Ultimate Guide To Application Security

July 14, 2022
21 min read time
Ultimate Guide To Application Security

This is the ultimate guide to securing your applications, servers, and APIs, including design, coding, testing, compliance, deployment, infrastructure, and threat intel. 

Cyber security is of critical importance:

Read on to learn what you can do to protect your apps, customers, and business from cyber security threats.

 

Understand Your Security Threats

  1. Cyber Security Basics
  2. Common Security Threats
  3. Index and Ranking of Security Threats

1. Cyber Security Basics

Cyber security is a term that describes the actions individuals and organizations take to prevent a cyber attack on their devices or systems.

Security threats can be:

  • Indiscriminate. Attackers may identify a vulnerability in a system or software and target all of the devices that have this vulnerability at the same time.
  • Targeted. A targeted cyber attack affects an individual or organization that has been specifically identified by the attacker.

Security threats can target:

  • Individuals. For example, phishing and social engineering attacks.
  • Organizations. For example, ransomware and DDoS attacks.

Security vulnerabilities include:

  • People. People are often considered the 'weak point' of cyber security because of the mistakes they can make.
  • Processes. Individuals and organizations should have processes ready for dealing with cyber attacks.
  • Technology. Security software and systems are essential to both individuals and organizations.

Security threats typically target or affect the following:

  • Availability. Denial of Service attacks target the general availability of a website, application, or service.
  • Money. Phishing, Social Engineering, and financial crime typically target money, for example, transfers, gift cards, credit card information, and online transactions.
  • Data. Many types of attacks target the access, leaking, corruption, or withholding of private data.
  • Operations. Many types of attacks interfere with operational systems, for example, to affect physical security or environmental controls.

 

2. Common Security Threats

It’s no secret that your website and business-critical applications are vulnerable to cyberattacks. When successful, the worst attacks can result in stolen customer data, illegal access to your servers and corporate data, malware and viruses that infect your customers’ devices, or a total server failure that prevents customers from accessing your website. Protecting your customers and your IT systems from malicious attacks is imperative for your business. But there are so many different attack vectors that it’s difficult to know where to start with online security.

The following guide highlights the most pervasive security threats to your web applications. Defending against these threats is the basis of a robust security strategy.

Blog: 5 Website Security Threats and How to Stop Them

 

3. Index and Ranking of Security Threats

The OWASP Top 10 provides web application developers and security professionals an insight into the most widespread security risks. This is an awareness document that is published annually by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). 

This is a list of common application security threats:

 

Build Secure Applications

  1. Start By Designing Secure Applications
  2. Choose The Best Back-End Framework For Security
  3. Follow Best Practices For Secure Code
  4. Secure Your Kubernetes Containers
  5. Test Application Security During Development

1. Start By Designing Secure Applications

Hackers, malware, cybercriminals, and more threaten modern applications constantly. Malicious actors will try to uncover and exploit any vulnerabilities to steal private data, disrupt your service, and more. When designing our applications, we must prevent or mitigate these potential vulnerabilities as early as possible.

Identifying and fixing security gaps late in the development process can be very expensive. Many of the biggest vulnerabilities arise from poor design and require significant effort to resolve. You can avoid wasting time and resources by following the correct principles in the application design phase.

Follow these principles to ensure your application is ready to meet rigorous security demands.

  • Confidentiality: Only authorized people (or processes) can get access.
  • Integrity: The presented data is unaltered.
  • Availability: The system and its data are available even under adverse circumstances.
  • Authenticity: Users are who they claim to be.

These security criteria should become embedded into your company's operation and not just security guidelines for when you write code. 

 

2. Choose The Best Back-End Framework For Security

Your back-end framework will either help or hinder your security efforts. We put together a list of back-end frameworks that offer developers and product managers highly secure features for application development.

These frameworks include:

  • Python
  • Django
  • FastAPI
  • ASP.NET Core
  • Laravel
  • CodeIgniter
  • Fiber

 

3. Follow Best Practices For Secure Code

Despite all good intentions, it is all too easy to focus on solving the immediate functional problem and ignore other objectives like security when writing code. 

