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Six Ways To Implement AppSec Measures For Your Cloud Ecosystem

Published By: Gaurav Agarwal

Published On: July 28, 2023

Published In: Cloud Forbes Article

The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate. With lockdowns everywhere, online apps have become the savior for every business, and cloud adoption has skyrocketed. In fact, it’s predicted that 60% of companies will use public cloud platforms by the end of 2021. As businesses operate remotely over the cloud, application security has become extremely crucial.

The results of research by F5 Labs in 2018 found that web and application attacks made up 30% of security breaches, more than any other type of attack. Application security (AppSec) measures protect critical business data from cyber attacks through a structured approach. Today, AppSec measures are designed to plug security loopholes, handle vulnerabilities and make cloud apps more agile and secure for everyday use cases within a modern enterprise.

As companies adopt cloud ecosystems, there’s a growing need to shift the AppSec perspective. With a rise in the usage of open-source technology (from 36% in 2015 to 70% in 2020) for cloud web apps, AppSec measures need a revamp. Open-source vulnerabilities can be hard to track down and remediate, making cloud applications vulnerable to dangerous security breaches.

In fact, when surveyed, the majority of security professionals within large enterprises answered that improving AppSec will be a top priority in the coming years. With a large number of businesses deploying web apps dependent on third-party APIs, attackers have found new ways to exploit vulnerabilities.

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AppSec can’t be overlooked when everything — your data, solutions, applications, code and users — is on the cloud. Here are six ways to implement AppSec measures for the cloud ecosystem:

1. Shift-Left Approach

Shift-left pushes the security focus toward the beginning of the development journey. The shift-left approach leaves the onus of AppSec on everyone, including the developers.

The shift-left strategy takes care of all possible automated security and configuration tests early during the development to plug security loopholes before deployment. Why is this important? Because the later you identify a loophole during the app development lifecycle, the worse the consequences.

A recent report revealed 79% of organizations push vulnerable code to production due to various reasons — lack of time, low-risk vulnerabilities or simply human errors. In the cloud environment, the shift-left approach mitigates risks from vulnerable code.

2. Intelligent AppSec Tactics Through Testing

This strategy is an extension of the shift-left approach, but here, vulnerabilities are plugged in just before deployment or in real-time. Testing methodologies help developers plug known bugs and vulnerabilities before releasing the software on the cloud.

Static application security testing (SAST), or the “white box” testing technique, has been used by developers for more than a decade. Developers find vulnerabilities in the app’s code without executing the code for cloud-based deployments. This helps plug vulnerabilities before an application even gets on the cloud.

Dynamic application security testing (DAST) is a more advanced testing technique for plugging vulnerabilities during runtime. DAST uses test data to identify common vulnerabilities and solve common cloud authentication/configuration issues.

3. Zero-Trust Architecture

Building zero-trust architecture for cloud-based platforms should be a gold standard in 2021. The approach works on a basic principle: never trust, always verify. Zero-trust architecture has three main elements:

• Verify everything, every time.

• Provide least-privileged access.

• Always assume breaches.

The strategy embraces the belief that trust is the core reason for vulnerabilities and breaches — that is, trust in a user acting responsibly and making sure outsiders can’t access the organization’s network. Zero-trust architecture eliminates the concept of trusted applications, networks and users entirely.

Zero-trust architecture stops infiltrators from exploiting unsecured devices/hardware on home or public networks — a normal scenario nowadays. Techniques like segmentation, Layer 7 threat prevention and granular user access are strong pillars of this approach.

4. Application Security-As-A-Service

In a world full of connected devices, AppSec is no longer a one-time investment. Rather, it needs to be a real-time event for enterprises of all sizes.

Cloud-based architecture requires companies to keep their guard up and respond to attacks in real time. Attackers keep upgrading their tactics and try to exploit vulnerabilities constantly. Also, bug bounty programs — a growing trend in the AppSec sector — require around-the-clock monitoring to plug vulnerabilities. Hence, leveraging the AppSec-as-a-service model is a no-brainer.

5. Integrated Data Security Approach

In the world of the cloud, enterprises find it hard to monitor vulnerabilities and control security incidents. This is mostly because there are multiple aspects to consider, such as endpoints, networks, the cloud and users.

Tracking numerous alerts across multiple systems can confuse teams. Although technology helps, it can also create a false sense of security while leaving several blind spots.

An enterprise-level integrated approach simplifies AppSec management. This approach gets all teams (SecOps, NetOps, ITOps and DevOps) on the same page. It also helps identify vulnerabilities quickly and transforms reactive measures into proactive measures. Here, AI-powered solutions help identify critical patterns requiring prompt human attention.

6. Integrated Cloud Security Posture Management

Cloud security posture management (CSPM) is a combination of products, tools and solutions designed to automate the discovery of security risks in the cloud. Using a mixture of technologies like AI and advanced analytics, CSPM monitors cloud infrastructure and raises red flags when there’s a deviation from security best practices.

An integrated CSPM solution raises alerts and plugs vulnerabilities automatically using robotic process automation (RPA). Global organizations are using such tactics to make hybrid and multi-cloud environments more secure and reduce compliance risks for SaaS and PaaS solutions. Integrated CSPM solutions also help map current configurations for security control frameworks, manage encryption and account permissions and create containerized cloud environments efficiently.

Final Words

Cloud adoption is no longer a choice for enterprises in 2021. The best way to make the cloud more secure is to adopt an integrated approach. This should cover working with available insights, creating highly specialized teams proficient in the “as-a-service” model and shifting the entire governance model to the left.


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Global Lead – Everything on Cloud Solutions Strategy, Development and GTM at Avanade. Read Gaurav Aggarwal’s full executive profile here.

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