Quality Tips for Application Security Centered on Well-Architected Framework

The past has seen organizations being reluctant to adopt the cloud due to their scepticism towards its security and compliance promises. However, the true reason behind this pushback against the cloud was misinterpretation of what the technology’s capabilities were. Security vulnerabilities are an inevitable part of the IT environment, may it be hosted on-premises or on the cloud. But the notion that its difficult mitigating them or proactively managing them is not true. The advent of the AWS Well-Architected Framework has seen to it that organizations can easily build and run architectures that secure applications, assets, and systems, at the same time driving business value.

What is meant to be an ongoing effort, security has an unending opportune potential for organizations to keep fortifying their infrastructure or application resilience. Automating incident response to security events, multi-levelled infrastructure protection, data management with encryption, and having robust authorization and authentication controls are some ways how organizations can build a sturdy defense against attacks or breaches.

7 Well-Architected Tips for Application Security

Cloud security and management services will account for a total spending in excess of US$ 18 billion by the end of 2022, according to Gartner. Cybercriminals have grown sophisticated enough to leverage web applications as key to infiltrating an organization’s infrastructure and stealing valuable data. To protect themselves, organizations must follow the following well-architected tips for application security and stay proactive against any imminent potential threat.

Validate Integrity

Alongside the unabated growth of data breaches, organizations must validate the integrity of their application data, in turn securing the business overall. Several norms and best practices are provided in the well-architected framework, which necessitate applications’ compliance. Fundamental needs include using ‘https’ for validating web application programming interfaces and certification to call the endpoints. For limited exposure, limiting access to applications for clients with a valid certificate can be considered.

Secure Single-Tier Vulnerabilities

Securing single-tier vulnerabilities with virtual patches, which the current WAF policies are devoid of, is like a stampede on cybercriminals trying to compromise backend active directory for stealing intellectual and valuable data. With this organizations can save on the cost of stolen information, which is approximately US$ 150 on an average or US$ 175 when attacks are malicious. Too many cloud migrations and application developments around the world has brought in too many vulnerabilities, which often go avoided and exposed to breaches. Virtual patching ensures that the application security is continuous and up-to-date.

Single Sign-On

This is one of the most important tips for application security, as it eliminates the need for users to login to connected applications once they login to the enterprise network. This helps the organizations from phishing attacks, which are usually emails that ask you to access the application using your password. Single sign-on removes the need for users to enter their passwords manually for accessing information or systems.

Scan for Vulnerabilities

Several application vulnerability studies have been conducted and almost all conclude at the fact that half of these vulnerabilities are at high risk. Scanning for vulnerabilities with built-in tools of the well-architected framework is therefore crucial. This helps is identifying as well as alerting the security risks pertaining to the application.

Validate Incoming Events

Sanitizing incoming security events of applications and validating them against predefined schemas is a good practice to prevent errors and enhance security of the architecture. This primarily happens by capturing eccentric or malicious events. Using security frameworks or data type validators can ensure the correctness of applications, including normalization, structure, value range, and common expressions.

Implement Security Mechanisms

Mixing manual and automated security code reviews for studying application codes and their interdependencies helps organizations ensure that their applications perform as intended. Automation tools support in identifying intricate application codes along with common vulnerability exposures. On the other hand, manual code reviews make sure that the code runs as it was desired to. Moreover, before implementing code dependencies to applications, it is necessary to review and validate all dependencies to ensure that the code is being added in a secure manner.

Implement Policies for Credentials Management

Not embedding long-term credentials to the application code is imperative. Done so, the application is exposed to data authentication risks. Also, complicated coding of credentials, makes different permissions necessary for different environments. This implies that breaches can spread from one environment to others like fire in a forest. Using credentials management solutions not only centralizes & secures the sensitive application data but also enables managing, rotating, and encrypting the credentials. This helps in protecting the data and meeting security & compliance needs simultaneously.

