This article was originally published on the Checkmarx blog. Click HERE to see the original article in its entirety.
These days, technology is evolving at a pace like never before seen, forcing organizations into an “adapt or die” situation. And, as digital transformation accelerates, everyone is feeling the effects. DevOps leaders, AppSec managers, and developers are certainly no exception, as they’re being tasked with developing and deploying software at a faster rate to keep their organizations competitive and relevant.
However, this increased focus on speed often causes security to fall by the wayside. Just turn on the news and our point is proven, as you’re all but guaranteed to hear about yet another business falling victim to a cyberattack. What’s especially concerning is that vulnerable software is often the root cause of the problem. According to Forrester, applications are the leading attack vector for security breaches, with 42% of global security decision makers whose firms experienced an external attack saying it resulted from an exploited software vulnerability.
As the proliferation of software continues, bringing with it an ever-expanding attack surface that’s ripe for targeting by malicious actors, AppSec must be a priority above all else. Here are five top reasons why, courtesy of a recent eBook by Checkmarx:
Software is Everywhere and Growing in Complexity
Today’s connected world means that software is omnipresent. Just look around and count the number of things that are powered by software. Pop the proverbial hood on these things and underneath you’ll find trillions of lines of code meticulously written by millions of developers spread across the globe. And we’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg with today’s software ecosystem, as new code is being pushed out at faster than ever before.
As software becomes more pervasive, it’s also taking on new forms and use cases, increasingly incorporating a mix of internal and third-party components, application programming interfaces (APIs), new architectures and frameworks, containers, and more. All of this leads to more complex applications, which in turn leads to more vulnerable applications requiring increased attention.
Software is Every Organization’s Weakest Link
On one hand, software is the single biggest catalyst for technological innovation of our time. On the other, with all the benefits comes a massive attack surface that, as an industry, has not been effectively addressed, as evidenced by vulnerable applications now serving as the leading attack vector. It’s a true double-edged sword. Organizations that release vulnerable software are not only jeopardizing their own reputation, privacy, and bottom line, but also that of their loyal and trusting customers.
Software must be protected. And that doesn’t just mean securing the applications that you consider to be mission- or business-critical. A holistic security strategy involves your entire application “portfolio.” Leveraging solutions that address all applications – whether built in-house, outsourced, or via open source components – and the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is key to up-leveling your AppSec posture.
Developers Can – and Should – Be Extensions of Your Security Team
It’s no hidden secret that developers are being asked to release software faster than ever before. Analysts suggest that 38% are deploying software monthly or faster, up from 27% in 2018. In addition to speed, they’re also increasingly being measured on code quality and customer feedback – not to mention security – a balance that’s difficult to strike.
Developers are adaptable by nature and generally accept these challenges, especially when it comes to security, but need a little help in return. Organizations must adopt developer-centric solutions like automated AST tools that keep developers within their preferred environments to make it easier for them to embed security into their processes. Just-in-time security training goes a long way as well to help developers consistently improve the security of the code they develop.
Open Source is Equal Parts Vulnerable and Valuable
As developers move faster, they’re relying more on open source code versus building software from scratch. Today’s applications are primarily comprised of open source libraries and components, often making up 80-90% of the average codebase. Simultaneous with this proliferation, the total number of vulnerabilities in open source software is rising. Without tools like software composition analysis, the benefits of open source can easily be overshadowed by the risks, including security vulnerabilities, license compliance, and loss of community support and maintenance.
AppSec and Digital Transformation Go Hand-in-Hand
Planning out any digital transformation effort requires a thorough security assessment, especially when it comes to software. With IDC predicting that half of all IT spending will be directly tied to digital transformation and innovation by 2024, it’s critical for organizational leaders to be strategic in their approach and build security in from the get-go.
Whether deploying new solutions to empower employees and developers to work and code remotely or evolving internal architecture and processes to improve the customer experience, AppSec is critical. Going down a path of digital transformation shouldn’t be done alone and must have software security embedded every step of the way.
If AppSec hasn’t been a priority before, it must be now. It’s imperative to conduct application security testing earlier in development and leverage solutions that streamline workflows and expedite vulnerability remediation.
To learn more about the importance of AppSec and ways in which to ensure the security of your agency’s applications, click HERE to download a complimentary copy of the eBook, “Five Reasons To Prioritize Software Security.”