Application security is the use of software, hardware, and procedural methods to protect applications from external threats.
Once an afterthought in software design, security is becoming an increasingly important concern during development as applications become more frequently accessible over networks and are, as a result, vulnerable to a wide variety of threats. Security measures built into applications and a sound application security routine minimize the likelihood that unauthorized code will be able to manipulate applications to access, steal, modify, or delete sensitive data.
Actions taken to ensure application security are sometimes called countermeasures. The most basic software countermeasure is an application firewall that limits the execution of files or the handling of data by specific installed programs. The most common hardware countermeasure is a router that can prevent the IP address of an individual computer from being directly visible on the Internet. Other countermeasures include conventional firewalls, encryption/decryption programs, anti-virus programs, spyware detection/removal programs and biometric authentication systems.
Application security can be enhanced by rigorously defining enterprise assets, identifying what each application does (or will do) with respect to these assets, creating a security profile for each application, identifying and prioritizing potential threats and documenting adverse events and the actions taken in each case. This process is known as threat modeling. In this context, a threat is any potential or actual adverse event that can compromise the assets of an enterprise, including both malicious events, such as a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, and unplanned events, such as the failure of a storage device.
Application security, or “AppSec,” is what an organization does to protect its critical data from external threats by ensuring the security of all of the software used to run the business, whether built internally, bought or downloaded. Application security helps identify, fix and prevent security vulnerabilities in any kind of software application.
A software “vulnerability” is an unintended flaw or weakness in the software that leads it to process critical data in an insecure way. By exploiting these “holes” in applications, cybercriminals can gain entry into an organization’s systems and steal confidential data. Common software vulnerabilities include SQL injection, Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS). And almost every application has vulnerabilities.
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