As IT digital transformation continues to scale and accelerate through the industry, the complex applications and technologies driving this transformation are both assets and potential liabilities. A vast ecosystem of proprietary, open-source, and custom code fuels these applications, making the task of maintaining security across the SDLC increasingly challenging.
Security teams cannot merely identify vulnerabilities – they must understand their implications, prioritize mission-critical operations, and execute suitable remediation measures in real time to mitigate risks. The burden of compliance with ever-evolving regulatory landscapes further complicates application security management.
Traditionally, enterprises adopt various security solutions to safeguard their digital assets. Nearly 62% of organizations use over four solutions for app security.
Standard application security solutions
However, these solutions cannot match the complex nuances of modern applications. Conventional security measures often exist in silos, lacking the contextual awareness required to provide a unified view of application security health. Even AI and ML-based tools are only as good as the data they feed on – incorrect or obsolete data might result in false positives and error-prone outcomes.
So, what is the right course of action for business leaders looking to fortify their application security?
Modern organizations require an integrated, intelligent approach to application security that can proactively detect vulnerabilities, gain real-time insights on risk exposure, and prioritize & mitigate risks before they become liabilities. A managed service provider (MSP) can help address most challenges associated with app security.
Modern-day Challenges of Application Security
Below are some of the top challenges organizations face while planning for application security:
- Addressing Zero-Day Vulnerabilities
Open-source libraries have revolutionized software development, allowing teams to develop applications rapidly by leveraging pre-existing code. However, being open-source, developers worldwide use and modify these libraries. Combined with the fast-paced cycle of software delivery, the easily accessible nature of open-source libraries makes live applications highly vulnerable.
In such a scenario, identifying a zero-day vulnerability is a nightmare for both development and security teams, pushing them into immediate crisis management mode. The scale and complexity of modern software demand real-time risk mitigation that’s generally beyond human capabilities. On average, individual members of the development and security teams spend nearly 28% of their time (approx. 11 hours each week) on vulnerability management tasks that can be automated.
Organizations need automated, intelligent solutions that proactively detect, prioritize, and counteract zero-day vulnerabilities.
- Siloed Functioning of DevOps and SecOps
Organizations aiming to accelerate their digital transformation journey are embracing the DevSecOps approach. Essentially, DevSecOps facilitates a solid integration among development, security, and operations teams. This collaborative approach aims to streamline workflows and improve security, but the siloed existence of different teams presents roadblocks to a smooth implementation.
Different teams within the organization may have their preferred point solution tools, leading to a fragmented landscape devoid of a single source of truth. The biggest challenge of working with point security solutions is that nobody can guarantee that the necessary security controls are applied to all software assets.
The key to breaking down these barriers is through integrated solutions that unify data to create a consistent, single source of truth. Different teams working from one integrated platform can use this data to work toward common goals and automate DevSecOps processes for optimal efficiency and security.
- Immature DevSecOps Practices
DevSecOps promises to integrate development, security, and operations into a unified approach, but achieving this ideal is easier said than done. One of the major roadblocks is the lack of maturity in DevSecOps practices within organizations. Not only must developers be accountable for security during the development phase, but they must also ensure ongoing security once the application is in production.
Technological solutions can aid in this transformation by bridging the gap between development and runtime security, eliminating blind spots in governance throughout the SDLC. Implementing trusted AI and extensive automation can further advance this maturity by reducing the manual labor involved in vulnerability management. This enables developers to concentrate on their core responsibilities, truly realizing the potential of a DevSecOps approach.
Best Practices and Compliance Considerations for Application Security
Since most organizations store their business-critical data across multiple systems and environments, they must create a robust data security and compliance strategy. The top considerations and best practices for data security include:
1. Understanding Your Application Ecosystem
When business leaders and teams don’t understand the whereabouts and usage of sensitive data, they invite security risks. It becomes challenging to adhere to compliance regulations and may lead to unnecessary data hoarding – this is both a data security and privacy issue.
To fulfil compliance requirements, IT organizations must have deep knowledge of their application landscape. This involves answering essential questions such as: Where are the applications located? What functions do they serve? Who owns these applications? And what technologies are needed to support them?
Answering these core questions allows IT leaders to develop compliance strategies accordingly.
