Web application security is the group of technologies, processes, and methods used to protect web applications, servers, and web services from a cyber attack.
Web application security products and services use tools and practices such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), web application firewalls (WAFs), security policies, and identity validation to maintain user privacy and prevent intrusions.
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Web application security is critical to protect data, customers, and systems from intrusions and data breaches that damage business continuity. Today, where there is an application for everything from remote working to banking, attackers find applications to be a prime target.
Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities, such as design flaws, weaknesses in APIs, open-source code, or widgets, and they’re getting smarter and more organized. The safety of a business will ultimately depend on how quickly security teams can detect and fix security vulnerabilities in the development process. Therefore, it is critical to use application security tools that integrate into your application development environment.
Attackers use a wide array of methods to target application vulnerabilities. Here are some of them:
These are only some of the attack vectors cybercriminals use to target applications. With cybercrime on the rise, protecting applications from threats is crucial to limit the monetary and business impact.
There are different approaches to web application security, depending on the vulnerabilities being addressed. For instance, web application firewalls (WAFs) are some of the most comprehensive tools. WAFs filter the traffic between the web application and any user that intends to access it. A WAF uses policies that help determine what traffic is safe and what isn’t, block malicious traffic attempts, and prevent attackers from reaching the application. WAFs also block the app from releasing unauthorized data.
As DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks become more prevalent, organizations need to implement methods to protect their web applications from these attacks. Ransom DDoS attacks, in particular, are on the rise, where attackers ask for money to stop an ongoing attack or prevent an upcoming threat. The effects of a DDoS can be devastating, with the potential for huge revenue loss and serious business disruption. An effective DDoS mitigation service needs to not only filter and block suspicious traffic, but must also be intelligent enough to detect and allow legitimate traffic to pass.
Another vector of attack to be aware of is malicious bots that are used to access web APIs and properties. Once the bot is inside the network it can take control, deploying code or making attacks such as DDoS and SQL injection. A bot management tool can detect and block malicious bot traffic, mitigating the risk of bot attacks.
Application security testing (AST) is a method of making applications safer against security threats by identifying security vulnerabilities in source code. Originally, AST was a manual process, but the increasing complexity of enterprise software—with huge numbers of open source components prone to known vulnerabilities—made it necessary for AST to be automated. Most organizations combine different application security tools at different stages of the software development lifecycle.
Application security testing can be categorized as static or dynamic, which address different security weaknesses. There are several tools and techniques:
SAST tools inspect the static source code of an application, and report on any security weakness found. You can apply static testing tools to uncompiled code. It finds issues like syntax errors, math errors, and invalid or insecure references.
DAST tools inspect the code while it’s running, detecting indicators of security vulnerabilities. For instance, issues with query strings, requests and responses, use of scripts, memory leaks, data injection, and more. You can use DAST tools to conduct scans simulating large numbers of malicious cases and record the application’s response.
IAST tools combine SAST and DAST tools to improve the detection of security threats. IAST tools inspect the software during runtime, but it is run from the application server, so it can also inspect compiled sources. You can use IAST tools to learn about the root cause of vulnerabilities and which specific lines of code are involved, so it is easy to remediate them.
In addition to automated application security testing, security analysts use manual penetration testing to simulate attacks against a running application. Pen testers use various tools to simulate the attacks, including DAST or SAST tools.
Here are some tips and best practices that can help you protect your applications from cyberattacks:
Encryption is essential as companies move to digital transformation. This is a simple step that doesn’t require complex web application security tools but is often overlooked by organizations. Attackers will take advantage of any unencrypted HTTP requests and mislead users. By encrypting the HTTPs, you make it safe to transfer data between users and servers, eliminating another potential attack vector.
Traditionally, security professionals would use a vulnerability scanner and then manually conduct additional testing using security tools. However, this approach is now insufficient to face the volume and complexity of attacks. Current security tools integrate automation capabilities that prevent errors and issues early in the software development lifecycle, saving a lot of time and simplifying remediation.
DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks are a popular attack vector against applications. Attackers use malicious yet seemingly legitimate requests to consume and overload application resources. A web application security tester would take the steps to identify malicious behavior and prevent damage. DDoS protection services help detect and mitigate web application layer DDoS attacks by inspecting and diverting traffic.
Secure code practices help developers make fewer errors when writing the code. They also help you detect and eliminate errors early in the software development lifecycle. Developers should understand how attackers exploit vulnerabilities and misconfiguration.
Scanning for security vulnerabilities early in the software development life cycle (SDLC) helps detect and fix issues before attackers can exploit them. This is done using web application security tools. These tools integrate into the DevOps pipelines and inform developers of vulnerabilities as soon they commit new code to the repository.
Citrix Web App and API Protection are offered now as a cloud service. The all-in-one platform delivers holistic and layered protection against known and zero-day attacks. It includes an integrated web application firewall (WAF), bot management, and DDoS mitigation service.
The more disparate applications you deploy, the higher the risk of a fragmented security posture. The Citrix platform offers consistent security across the entire app ecosystem and environments.