Taking a proactive stance towards application security involves challenges that may best be left to managed services, argues this expert.

Most companies take a reactive approach to application security and information security. But why wait for an attacker to get into your unprotected (or minimally-protected) sensitive data before you decide to do something about it?

When security becomes a problem, it becomes a crisis. Getting ahead of the crisis potential with a proactive security approach allows you to reclaim your staff and reinvest your time and activities to further your company’s goals and industry reputation. If you wait until it is too late, all attention will focus on remediation efforts and damage control as you attempt to hold onto what little trust still remains within your customer base. A more logical approach is to get ahead of the bad guys.

Convinced to move toward a proactive security approach? Just note the six primary challenges that organisations face, and be ready to overcome them…

  1. Hiring and retaining security experts is difficult and costly.
    The shortage of available talent for cybersecurity positions has caused their salaries to skyrocket. In 2018, information security analyst salaries averaged US$98,350, and the top 25% made nearly US$127,000. Add the cost of benefits and overhead (about 43% of wages and salary in the private sector), and you are looking at a major investment for a very specific skill set.
  2. Your legacy or third-party applications may carry security risks.
    Hackers look for the easiest way into your organization. Unfortunately, your limited internal resources might not have the time, skills, or tools to identify all the paths hackers have access to, even if you have been testing your applications regularly. Attackers also like to exploit vulnerabilities in legacy code. When your developers reuse code that has been in circulation for decades, they may unwittingly inherit technical debt, which includes security bugs and flaws.
  3. Lumpy demand requires elastic capacity.
    Most companies no longer follow a fixed-release schedule. Instead, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) has essentially become mandatory for organizations to stay competitive and meet customer demands. And each of these continual feature releases carries a different level of technical risk and business impact, which an application security program must be able to accommodate.
  4. You need to respond to changes on a dime.
    Not only are you dealing with a lumpy release schedule, but your business is also evolving quickly. Your security team needs to keep pace. If demand spikes without your having a full application security team on hand, you will be scrambling to test and clean up code—or worse, to deploy patches to software that is already in the hands of users.
  5. No single testing tool can catch every vulnerability.
    Every security testing tool has different strengths, and no tool catches everything. If budget and resource limits restrict you to using only one or two security testing tools, you may miss critical vulnerabilities. What is more, without the capacity to replicate and confirm findings, you may spend countless hours chasing false positives.
  6. Tools alone are not enough to keep you safe.
    Application security changes constantly. New threats and attack vectors emerge, and new regulations ramp up compliance requirements. Your testing and prevention strategies need to keep up with those changes.

What you can do

The security conversation is often intimidating. But it does not have to be so. There are ways to overcome these application security challenges.

Managed services can take the security burden off your shoulders, working to secure your firm’s applications. In fact, according to a 2019 survey by Continuum, 77% of small businesses expect to outsource at least half of their cybersecurity needs within the next five years.