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Proactively identifying security vulnerabilities can save you huge headaches later on. To be most effective, it’s best to use a combination of tactics and checks at different stages. Pre-production, implement strong manual reviews with automated tests and scanners to identify vulnerabilities in code. Once in production, use the run-time information of your applications to get insights on weaknesses outside of the code: vulnerable packages used in production, publicly exposed databases, vulnerable runtimes, and more.
Identifying vulnerabilities is only the first step. It’s quite often the case that you’ll identify many more vulnerabilities than you can handle at once. The challenge then is to qualify, prioritize, and remediate the vulnerabilities that matter the most. Prioritize your vulnerabilities based on the potential impact they could have if they were exploited and how likely they are to be exploited. It’s important to have the right people and tools to help you do that job. One way to determine these risks is to leverage data from your production application. An area of your app or a vulnerability often targeted by attackers in production might need to be fixed before an obscure vulnerability never touched by attackers, for example.
Having visibility into the security of your production apps is key to identifying attacks before they impact your app. Real-time awareness lets you respond faster and minimizes the impact of attacks. Looking at logs and trying to identify data breaches after the fact can give you some clues, but comes too late to prevent the impact of attacks.
Production applications get attacked on a regular basis by bots, automated scanners, and hackers. For apps with high traffic, this can happen on a near-constant basis. Knowing how to differentiate critical attacks from script kiddies is key to being able to quickly react. You shouldn’t wake up at night for a small scan on your app. But a malicious user starting to fingerprint your app, followed by security scans and then manual attacks is something that you should pay attention to. Cutting down on the noise will ensure that you’re ready to spot the real signals.
The attack surface of an app depends on the level of access a user has. An admin user will have access to different features than an unauthenticated user. Looking at the malicious behaviors of an IP is a first good step. Make sure that you pay attention to what your users are doing within your app. Being able to link attacks to real users inside the app allows you to quickly identify malicious users and follow the full attack timeline.
Developers push new features every day. Getting visibility into the applications and their underlying technologies is essential for security teams to keep up. Doing this map manually is painful and time-consuming, and by the time the map is completed, it is often already outdated. Getting automated visibility can be a major challenge, but will greatly improve the effectiveness and quality of the security team. Security teams should have a dynamic security flow map of the applications in their environment, including the frameworks, databases, and r libraries used, as well as how these apps are exposed to attacks.
Pre-production testing will help you catch obvious vulnerabilities and increase your security, but when things hit production, there are always more weaknesses that come to light. Blocking attacks in production can foil attackers and prevent data breachesPattern-matching tools at the network level like WAFs can block some attacks, but will generate many false positives and require a lot of maintenance. Only protection solutions that live at the application level can ensure that you can block attacks without triggering false positives.
Business logic abuses are a common attack vector in production applications. Attackers will try to manipulate the business logic of an application to abuse APIs, features, payment systems, or e-commerce functionalities. The potential for these kinds of attacks and abuses can’t be caught pre-production as they are specific to the particulars of your business and involve legitimate use of the application's functionality. Protecting against business logic abuses requires robust code address the particulars of each situation, or tooling designed to react in specific situations. Security teams need a system that collects critical business actions, alerts when suspicious events happen and automates the mitigation when abuses happen.
It is unfortunately easy for attackers to find user credentials and engage in brute-force attacks. If a malicious actor takes over a user account, they can wreak havoc in your application, collect sensitive data and commit fraud. Implement measures and protections to defend users against account takeover to save both of you huge headaches.