Have you been a victim of the recent cyber attacks on some of the biggest Australian businesses in the past few months?
It's important to ensure the security of your data and applications in this ever-evolving digital world. Cyberattacks can wreak havoc on an organisation if not properly guarded against - costing companies billions in recovery costs each year. Cyber attacks in Australia are on a rise, as per reports, with a 13% increase between 2021-22. To help protect your app from these devastating events, we've put together this comprehensive guide outlining best practices for protecting it against cybersecurity threats in 2023.
Understand Your Application Security Vulnerabilities
Did you know that cybercrime is reported every 7 minutes in Australia? Protecting your online applications is essential to avoid data breaches. With the rapidly increasing pace of cyberattacks, understanding vulnerabilities in your applications is more important than ever. The first steps to take include identifying application vulnerabilities and uncovering threats such as malware, unauthorised access, or malicious attacks. Once these threats are exposed, you can begin fortifying your applications against harm by implementing secure coding best practices and patching systems regularly. Effective application security testing can also be a beneficial tool for discovering potential risks. With an awareness of application security vulnerabilities and the right tools in place, businesses will have the assurance of knowing their data is protected against malicious attempts at destruction or theft.
Ways to Conduct Application Security Testing
- Static Analysis
Static Analysis is a great way to ensure the security and integrity of your software applications. Its powerful detection capabilities allow you to quickly identify vulnerabilities, bugs, or any other coding issues before deploying them into production - preventing costly damages down the line. Through automation tools, it can easily be incorporated into the early stages of development for seamless integration with secure coding practices, bringing peace of mind when releasing code that performs as you expect!
- Dynamic Analysis
Dynamic analysis is key for identifying challenging security vulnerabilities like buffer overflows, input validation problems and other code-based issues that can only be uncovered when the application is actually running. Most organisations use both dynamic and static techniques to identify potential risks - leading to a more comprehensive understanding of their system safety.
- Device Emulators
Device emulators are invaluable tools for developers and testers, allowing them to virtually test their applications on various platforms without needing physical devices. This means they can see how the app runs on different operating systems, screen sizes, or other device features - a great way to guarantee that an application will perform flawlessly across multiple hardware configurations.
- Third-Party Library Analysis
Analysing third-party libraries is an important step in ensuring the security of your software product. It involves scouring code for potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities, so you can rest assured that any external components don't expose gaps or create risks down the line. Not only does this analysis protect against known issues, but it also provides valuable insight into how to further strengthen your application's defence systems.
Leverage Automated Security Controls
Securing your business or organisation is important in today's digital landscape - and leveraging automated security controls can help. Automated security controls are useful for speeding up the process of protecting systems and data from potential threats, allowing you to become more efficient with the time your team spends on security concerns. Not to mention, automating routine checks for vulnerabilities helps ensure nothing slips through the cracks and that any soft spots in your defence are quickly identified. Furthermore, employing automated controls allows your team to focus more on developing concerted prevention strategies instead of putting out fires after they've already occurred. If you want to maximise the effectiveness of your cybersecurity efforts while saving resources at the same time, automated security controls should be part of your plan.
Examples of Automated Controls
- Fuzz Testing
Fuzz testing is an excellent security tool to help discover vulnerabilities in software. It involves sending random, unusual input data sets into the application - this helps find bugs that may have been missed during regular quality assurance tests. You can use fuzzing manually or with automated tools made specifically for it and often used on web applications and network protocols to uncover potential weaknesses attackers might exploit.
- Penetration Testing
Penetration testing is an important security tool that simulates a malicious attack, helping to reveal any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your system before they can be exploited. Based on a report, 42% of cyber security professionals run penetration tests once or twice a year. It takes a multi-pronged approach using techniques such as social engineering, password cracking and SQL injection - all designed to give you peace of mind so you know exactly where potential risks lie.
