What is Application Security? Types, Tools & Examples (Explained)

What is Application Security? Types, Tools & Examples (Explained). It is essential to scan for security flaws in your software and web apps, especially with cyber threats becoming more prevalent. In this article, we’ll discuss what application security is – its definition, importance, types, tools, and examples.  Shall we start? 

What is Application Security?​

Firstly with Application security (also known as AppSec) is a set of processes, practices and tools that aim to detect, prevent, or fix security vulnerabilities in applications. It refers to security precautions used to protect applications from external threats at different stages of the  software development life cycle (SDLC).

Secondly the application security includes all tasks that introduce a secure SDLC to development teams. These tasks are executed during the design and development of thea pplication software as well as after the deployment of the application.

Cybercriminals are specialized in finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in applications to steal intellectual property, data and sensitive information. However, with application security, organizations can protect the applications used by stakeholders, including employees, customers and business partners.

Why is Application Security Important?

We know that nowadays hackers are directing their attacks toward applications more than ever. With more enterprises moving their data and operations to the cloud, applications are more vulnerable to  cyber-attacks and breaches. The sooner and faster you find security issues in your software development process, the more secure your company will be.

Integrating application security tools into your software development environment can eliminate security vulnerabilities in the most simple and effective way. Additionally, these tools are helpful with compliance audits as they can detect problems before auditors see them, thereby saving time and expenses.

With development teams employing new working methods that require apps to be refined daily and, in some cases, hourly, security tools are needed more than ever to identify issues with code quickly. 

IT managers need to go beyond detecting common security errors and attack techniques in the application development if they want to protect their corporate reputation. This is because cyber threats are becoming more complex, threatening and difficult to find.

While some software vulnerabilities are non critical, they can still combine and form attack chains. The only way to counter this threat is to reduce the number of weaknesses and vulnerabilities, which will, in turn, lower the overall impact of merged attacks. Additionally, application security is very vital for reducing the attack surface of an organization.

Take a proactive security measures, which is much better than a reactive approach. By being proactive it helps to identify and resolve issues, sometimes even before the damage is done.

Types of Application Security

Authentication

This is a type of application security where the developers build an application with protocols that ensure only authorized users can access the software. The user must pass through a series of authorization procedures to verify they are who they claim to be. Such procedures may include username and password verification, fingerprints, or facial recognition.

Authorization

Another type of security ensures that only authorized users gain access to the application. Authentication and authorization work hand in hand to ensure maximum security and reduce the possibilities of cyber attacks. 

After passing the authentication requirements, the user may be authorized to access the application. The authorization process involves comparing the user’s identity with a list of authorized users.

Encryption

On the other hand but important part is encryption. A crucial step after the authentication and authorization processes. The process involves transforming data so only users with the description key can access it. Nowadays, most applications are cloud based, meaning they store sensitive data in the cloud. Encrypting this data will keep it safe from cyber criminals.

Logging

Equally logging is used to track application activities and maintain accountability. If a security breach should occur, logging helps to determine who the hacker is and how they gained access to the data. Application log files also provide a time stamped record of the resources exposed during the breach.

Application security testing

Furthermore a process used by organizations to make their applications more immune and resistant to security vulnerabilities and weaknesses is application security testing. It is carried out while the software is being developed or while coding. Subsequently it is used to check all the above processes and their effectiveness.

Application Security Tools

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

DAST is used for identifying environment related or runtime errors that may represent security vulnerabilities. It is used to carry out large scale scans that simulate unexpected security breaches. These simulations provide information on the application’s response. To emphasise DAST is used to detect issues by evaluating applications during production.

More importantly it helps you to detect issues such as data injection, memory leakage, query strings, the use of scripts, requests and responses, execution of third party components, DOM injection and authentication.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST)

SAST tools are used for detecting code flaws by examining and analyzing application source files. They can help find issues like input validation issues, math errors, syntax errors and insecure or invalid references. 

To put it another way SAST is used for comparing static analysis with real time solutions, thereby speeding up the detection of security threats, enabling collaborative troubleshooting and decreasing MTTR.

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)

IAST combines techniques from DAST and SAST to identify a broader range of security vulnerabilities. So it runs dynamically to carry out analysis in runtime or during the production or development process of the application. 

Basically IAST tools have access to all the components and codes of the application, allowing them to deliver more accurate results by carrying out in-depth analysis and highlighting the root cause of security vulnerabilities. With IAST tools they can also be used for API testing.

Mobile Application Security Testing (MAST)

Well the MAST tools are used to test the security of mobile applications. They employ the use of static and dynamic analysis as well as forensic data analysis to investigate how an attacker might leverage a mobile’s operating system and the applications running on it entirely.

MAST tools are used to check for mobile-specific vulnerabilities and issues, such as data leakage, malicious wifi networks, and jailbreaking.

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP)

Consequently RASP tools involve more security than testing. They work within the application to identify exploited security weaknesses and provide automatic responses, which may include terminating sessions and issuing alerts to IT teams.

Examples of Application Security

Take a look at examples of application security vulnerabilities and how to prevent them:

Injection Flaws

Injection flaws occur when a hacker uses malicious or unfiltered data to attack the directories or databases connected to the application. There are two common types of injection flaws. There’s the SQL injection in which the attack is directed at your databases and the LDAP injection in which the directories are attacked.

The best way to prevent injection flaws is to add filters to your input. For SQL injection use prepared filters, which can prevent attackers from manipulating queries.

Sensitive Data Exposure

Storing or transferring sensitive data without encrypting it or using any protection can leave information vulnerable to cyber attacks. Implementing Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) and HTTPS can help prevent data exposure. Other effective strategies to protect data include disabling data caching, encrypting data and storing encryption keys separately, and eradicating irrelevant or outdated data.

Broken Authentication

Authentication is used for user identification and validation in applications. If this authentication is broken, attackers can gain access to your application and data. Multi-factor authentication, strong passwords and regular password updates will help prevent authentication issues.

This is it. Thank you for reading What is Application Security? Types, Tools & Examples (Explained).

What is Application Security? Types, Tools & Examples (Explained) Conclusion

To conclude the application security is a vital part of software quality for all sorts of applications – individual, distributed, or networked. With the increase in threats to applications, enterprises have no choice but to implement application security into their applications. This will help protect the data of internal and external stakeholders as well as help developers build software applications with confidence.

Additionally, developers should include application security testing in the SDLC to ensure there are no vulnerabilities or weaknesses in an updated or new version of an application. It is always better to discover a security threat before it becomes a problem. In addition, you can seek assistance from security service providers and expert consultants to help improve your outlook and protect your company or business from cyber attacks. 

Avatar for Kamso Oguejiofor
Kamso Oguejiofor

Kamso is a mechanical engineer with a strong interest in anything that has to do with technology. He has over 2 years of experience writing on cyber security and wordpress topics. When he’s not studying or writing, you can catch him on the basketball court, shooting some hoops.

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