Thankfully, many powerful security scanning applications can help identify the most common mistakes we make as developers, leading to security issues. 

Still, we shouldn't become reliant on tools. We also need to ensure that we can better understand what it takes to develop securely. 

 

4. Secure Your Kubernetes Containers

If you are thinking of deploying applications in containers and using a container orchestration platform like Kubernetes, you must consider security. Smaller and simpler apps will reduce your development, testing, and maintenance costs – but security can be more challenging when compared with deploying in VMs. 

A distributed system with multiple containers and endpoints all communicating with each other significantly increases the number of vulnerabilities. You must prioritize securing your entire container ecosystem to reduce your risk exposure. 

Container Security Focus Areas

When securing containers, you should focus on the following.

  • Container host security. The health of your containers depends on the strength of security in your central host system. You must prioritize securing the container host.
  • Container management security. Container security also depends on your container ecosystem, including logging, load balancing, testing, and monitoring systems. You must secure your whole container management stack. 
  • Network traffic security. Distributed systems increase traffic flow across the network of containers. You must secure this traffic flow.  
  • Application security. The applications you deploy in containers expose more endpoints than applications in VMs, making them more vulnerable. You must secure your applications against Layer 7 threats.
  • User Security. You must identify and block malicious user behavior in your application. 
  • Secure Application Architecture. While we won’t detail this in this article, you should follow best practices for designing and coding secure apps
  • Secure Build Pipeline. Your build pipeline for automatically deploying code can also expose security flaws. You must audit your pipeline and address any vulnerabilities.

Container Security Challenges

Maintaining security in a container deployment can be difficult because of the following challenges. 

  • Open source code. Open source code is convenient, but it poses a security threat if left unchecked. 
  • Fast development. Organizations that prioritize fast development and delivery often do so at the expense of proper security procedures.
  • Diverse tools. Teams using more tools and services face growing complexity in keeping everything patched and updated. 
  • Unclear responsibilities. Organizations deploying containerized apps in multiple cloud environments with different owners face confusion over who is responsible for maintaining security through development, testing, and production.

To overcome these challenges and enforce security on containerized apps in Kubernetes, DevOps teams must also prepare for additional complexity and time-consuming planning and execution.

 

5. Test Application Security During Development

So many businesses cannot secure their applications because they are unsure how to verify their security in the first place. 

One of the biggest complexities with software security and testing is the pace of change in the number and types of vulnerabilities. While there are ways to secure your code against common vulnerabilities, there might still be security holes from issues with third-party applications, browsers, operating systems, and networking systems that are often beyond your control. By following the testing methods below, you can detect most (if not all) known security risks and fix these problems during development.

  1. Make security testing a part of development.
  2. Choose your security testing methodology.
  3. Select your security tests.
  4. Pick your security testing tools.
  5. Document your security testing strategy.

 

Secure Your Infrastructure

  1. Choose A Secure Architecture
  2. Choose A Secure Cloud Provider
  3. Adopt A Strong Security Model
  4. Manage Governance, Risk, And Compliance

1. Choose A Secure Architecture

We talk a lot about the importance of cloud computing and moving infrastructure into the cloud for better performance and availability on a global scale. However, with expectations for application performance continuing to rise and people connecting in more remote places than ever, some businesses need to do more than simply maintain a cloud presence – they need to consider the benefit of setting up a hosted edge environment.

A hosted edge can provide a massive reduction in latency, translating to a huge improvement to user experience, more conversions, more revenue, and better customer retention. However, the edge is often harder to secure than a core network, and more variable than the big public clouds. Can businesses enjoy the latency advantage of the edge with application security they can trust?

There is an argument that storing and processing application data in multiple third-party networks is risky, because of the threat of data leaks, localized intrusions, and different security and compliance standards in different regions.

It’s understandable that many businesses still prefer to use their own edge infrastructure and swallow the enormous expense as the cost of securing their applications at the edge.

Other businesses are content to wait for the big cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Oracle Cloud to proliferate data centers to their desired edge locations. The cloud providers cannot consistently achieve the same latency as Section showed, given their limited geographical presence, but some businesses must prioritize security over latency.

