A good set of practices and tools provides security for different applications and protects valuable data.
Application Security is more essential than ever in the current scenario, with the use and handling of data so prevalent in the daily operations of businesses. Targeted by various actors, they help guide marketing campaigns
and provide personalized products and services, among many other use cases.
However, because data used by companies is so valuable, it becomes the target of criminals and malicious individuals. Promoting its security is, therefore, essential and depends on a series of protocols, tests, and practices.
It is in this context that Application Security presents itself. To learn more about it and get answers to your questions about how it works, what its elements are, how it is applied, and the available tools, continue reading this text!
What is an Application Security?
The constant advancement of technology and digital applications is accompanied by the emergence of new crimes and threats, which also manifest in the digital and online environment. This, in turn, underscores the need to protect information systems against cyber dangers.
In this context, Application Security, or “Segurança de aplicações” in Portuguese, emerges as an essential component to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data.
It corresponds to a set of practices, policies, and procedures that are developed to protect different types of software applications against cyber threats.
Its goal, therefore, is to ensure that applications are developApplication Security Elementsed, deployed, and maintained with the necessary security measures to prevent unauthorized access and use of data by third parties.
Application Security Elements
Application Security encompasses several elements, and all of them are of great importance for data protection, regardless of the type. Check out the key elements below and learn how they function.
Authentication is responsible for verifying the identity of users to ensure that only authorized individuals access the systems.
In this way, it is crucial for data security and prevents the interception, alteration, or tampering of data by malicious third parties.
There are various techniques and methods of data authentication. Here are some of the main ones:
- Login and passwords;
- Digital certificates;
- Authentication tokens;
- Facial or fingerprint biometrics;
- Authentication keys.
Authorization occurs immediately after authentication. It takes on the role of controlling users’ access permissions within each application, limiting what each user can do within it.
Encryption corresponds to a process that takes place through cryptography, which works to make data that is being used or shared by a user within a system for which they have been authenticated and authorized to enter, unreadable.
Logging is responsible, within Application Security, for recording events, activities, and relevant information from a system, application, or network in files or records (logs).
As a result, it plays a crucial role in cybersecurity and threat detection. This is especially important because it facilitates the identification of data access, their respective authors, and supplementary data, such as the date and time when they occurred.
Security tests conduct regular assessments aiming to identify and rectify vulnerabilities in applications.
They involve simulating cyberattacks to evaluate the effectiveness of security measures, uncover any weaknesses they may have, and provide recommendations to mitigate risks and ensure data protection.
Where should Application Security be applied?
Application Security can and should be applied to various types of applications. In each of them, it is implemented differently to encompass their specificities.
Web Application Security
Web Application Security (Segurança de Aplicações Web) is an area of information security that focuses on protecting web applications from cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
It is crucial, especially when considering the different types of web applications we use in our daily lives, the data shared and accessed there, and the increasing number of threats they face.
Through Web Application Security, it is possible, for example, to ensure the functioning of websites and access to them even when they are under attack by third parties. It is, therefore, useful against various threats, such as SQL injection, XSS, CSRF, and so on.
Mobile Application Security
Mobile Application Security, or “Segurança de Aplicações Móveis” in Portuguese, refers to a field of information security dedicated to protecting mobile applications, such as those we use on our smartphones, from cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
It involves, among other issues, ensuring the integrity of the applications, protection against malware and malicious apps, updates with new protection tools, and access controls to other resources on the device where the app is used.
Cloud Application Security
Cloud Application Security (Segurança de Aplicações em Nuvem) corresponds to a field of information security that specifically focuses on protecting applications hosted in the cloud, whether it is public, private, or hybrid.
Like in other formats of Application Security, it utilizes access management and controls, monitoring and logging, as well as user identification and authentication.
API Security, por fim, corresponds to “Segurança de Interface de Programação de Aplicativos.” It focuses specifically on protecting application programming interfaces from cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
APIs are used to facilitate communication and integration between different software systems while safeguarding sensitive data and functionalities.
Most common types of security breaches
The security flaws that security applications are designed to address are nothing more than vulnerabilities or errors that can be exploited by individuals to compromise the security of systems, networks, applications, or data.
In this sense, there are various types of security flaws, which is natural with the advancement of technology, opening up new possibilities for hackers. Here are some of the main types of digital vulnerabilities:
Injections: occur when untrusted data is inserted into a system and executed as code;
Incorrect security configuration: includes excessive permissions, inadequate resource exposure, or disabled security settings;
Outdated components: when software components are outdated, such as libraries, frameworks, and operating systems, they also introduce vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers;
Broken user authentication: weak authentication and poorly implemented authentication systems can allow attackers to access user accounts unauthorized and impersonate them temporarily or permanently;
Software and data integrity flaws: occur during software vulnerabilities, such as during updates or data modifications;
Security logging and monitoring failures: occur when the application is unable to recognize and respond to system threats;
Mass assignment: occurs when an attacker exploits systems that assign more permissions or data access than intended. This can happen when inputs are not properly validated or authorized;
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): occurs when an attacker inserts malicious scripts into web pages or applications, which are then executed in the browsers of other users, allowing the theft of information such as session cookies.
Application Security Tools
In the same way that there are different types of threats to various applications, there are also diverse tools that assist in promoting security. Therefore, Application Security can include, among other elements:
DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing): conducts security tests on applications at runtime to identify potential vulnerabilities while the application is in use.
SAST (Static Application Security Testing): responsible for analyzing the source code in applications, thus searching for vulnerabilities that may exist before their execution.
Pen testing (Penetration Testing): simulates cyberattacks to identify weaknesses in applications and find solutions to strengthen them and prevent data breaches and attacks.
SCA (Software Composition Analysis): examines third-party components within applications to identify vulnerabilities in libraries and frameworks.
IAST (Interactive Application Security Testing): combines elements of DAST and SAST to analyze the security of applications in real-time during their execution.
There are several types of existing cyber threats. They can, in turn, target different systems and their respective data, vulnerable to incorrect and harmful use by criminals. Likewise, there are also various types of tools, strategies, and protocols aimed at protecting these systems and the data within them. They are essential in a constantly changing world, especially in the recurring digitalization.
All of this makes Application Security and its elements crucial. With them, it is possible to protect sensitive data, guard against cyberattacks, and ensure data integrity.
Equally, they are essential for legal compliance, such as the General Data Protection Law (LGPD), as well as for maintaining the reputation of companies responsible for applications.
Therefore, understanding and keeping up with them, as they evolve and offer new features daily, is of great importance for both users and professionals responsible for the development of different applications.