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An Introduction to Application Security

Application Security

While security teams may “run on Dunkin’,” companies run on applications. From Salesforce and Hubspot to ServiceNow and Jira, your organization relies on a complex, interconnected application ecosystem. In 2022, organizations used an average of 130 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. While these technologies enabled them to reduce costs and achieve revenue targets, they created new security risks. Further, many companies deployed their own homegrown applications to meet customer demands for digital experiences.


As companies across all industries build out digital services, the basic principles of application security become increasingly essential to risk mitigation strategies.


What is application security?

Application security (AppSec) consists of the activities and tools developers use to identify and remediate vulnerabilities in code to protect applications from potential threats. Modern applications transmit, store, and process sensitive information, so organizations must implement processes to mitigate risks during development and after deployment.

Integrating security practices into the software development lifecycle (SDLC) reduces risk and costs by identifying and remediating vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them.


Some tools used for web application security testing include:


Why is application security important?

Companies outside the traditional software industry now deliver applications. Companies across retail and hospitality build mobile and web-based applications so consumers can make purchases. Meanwhile, many businesses develop applications for internal employee use.


AppSec enables you to:


Why is application security challenging?

While application security is critical, it’s also extremely challenging. Developers and security professionals increasingly work more closely together to secure applications.


Some fundamental AppSec challenges organizations face include the following:


Many organizations seek to implement DevSecOps to overcome these challenges, which builds security into the SDLC. By identifying and remediating vulnerabilities during application development, you can enhance security, reduce costs, and accelerate time-to-market.


What are some common application security risks?

Before securing your applications, you should understand how malicious actors use them to undermine a company’s security.


Some typical application security risks include:


Centralized log management for application security best practices

While AppSec is challenging, following these best practices can help you mitigate risks.

1.   Identify Assets

To secure your development environment, you must know what servers host the application and its software components. For example, you want to consider the following application security assets:


2.   Centralize event logging

After identifying the assets you want to monitor, you should collect and aggregate their event logs in a single location. With a centralized log management solution, you can parse and normalize diverse log formats, enabling you to correlate events. You can accelerate application delivery by breaking down information silos while improving security.


3.   Create dashboards for different environments

As a best practice, you want to differentiate development, staging, and production environments so that you can monitor each separately. As part of shifting security “left,” you need to capture data about the application’s activities before you push it into production. This is why security logging and monitoring is critical during the development phase. By creating a separate dashboard for each environment, you focus on the most critical metrics for each.


4.   Set baselines to identify anomalies and metrics

Once you identify which assets belong in each dashboard, you can set baselines that enable security visibility across the different environments.


Some examples of different metrics include:


5.   Build workflows for collaboration


AppSec requires collaboration between developers, security teams, and operations teams. When an application doesn’t work as intended, you need to know whether it’s a bug or a security issue. When everyone works with the same information, they can collaborate more effectively and efficiently.


With centralized log management, your teams can share data and their investigations directly within the platform. For example, if IT operations begins an investigation and then needs to escalate it to the security team, having the history available at-a-click streamlines activities, enhancing everyone’s productivity.


Graylog Security: Centralized log management for shifting security left

With Graylog’s platform, you get the comprehensive visibility you need to shift security left. Purpose-built for modern log analytics, Graylog Operations enables you to search volumes of data in seconds, improving key metrics like Mean Time to Detect (MTTD) and Mean Time to Respond (MTTR). Using Graylog Security, you gain the security incident and event management (SIEM) solution you need without the complexity and cost.


Contact us today to find out how Graylog can help you enhance your application security.

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