Application security is a set of measures designed to prevent application data from being stolen or manipulated. A comprehensive application security process includes implementing security measures throughout the application lifecycle, from development to deployment and beyond. The application software security risks that apply to the particular instance must be considered to ensure effective implementation.

A well-developed application security strategy must consider protection measures for all stakeholders—internal and external—especially in the context of today’s technological landscape. 

Most applications today are developed within or associated with the cloud, which means they are vulnerable to cloud threats and vulnerabilities. Application security is more vital than ever to get additional visibility for these threats and prevent cyberattacks.

Modern application software security risks

Common risks associated with modern application software are as follows:

  • Software bugs
    These can lead to relatively simple complications such as error messages however, serious cases can lead to information theft or even system failures.
  • Data leaks
    Data leakages can result in fraud risks, a loss of reputation, compliance issues, and other complications that can damage application operations.
  • Injection flaws
    These risks occur when cyber attackers inject malicious code into an application, resulting in data leakages and unintended command executions.
  • Design flaws
    These occur when design initiatives aren’t based on a security-centric approach, which can lead to the entire application architecture being compromised.
  • Security misconfiguration
    Incomplete configurations and non-secure default configurations can cause security weaknesses in the application software development process.
  • Broken access control
    These occur when access control procedures are not established properly resulting in unauthorised access and exposure of applications to further vulnerabilities.
  • Authentication failures
    These occur when adequate authentication procedures such as multi-factor authentication are not in place, granting access to unintended parties.
  • Component failures
    These occur when vulnerable or outdated components are utilised in application software, exposing the application architecture to other risks.
  • Integrity failures
    These occur when software updates and CI/CD pipelines are implemented without integrity verification, exposing systems to unintended parties.

Strategies to mitigate application software security risks

The following strategies can be implemented to mitigate the security risks that application software face:

Threat modelling practices
This is a structured approach to threat management that focuses on determining security requirements, identifying and assessing the criticality of potential security threats and vulnerabilities, and establishing remediation methods.

Secure coding practices
Establishing secure coding practices means that application security initiatives are taken from the ground up when building applications. Setting up protocols for coding assures a robust security environment throughout development and after.

Authentication and authorisation
Strict authentication and authorisation practices ensure that no unintended or untrustworthy parties get access to the application development process. Access control policies and multi-factor, biometric, and passkey authentication methods can achieve this objective.

Secure data storage and transmission
Data breaches and leakages can be prevented with secure data storage and transmission methods to protect data at rest and in transit. Encryption is one of the most important, robust pieces of data protection technology for this purpose.

Security configuration management
The main purpose of security configuration management is to set up highly secure default settings in application software to ensure the best level of security and mitigate risks. This is achieved by identifying existing misconfigurations in systems.

Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL)
Secure Development Lifecycle is another approach that aims to establish security-centric initiatives at every step of the development process. SDL aims to create a standardised framework of security best practices that can be implemented throughout development. 

Testing and vulnerability assessments
Testing is an essential part of threat management, especially in today’s constantly evolving threat landscape. Consistent testing and vulnerability assessments ensure that the application architecture is at the best level of security it can be.

User education and awareness
Promoting awareness of the capabilities and potential vulnerabilities of application software and appropriate incident response plans ensures that both application software developers and end users are aware of the risks and their appropriate responses.

Compliance and regulations
Adherence to compliance standards in application security ensures that regulatory standards are met while also offering a strong framework for security. Compliance standards like OWASP, NIST, ISO, GDPR, and CIS are potential options for incorporation.

Continuous monitoring
Continuous monitoring strategies are a necessary part of managing application software security risks effectively. This ensures that mitigation strategies can be adapted on the fly, and previous instances of vulnerabilities can inform better protection initiatives.

Establish a robust security risk management framework for application software with these mitigation strategies

The process of managing application software security risks involves in-depth risk assessment and management initiatives. These mitigation strategies can prepare application software for the volatile threat landscape of today.