However, the Hosted Edge provides a solution to this dilemma. Since hosted edge infrastructure is designed to run applications at the edge, businesses using a hosted edge environment can deploy security applications at the edge. For example, a web application firewall (WAF) running at the edge can secure critical applications and data, block threats and attacks, and prevent fraud, downtime, and compliance failures.

 

2. Choose A Secure Cloud Provider

It should go without saying that security remains a crucial factor in your cloud needs, as no company can afford to compromise on it. Security is a top concern in the cloud (and everywhere else these days), so it’s critical to ask detailed, explicit questions related to your industry, unique use cases, regulatory requirements, and other concerns. Do not fail to evaluate this essential feature of operating in the cloud.

You want to understand your specific security goals, the security measures offered by each provider, and the mechanisms they use to safeguard your applications and data. In addition, make sure you fully understand the specific areas for which each party is responsible. Consider what security features are offered at no cost, out-of-the-box, by each vendor you’re evaluating, what additional paid services they offer, and where you may need to supplement your security with third-party partners’ technology.

Next, make sure you choose a cloud architecture platform that meets the compliance standards of your industry and organization. Whether you are beholden to GDPR, SOC 2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, or another framework, make sure you understand what it takes to be compliant once your applications and data are living in a public cloud infrastructure.

For instance, countless regulations address financial transactions and data privacy/storage in various countries, so it’s important that companies ensure that their cloud strategies meet these regulatory challenges, which may require different solutions in different regions.

Blog: How To Choose The Right Cloud Provider For You

 

3. Adopt A Strong Security Model

Security tooling can filter application traffic according to several different strategies: 

  • Negative security model
  • Positive security model
  • Machine learning and AI

What is a negative security model?

A negative security model assumes all traffic is safe unless it is identified as unsafe. Traffic that matches predefined threat signatures or violates a security rule is identified as unsafe. 

A WAF with a negative security model will allow all incoming requests by default and will only block requests identified as unsafe.

A negative security model has many problems, including: 

  • It cannot protect against zero-day exploits or any attack that isn’t in the threat database.
  • It cannot protect against attacks that have been modified to be slightly different from known attack signatures.
  • It cannot protect against all types of attacks. For example, among the OWASP Top 10 Web Application Security Risks, three of them (A2 [Broken Authentication], A5 [Broken Access Control], and A7 [Cross-Site Scripting]) are not effectively covered by a negative security approach. 
  • It often provides insufficient protection even against known and identified attacks. For example, A1 [Injection] attacks.

Unfortunately, many WAFs sold today still use the negative security model and do not provide full protection against cybersecurity threats. These products represent a risk to most GRC strategies.

What is a positive security model?

A positive security model assumes that all traffic is unsafe unless it is identified as safe. Traffic that passes security checks and matches the characteristics of legitimate user requests is identified as safe. 

A WAF with a positive security model will only allow legitimate users and will block requests displaying anomalies. In some cases, a WAF will allow anomalous traffic but will analyze it further (with a low tolerance for irregular behavior) before making a block decision.

A WAF using a positive and negative security model in combination is much more effective than a purely negative security model at protecting against:

  • Unknown attacks
  • Modified attacks
  • Attacks that look very similar to legitimate user behavior
  • Exceptions and edge cases

A good example of the usefulness of a positive security model is bot protection. Bots often avoid detection by cycling through random IP addresses, entering through anonymous proxies, changing their identities, and mimicking human behavior.

To counter the bot threat, a sophisticated WAF using a positive security model should identify suspicious browsing patterns, non-human input, and traffic from questionable sources.

Further, it should also submit suspicious users for intensive evaluation of the user's input, browsing patterns, browser identifier, location, reputation, and more. It should also compare the client to other known bots, safe browsers, and legitimate bots and spiders to avoid false positives.

Machine learning and AI

Machine learning (ML) avoids static rulesets but uses pattern recognition and profiling from large datasets to determine whether traffic is safe or unsafe. Traffic that matches the learned pattern of unsafe traffic is assumed to be unsafe or suspicious, while traffic that matches the learned pattern of safe traffic is assumed to be safe until new data contradicts this.

