07 Sep, 2020

5 Steps To Expose Vulnerabilities With An Application Security assessment

by nVisium

There is a constant battle between cybercriminals and IT security staff especially when it comes to code developed inhouse. The belief that a single missed punctuation or use of a specific (thought to be) trusted open-sourced library or code fragment could potentially open up new security leaks or vulnerabilities is a daily reality as seen with the volume of news touting new breaches. Standard quality practices should also include ongoing security assessments in order to get ahead of this curve.

security assessments Revisited

Put simply application security assessments are an independent assessment of a specific code base to uncover potential vulnerabilities. There are two approaches to security assessments in general, so it is also important to recognize the difference between these approaches:

  • Authenticated: “An authenticated scan is an essential tool to obtain accurate vulnerability information on covered devices by authenticating to scanned devices to obtain detailed and accurate information about the operating system and installed software, including configuration issues and missing security patches. The additional details provided by an authenticated scan allows resource proprietors and resource custodians to better mitigate risks on covered data and reduce the likelihood of successful attacks against covered devices.” Source: UC Berkley
  • Non-authenticated: “Unauthenticated vulnerability scans inspect the security of a target system from an outside perspective. These scans allow visibility into what a malicious hacker could access without acquiring login credentials to pose as a trusted user. Security scans, authenticated or otherwise are an important part of ensuring the security of computer systems, networked devices and networks.” Source: TechTarget
Both approaches have strengths and weaknesses, but a continuous security scan is ultimately the best approach. Once you have a basic understanding of “what” a security assessment is, the next thing to understand is “why” they are valuable.

5 Steps To Expose Vulnerabilities With An Application Security Assessment

Unfortunately, too many organizations forgo security assessments, and this results in more breaches. Just read the annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report to see the depth and breadth of the problem.

Now that you are ready for security assessments, it begs the questions of “where do you start”, and “what steps should you deploy to ensure success.” LatestHackingNews.com offers three types of scans that need to be addressed for the where to start question:

  • “External Scans: Scanning those components of the IT ecosystem that directly face the internet and are accessible to external users. For instance, ports, networks, websites, apps and other systems used by external users or customers.
  • Internal Scans: Finding loopholes in the network of an organization (not exposed to external scans) that may damage the enterprise network.
  • Environmental Scans: Environmental vulnerability scans focus on specified operational technology of an organization, such as cloud services, IoT and mobile devices.”

Accommodating these types of scans leads us to the 5 ways to expose the vulnerabilities with security assessments. In order to address the “what steps should you deploy to ensure success”, the five steps include:

  1. Planning: While it is desirable to gain total coverage of all IT resources, the reality is that a plan will need to be developed to prioritize the most critical resources first.
  2. Scanning: Leveraging the authenticated and non-authenticated techniques described above, you will now do the active assessment of the targeted resources.
  3. Analysis: A detailed report of each potential design flaw and/or potential for coding practices that don’t meet industry standards or security best practices will be the result of the scans above. Just reading the reports is not enough. A deep analysis of the implications and risk/cost for remediation will lead to a solid remediation plan.
  4. Remediation: Provide specific remediation guidance in the form of refactored code examples and concrete implementation guidance. This produces recommendations that are immediately actionable and aimed at reducing the total engineering overhead associated with remediation efforts
  5. Repeat: Bottomline, is this should be treated like a process not a project, so expect to “rinse and repeat” this process on an ongoing basis to ensure best practices and further reduce to chance of missing new vulnerabilities manifesting.

For extra credit research; If you haven’t seen our previous blog on “Why 6 Security Assessments Are Better Than 1”, then you should check it out here.

A Trusted Partner For Application Security Assessments And More

Ultimately you will need to evaluate a trusted partner to help out with an independent security assessment to uncover any potential vulnerabilities that may have unintentionally (or even intentionally) made their way into your applications or IT assets.

All nVisium assessments go beyond identifying security defects. We focus on helping clients meaningfully triage and fix vulnerabilities discovered during testing. nVisium is unique in our ability to provide exceptional remediation advice, which is specific, actionable, and aimed at reducing engineering overhead typically associated with mitigating security issues.

By integrating security into the development process, nVisium strives to find and help fix security vulnerabilities in our client's software while teaching our clients the importance of incorporating security from the ground up. We offer a range of comprehensive services to ensure that you and your company are protected from cyber threats, including security assessments, software assurance, and training.

In addition to an application security assessment, you should extend your security assessment strategy to let nVisium include:

  • Applications: A standard assessment combines static and dynamic analysis, which allows our team to evaluate all aspects of an application and test risk mitigation solutions, this service also offers the most precise remediation advice.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT presents its own unique set of security challenges and requires a broad skillset for assessing. Our IoT assessments identify weaknesses in an entire IoT architecture including software, hardware, API, and web/mobile components.
  • Networks: Using a combination of automated and manual techniques, our team will identify risks to your systems and networks that attackers could find and exploit. We will provide detailed information of our findings along with recommendations to help remediation efforts.
  • Mobile: Identify weaknesses in how an application interacts with the mobile device, the remote APIs it communicates with, how the application is written, and the libraries it uses to function.
  • Cloud: Assessments of AWS, Azure, or GCP go beyond the simple security issues that are easily detected through automation. We get to know the business purpose behind your architecture, review the design, and begin an analysis of security controls, monitoring and alerting, hardening, and IAM policies and permissions…. And BTW, we are an AWS Partner

Bottom-line is that a small investment is security assessments can eliminate the pain of lost data and privacy, so now is the time to act. Schedule a demo today.

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