10 Best Web Application Security Practices
10 Best Web Application Security Practices1. Create Security Blueprint
Creating a Security Blueprint is very necessary if you want to enhance your overall compliance, or maybe you need to protect your brand more carefully. It should also prioritize which applications should be secured first and how they will be tested. Whether you choose to do so manually, through a cloud solution, through software that you have on site, through a managed service provider or through some other means.
2. Perform an Inventory of Web Applications
Performing such an inventory can be a big undertaking, and it is likely to take some time to complete. While performing it, make a note of the purpose of each application. Chances are that when it is all said and done, there will be many applications that are either redundant or completely pointless. This inventory will come in handy for the steps that are to follow too, so take your time and make sure to get every single application.
3. Prioritize Your Web Applications
By categorizing your applications like this, you can reserve extensive testing for critical ones and use less intensive testing for less critical ones. This allows you to make the most effective use of your company’s resources and will help you achieve progress more quickly. Sort the applications into three categories:
- Critical applications are primarily those that are externally facing and contain customer information. These are the applications that should be managed first, as they are the most likely to be targeted and exploited by hackers.
- Serious applications may be internal or external and may contain some sensitive information.
- Normal applications have far less exposure, but they should be included in tests down the road.
You need to decide which vulnerabilities are worth eliminating and which aren’t too worrisome. The fact of the matter is that most web applications have many vulnerabilities. Eliminating all vulnerabilities from all web applications just isn’t possible or even worth your time. Even after categorizing your applications according to importance, it will take considerable amounts of time to test them all. By limiting yourself to testing for only the most threatening vulnerabilities, you will save a ton of time and will get through the work a lot more quickly.
- Encrypt Everything: Encrypt are making HTTPS much more accessible than it ever was before. And it’s excellent that such influential companies as Google are rewarding websites for using HTTPS, but this type of encryption isn’t enough.
- Harden Everything: Now that all traffic and data is encrypted, what about hardening everything? From operating systems to software development frameworks you need to ensure that they’re sufficiently hardened.
- Keep Your Servers Up to Date: In addition to ensuring that your operating system is hardened, is it up to date? It could very well be hardened against the current version, but if the packages are out of date. Make sure that your servers are set to update to the latest security releases as they become available.
- Keep Your Software Up to Date: Frameworks and third party software libraries, just like operating systems, have vulnerabilities. These tools make the process of managing and maintaining external dependencies relatively painless, as well as being automated during deployment.
Always use the least permissive settings for all web applications. This means that applications should be narrowed down. Only highly authorized people should be able to make system changes and the like. You might consider including this in your initial assessment. Otherwise, you will have to go back down the entire list adjusting settings again. For the vast majority of applications, only system administrators need complete access. Most other users can accomplish what they need with minimally permissive settings.
6. Have Protection In Place During the Interim
Remove some functionality from certain applications. If the functionality makes the application more vulnerable to attacks then it may be worth it to remove said functionality in the meantime. Use a web application firewall to protect against the most troubling vulnerabilities. Throughout the process, existing web applications should be continually monitored to ensure that they aren’t being breached by third parties. If your company or website suffers an attack during this time, identify the weak point and address it before continuing with the other work.
- Get an Application Security Audit: You may even have a security evangelist on staff. While these are all excellent, foundation, steps often they’re not enough. Increasingly, your team will be subjective in their analysis of it. It’s for this reason that it’s important to get an independent set of eyes on the applications. By doing so, they can be reviewed by people who’ve never seen them before, by people who won’t make any assumptions about why the code does what it does, or be biased by anything or anyone within your organization either. This can be potentially daunting if you’re a young organization, one recently embarking on a security-first approach.
- Implement Proper Logging: Now got a security audit done and a security baseline for application and have refactored code, based on the findings of the security audit, invariably something will go wrong at some stage. There’ll be a bug that no one saw; When that happens, to be able to respond as quickly as possible before the situation gets out of hand you need to have proper logging implemented. Doing so provides you with information about what occurred, what lead to the situation in the first place, and what else was going on at the time.
- Use Real-time Security Monitoring and Protection or Web Application Firewalls: Any consideration of application security would be incomplete without taking classic firewalls and web application firewalls into consideration. This is the case for a number of reasons, including that they can generate false positives and negatives, and can be costly to maintain.
8. Implement Following Web Security Suggestions
- Implement HTTPS and redirect all HTTP traffic to HTTPS.
- Help prevent cross-site scripting attacks by implementing the x-xss-protection security header.
- Implement a content security policy.
- Help prevent man in the middle attacks by enabling public key pins.
- Apply sub resource integrity to your resource’s <script> or <link> elements
- Use an updated version of TLS.
- Use strong passwords that employ a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, special symbols.
If you run a company, chances are that only certain people within your organization have a decent grasp of the importance of web application security and how it works. The majority of users have only the most basic understanding of the issue, and this can make them careless. By educating employees, they will more readily spot vulnerabilities themselves. In essence, bringing everyone up to speed about web application security is a terrific way to get everyone in on the act of finding and eliminating vulnerabilities.
10. Never Stop Learning
You may be all over the current threats facing our industry. But that doesn’t mean that new threats aren’t either coming or being discovered. Security-first application development within your organization, That way, you’ll always have it as a key consideration, and be far less likely to fall victim to security or data breaches.