Application security

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Application security (short AppSec) includes all tasks that introduce a secure software development life cycle to development teams. Its final goal is to improve security practices and, through that, to find, fix and preferably prevent security issues within applications. It encompasses the whole application life cycle from requirements analysis, design, implementation, verification as well as maintenance. [1]



Different approaches will find different subsets of the security vulnerabilities lurking in an application and are most effective at different times in the software lifecycle. They each represent different tradeoffs of time, effort, cost and vulnerabilities found.

Web application security

Web application security is a branch of information security that deals specifically with the security of websites, web applications, and web services. At a high level, web application security draws on the principles of application security but applies them specifically to the internet and web systems. [2] [3]

Web Application Security Tools are specialized tools for working with HTTP traffic, e.g., Web application firewalls.

Security threats

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) provides free and open resources. It is led by a non-profit called The OWASP Foundation. The OWASP Top 10 - 2017 results from recent research based on comprehensive data compiled from over 40 partner organizations. This data revealed approximately 2.3 million vulnerabilities across over 50,000 applications. [4] According to the OWASP Top 10 - 2021, the ten most critical web application security risks include: [5]

  1. Broken access control
  2. Cryptographic Failures
  3. Injection
  4. Insecure Design
  5. Security Misconfiguration
  6. Vulnerable and Outdated Components
  7. Identification and Authentification Failures
  8. Software and Data Integrity Failures
  9. Security Logging and Monitoring Failures*
  10. Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF)*

Tooling for security testing

Security testing techniques scour for vulnerabilities or security holes in applications. These vulnerabilities leave applications open to exploitation. Ideally, security testing is implemented throughout the entire Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) so that vulnerabilities may be addressed in a timely and thorough manner.

There are many kinds of automated tools for identifying vulnerabilities in applications. Common tool categories used for identifying application vulnerabilities include:

Security standards and regulations

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vulnerability (computing)</span> Exploitable weakness in a computer system

Vulnerabilities are flaws in a computer system that weaken the overall security of the device/system. Vulnerabilities can be weaknesses in either the hardware itself, or the software that runs on the hardware. Vulnerabilities can be exploited by a threat actor, such as an attacker, to cross privilege boundaries within a computer system. To exploit a vulnerability, an attacker must have at least one applicable tool or technique that can connect to a system weakness. In this frame, vulnerabilities are also known as the attack surface.

A penetration test, colloquially known as a pentest or ethical hacking, is an authorized simulated cyberattack on a computer system, performed to evaluate the security of the system; this is not to be confused with a vulnerability assessment. The test is performed to identify weaknesses, including the potential for unauthorized parties to gain access to the system's features and data, as well as strengths, enabling a full risk assessment to be completed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fuzzing</span> Automated software testing technique

In programming and software development, fuzzing or fuzz testing is an automated software testing technique that involves providing invalid, unexpected, or random data as inputs to a computer program. The program is then monitored for exceptions such as crashes, failing built-in code assertions, or potential memory leaks. Typically, fuzzers are used to test programs that take structured inputs. This structure is specified, e.g., in a file format or protocol and distinguishes valid from invalid input. An effective fuzzer generates semi-valid inputs that are "valid enough" in that they are not directly rejected by the parser, but do create unexpected behaviors deeper in the program and are "invalid enough" to expose corner cases that have not been properly dealt with.

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is an online community that produces freely-available articles, methodologies, documentation, tools, and technologies in the field of web application security. The OWASP provides free and open resources. It is led by a non-profit called The OWASP Foundation. The OWASP Top 10 - 2021 is the published result of recent research based on comprehensive data compiled from over 40 partner organizations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metasploit</span> Computer security testing tool

The Metasploit Project is a computer security project that provides information about security vulnerabilities and aids in penetration testing and IDS signature development. It is owned by Boston, Massachusetts-based security company Rapid7.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Security testing</span> The process of finding flaws in the security of information systems

Security testing is a process intended to reveal flaws in the security mechanisms of an information system that protect data and maintain functionality as intended. Due to the logical limitations of security testing, passing the security testing process is not an indication that no flaws exist or that the system adequately satisfies the security requirements.

A dynamic application security testing (DAST) is a non functional testing process where one can assess an application using certain techniques and the end result of such testing process covers security weaknesses and vulnerabilities present in an application. This testing process can be carried out either in manual way or by using automated tools. Manual assessment of an application involves a more human intervention to identify the security flaws which might slip from an automated tool. Usually business logic errors, race condition checks, and certain zero day vulnerabilities can only be identified using manual assessments. On the other side, a DAST tool is a program which communicates with a web application through the web front-end in order to identify potential security vulnerabilities in the web application and architectural weaknesses. It performs a black-box test. Unlike static application security testing tools, DAST tools do not have access to the source code and therefore detect vulnerabilities by actually performing attacks.

