With development teams under pressure to deliver results quickly, it's easy for security to fall by the wayside.
After reviewing the data, EMA believes the best approach to secure software development is a combination of code reviews, code scanning tools, and a stronger emphasis on continuous, third-party training.
It's better for developers to write secure code initially than to hope that a code scanning tool will catch the vulnerability before it makes it to production – especially when only 10% of organizations utilizing code scanning tools prevent more vulnerabilities than those without. Code scanning tools should only supplement secure coding efforts and not be the critical wheel in the system, especially when almost 70% of organizations are struggling with even basic security SDLCs.
- People – Secure Coding Training
- Process – Code Reviews
- Technology – Code Scanning Tools
How Can We Solve the AppSec Dilemma?
The AppSec dilemma is the challenge of balancing the need for secure software with the need to develop and deliver software quickly. Therefore, organizations must find ways to implement AppSec without slowing development.
There are several approaches that organizations can take to address the AppSec dilemma, including:
- Shift Left - Shift left security means integrating security activities into the development process as early as possible. This can help to identify and mitigate security risks before they become costly problems down the road.
Read More: How to Shift Left and Increase Long-Term Efficiency
- Bridge The Divide Between Security and Development - Building a strong culture of security takes time and continuous communication and collaboration.
Read More: Bridging the Security and Development Divide
- Educate Developers with Secure Coding Training - Developers need to be educated about security risks and how to write secure code. Organizations can provide developers with training and resources to help them learn about security best practices.
Read More: What Is Secure Coding Training?
- Create A Security Culture with Security Champions - A security culture is an organizational environment that values security and encourages employees to be security-conscious. Organizations can create a security culture by promoting security awareness and education through chosen Security Champions.
Listen: Using Security Champions to Optimize Your Security Program
The AppSec dilemma is a complex challenge, but it is one that organizations must address. By implementing AppSec effectively, organizations can reduce security risks and protect their applications from attacks.
Are You Tired of Dealing with This Dilemma?
The issue of the AppSec Dilemma has been a long-standing problem that requires time and effort to resolve. Unfortunately, it won't be fixed overnight. However, there is a way to safeguard your organization from becoming a victim of the AppSec Dilemma; you can begin by setting up an AppSec Education Program.