The Four Steps to AppSec in the Age of Dynamic Language Processing

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With more and more companies moving to the cloud to run their businesses, the pressure on developers to push out web applications at a rapid pace is continuing to grow. Increasingly, web application developers are looking to dynamic languages that enable agile development and allow them to deliver on-time and in a flexible way. However, ensuring the security of these applications has become harder than ever, especially at the record speed with which development practices have evolved.

With this change comes the need for companies to update the ways in which they secure data. In order to keep up with the shift in development practices, web application security must become agile. Legacy security practices such as firewalls and WAFs – which allowed companies to implement a “set it and forget it” security strategy, are no longer sophisticated enough to protect against the onslaught of attacks that web applications face. Security needs to occur at the same speed as development and fuel innovation instead of putting processes in place to slow it down. The more complex, labor-intensive practices that many large corporations have in place are simply not realistic anymore. Companies are dealing with a complicated ecosystem of new and old web applications that are constantly building upon themselves and being updated. 

A new paradigm in web application security is a necessity and organizations need a strategy that can handle the pace of today's development environment. This new normal must address these four things:

Real-Time Monitoring
For many, security tests happen before an application is launched and additional vulnerabilities that open up are addressed after a breach has happened. As security threats have become more sophisticated, testing security measures through static pen testing is no longer enough to ensure protection. It is critical for security measures to go beyond static analysis and pre-launch testing to keep up with an application’s ongoing protection-flagging vulnerabilities in real-time and stopping attacks before they happen.

Internal Protection
As applications have become more advanced, protecting an application using a “hard shell” format has become obsolete. With applications constantly being updated and hackers finding new vulnerabilities, it’s imperative that security measures encompass and have visibility into every aspect of the application, from the inside out. By protecting from the inside, security tools can provide a higher level of accuracy and are nearly impossible to circumvent using common WAF hacking techniques. By allowing the security teams to see inside the application, they can accurately locate and block attacks as they happen.

Legacy systems required applications to go offline to fix problems, or to undergo lengthy testing before going live at all. As organizations become more agile and gravitate toward continuous deployment models, however, they need runtime security technology that can keep up with and be as flexible as the processes their applications are built on. This is done by shifting away from protecting an application by forming a barrier around it and moving towards security that views the application more holistically. As such, an application is protected no matter where it goes, working the same whether is it deployed on a company’s personal server, to AWS, Azure or any other hosting option. With runtime security, deployments can take as little as two minutes and run without servers, eliminating the need to customize traffic routing or deal with any other complicated infrastructure change. 

With outside threats becoming more sophisticated by the day, applications are likely to be under attack almost constantly from the moment they go live. This constant barrage of threats means it’s important for security software to provide an accurate picture of what is going on by correctly identifying vulnerabilities. Legacy systems have a history of misidentifying attacks, leading to time wasted by development and coding teams. With runtime security applications that learn as they go, they can more accurately identify threats and actors and stop attacks at the first sign of them. 

As agile development practices take over the web application industry, security measures must also shift to take a more active, holistic role in securing these applications from the many threats that they face. Security can no longer be something that companies think of pre-launch, and then not again until something goes wrong. 

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