2. Implementing a Secure Software Development Lifecycle
Compliance isn’t limited to the existing resources but to the ongoing development operations. IT leaders must create and implement a secure software development methodology encompassing security considerations during the requirements-gathering phase, the design process, and the implementation stage. Utilizing best practices like code reviews, functionality testing, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing ensures compliance throughout the development cycle.
3. Establishing Application and Data Ownership
IT compliance dictates clear lines of responsibility. Each application should have a designated owner, who is also responsible for the associated data. Application owners should meticulously grant access rights after carefully considering multiple factors, including data classification, sensitivity, and job functions. Role-based authorization can strengthen compliance by enforcing security policies and task segregation.
4. Prioritizing Data Analysis
IT leaders and teams actively using business data must have access to the right tools that analyze data to deliver real-time insights. Investing in AI-powered analytics tools improves data security positioning by offering visibility into user activity and behavioral risks and helps meet compliance requirements. Advanced tools that ingest data from multiple sources help security teams identify risk areas and study emerging threat patterns.
Threat analytics can identify suspicious behavior, vulnerabilities, and fraudulent activities in near-real time. Security teams can use the insights to streamline architecture, improve operational efficiencies, and focus on value-added data security activities.
5. Managing Data Transmission and Encryption
Data management is a core focus of IT compliance standards. Organizations must assess their needs for both data confidentiality and integrity during transmission. Questions about encrypting data at rest and in transit must be addressed through rigorous risk assessments and sensitivity analyses. Budget and performance constraints may also influence the type of encryption protocols used.
6. Enforcing Strict Backup and Maintenance Protocols
Data retention and backup are standard compliance requirements. Development and security teams must ensure that application data is backed up regularly and aligns with the organization’s data retention policies. All backup, restore, archive, and retrieval mechanisms must be fully tested and documented to meet compliance criteria.
7. Investing in Continuous Employee Training
No compliance strategy is complete without a focus on human factors. A robust IT security awareness and training program should articulate the expected behaviors for using IT systems, applications, and information. Continuous education helps reinforce compliance goals and maintains a culture of security awareness within the organization.
Managed Service Providers: Leveraging An IT Partner’s Expertise in Application Security & Regulatory Compliance
Navigating the application security and compliance landscape is no small feat, especially as organizations tackle challenges like tool fragmentation, cloud migration, and data democratization. Traditional security platforms cannot handle scaling data volumes and offer limited data retention, often leading to slow reporting and performance degradation.
This is where a managed service provider (MSP) like Neev can become an invaluable partner for growth and efficiency.
MSPs offer robust network security solutions that act as a protective shield, insulating organizations from the ever-present risk of cyber threats. That’s not all – MSPs bring a level of expertise that can help organizations understand data security concerns and compliance regulations.
Let’s explore how MSPs can arm businesses with the right tools and knowledge to defend against security threats while meeting compliance standards.
- Network Security Infrastructure
MSPs bolster network security through multi-layered defences like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and VPNs. They continuously monitor network traffic to quickly identify and counteract threats, protecting business data.
- Real-Time Threat Detection and Response
MSPs utilize state-of-the-art tools for real-time threat detection and response, effectively minimizing the impact of cyber-attacks by promptly identifying and addressing security breaches.
- Robust Data Encryption
MSPs employ advanced encryption techniques for data at rest and in transit, using industry standards like AES and FPE. This ensures that even if breached, the data remains unintelligible to attackers.
- Proactive Vulnerability Management
MSPs actively scan for system and software vulnerabilities, implementing timely patches and updates to reduce the risk of exploitation, thus staying ahead of emerging cyber threats.
- Employee Awareness and Training
While MSPs provide technical defenses, employees are often the first line against attacks like phishing and human error. Training programs focus on recognizing phishing attempts, advocating for strong password security, and responsible data handling.
- Navigating Regulatory Compliance
MSPs specialize in helping businesses meet complex compliance requirements. They implement robust security controls, conduct regular audits, and maintain thorough documentation, aiding companies in navigating various regulatory frameworks effectively.
Neev’s AMS stack covers extensive support services to ensure the optimal functioning of your business applications without compromising security. Our certified experts possess vast knowledge and experience in ITSM and Data Security, enabling us to deliver tailor-made solutions to best suit your IT security and compliance needs. If you wish to know more about how Neev can support your application security needs, contact our experts today!