The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has proven that applications are the driving force of the world economy. With a massive shift from brick-and-mortar locations to online operations across all industries during lockdowns, companies will likely continue to encourage the use of their online platforms to stabilize revenue streams, even as states and countries begin to reopen.
Unfortunately, adversaries began using this shift as an opening to exploit organizations and gain access to consumer data. At the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning after it reported a fivefold increase in cyberattacks. The WHO was not alone. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) online crimes have quadrupled to nearly 4,000 incidents daily since COVID-19 began to spread in the U.S. back in March.
Experiencing a data breach after the damage of the pandemic could cost companies significantly due to the loss in revenue, a tarnished reputation and time to mitigate the effects of the attack. Business leaders who are just beginning to drive their business online may not have the knowledge regarding how to protect consumers using their website and/or how applications can put them at an increased risk.
As companies look to applications to increase revenue, they must take the proper steps to protect themselves and their customers from the hands of cyberattackers. While not all attacks are the same and even companies that have had online operations for years can fall victim, organizations can take the below steps to protect their digital assets as they drive their digital future.
Employ continuous security risk assessments to maintain uptime
The sheer volume of demand on web and mobile applications stemming from the pandemic is expected to continue long after COVID-19 is behind us. Continuous scanning allows businesses to check for vulnerabilities automatically as demands on applications evolve, even while in production. This can save time and costs while ensuring the business does not suffer downtime. Regularly going back and reviewing old issues will also prevent them from occurring again.
It is important to patch vulnerabilities as soon as they are found. Due to the time constraints developers may be facing, especially in the midst of serious demands for online resources, it can be easy for them to rush to finish writing code without addressing the vulnerabilities. Despite the fact that it may not cause an issue immediately, an adversary may find it before it is too late.
Make sure the security team is staying up to date on the latest vulnerabilities
If your security team does not understand what the threats are, how can you expect them to protect the business? When there is software continuously scanning for vulnerabilities, it will be easier for security teams to fix issues. However, it is still important for security professionals to be aware of the newest changes in the app ecosystem to best protect the organization. To stay on top of the newest threats to cybersecurity, security teams should be conducting daily research and sharing information with each other. Company leaders also should be paying attention to the news and seeing what other businesses, particularly in their industry, are doing to mitigate attack risks and any breaches they have experienced. Oftentimes attackers will have patterns; staying up to date can help identify them and even prevent them.
Incorporate security into the organization’s app culture
The need for development, IT operations and security teams to align has grown exponentially for the past few years. DevSecOps, the term describing the collaboration across these departments to include application security throughout the software life cycle (SLC) and post-release lifespan, has become crucial.
With the pandemic fueling an increase in functionality for apps across all industries, there are more entryways vulnerable to attack, and the frequency has also increased. By incorporating security throughout the development process, organizations can lower the number of vulnerabilities and increase efficiency for time-to-fix rate. When DevSecOps is ingrained into the creation of an app, early detection of security threats and vulnerabilities is dramatically increased even long after deployment—and it becomes easier to incorporate a solution in the event of a problem.
Organizations are depending on software applications to allow their business to thrive. But many business leaders learned from the pandemic that software security does not typically scale with an increase in traffic, thus creating risk. In a post-COVID-19 world, maintaining the security and integrity of applications will help digital-first businesses and those whose reliance on their online presence skyrocketed in the virus’s wake keep their digital doors open.