A WAF using machine learning is able to generate new profiles and rules that security engineers might not anticipate with static rulesets. In conjunction with AI-based automation, an intelligent WAF can provide a fully automated and self-learning response to emerging threats.

This has interesting conceptual and practical implications for GRC strategies. Conceptually, the applications for ML and AI are some way ahead of GRC – the rulebooks have some catching up to do, so it’s far from as simple as saying, “I have ML in my WAF; therefore, I’m extra compliant”. Practically, ML and AI have demonstrated their effectiveness at blocking zero-day attacks. For example, Snapt Nova’s ML-powered threat intelligence pre-emptively blocked 98% of hosts attempting Log4j exploits before the vulnerability was announced. Furthermore, IBM identified that organizations using security AI were able to mitigate costs by $3.8 million.

Consequently, you should consult with your legal, compliance, or security teams on the impact of ML and AI security automation.

 

4. Manage Governance, Risk, And Compliance

“Governance, risk, and compliance” (GRC) might be dirty words for many people working in application development and delivery. Strict rules and processes can be obstacles to innovation or meeting project deadlines. However, with security failures causing downtime, lost revenue, leaked customer and proprietary information, and hefty regulatory fines, application teams cannot afford to ignore GRC measures designed to limit the probability and potential for harm.

With the right methodologies and tooling in place, such as a centralized web application firewall (WAF), application teams can build GRC measures into their workflows without frustrating team members or project velocity. 

Why is GRC important?

In 2021, the average cost of a data breach to financial industries rose to $5.72 million. The scale of the problem is huge. In 2019 a data breach compromised more than 100 million accounts at Capital One; another breach exposed more than 855 million mortgage and real-estate documents at First American Financial Corp.

The number of attack vectors is increasing. Remote banking means more user accounts containing personal data and more online transactions. Big data means more personal information in one place, providing a tantalizing opportunity for attackers to make a big score. Even as organizations invest in AI-driven innovation, attackers also use more sophisticated bots for farming usernames and passwords and avoiding detection.

Governance, risk, and compliance, when applied to cybersecurity, are not just about box-ticking or avoiding blame. They are necessary for addressing the problems consistently. 

Best practices can help application teams to develop and deliver secure products. In addition, following clear guidelines allows organizations to be audited and verified by outside experts. This builds confidence. 

DevOps teams build confidence that they are doing the right thing, and clients and regulators build confidence that the organization is trustworthy.

Reducing the cost of GRC

Committing your organization to follow GRC best practices isn’t cost-free. GRC usually adds steps to existing processes and adds extra personnel to do those steps – and validate that those steps have been done. This means projects take more time and more people to complete. And these costs are rising. Deloitte estimates banks’ compliance costs have risen more than 60% since 2008. 

Organizations pursuing GRC should also pursue efficiency to avoid ever-growing costs and delays. You can simplify GRC in cybersecurity and introduce efficiencies by adopting the right methodologies and tooling.

Blog: Efficient GRC With Cybersecurity Tooling

 

Secure Your Traffic

  1. Encrypt Your Traffic
  2. Secure Your Web Servers
  3. Secure Your Ingress With A Web Application Firewall (WAF)
  4. Secure Your Applications Against Malicious Bots
  5. Secure Your APIs With An API Gateway

1. Encrypt Your Traffic

When using standard HTTP to submit data across the public Internet all of the data is sent in plain text. This makes the data vulnerable because a hacker that could be anywhere on the Internet can listen in as that data is being transferred and steal the information.

This is why HTTPS, or Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol, was developed. HTTPS is HTTP with a security feature. This security feature is called SSL, or Secure Socket Layer.

SSL encrypts HTTP data ensuring the security of all the data that's been transferred over the Internet between client devices and servers.

The HTTPS protocol makes the data impossible to read and it does this by using encryption algorithms to scramble the data that's being transferred.

SSL/TLS encryption is the term commonly used to refer to secure HTTP or HTTPS but in fact, SSL has been replaced by TLS.

