Best Practices for Application Security (AppSec)

    Application Security (AppSec)

    Application Security (AppSec) is crucial to identifying and managing the risks throughout the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

    According to Cisco Cybersecurity Readiness Index, Less than 10% of companies worldwide are mature enough to handle modern cybersecurity issues. This lag can be partly attributed to 92% of technologists focusing on rapid innovation in app development over app security.

    Hence, implementing best practices to secure app configuration, management, and deployment is important to reduce vulnerabilities & prevent attackers.

    Here are some best practices that will help in effective AppSec implementation.

    Begin with a Threat Assessment

    Start by conducting a threat assessment to understand the main entry points that attackers may use to breach your apps. Evaluate the security measures that have already been implemented and identify any that still need to be implemented.

    Set reasonable goals to achieve the desired level of security against different types of potential threats. These goals will serve as a benchmark over time to measure the progress.

    Integrate Security at Each Level

    Integrating security testing into the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is important, starting from the planning stage. At every stage of development, including iteration, bug testing, and deployment, a risk analysis of potential threats should be conducted.

    Quality analysts use automated tools throughout the CI/CD pipeline. This helps to evaluate the apps at multiple checkpoints as early as possible. This ensures that the final product is stable and free from potential threats.

    When a programmer executes the code and creates an output, it should undergo various levels of security testing. This allows them to identify and fix potential issues immediately.

    Before promoting a complete module or feature to the production environment, it should be thoroughly tested at different levels of testing.

    Focus on Issues & Fix Them

    Regarding app security testing, it is vital to remember that the code will have multiple vulnerabilities. However, not all of them may be fixable.

    Hence, prioritizing the issues based on severity is essential. This approach will ensure that severe threats are resolved quickly and not hamper development productivity.

    The security testing process should involve a combination of automated metrics and manual evaluation. The automated metrics will provide information about the severity of the app. 

    Meanwhile, the manual evaluation will help understand if the identified issues could pose a business risk. It is important to note that components containing bugs that are not part of the production environment should not be prioritized during testing.

    They must tackle actual, prominent problems and be allowed to fix them throughout the SDLC, no matter where or when they arise.

    This approach guarantees the end product is secure and free of vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

    Regularly Assess the Application Security (AppSec) Results

    A lot of time and resources, including cultural and organizational changes, are invested in an application security (AppSec) program. The developers and the firm need to comprehend the impact of the AppSec program on security to understand its implementation and ensure that the management supports it.

    Issuing a weekly or monthly report would be helpful to track the success of the AppSec program. This report should showcase the progress made after implementing AppSec measures. Some important metrics that should be included in the report are:

    • Number of compliance violations
    • Number of violations of internal AppSec policies
    • Number of security defects found in production
    • Number of security defects found in the testing environment
    • Number of security incidents

    Control App and System Privileges

    Anything related to the application security program contains sensitive and valuable data that attackers may target. Therefore, it is important to manage the following aspects properly:

    • Access to security tools
    • Documentation of policies and processes
    • Access to CI/CD and development tools

    It is important to follow the principle of least privilege, which means that users should only be able to access the data and systems necessary for their daily work.

    In addition, it is important to follow the zero-trust principles for integrated systems. This ensures that each system is only given the minimal permissions required to function correctly.

    Factors to Consider while Choosing an AppSec Solution

    The AppSec program must provide the following:

    • Zero-policy administration:the program should auto-adapt to app updates and changes.
    • Accurate prevention:the program should offer protection against multiple attacks and not render false positives.
    • Flexible and fast deployment:The program should be flexible and quick in deployment to protect.

    Also Read: Best DevOps Practices to Enhance Application Performance


    Implementing effective Application Security (AppSec) practices is crucial for managing security risks throughout the SDLC. Firms should begin by conducting a threat assessment to identify potential entry points for attackers and prioritize issues based on their severity.

    Integrating security testing at every stage of the SDLC and regularly assessing the results are also important. In addition, managing app and system privileges is vital to protect sensitive data and follow zero-trust principles for integrated systems.

    Lastly, when selecting an AppSec solution, it is important to consider some factors.

    By following these best practices, they can reduce vulnerabilities and prevent attackers from exploiting their apps.

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