Your business encounters risk on a daily basis. When it comes to your IT infrastructure, risk can emerge from anywhere in your environment. From software vulnerabilities to configuration errors, any exposures in your infrastructure stack increase the chance of an attack, which can affect not only your data, but also hurt operations, finances, and consumer confidence. How can your organization combat these IT risks? It starts with understanding recent breach trends.
What is the biggest IT security risk to your business?
The answer is your cloud-based web applications. Since the rising trend in cloud adoption, more businesses use a cloud service provider (CSP) to run their underlying infrastructure to not only benefit from the cost savings and efficiency gains, but also for the cloud provider’s ongoing efforts to harden controls at the bottom of your IT stack. This cloud migration increase has forced attackers to move “up the stack” and capitalize their efforts on the path of least resistance: your cloud-based web applications (read more in the Aberdeen report). Web application attacks are now the number one attack vector for breaches, up 300% since 2014 according to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report. Web apps are more dynamic, complex, and interconnected than ever before. So how do you ensure your web apps are fully protected? Let’s take a look at the risk factors to web applications.
How are your web apps risky?
The pressure to speed up app development cycles has significantly increased organizational risk. More businesses are using existing frameworks from third parties to improve functionality without increasing dev time. Traditionally, businesses often faced the challenge to “buy versus build” capabilities within their applications, which had their respective pros and cons. Building out capabilities usually gave a competitive advantage but required a significant amount of time and resources. Buying, on the other hand, was and still is far less expensive and faster to integrate. In other words, why build a blog function from scratch when you could use WordPress? Organizations can meet faster deadlines with third-party integration; however, they are faced with more chances for vulnerabilities.
Think of your web applications as a house. A house has many doorways both in and around the perimeter and to best protect your home, you need security around those doorways to safeguard what’s inside. With so many connecting doorways to consider, you need to prioritize which openings hold the most risk and where these doors lead.
The same mindset can be applied to your public-facing applications. Doorways are on all levels of your infrastructure stack, with some doorways more susceptible for attacks than others. These openings protect consumer data, intellectual property, and other avenues to valuable assets. Your job is to assess which doors need the most protection. And unlike the time it takes to remodel your home, your web applications can change in a moment’s notice, as new features, functionalities, and updates alter the number of doorways to the house with third party integration. Now the issue isn’t only securing the vulnerabilities of your original home, but to the new editions added by third parties.
So how can you control and secure the rapid environment changes to your web applications (house)?
How do you secure your dynamic applications?
It all boils down to visibility: how much of the threat landscape your organization can see. More specifically, it is the gathering of data from your network traffic, logs, and applications, then putting it all into context to identify threats. Having complete visibility allows you to pinpoint the doorways across your application, even as your environment changes. This insight feeds into better prioritization on security needs, discovery of misconfigurations, and the ability to better integrate security within DevOps. Vulnerability and configuration management tools give companies this kind of visibility. With real-time monitoring of their IT environment, businesses can stay on top of environmental changes, identify vulnerabilities and configuration errors, and remediate faster.