Why is SSL / TLS important?

SSL / TLS gives us three things:

  • Authentication - verifying the identity of the communicating parties with asymmetric encryption which are normally clients and servers. TLS ensures that users access a genuine website and not a fake one.
  • Confidentiality - TLS protected the exchanged data from unauthorized access by securing it with symmetric encryption algorithms.
  • Integrity - TLS recognizes any alteration of data during transmission by checking the message authentication code.

When should you use SSL / TLS?

Websites must use SSL / TLS to secure online transactions and communications from potential interception. It's vital to protect data transmissions such as:

  • Ecommerce transactions
  • Banking payments or transfers
  • Secure email or chat message communication
  • File transfers such as large file uploads and downloads
  • System logins
  • Technical system access such as database connections and system administration.

How Does SSL/TLS Encryption Work?

For a website to apply SSL/TLS encryption it must have an SSL certificate. The certificate, which is stored on the webserver, acts as an ID card to prove that the website is genuine and not fake. 

SSL/TLS certificates store the website’s unique ID referred to as a public key. The public key is used by a website visitor’s device to establish a secure connection with the webserver. 

How Are SSL Grades Calculated?

The SSL Labs project was created in 2009 and their goal was to provide diagnostics for identifying security concerns in computer configurations. SSL Labs created an alphabetical grading system for SSL / TLS certificates. The grades rate secure configuration out of 100. These are alphabetical grades, which range from F to A+, and are a way of measuring security configuration quality. 

An A+ SSL grade is given when the server configuration is determined to be exceptional. 

Blog: Getting an A+ SSL Rating with Snapt

 

2. Secure Your Web Servers

Picture this: you have just completed a brand new installation of a server (Windows Server, Ubuntu, etc.) where you are going to deploy your organization's web portal. You need to ensure this service stays online and is protected from bad actors.

You’ve already thought of a really hard-to-guess admin password, so you’re off to a great start. Clients will access the server through the public IP address, so you have decided to port-forward (NAT) through to port 80 and 443 for secure HTTPS connections. You have connected your new server to the World Wide Web and you’re ready to launch.

Now you have to ask yourself: have you done enough? How secure is your new server?

Your server security checklist

A strong password for admin access to your server is the bare minimum! Follow this security checklist to make sure you have covered the fundamentals.

  1. System updates – especially security patches since the last ISO was released
  2. SSH access – disable Root
  3. Ensure physical server security
  4. Lockdown – bind to localhost
  5. Keep it clean – remove old stuff

Blog: How secure are your web servers?

 

3. Secure Your Ingress With A Web Application Firewall (WAF)

Tooling can also make a big difference. To manage and protect application traffic effectively and efficiently, you need a modern web application firewall (WAF) that makes it easy to apply and validate consistent security policy.

What does a Web Application Firewall do?

A web application firewall (WAF) is a network function usually deployed in front of application backends. It monitors, filters, and limits traffic between external clients and the application backend. Nothing gets to your application – and no data gets out of your application – without going through the WAF.

A WAF can identify malicious traffic and common attack vectors and can block malicious users and bots from causing downtime (eg. a Denial of Service attack), a data breach (eg. a SQL injection attack), or taking over legitimate user accounts (using bots for a credential stuffing attack). Most WAFs prioritize protection against the OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities.

The most common way to deploy a WAF is as a reverse proxy, meaning that the WAF acts as an intermediary between clients and the backend systems. Clients communicate only with the WAF, never directly with your backend systems. This process is transparent so clients are unaware that they are communicating with an intermediary. Incoming client requests and outgoing server responses pass through the WAF in both directions. The WAF may deny traffic that violates its security policies. 

Learn More: What is a Web Application Firewall (WAF)?

Choose A Secure WAF

Every business exposing online applications, services, and APIs needs a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to operate safely and protect against cybersecurity threats. A WAF identifies and blocks attacks that lead to downtime, leaked data, and compromised transactions and accounts. However, you might find that choosing the right WAF is a tricky business. 

