All companies want to protect their computer network perimeters against malicious intruders, but a growing number of attacks at the website application and database layers show that this protection is not enough. According to a recent survey, more than 80% of attacks against corporate networks these days involve web applications. This survey suggests that a majority of web applications installed in the enterprises contain various vulnerabilities that can be exploited bythe intruders, allowing them to gain access to underlying systems and data.
According to the study, most organizations are not addressing the problem of security vulnerability due to a lack of awareness or because their budgets do not permit additional expenditures on web application security. Fortunately for enterprises, a relatively inexpensive, automated security tools are available to help them probe their web applications for the vulnerable security flaws. The products are specially designed to help companies to examine web application code for the common errors that result in security vulnerabilities. By using such application security tools, companies can quickly identify issues like Cross-Site Scripting flaws, SQL Injection errors, and input validation errors, much faster than they would have been able to manually.
Most well known security testing tools,which are currently available, can be used to test both common off-the-shelf software packages and custom-developed web applications. Companies typically run the web application testing tools first against their live production applications to identify and diminishsecurity vulnerabilities that could disrupt the operations. Typically, application security tools only help to identify the security vulnerabilities. They don’t automatically correct the flaws. Besides testing production applications, security testing tools can be used to test code during the application development and the quality assurance stage.
Security analysts also recommend that such testing tools be used during the development life cycle because fixing and finding flaws can be less expensive and easier compared to doing it after an application has been deployed. Such security testing tools also support features that allow the companies to conduct penetration testing service exercises against their database and application layer. Using such security testing products, organizations can probe their networks for the flaws and vulnerabilities in much the same way that a malicious attacker would probe their networks.
Until recently, the use of such security testing tools has been considered the best practice of security, but that could start changing soon. Already, Payment Card Industry Security Council, which is a body that governs security standards in the payment card space, has a rule mandating the use of application security software by all companies of a certain size that accept credit and debit card transactions. Under this rules, all the covered entities are required to use such application security testing tools to identify and resolve any security flaws that handle payment card data. Similar rules could start becoming more commonplace as awareness of such issue grows.