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Application Security Trends To Keep an Eye on in 2023

February 21, 2023
Amanda McCarvill

The term “application security” (AppSec) describes the processes, practices, and tools used to identify, repair, and protect against application vulnerabilities throughout the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). AppSec activities include, but are not limited to, performing a formal secure code review, hiring a pentester, or simply updating an existing framework with the final goal of improving existing security practices.

Why Application Security Matters

Application security activities and practices are beneficial to ensure the security of your applications by proactively identifying and remediating vulnerabilities. With the threat landscape continuously evolving, attackers are finding new ways to gain access to mission-critical data. When an organization undergoes an attack, the resulting data breach causes financial damage from remediation, data loss, downtime and customer attrition, as well as reputational damage in terms of customers losing trust and confidence in the brand and eroding brand image. When it comes to the security of organizational assets, being proactive is better than reactive. By identifying security flaws, vulnerabilities, and misconfigurations and fixing them before an attacker finds them, organizations save both time and money. 

In recent years, application security has become increasingly critical as notable security breaches put the field into the spotlight. According to a recent study conducted by Check Point, global cyber attacks increased by 38% in 2022 compared to 2021. This steep incline reiterates the need for increased enterprise interest and effort to strengthen overall security posture. To achieve this, companies are increasing their investments in AppSec, with overall spending predicted to hit $7.503B in 2023, a 24.7% increase from the previous year. 

Top 5 Application Security Trends in 2023

  1. AppSec and CloudSec will converge
  2. Tighter open-source security 
  3. Attack surface will continue to expand
  4. Demand for vulnerability prioritization
  5. Extreme “Shift Left”

AppSec and CloudSec will converge

Cloud security involves a collection of security measures designed to protect cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and data. These measures help to ensure user and device authentication, data and resource access control, and data privacy protection. Historically, AppSec and CloudSec functioned as independent security functions. However, to properly determine attack surface and overall security posture, both application code vulnerabilities and misconfigurations of the cloud service hosting must be examined. By converging AppSec and CloudSec, organizations can benefit from better context and remediation. Understanding the attack surface cohesively by looking at how the application code interacts with the cloud service provider, business-critical vulnerabilities can be identified, allowing for task prioritization. Mainly, this is due to determining the root cause of the vulnerability, which in turn, will allow for increased efficiency and effectiveness. 

Tighter Open-Source Security

An expanding cyber attack surface leads the open-source ecosystem to be under constant risk of an attack. Countless data breaches have left hackers at an advantage and open-source libraries vulnerable to manipulation from typo-squatting, hidden code insertions, and other attack techniques. However, 2023 will likely bring about new initiatives to introduce additional controls for open-source security. For instance, we will experience an increased demand for open-source validation, including authenticity checks, reputation checks, and regular vulnerability scanning. Open-source repositories will demand higher standards on uploaded software for increased security. Lastly, 3rd parties will include a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM), which can be used for validation before consumption. 

Attack Surface Will Continue to Expand

Technological improvements have resulted in the cybersecurity attack surface to expand for many years. Unfortunately, this trend is unlikely to slow down in 2023. The Covid-19 pandemic streamlined the growing trend of a distributed workforce. While there are many advantages of a distributed workforce, including having access to a much larger talent pool, without proper measures in place, this becomes a double-edged sword. Having multiple systems and plugins, the utilization of numerous access keys, tokens, machine accounts, and automation could leave an organization vulnerable. Those not baking security into every aspect of their organizational layout leave room for attacks resulting in data manipulation, loss and/or theft.

Demand for Vulnerability Prioritization 

Vulnerability management typically involves sorting through copious amounts of noise to determine what needs remediation and what doesn’t in order to prioritize remediation efforts. Of course, false positives negatively impact efficiency as the mountain of noise grows to what may seem unbearable. In 2023, there will be increased pressure on vendors to provide tools with minimal false positives and help prioritize efforts by providing actionable data on relative risk. No one wants to be left guessing whether a vulnerability is exploitable or waste countless hours getting to the root cause of a vulnerability without knowing the severity of the threat. For instance, is the vulnerability exploitable? Where is the code running? Is this business-critical? 

Extreme “Shift Left” 

The philosophy of shifting left refers to introducing security as early as possible in the Software Development Life Cycle. Historically, organizations would wait to introduce security until the final stages of the SDLC, and by this point, it is too late, resulting in security vulnerabilities present in production. As DevOps continues to grow in popularity, security has been unable to keep up with this newfound speed. Here, the only solution is to Shift Left and ease the burden on AppSec teams. Indeed, the only way to make informed security decisions and ensure good security posture is to catch vulnerabilities early on. In 2023, more companies will adopt this philosophy and begin reaping the benefits. 

The Year of AppSec 

Application Security matters now more than ever. With a growing attack surface and increased threats, organizations must be diligent in adopting best practices to ensure the security of their applications. Luckily, this has not gone unnoticed. As spending increases, organizations will become more knowledgeable and equipped to protect themselves by shifting left, tightening controls, and having a clear definition of remediation to avoid becoming the next big headline on data breaches. 

Is your organization looking to integrate security as early as unit testing? Get ahead of vulnerabilities and save both time and money by adopting an AppSec program that fits your company’s needs. Don’t know where to start? We are here to help! Our Dev-Centric, enterprise Dynamic Application Security Testing tool will enable your organization to secure your applications and APIs at the speed of DevOps. AppSec is now; don’t get left behind. 

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