There is no shortage of WAF options, all targeting different use cases. Somehow, you need to select the one that’s best for your business, both today and in the future. If you make the wrong choice, you might expose your business to security risks or lock your team into infrastructure that doesn’t meet your needs.

This checklist will help you choose the right WAF for you, to protect your business and fit your tech stack, teams, and workflows.

  1. What does your network architecture and application infrastructure look like?
  2. Which teams will use the WAF and how?
  3. Where will you deploy a WAF?
  4. Which detection and blocking techniques suit your traffic and risk profile?
  5. Which application attacks present the biggest risks to your business?
  6. Would your apps benefit from virtual patching and scanner integration?
  7. Do you need PCI-DSS compliance for secure transactions?
  8. Do you need to terminate SSL traffic?
  9. What kind of visibility and reporting does your SecOps team need to be effective?

Blog: How To Choose A Web Application Firewall

 

4. Secure Your Applications Against Malicious Bots

The term 'bot' is short for 'robot'. A bot is a software program that performs repetitive tasks by following a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) script. Bots process instructions to complete tasks that would otherwise have required thousands of hours for a human to complete. Bots can perform tasks in huge volumes quickly and accurately.

Learn more about different types of Bot.

About a quarter of all web traffic comes not from human users but from automated bots – some good, some bad.

Bots can be broken into three categories:

  1. Clearly good bots. For example, GoogleBot, which is critical for the search engine to index your website.
  2. Clearly bad bots. For example, crawling sites to collect emails for spamming, executing basic denial of service attacks, scanning for vulnerabilities, etc.
  3. Bad bots that pretend to be human, to avoid detection and bypass protections. These are always hostile and typically involved in credential stuffing, price scraping, content theft, and more.

Of the three categories, only category two (clearly bad bots) is easy to deal with using standard security systems.

The real challenge, though, is to stop category three bots without stopping category one bots – to allow Google bots and other automated systems that behave correctly, while detecting and blocking advanced bots using tools like headless Chrome and pretending to be a real user.

Remember that it can be more costly for a business today to block a search engine spider and be de-listed than to be the victim of an actual attack. At the same time, a real web browser that can run JavaScript, wait between pages, emulate clicking a mouse, and more can be very hard to identify as a bot.

Blog: Blocking Malicious Bots With Centralized Machine Learning

 

5. Secure Your APIs With An API Gateway

An API gateway receives an API request and returns an answer, acting as a middle-man or "middleware" between an API consumer and one or many API services. API gateways handle common tasks across a system of API services, such as user authentication, rate limiting, real-time metrics, and more.

The purpose of an API gateway is to provide a consumer-facing facade for hiding the many backend applications in your internal network, which often could be a mixture of application codes and platforms: legacy monolithic applications on virtual machines, or containerized or serverless microservices

An API Gateway is the main point of control for managing access to APIs at scale.

Do I Need An API Gateway?

An API gateway is essential to overcoming the API challenges of security and access, reliability and performance, and visibility and governance.

Without an API gateway, you would need to construct complicated routing rules and write custom code to handle all the various ways consumers and third-party systems might access your API. An API gateway makes accessing your APIs simple while also ensuring that they are secure, dependable, and consistent for all the ways consumed. 

Furthermore, a platform-agnostic API gateway will support API access no matter where or how your services are hosted along your transformational journey.

Learn more about:

 

Manage Incident Response

  1. Security Information Event Management
  2. Use Automation To Improve Security Response
  3. Use Threat Intelligence For Enriched Incident Response and Pre-Emptive Defence

1. Security Information Event Management

Security Information Event Management (SIEM) is the term used to describe the processes of security threat detection, analysis, intelligence collection, and security incident management. SIEM can include a wide range of other threat sources or events.

SIEM combines security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM). SIEM systems support a security team's work in threat detection, compliance, and incident management. 

While SIEM is primarily associated with identifying and managing cybersecurity events in technology systems, it is also applicable to real-world security. SIEM also applies to security information and events relating to physical sites or public infrastructure.

