If your organization is like most, web applications are critical to your business. Whether your web apps serve employees, business partners, customers, or likely a combination of all three, they all share a common ‘openness’ attribute. That openness, while invaluable in reaching intended users, is also a presentation layer that hackers systematically penetrate to compromise your back-end systems, extract valuable data, and score intelligence on your business.
In response to this openness conundrum, you do what you can to thwart hackers’ intrusions. Chances are, your best efforts are reactionary as the web applications are seldom static and are changing faster than you can identify, assess, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities. Hackers have noted this dynamic, and apply automated techniques to locate application vulnerabilities and launch a progression of exploratory and exploitation steps. You, unfortunately, are under-equipped to effectively battle well-armed hackers.
You need to arm yourself better. But how? Our recommendation is to merge web application scanning into your organization’s security routines; and that calls for a web application scanning platform. But which platform? See below for the Top 5 platform features we recommend you evaluate:
What to Look for in a Web Application Scanning Platform
Your need is present, so ease-of-use starts with an intuitive means to commence scanning with a few clicks. Even though your apps have been customized, common functionality is typical for applications of the same type (e.g., eCommerce). Platform-included scanning templates by app type will swiftly identify low hanging and frequently exploited vulnerabilities. You can tailor scanning to the uniqueness of your apps later. Also and ultimately, you want scanning to transcend all app stages—development, testing, and production—which means supporting multiple teams of different persuasions. A scanning platform that can ‘speak’ the language of each team assists in the long run.
Relevant and actionable scans
An auto repair shop will inevitably find something to repair; the same with vulnerability scanning. What you want to know is which vulnerabilities are critical from the combined perspective of: severity if exploited, pervasiveness, and likelihood of being exploited. Lacking prioritization from the platform, that task falls on your shoulders. You also want ‘plain English’ vulnerability details: why a priority, where they exist, and remediation options. Drilling down for additional technical details is good, but on an ‘as needed basis’ is fine. False positives also compete for your valuable time. If those false positives are the result of suboptimal triangulation of scanning results and context, consider another platform.
Expert concierge service included
Indisputably, cybersecurity is complex. While an effective scanning platform will reliably complete the heavy lifting, it cannot paper over all complexity. On-call web application vulnerability experts familiar with your environment are an outsourced resource you will need periodically, but without the full-time expense.
Your primary objective is to improve the security of your web applications. Scanning to identify conditions that make web apps less secure is the means. With reasonable pricing, the cost of scanning should not discourage you from pursuing your primary objective. You need flexibility to increase scanning frequency without a cost disincentive.
Good cybersecurity practices require cross-technology collaboration. Your web application scans should be combinable with scans of the server infrastructure to produce a full picture of vulnerability risk (from the application down through the hosting infrastructure). Also, the scanning platform should interoperate with prevention technologies (e.g., web application firewalls) when vulnerability fixes are impractical.
The openness of web applications should not equate to security risk. But it will if you are not proactive in identifying and resolving your application vulnerabilities. Inescapably, a web application scanning platform is essential—but choose wisely as you will depend on this platform extensively.