In today’s digital world, cyber security governance plays a huge role in detecting the threats before they occur. One of the crucial steps is to perform web application security tests during the testing phase. Public-facing websites, which are easily accessible, are the biggest target these days. It is very difficult to save an application from the hackers. However, in this blog we have mentioned some of the best practices that can be implemented to minimize the chances and impact of such breaches.
Keeping that in mind, It’s the developer’s job to ensure that certain security standards and practices are followed during the development phase to ensure protection from high-risk vulnerabilities. A code review process during the development stage, before the code is released for testing, can play a significant role in application security. There are various automated tools available, that follow pre-defined rules, to do the code review and be a part of the process.
Impact of Security Breaches
Trust is a crucial aspect for consumers to do business with a company; data breaches act like a roadblock in such relationships. Check out the trends below to understand the financial loss that occurred in 2017 due to data breaches.
According to Kaspersky, in 2018, this cost has risen to $1.41 million. In 2019, over 4000 data breaches have been reported with financial damage of approx. $675,000 million. In 2016, Yahoo! announced that it was the victim of the biggest hack in history. Around 500 million users’ data was stolen by the hackers having real names, email addresses, date of birth, and telephone numbers. In 2015, it was found that somebody was selling that data on the dark web. The breach also impacted Verizon Communication’s plan of acquiring Yahoo! when they drastically reduced the price by $350 million. In 2018, it was reported that over 500 million user accounts were affected.
To ensure that the applications are secure from the hackers, it is essential to set security goals from the app development phase. The three important application security goals — Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability — are explained in detail below:
Confidentiality ensures that the information present in the application is accessible to the user for whom it is intended. Any unauthorized access to information will violate this goal.
Integrity means that the authenticity of information is retained without any alteration. In case a malicious user changes the information, it may negatively impact the decisions made by the enterprise.
Availability means that the authorized users must have uninterrupted access to information. A malicious user may violate this goal by executing attacks like denial of service, which may bring down the server and make the whole website unavailable.
Let’s discuss how to ensure that the above goals are achieved. Below are a few principles that can help a developer to do secure coding while developing the application.
1. Authentication - A way to identify the user who they claim to be. Make authentication more secure by enforcing the following policies:
2. Authorization: Authenticated users should be allowed to access the intended resources within an access-control mechanism. To ensure correct authorization, organizations should consider below-mentioned points:
3. Session Management: To track each user state while accessing the web application an organization need to do the following:
4. Data Validation: Any data collected from the client should be sanitized before being sent to the server. Validate the data at the server-side to disallow a malicious user from bypassing the client and sending requests directly to the server. Mechanisms that require to be followed to validate the data:
The policies and standards mentioned above must be enforced at the code level so that the developers can implement them during the application development phase. The code should be reviewed in a way to ensure that it does not allow the application users to break these policies. Cyber security governance must monitor the policies and change them as and when needed.
If an enterprise wants to prevent any financial damage, they must monitor their internal security and implement quick incident breaches. It is crucial to implement cyber security governance at an organizational level since it is not just an IT issue but a company’s issue. Following processes and procedures must be a part of the enterprise cyber security governance and should be implemented rigorously at any functional level of the organization:
Considering the above scenarios, organizations must follow preventive measures to stop such security breaches. They should limit the data access by limiting the number of users and enable auditing in the database server to track the specific events that may be responsible for modifying data in any form.
Each employee must be trained to be aware of the situations that may lead to data breaches – for example, opening suspicious emails, clicking on suspicious links which leads to phishing attacks, etc. Update the software regularly and apply the recommended patches. Set up a team to respond to such attacks and have a security-breach plan in place.