What Is AppSec?

What Is AppSec?

Just as physical property requires cameras, gates, and guards to stay safe, digital applications need security, too. As web threats evolve, hackers find more effective ways to exploit vulnerabilities, leaving sensitive data and code ripe for the taking. App developers need tools and processes that prioritize digital safety throughout each stage of the app development process and a methodology that addresses issues before they become significant threats. This is where application security — aka AppSec — comes in. 

Here, we’ll explore AppSec’s philosophy and why developing, managing, and updating safe applications that users enjoy and feel safe using is pivotal. 

🤔 AppSec: Why It Matters

AppSec is a conglomeration of tools, practices, and habits that build a secure framework to protect apps at each stage of development. It’s critical to prevent threats and address vulnerabilities from inception. With each update, it analyzes the code, access controls, and endpoint security to ensure safety and security. 

According to research, 50% of apps have significant security vulnerabilities. As users rely more heavily on apps to manage medical, financial, educational, and personal matters, it’s critical to establish AppSec to ensure business success. 

Consumers and customers already have intense fears over data storage and online security, meaning even a slight scare can cause them to abandon app usage. The toll of succumbing to a data breach isn’t small. For example, T-Mobile recently shelled out $350 million to customers in a settlement for a massive data breach with customers for $350 million.

Losing customer trust can lead to fines, far fewer customers, and a damaged reputation that harms your company for years.

Business must defend their digital property, especially apps, considering the rise of mobile malware. From a reputational and financial standpoint, any company that uses digital apps must take AppSec seriously.

Proper AppSec requires knowing how to leverage modern tools to strengthen and speed up the process, boosting security and diminishing the likelihood of human error.

Emerging tech like machine learning, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence are essential to delegate laborious but essential tasks to machines, freeing up developers to focus on fine-tuning the process and caring for the more creative, human-oriented side of app security. 

⚠️ Top Threats to App Security

AppSec begins with understanding existing vulnerabilities. This way, security teams can narrow their focus on the most urgent issues required to prevent potential breaches. 

Jailbroken Devices 

A jailbroken device bypasses manufacturer operating systems via third-party software, allowing users more functions and freedom than the manufacturer intended. 

Jailbreaking is standard for both Android and iOS phones. Many third-party jailbreaking software are malicious or lack security, heightening the likelihood of succumbing to reverse engineering, viruses, unauthorized access, or SQL injections. 

Weak Data Storage

Hackers target data storehouses because many apps store sensitive information, like SSNs, banking information, and medical documents. Here, they look for weak login credentials or to intercept unencrypted data in transit. 

Reverse Engineering

Many apps on the iOS and Android market use open-source code, which means it’s available for anyone to access or modify. When code remains unobfuscated or is poorly obfuscated, malicious actors can quickly identify sections they can hack or steal. 

🛠 What Tools are Necessary for Proper AppSec?

Arriving at an effective AppSec strategy means knowing all available tools. Then, developers can select tools to build an arsenal that eliminates existing security gaps. 

Endpoint Security 

Each employee device, like a phone or laptop, creates another exploitable endpoint. Endpoint security solutions encrypt information as it passes through networks and servers. 

Endpoint security is crucial because it identifies and alerts managers when devices attempt to access unauthorized data. For example, a sound endpoint security system can detect a jailbroken device and deny it from accessing or entering an app or website. 

Penetration Tests 

Implementing a routine penetration test process and finding hard-to-spot vulnerabilities is essential. These tests pressure an app’s security controls, code integrity, and data protection. It simulates real-world attacks to identify security gaps, which is imperative for thwarting the most highly evolved hacking techniques. 

File Encryption Tools

File encryption secures metadata and file structure, making hacking or gaining unauthorized access harder. Effective encryption tools can also harden data automatically, eliminating the manual labor of altering individual files. 

AppSec Best Practices

Forming a cohesive AppSec strategy takes time. It requires baking in habits and practices over time to create a well-rounded approach that fends off hackers while retaining full app functionality. Here’s what teams can do right now to begin structuring their AppSec processes. 

Issue a Robust Threat Assessment

The first step toward building a solid AppSec is understanding where your weaknesses reside. This means you must issue a thorough threat assessment. The review allows developers to understand their goals and establish clear KPIs (key performance indicators) to meet over a specified period. 

Track All Your Results

Continuously monitor and track progress to understand the success of new AppSec tactics. For example, excellent tracking software tallies every instance of security flaws, compliance violations, and security incidents. Track these metrics periodically to identify trends and understand if specific solutions produce positive results or if you need to make changes. 

Use Encryption and Obfuscation Tactics

Protecting data and code is paramount to a practical security philosophy. When building the app and issuing updates, always employ strong tactics, like symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

For obfuscation, it’s handy to use a wide range of tricks. An excellent place to start is to remove any useless code or metadata. You can employ advanced techniques like control flow obfuscation or rename and alter variables from there. These techniques protect intellectual property and prevent reverse engineering and tampering.

💡 What’s the Best Solution for Your AppSec Needs?

With the average cost of a mobile data breach at $4.45 million, most companies can’t afford the fallout. PreEmptive offers many solutions that help defend across various apps and operating systems. 

Defender for iOS expertly handles apps made with Swift and Objective-C, hardening them with the best-in-class obfuscation to protect source code with layered security. The same goes for DashO for Android

These professional-grade solutions include techniques like code renaming,  jailbreak detection, string encryption, and control flow management, delivering the best possible security for app source code. Our solutions fit seamlessly into existing CI/CD pipelines, so you can immediately begin securing apps while maintaining peak performance. Consider our revolutionary software today and sign up for a free trial to check it out yourself.