Securely Store & Manage Passwords and Keys
When it comes to keeping your passwords and keys secure, understanding the importance of having a safe storage system is key. From remembering multiple complex passwords for each account, to storing cryptographic keys that give access to applications and data, using tools like password managers can simplify the process while drastically increasing security. This reliable solution offers peace of mind by securely encrypting information, ensuring that only authorised personnel can view or access data. These secure systems are designed with the user in mind; they make password management quick and easy while offering additional features like password generators and automatic synchronisation across multiple devices. To create an extra layer of security, consider storing encrypted passwords on a dedicated device or cloud-hosted platform - this way, you have added assurance that your sensitive information won’t fall into the wrong hands.
Tips on Protecting Passwords
- Use Encryption
Encryption is an essential security measure for protecting data from interception and malicious alteration when transmitted over untrusted networks. Using a key only the intended recipients possess, it scrambles messages to ensure that no unauthorised individuals gain access. Investing in encryption solutions guards your personal information against cyber attacks and illegal entry.
- Don't Hardcode Passwords or Keys
Passwords and keys stored in code can create a potential security hazard. Attackers could exploit this vulnerability to gain access to sensitive data, so developers must ensure they store passwords and keys securely with proper encryption protection. Additionally, it is important that these credentials never be reused across multiple systems or kept static for too long. You can maximise your security by changing your passwords every month or two.
- Implement Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is the holy grail of app security. 2FA provides an additional layer of protection for user accounts by requiring a second form of verification - such as a code sent directly to their device - in addition to entering their password. Based on an investigation conducted by Google in 2019, 2FA blocked 100% of automated bot attacks, and still strongly recommends enabling 2FA on all platforms. This added level of security can help protect against data breaches, identity theft and other malicious attacks that may otherwise threaten sensitive information.
Protect Your APIs
APIs play an essential role in modern apps as they enable different software systems to exchange data seamlessly. However, they can be an immense security risk if not secured correctly. Given that APIs are publicly accessible in order to function with your app, malicious actors can exploit them to gain unauthorised system access or sensitive data. Therefore, app developers must prioritise securing their APIs to prevent such security threats. This involves implementing robust authentication and authorisation protocols, using encryption to safeguard data in transit, and monitoring API traffic for any suspicious activity. By taking these security measures, developers can ensure their apps are not vulnerable to API-related risks.
Apply Your Security Protocols to All Environments
Protecting your customers' data from potential attackers is a top priority. However, securing just the production environment isn't enough. Most companies only protect the production team, which leaves the development and testing teams open to malicious actors. To mitigate the risk of data breaches, you must implement security measures throughout the entire lifecycle of your application. That includes secure coding practices during development, regular security testing and vulnerability assessments at all stages, and strict access controls. By taking a proactive approach to security and ensuring that all environments are adequately protected, you can reduce the likelihood of data breaches and safeguard your customers' sensitive information.
Web Developer doing coding
Monitor Performance & Logs to Identify Attack Patterns
Ensuring the security of online systems and applications is critical for any developer. One way to do this is by regularly monitoring system performance and logging activity to identify potential attack patterns. By doing this, developers can easily detect any suspicious activity or malicious behaviour that could indicate an attack or vulnerability in the security defences. Keeping an eye on the logging activity is particularly helpful as it provides insight into the types of attacks that might be attempted against your systems. This information can also help raise alerts about compromised accounts, malicious codes, and other potential security threats. It was found that 80% of organisations that have been victims of ransomware have been targeted multiple times. So, if you have ever experienced an attack in the past, stay alert, as there is a high chance of a repeat attack. Although keeping track of performance and logs can be challenging, it's essential for enhanced efficiency and overall security.
By understanding application security vulnerabilities, conducting effective application security testing, leveraging automated security controls, securely storing and managing passwords and keys, using encryption, implementing two-factor authentication, implementing network security and firewalls, and monitoring performance and logs, you can fortify your app against harm and ensure its safety. It is important to remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing process and requires continuous vigilance and updates to stay ahead of the evolving threats. By implementing these practices, you can maximise your app's performance while keeping it safe from malicious attempts at destruction or theft.