Top Practices to Help You Transition to AppSec

Sangram Dash
July 26, 2022

The Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 compiled insights from 537 actual breaches and the one that stood out was that data breach costs rose from US$ 3.86 million to US$ 4.24 million, the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of this report.

Implementing AppSec solutions that can integrate easily into your software development lifecycle (SDLC) can save you millions in data breaches because it’s easier to catch and fix vulnerabilities before an actual data breach occurs. However, providing AppSec with the required support is not easy. 

Implementing AppSec - The challenges 

Cultural shift plays a crucial role for organizations to set up a successful application security program and, today, more organizations are gearing up to ‘shift left’.

However, changing mindsets takes time. Additionally, AppSec being an evolving field, developers are still unaware of many of its aspects. There’s also a high dependency on tools and not enough processes set in place. 

Moreover, while this shift is underway, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with multiple alerts and warnings from the diverse set of security tools already deployed in the software pipeline. 

The question then is how do you implement a robust plan to improve your AppSec posture? 

By applying best practices across people, processes, and technology, to start with.  

Best Practices – People

People are the weakest link in any chain and you need people-specific practices first and foremost for a smooth transition. Some things you can begin with, include 

  • Breaking down silos and barriers with your security team, and also facilitating junior developers to work together with experienced ones.
  • Upskilling and training your developers with the right tools is important to enabling a shift in mindset.
  • Embracing automation wherever possible to avoid manual efforts and save time.

Best Practices – Processes

DevSecOps is a shared responsibility that requires the development team to coordinate with security and IT professionals within the organization. That means the processes from each department need to be aligned seamlessly to integrate security as well as meet compliance.

The best way to go about that would be to work with what you have and make security an extension of all systems and workflows. Integrating security tools into existing toolsets that work towards embedding security checks at different points in the CI/CD pipeline.

Organize simulation exercises like the red team/blue team approach to encourage overall close collaboration. In this approach, the red team accurately simulates the latest targeted attack types and methods used by real hackers across various threat levels and offers evidence-based results. The blue team counters the threat and helps build the organization’s security capabilities. Such exercises enmesh processes and call for teams to work together.

Best Practices – Technology

A successful AppSec implementation heavily hinges on tools. Security automation is one of the most crucial steps. To begin with and Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and Dynamic Application Testing Tool (DAST) are the backbone of application and website security analysis as they scan, analyze, and report bugs and other vulnerabilities. Having code scanners, SCA tools, and secret detection and management tools among others are extremely important to build a strong foundation of your AppSec pipeline.

To make the most of your investment in efforts, money, and time, follow some of these best practices and ensure that people, processes, and technology come together seamlessly.

Sr. Director - Security GRC and IAM at CDK Global