The cost of security incidents is increasing, and this cost is now the third-largest IT spend after salaries and hardware. Despite this, the average time to detect a security breach is massive.
Security audits are an essential part of a secure application development life cycle. A thorough application security audit can help you determine if your apps are vulnerable to various security threats and identify the areas requiring future investments.
This blog post discusses what an application security audit is and how you can use it to improve the security of your applications.
An application security audit is a comprehensive assessment of the security posture of an application or system
Defining an Application Security Audit
An application security audit is a comprehensive assessment of the security posture of an application or system. It's typically performed by an external organization or third-party company and identifies security risks and vulnerabilities.
The audit can be performed manually or automatically, and generally includes the following:
Identifying security risks
Assessing the likelihood and impact of those risks
Making recommendations for mitigating or eliminating the risks
The goal of an application security audit is to provide a clear and concise report that you can use to improve your application's overall security.
Why Conduct App Security Audits?
Regular application security audits are essential to ensure your applications' security and integrity. By auditing your applications, you can identify and fix any security vulnerabilities.
Additionally, regular audits can help prevent future security issues by identifying potential risks and measures to mitigate them.
While some organizations may view application security audits as a costly and time-consuming endeavor, the truth is that they can save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run. By catching security issues early on, you can avoid the costly damages resulting from a data breach or other security incident.
Also, regular audits can help improve your organization's overall security posture and give you peace of mind knowing that your applications are as secure as possible.
Companies can define the scope in terms of features, functionality, or data
How to Perform an App Security Audit
Security auditors perform several steps to carry out a comprehensive application security audit. Firstly, it is essential to understand the scope of the audit and what specific areas need to be covered.
Companies can define the scope in terms of features, functionality, or data. For example, if the audit aims to identify all potential security vulnerabilities, the scope would be the entire application. However, you can limit the scope to the security of a particular feature or functionality.
Once you've determined the scope of the audit, the next step is gathering information about the application, including any security-related information and information about the application's environment. That means reviewing the source code, documentation, and other relevant materials. The auditor might also interview developers and administrators.
Next, the auditor identifies potential security risks. This includes threats to data and systems' confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
The final stage of the process is to report on the audit findings and recommend ways to remediate any identified vulnerabilities. This report should be clear and concise and be provided to the relevant parties promptly.
Types of Application Security Audits
Auditors can perform a variety of application security audits, and the most appropriate type(s) for a particular company will depend on several factors. Some of the most common types of application security audits include:
Security vulnerability assessments: These audits focus on identifying security vulnerabilities and risks. They can be conducted using various methods, including manual code reviews, automated scanning tools, and penetration testing.
Configuration audits: These audits focus on assessing the security configuration of systems and applications. They can help to identify weak and insecure settings that could leave an organization open to attack.
Access control audits: These audits focus on assessing the effectiveness of an organization's access control mechanisms. They can help to identify areas where access control is weak or could be improved.
Logging and monitoring audit: These audits focus on assessing an organization's logging and monitoring capabilities. They can help to identify gaps in coverage that could leave an organization vulnerable to attack.
What to Look for When Choosing an Application Security Audit Vendor
If you're responsible for implementing security in your organization, you've likely realized that it's not as straightforward as it seems. New threats emerge daily, and you need to update your security measures accordingly.
As a result, you need to hire a third-party application security audit company that can help you stay ahead of the curve. However, choosing the right vendor without proper knowledge will be challenging. You need to keep three things in mind while selecting an application security audit vendor: the vendor's security capabilities, approach to security, and experience.
You should expect a vendor to have the expertise to analyze your application and determine where the security issues are. They should also be clear on their weaknesses, which is where experience comes in.
You'll want to look at prior audits to get an idea of the problems they identified and their proposed fixes. Choosing a vendor with experience working with your type of application is essential.
If you are using a specific technology, you must ensure that the audit vendor is familiar with it. The audit should include a report that gives you details on where the security issues are, along with a recommendation on how to fix them. It should also have an action plan that will be implemented to fix the issues.
Common Issues Found During a Security Audit
As an application security company, we've seen countless examples of vulnerabilities that could have been prevented. Below are the top three vulnerabilities we come across in our day-to-day work.
The first vulnerability is the lack of input validation. Input validation ensures that the data provided by a user or client is validated for type, length, format, and values. Developers should use input validation to ensure that only valid data is passed to your application. This helps to prevent unexpected behavior. Input validation is one of the most critical aspects of application security.
The second type is broken access control issues, a broader class. There are many types of broken access control vulnerabilities, but they all essentially involve circumventing the controls that are in place to restrict access to data or resources. Common examples include accessing data that is not supposed to be accessible and elevating privileges to gain access to sensitive data or resources.
The other common type of vulnerability is SSRF, which stands for server-side request forgery. This type of attack occurs when an attacker tricks a server into making a request to another server on behalf of the attacker. This can be used to exploit internal systems that are not intended to be accessible from the outside and bypass firewalls and other security measures. In some cases, SSRF can also be used to perform denial-of-service attacks.
Application security is much larger than most people realize, so it's essential to understand how to audit your apps properly
Application security is much larger than most people realize, so it's essential to understand how to audit your apps properly. You can make your application and data more secure by avoiding these common application security mistakes. Each of these mistakes makes it easy for a hacker to exploit your application and access data they wouldn't be able to otherwise.
It is a good practice to perform security audits regularly. Check for vulnerabilities and ensure that your application does not allow any unwanted access or needs to be potential grounds for cyber-attacks.
We hope you've enjoyed learning about the application security audits. If you would like to learn more about application security audits or would like to book a demo, please email us or check out this link.
This post was written by Keshav Malik. Keshav is a full-time developer who loves to build and break stuff. He is constantly on the lookout for new and interesting technologies and enjoys working with a diverse set of technologies in his spare time. He loves music and plays badminton whenever the opportunity presents itself.