For hackers, methods of attack are constantly evolving. In 2020, we’re going to see increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats. Web applications, in particular, are a vulnerable target through which attackers can infiltrate and compromise entire company systems.
This year, web application security is one of the most important aspects of a robust cybersecurity strategy.
What is web application security?
Web application security is a broad term for the protection of websites and other online services against various security threats. Such web applications, particularly websites and API gateways, tend to be common targets for nefarious actors because they’re easy to execute and offer high-value rewards, such as access to private user information or other valuable assets.
In addition, web applications have complex code, making the code highly vulnerable and easier to manipulate. By exploiting these vulnerabilities, attackers can take over content management systems, such as WordPress, SaaS applications, and database administration tools and use these to compromise the website and its visitors.
Common threats to web application security
Malicious input can manipulate source code in a variety of ways. The most common attack vectors include OWASP Top 10 security risks such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CRSF), and remote file inclusion.
During SQL injection, a malicious SQL code is used to manipulate a database and access sensitive data as a result. Cross-site scripting (XSS), on the other hand, targets users to access accounts, activate Trojans, or modify page content.
Remote file inclusion involves the injection of an infected file into a web application server, while CRSF makes a user’s browser perform unwanted actions such as stealing data, changing passwords, or transferring funds.
All these threats target web applications. When you protect your web applications, you minimize your risk of attack.
Web application security best practices for 2020
If you haven’t already secured your web applications, you need to start this year. Here are the top web application security practices and trends for 2020.
Prioritize your vulnerabilities
You probably use a wide array of web applications, and each application has its own vulnerabilities. Before you launch into your web application security strategy, it’s a good idea to take a step back and make a list of all your web applications and their associated vulnerabilities. This helps ensure you won’t overlook any important information, and it also helps ensure you prioritize the direst vulnerabilities first. Work to resolve your vulnerabilities in order of importance to minimize the risk of attack.
Test and authorize
Test your web applications for a variety of vulnerabilities, including path traversals, access control issues, and insecure direct object references. You also need to conduct traffic authorization and apply different access control rules to different types of traffic.
Use a strong WAF
Web application firewalls, also known as WAFs, are designed to protect specifically against application security threats. WAFs monitor incoming traffic, filtering out traffic that may be harmful. Because WAFs block malicious requests before they reach the application, they prevent attackers from entering your system in the first place.
Today’s WAFs are able to form intelligent analyses of incoming traffic, using a combination of reputation and behavioral data to gain insights about whether the traffic is harmful. Modern-day WAFs are also cloud-based, making them easier to deploy, maintain, and scale.
Encrypt your data
Encryption is the process of scrambling and transforming your data into an unintelligible format. The purpose of encryption is to render your information useless and impossible to decipher if it gets into the wrong hands.
You can think of encryption as your second line of defense, after your WAF, against a cyber attack. Encrypt your data so that even if you are attacked, hackers will not be able to uncover any information.
Combine automation with manual
Automation is a key feature of any effective cybersecurity solution, but 2020 isn’t only about automation. Don’t be tempted to rely solely on an automated analysis of threats.
Instead, keep a team of security professionals on hand to manually review your web applications. Automated and manual processes work hand-in-hand, with automated technology taking care of repetitive or mundane tasks to help security professionals prioritize the most important issues. Security professionals are instrumental in managing a cybersecurity strategy overall and can run tests to inspect and resolve web application vulnerabilities.
Prioritizing web application security needs to be your New Year’s resolution for 2020. Securing your web applications helps you prevent deep, irrevocable damage to your network and your company. Let’s make this a happy, healthy, and hack-free year.