From strained, remote security teams to an increase in e-commerce shopping, there are more risks than ever to web applications. For instance, Klaviyo reported a 25% increase in online shopping in the New York area since March 6, 2020, and Forrester reported that web applications and software vulnerabilities are the top two ways external attacks are carried out.

In light of current times, we wanted to take the time to discuss why e-commerce security is becoming more necessary than ever before and break down steps companies can take to ensure their applications are safe from a vulnerability or data breach.

The importance of securing web applications

Today, many web apps are experiencing increased use, which means now more than ever, it is necessary to take web application security seriously. From online food ordering apps to athleisure, consumers are using web apps more—and hackers are exploiting them more, too. And we’re not just talking about big-box stores, here. Even small businesses that have spun up apps to sell their merchandise and stay afloat during this time need to consider the security implications to not only keep their business safe, but their customers’ data and credit card information, too.

Application security 101

Application security is not just one thing you set and forget—it requires testing, monitoring, and adhering to applicable compliance requirements (PCI compliance, for all those revenue-generating apps taking credit cards). Whether it’s business as usual for you or you’re seeing an influx of traffic and purchases, it’s a good idea to ensure your bases are covered and your apps secured from the latest threats we’re seeing. Here are the three best practices you need to cover:

1. Securing third-party/open-source code

If you think about the way an app is created, more often than not, it’s with borrowed code (otherwise known as third-party or open-source code). In fact, up to 96 percent of new apps use borrowed code. It’s a great way to get an app up and running fast and save a lot of development time and resources, but it can also introduce vulnerabilities into your environment.

Recent research from our partner, Snyk, found that vulnerabilities in open source libraries are growing rapidly, nearly doubling in two years. That’s where software composition analysis comes in. Tools like tCell and InsightVM look at all third-party packages to see if any borrowed code has vulnerabilities.

2. Earlier dynamic web application testing

Given how fast many web apps have been created over these past few weeks and months, as well as how much traffic they are receiving, it’s important to test your web apps pre-production to identify security weaknesses earlier in the software development lifecycle and ensure your business and users are protected.

Having the ability to continuously scan for potential issues, especially on apps that drive revenue or are at the forefront of your customer experience, can help mitigate issues before they become one, and keep your business and customers safe. It also helps mitigate a breach that could land you in the not-so-favorable news headlines (and can ruin your brand reputation).

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) solutions like InsightAppSec and AppSpider are built to dynamically scan and test modern applications with fewer false positives and are scalable across your entire application portfolio. InsightAppSec, for example, is designed to detect more than 95 attack types and offers Attack Replay, a feature that allows you to reproduce an issue after you implement a fix to immediately test the work and close out the ticket.

Want to make sure that you build application security into your development lifecycles? Integrate your DAST tool with a Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery or Continuous Development (CI/CD) platform so as new features are released, they are being tested for both quality assurance and any potential security weaknesses. It also provides compliance-specific report templates for an immediate understanding of the compliance risk of your web applications.

Tools like InisghtAppSec are specifically designed to automatically assess modern web apps and APIs, fast-track fixes with rich reporting and integrations, keep compliance and development stakeholders informed, and effortlessly scale as your application portfolio grows.

3. Application monitoring and protection

With secure code that’s been tested for potential vulnerabilities or issues, the last (but equally important) piece is continually monitoring and protecting your application from future issues. It’s not enough to scan or test once and consider yourself secure. Today, attackers are continuously looking for holes and adapting their attack strategies, so your application needs a way to keep up. As e-commerce applications are being used more than ever before, these are prime targets for attack, and it’s your job to ensure your apps are protected in order to keep your business and customers safe, and your company name out of the headlines.

Monitoring and protecting your applications with Next-Gen Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) and Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) tools allow you to know that your application is protected in production. Tools like tCell by Rapid7 are specifically designed to provide visibility into your application and protection at runtime.

There are many ways to get a handle on application security, and securing your web applications should be one of the first. To get started, check out InsightAppSec and tCell for production and live code scanning to ensure you’re not carrying around unwanted vulnerabilities.

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