To Sum Up

Application security is an important aspect of all architectures. The security pillar of AWS well-architected framework provides organizations the capabilities to protect the data and assets associated with their applications. Implementing the aforementioned well-architected tips for application security can prevent negative impacts on business revenue and operations.

Recommended Read:

  1. Quality Tips for Application Reliability
  2. Quality Tips to Improve Operational Excellence & Performance of Applications
  3. Quality Tips for Cost Optimization of Applications

Automating Incident Response to Security Events

The unabated expansion of the information security infrastructure and enterprise IT compels organizations to have security management and incident response plans in place. A McKinsey survey estimates that nearly 75% of industry experts consider cyber threats to be one of the major concerns. The growing popularity and adoption of digital solutions add to the risk of cyberattacks, which has further aggravated the post-COVID pandemic.

To stem the exacerbation of the data and information loss, cloud service providers have rolled out many effective incident response services. These services help security teams to detect and assess events quickly and automate incident response activities. Key capabilities of incident response services include

  • Security Automation – This allows to automate incident response with the help of security playbooks, which are automated workflows effective at speeding up the response time.
  • Analytics & Intelligence – These support the security teams to collect event data and integrate it with tools and threat intelligence for identifying security events without much effort.
  • Workflow Support – This helps security teams to collaborate on events through case management, which allows them to open event cases, collect assessed data, and make it available for analysts.

Common Drawbacks of Incident Response Strategies

While most organizations do have an incident response plan in place, they don’t effectively operationalize these plans. Some of the common drawbacks in the usually implemented incident response plans include –

  • Outdated documentation that triggers actions against security events
  • Lack of integration with business units across an organization, which inhibits sharing best practices and valuable insights
  • Single point of failure due to absence of data-driven decision making
  • Sluggish responses entailed incident response plans that improperly codified

Opportunities in Incident Response Automation

Cyberthreats are inevitable and they continually grow in frequency and scale. Current manual methodologies of incident response inhibit the nimbleness required for breach identification and corrective actions. Automating the process of incident response using technologies like artificial intelligence and threat intelligence can help organizations accelerate security investigations and remediations. Following are some key opportunities for an incident response that organizations can set up.

Faster Response to Security Events

Automating incident response, unlike standard manually-led plans, equip security teams to easily monitor countless security events daily. The time to handle security events is drastically reduced due to near-real-time risk identification and near-zero recovery time.

Categorizing Response Duties

Incident response management, when automated, provides security teams with suggestions with respect to the allocation of resources. They expedite responses to security events based on their nature, which is usually assessed in terms of availability and expertise of resources.

Risk Analysis

Seamless integration of security protocols into all stages of the software development lifecycle enables a robust incident response platform. Developing algorithms of ML/AI-based on historic and contemporary data further facilitates identifying anomalies in operations that cause security events. This makes risk analysis easy, as ML/AI models are capable of recognizing threats from risk patterns, evaluating these patterns, and classifying them.

Improved Process Management

Incident response automated using AI and threat intelligence allows organizations to

  • Manage security events at a scale
  • Focus the right resources on high-risk activities
  • Prioritize every incident response activity

Leveraging Threat Intelligence

An omnipresent capability among security tools, threat intelligence is an integral part of the security architecture that enables the identification, triage, and investigation of threats. It improves organizations’ response capability through high alert quality, added coverage for most sophisticated cyberattacks, and low investigation time.

While modern security tools are able to leverage and ingest threat intelligence, they exclude guidance with respect to the most feasible approach to using it. Improper use of threat intelligence results in false positives, which makes thoughtful planning critical. Assessing threat intelligence’s effectiveness through its metrics and impacts while using the information on threats combined with their attributed observables can help prevent data losses for organizations.

To Sum Up

Every organization that has security monitoring in place must also have a plan for incident response, which outlines corrective measures for handling specific security events. All organizations across industry sectors face the challenges of cybercrime. However, effective, automated incident response can make it simple for them to manage security events, maintain stable operations, and improve cybersecurity.

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