TechTarget recently ran an interview with “Web Application Security” author Andrew Hoffman, who explained the importance of a secure web application architecture and how to achieve it through collaboration between software and security engineers. Emphasizing collaboration between software and security is more important than ever with the increasing attacks on web applications, fueled in part by the increased attack surface available with more applications moving to the cloud.
The TechTarget article notes that “In fact, 43% of breaches were linked to web application attacks, according to the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report — a twofold increase from the prior year.”
The article notes that in many organizations the responsibility of securing web applications falls to the security organization, but should in fact be a collaboration between software engineers and security engineers.
Here at K2 Cyber Security, we completely agree. Too often we see software development organizations dismiss the importance of security, and relying on the security testing and production security team to handle the security of the applications being developed.
Almost as troubling, is that in some organizations, the shared responsibility between software development, security testing and production is understood in the organization, and the budget for tools for security is shared between all three organizations. The result is that any change to the security posture of the organization requires agreement between all three organizations, making the adoption of new tools and change to the security methodology almost impossible.
In today’s increasing threat environment, adoption of new methodologies and new tools to ensure security is more important than ever, meaning collaboration and agreement between these organizations needs to be streamlined and enabled.
In addition to streamlining collaboration, we also offer a few more tips to improve application security.
Take a Page from NIST to Improve Application Security
There are a number of simple measures an organization can take to improve their web application security stance. First starts at the very beginning of application development, and that’s making sure developers take security into consideration when developing and coding applications. Second, is making sure that software and operating systems are kept up to date, with the latest updates and patches to ensure known vulnerabilities that have patches are not exploited.
In addition to these two fundamental starts to application security, there’s still a need to ensure security for web applications running in production, especially against threats either missed or not typically secured by network or system level security. The OWASP Top 10 Web Application Security Risks are a great example of risks that aren’t typically protected with network or system level security.
It is important to remember to have a security framework that offers a defense-in-depth architecture. Maybe it’s time to take a hint from the recent finalization of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s SP800-53 that was just released on September 23, 2020. The latest revision of NIST SP800-53 includes the requirement of RASP (Runtime Application Self-Protection) and IAST (Interactive Application Security Testing). It’s a first in recognizing these two advancements in application security by now requiring them as part of the security framework.
A RASP solution sits on same server as the application, and provides continuous security for the application during runtime. By running on same server as the application, RASP solutions provide continuous security for the application during runtime. For example, as mentioned earlier, a RASP solution has complete visibility into the application, so a RASP solution can analyze an application’s execution to validate the execution of the code, and can understand the context of the application’s interactions.
IAST is the other new recommendation for application security coming from the NIST revised draft, and if you haven’t heard of IAST, there’s a good definition available from Optiv
“IAST is an emerging application security testing approach which combines elements of both of its more established siblings in SAST (Static Application Security Testing) and DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing). IAST instruments the application binary which can enable both DAST-like confirmation of exploit success and SAST-like coverage of the application code. In some cases, IAST allows security testing as part of general application testing process which provides significant benefits to DevOps approaches. IAST holds the potential to drive tests with fewer false positives/negatives and higher speed than SAST and DAST.”
With these two new requirements (RASP and IAST) for application security being added to the NIST framework, it’s really time to rethink how your organization is doing application security.
Here at K2 Cyber Security, we’d like to help out with your RASP and IAST requirements. K2 offers an ideal runtime protection security solution that detects true zero-day attacks, while at the same time generates the least false positives and alerts. Rather than rely on technologies like signatures, heuristics, fuzzy logic, machine learning or AI, we use a deterministic approach to detect true zero-day attacks, without being limited to detecting attacks based on prior attack knowledge. Deterministic security uses application execution validation, and verifies the API calls are functioning the way the code intended. There is no use of any prior knowledge about an attack or the underlying vulnerability, which gives our approach the true ability to detect new zero-day attacks. Our technology has 8 patents granted/pending, and has no false alerts.
We’ve also recently published a video, The Need for Deterministic Security. The video explains why the technologies used in today’s security tools, including web application firewalls (WAFs) fail to prevent zero day attacks and how deterministic security fills the need for detecting zero day attacks. The video covers why technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, heuristics, fuzzy logic, pattern and signature matching fail to detect true zero day attacks, giving very specific examples of attacks where these technologies work, and where they fail to detect an attack.
The video also explains why deterministic security works against true zero day attacks and how K2 uses deterministic security. Watch the video now.
Change how you protect your applications, include RASP and check out K2’s application workload security.