DevOps is a methodology in the software development and IT industry. Used as a set of practices and tools, DevOps integrates and automates the work of software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) as a means for improving and shortening the systems development life cycle. DevOps is complementary to agile software development; several DevOps aspects came from the agile way of working.

PVS-Studio is a proprietary static code analyzer on guard of code quality, security, and code safety supporting C, C++, C++11, C++/CLI, C++/CX, C# and Java.

HCL AppScan, previously known as IBM AppScan, is a family of desktop and web security testing and monitoring tools, formerly a part of the Rational Software division of IBM. In July 2019, the product was acquired by HCL Technologies and is currently marketed under HCL Software, a product development division of HCL Technologies. AppScan is intended to test both on-premise and web applications for security vulnerabilities during the development process, when it is least expensive to fix such problems. The product scans the behavior of each application, whether an off-the-shelf application or internally developed, and develops a program intended to test all of its functions for both common and application-specific vulnerabilities. This family of products is capable of performing SAST, DAST, IAST and Mobile Analysis against the user's source code and check for vulnerabilities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Web application firewall</span> HTTP specific network security system

A web application firewall (WAF) is a specific form of application firewall that filters, monitors, and blocks HTTP traffic to and from a web service. By inspecting HTTP traffic, it can prevent attacks exploiting a web application's known vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), file inclusion, and improper system configuration.

OWASP ZAP is an open-source web application security scanner. It is intended to be used by both those new to application security as well as professional penetration testers.

RIPS is a static code analysis software for the automated detection of security vulnerabilities in PHP and Java applications. The initial tool was written by Johannes Dahse and released during the Month of PHP Security in May 2010 as open-source software. The open-source version is released under the Lesser GNU General Public License and was maintained until 2013.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Software development security</span>

Security, as part of the software development process, is an ongoing process involving people and practices, and ensures application confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Secure software is the result of security aware software development processes where security is built in and thus software is developed with security in mind.

Code Dx refers to both a software company and its flagship product, a vulnerability management system that combines and correlates the results generated by a wide variety of static and dynamic testing tools.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Runtime application self-protection</span> Runtime application self-protection (RASP) is a security technology

Runtime application self-protection (RASP) is a security technology that uses runtime instrumentation to detect and block computer attacks by taking advantage of information from inside the running software. The technology differs from perimeter-based protections such as firewalls, that can only detect and block attacks by using network information without contextual awareness. RASP technology is said to improve the security of software by monitoring its inputs, and blocking those that could allow attacks, while protecting the runtime environment from unwanted changes and tampering. RASP-protected applications rely less on external devices like firewalls to provide runtime security protection. When a threat is detected RASP can prevent exploitation and possibly take other actions, including terminating a user's session, shutting the application down, alerting security personnel and sending a warning to the user. RASP aims to close the gap left by application security testing and network perimeter controls, neither of which have enough insight into real-time data and event flows to either prevent vulnerabilities slipping through the review process or block new threats that were unforeseen during development.

Static application security testing (SAST) is used to secure software by reviewing the source code of the software to identify sources of vulnerabilities. Although the process of statically analyzing the source code has existed as long as computers have existed, the technique spread to security in the late 90s and the first public discussion of SQL injection in 1998 when Web applications integrated new technologies like JavaScript and Flash.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Checkmarx</span> Israeli software security company

Checkmarx is a global software security company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. The company was acquired in April 2020 by Hellman & Friedman, a global private equity firm with headquarters in San Francisco. Founded in 2006, Checkmarx integrates automated software security technologies into DevOps. Checkmarx provides static and interactive application security testing, Software Composition Analysis (SCA), infrastructure as code security testing (KICS), and application security and training development (Codebashing).

Interactive application security testing is a security testing method that detects software vulnerabilities by interaction with the program coupled with observation and sensors. The tool was launched by several application security companies. It is distinct from static application security testing, which does not interact with the program, and dynamic application security testing, which considers the program as a black box. It may be considered a mix of both.


  1. Happe, Andreas (3 June 2021). "What is AppSec anyways?".
  2. "Web Application Security Overview". 2015-10-23.
  3. Shuaibu, Bala Musa; Norwawi, Norita Md; Selamat, Mohd Hasan; Al-Alwani, Abdulkareem (2013-01-17). "Systematic review of web application security development model". Artificial Intelligence Review. 43 (2): 259–276. doi:10.1007/s10462-012-9375-6. ISSN   0269-2821. S2CID   15221613.
  4. Korolov, Maria (Apr 27, 2017). "Latest OWASP Top 10 looks at APIs, web apps: The new OWASP Top 10 list is out, and while most of it remains the same, there are new additions focusing on web applications and APIs". CSO. ProQuest   1892694046.
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  10. Abezgauz, Irene (February 17, 2014). "Introduction to Interactive Application Security Testing". Quotium.
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  12. "OWASP Application Security Verification Standard".