An SIEM system's capabilities are wide-ranging including: 

  • Log event collection and management
  • analysis of this and other data from multiple sources
  • incident management
  • alerting
  • reporting dashboards and many other functions.

Learn more: Security Information Event Management (SIEM).

 

2. Use Automation To Improve Security Response

When it comes to online security, businesses make a lot of effort to ensure they have the right tools, firewalls, and settings in place to protect their applications from the dangerous threat of hackers, viruses, and DDoS attacks. However, the biggest security risk that is often not explored enough is the human factor.

Blog: Eliminate The Human Factor In Application Security.

With many security systems requiring complex configuration, it becomes easy for ops engineers to make configuration mistakes or for code deployments to include security flaws, leaving systems vulnerable to outside attack.

As for the threat of potential DDoS attacks, with teams manning these complex security systems and responsible for responding to many of these threats manually, they are simply not able to identify the risks fast enough, let alone respond to them in time to protect their network. This leaves businesses having to restore services after they have failed, rather than being able to protect them from failure in the first place.

All this is made even more complicated when you consider that businesses now need to cope with managing more systems than ever. In the average medium-to-large-sized enterprise, a combination of on-premises services and multiple cloud providers host hundreds of different nodes. That makes maintaining security a huge challenge.

If the human factor is the problem, compounded by the complexity of modern systems, then the solution is to find an alternative to the human operation of routine security tasks. This is where automation and latterly machine learning and artificial intelligence can be transformative.

 

3. Use Threat Intelligence For Enriched Incident Response and Pre-Emptive Defence

Threat intelligence is the collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of current and predictive security data that allows security teams, developers, and automated tools to make intelligent decisions to safeguard the security of their infrastructure, data, and users.

Threat intelligence provides structured information that allows an organization to act against a threat to their people, customers, or the physical or technical assets that are valuable to them.

Threat intelligence can be gained by collecting, analyzing, and assessing large volumes of information and identifying threats within it. This analysis is performed with three questions constantly in mind:

  • Who are the threat actors?
  • Why are they intending to perform these actions?
  • How capable are they of being successful?

Learn more about Threat Intelligence.

Threat intelligence can help map the threat landscape, calculate risk, and give security personnel the intelligence and context to make better and faster decisions. This includes assessing the relevant business and technical risks, identifying the right strategies and technologies for mitigation, and justifying these efforts to management. 

Threat intelligence can be a critical resource for all these activities, providing information on general trends, such as:

  • Which types of attacks are becoming more (or less) frequent
  • Which types of attacks are most costly to the victims (client and business)
  • Which new kinds of threat actors are coming forward, and which assets and enterprises they are likely to target
  • Which security practices and technologies have proven the most (or least) successful in stopping or mitigating these attacks

Blog: Understanding Threat Intelligence Use Cases.

It can also enable security groups to assess whether an emerging threat is likely to affect their specific enterprise based on factors such as:

  • Industry — Is the threat affecting other businesses in our vertical?
  • Technology — Does the threat involve compromising software, hardware, or other technologies used in an enterprise?
  • Geography — Does the threat target facilities in regions in which our company operates?
  • Attack method — Have methods used in the attack been used successfully against similar companies?

Threat intelligence helps security teams to respond to active security incidents. When security teams face an incident, they must investigate the different issues quickly to know when and how to respond – to best mitigate the potential threat. 

While this calls for immediate action, the amount of information that often needs to be dissected can make this rather difficult to achieve. This is why surfacing the right information with security teams is so important.

Threat intelligence enables them to have all the required data on hand and to quickly discern the best approach for a given scenario. 

Threat intelligence reduces the pressure these teams face in multiple ways:

  • Identifying false positives and dismissing them
  • Enriching alerts with real-time contextual information, such as custom risk scores
  • Comparing information from internal and external sources

 

Secure Your Traffic – Any App, Any Cloud, Any Scale

Discover for yourself how Snapt can secure your traffic – anywhere. From old Exchange servers to on-premises data centers, to public/hybrid clouds, to Kubernetes, Traefik, Kong, and more.

Whatever your traffic, however big or complex your deployment, we've got you covered with the world's most advanced app services platform.

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